Richard of Jamestown - James Otis

Captain Smith's Speech

Jamestown was a scene of turmoil and confusion when Captain Smith came back from his journey having on board only two baskets of corn for seed. After understanding what had been done by the idle ones during his absence, he called all the people together and said unto them, speaking earnestly, as if pleading for his very life:

"Never did I believe white men who were come together in a new world, and should stand shoulder to shoulder against all the enemies that surround them, could be so reckless and malicious. It is vain to hope for more help from Powhatan, and the time has come when I will no longer bear with you in your idleness; but punish severely if you do not set about the work which must be done, without further plotting. You cannot deny but that I have risked my life many a time in order to save yours, when, if you had been allowed to go your own way, all would have starved. Now I swear solemnly that you shall not only gather for yourselves the fruits which the earth doth yield, but for those who are sick. Every one that gathers not each day as much as I do, shall on the next day be set beyond the river, forever banished from the fort, to live or starve as God wills."

This caused the lazy ones to bestir themselves for the time, and perhaps all might have gone well with us had not the London Company sent out nine more vessels, in which were five hundred persons, to join us people in Jamestown. One of the ships, as we afterward learned, was wrecked in a hurricane; seven arrived safely, and the ninth vessel we had not heard from.

All these people had expected to find food in plenty, servants to wait upon them, and everything furnished to hand without being obliged to raise a finger in their own behalf. What was yet worse, they had among them many men who believed they were to be made officers of the government.


Front Matter

Who I am
Left Alone in the World
An Idle Boy
Captain Smith Comes to London
Meeting Captain Smith
Captain Smith Speaks to Me
Plans of the London Company
The Vessels of the Fleet
How I Earned my Passage
When the Fleet Set Sail
The Voyage Delayed
Nathaniel's Story
We Make Sail Again
The First Island
Captain Smith Accused
Captain Smith a Prisoner
I Attend My Master
Several Islands Visited
A Variety of Wild Game
The Tempest
The New Country Sighted
The Leader Not Known
Arrival at Chesapeake Bay
An Attack by the Savages
Reading the Company's Orders
Captain Smith on the Council
Smith Remains Aboard
Exploring the Country
People Land from the Ships
Captain Smith Proven Innocent
We Who were Left Behind
Baking Bread without Ovens
Unequal Division of Labor
Building a Home of Logs
Keeping House
Lack of Cleanliness
Cave Homes
The Golden Fever
Ducks and Oysters
Roasting Oysters
Leaning to Cook
The Sweet Potato Root
A Touch of Homesickness
Master Hunt's Preaching
Neglecting the Future
Surprised by Savages
Strengthening the Fort
Sickness and Death
Smith Gains Authority
Disagreeable Discipline
Signs of Rebellion
Second Proclamation
Building a Fortified Village
Trapping Turkeys
A Crude Kind of Chimney
Cooking a Turkey
Candles or Rushlights
The Visit of Pocahontas
Captain Kendall's Plot
Death of Captain Kendall
Captain Smith's Expedition
An Exciting Adventure
Taken Before Powhatan
Pocahontas Begs for Smith
Captain Smith's Return
A New Church
Captain Newport's Return
A Worthless Cargo
Condition of the Colony
Captain Newport's Return
Gazing at the Women
Hunt Brings Great News
Captain Newport's Instructions
The Story of Roanoke
The Crowning of Powhatan
Preparing for the Future
Stealing Company Goods
What the Thieving Led To
Fear of Famine
The Unhealthful Location
Gathering Oysters
Sturgeon for Food
Turpentine and Tar
Making Clapboards
Providing for Children
Dreams of the Future
A Plague of Rats
Treachery During Smith's Absence
Captain Smith's Speech
The New Laws
The Accident
Captain Smith's Departure
The "Starving Time"
Our Courage Gives Out
Abandoning Jamestown
Lord De la Warr's Arrival
The Young Planters