Their judgment was based more upon blind wishing than upon sound reasoning. For it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to thrust aside what they do not fancy. — Thucydides

America First - Lawton Evans

The Lost Colony of Roanoke

When Sir Walter Raleigh tried a third time to plant a colony on Roanoke Island, he sent across the ocean farmers, mechanics and carpenters, with their wives, thinking that families would be more content to stay than single men. The expedition was in charge of Captain John White.

The colonists landed on the island, built houses and forts, planted gardens, and cultivated the fields. Raleigh had advised them to make friends with the Indians. So, when one of the Chiefs came in, Captain White greeted him, and gave him some cheap jewelry, a gaudy handkerchief, and a knife as presents. He then asked the Indian to kneel down while he conferred on him the title of Lord of Roanoke.

All went well with the little colony. The houses were ready for the coming winter, the crops were growing, and the Indians were friendly. There was great rejoicing when it was announced that Mrs. Dare, the daughter of the Governor, had a little baby girl, the first white child of English parents to be born in America.

Governor White thought he might safely sail back to England in order to get some supplies for the winter; he planned to return to his colony in a few weeks. So he went to England, leaving his happy people on Roanoke Island. But, when he reached England, he found that country in a state of great excitement over the threatened Spanish invasion.

It seems that a bold Englishman, Sir Francis Drake, had sailed into the harbor of Cadiz, in Spain, and had burned or captured all the ships there. This had made the Spaniards angry, especially as he had said, "I have singed the beard of the Spanish King."

The King of Spain fitted out a great fleet intended to destroy the English navy; he would land an army on English soil and plunder England herself! The fleet consisted of about one hundred and thirty ships, with 30,000 soldiers and sailors. It would not be considered wonderful in these days, but it was considered a great fleet then, and was called the "Invincible Armada."

This expedition created consternation in England, and everybody was hurried on board ships to fight the Spaniards. Hardly had the Armada sailed out of the harbor before a severe storm scattered the English ships; so that, later on, Drake and the other English sea captains fought the enemy singly. Fortunately, the English ships were light and were able to sail all around the big, heavy Spanish ships, doing them much damage and not suffering much themselves. The Armada circled the British Isles, meeting storm after storm, and pursued and harried by the English. At last the great fleet was broken up in a terrible gale, many of the ships were lost, and the great Armada came to nought.

It took a long time for all this to happen, and, in the meanwhile, Governor White could not get back to his colony at Roanoke. One ship was fitted out and ready to sail, but the Government seized it and sent it off to fight the Spaniards. Another ship was made ready, and actually sailed, but the Captain turned pirate, and went after Spanish vessels in the West Indies. It was nearly three years before Governor White found himself on board his own ship, on his way to the colonists and to his little granddaughter.

We can imagine the feelings of the old Captain as he sailed over the seas, wondering what had become of his friends and family, and how they had fared all this time. They had looked for him to return to them in a few months, and here it was nearly three years!

Land was sighted one day just after dark, and a light glimmered on shore. "That must be the home of one of the colonists," exclaimed the Governor. Hastily, a boat was lowered and he was rowed to shore. On landing, his men with him looked about, called aloud, blew trumpets and fired off their guns, but there was not a sight or a sound of any of the colonists.

All night they searched, and next day. At last they came to a few huts, broken down and long unused; there were also some torn bits of clothing scattered about. No signs could be found of any colonists having been near in a great while. On a tree near by was carved the word, croatan.

The Lost Coloney

Governor White, when he saw this, thought he knew what had become of the colonists, because he had told them that if, for any cause, it was necessary for them to move away, they should carve on a tree or door-post the name of the place to which they were going. Croatan was the name of a tribe of Indians, and the Governor at once thought his colonists had gone to the island where those Indians lived.

He tried to reach this island, but storms arose and blew him off his path. Besides which, his crew demanded that he return home. So he set sail for England, leaving the lost colony to its fate. From that day to this no one has ever known what became of the lost colony of Roanoke, or of the little baby girl whose eyes first saw the light on the soil of America.


Front Matter

Leif, the Lucky
Spaniards Conquer Mexico
Conquest of Peru
The Fountain of Youth
De Soto and the Mississippi
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Lost Colony
Adventures of John Smith
More about John Smith
Pilgrims and Puritans
Miles Standish
Building a Canoe
Roger Williams
Old Silver Leg
William Penn
The Charter Oak
Bloody Marsh
Saving of Hadley
Sir William Phips
Hannah Dustin
Israel Putnam
A Young Surveyor
Young Washington
Indians and Major Putnam
How Detroit was Saved
Blackbeard the Pirate
Daniel Boone
Sunday in the Colonies
The Salem Witches
Traveling by Stage-coach
King George and the Colonies
Patrick Henry
Paul Revere
Green Mountain Boys
Father of his Country
Nathan Hale
Elizabeth Zane
Capturing the Hessians
Lafayette Comes to America
Lydia Darrah
Captain Molly Pitcher
The Swamp Fox
Outwitting a Tory
Supporting the Colors
Nancy Hart
Mad Anthony
Execution of Major Andre
How Schuyler was Saved
An Indian Trick
Winning the Northwest
Benjamin Franklin
Nolichucky Jack
Eli Whitney
Thomas Jefferson
Burning of the Philadelphia
Lewis and Clark
Colter's Race for Life
Pike Explores Arkansas Valley
How Pumpkins Saved a Family
Old Ironsides
Star Spangled Banner
Traveling by Canal
Lafayette Returns
Osceola, Seminole Chief
Journey by Railroad
Old Hickory
Daniel Webster
Henry Clay
Plantation Christmas
John C. Calhoun
Heroes of the Alamo
Freedom for Texas
Electric Telegraph
Gold in California
Crossing Continent
The Pony Express
Boy Who Saved Village
Rescue of Jerry
Abraham Lincoln
Robert E. Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Stealing a Locomotive
Sam Davis
Escape from Prison
Running the Blockade
Heart of the South
Surrender of Lee
Laying the Atlantic Cable
The Telephone
Thomas A. Edison
Clara Barton
Hobson and the Merrimac
Dewey at Manila Bay
Conquering Yellow Fever
Sinking of Lusitania
Private Treptow
Frank Luke, Aviator
Sergeant York