Raleigh’s “New Fort in Virginia” 1585, Richest Harvest
The following data is extracted from Trinity College Historical Society .
was sown which was eventually to yield the richest harvest : the direct fruit of these efforts was the colony of Jamestown, and Raleigh is the real pioneer of American civilization. It was he, and not King James, who, as Shakspere says, was destined to "make new* nations," and to whom rightly belongs the proud title of imperii Atlantici coeditor.
"It was through Raleigh's failures that success at length became possible; and his name is better entitled than any other to rank as the founder of the Anglo-American nation. "---Payne.
The misfortunes of the Roanoke settlers postponed the peopling of our State for more than a generation, but the fame of its beauty, fertility and rich resources had gone forth to the old world. Hear with what quaint expressions of enthusiasm a London writer speaks of Carolina in 1650: "Nature regards this Ornament of the new world with a more indulgent eye than she hath cast upon many other countreys. . . . It is all of so delectable an aspect, that the melanchollyest eve cannot look upon it without contentment, nor content himself without admiration. . . . Nature has crowned the Virgin Brow of this unexampled Countrey with universal plenty. . . . Winter Snowes, Frosts, and other excesses, are here only remembered, never known: the furling Springs and wanton Rivers everywhere kissing the happy soyle into a perpetuall verdure. . . . This fertility-labouring Countrey, especially in its Southerne beauties, in its Roanoke excellencies, like to a Princesse, all composed of Beauty, suffers no addresse to be made unsatisfied. . . . Why, being capable to crown her browes with Garlands of Roses, hath she sate desolate amongst the Willowes of neglect? . . . But the incomparable Virgin hath raised her dejected head, and now, like the Eldest Daughter of Nature, expresseth a priority in her Dowry. Her browes encircled with opulency, she may with as great justice as any Countrey the Sunne honours with his eye-betimes, entitle herself to an affinity with Eden, to an absolute perfection above all but Paradise. . . . The incomparable Roanoke like a Queene of the Ocean, encircled with an hundred attendant Islands, and the most Majestick Carolana shall in such an ample and noble gratitude repay her Adventurers with an Interest far transcending the Principall. "-Force Tracts, III, XI. E. Williams.
For more than half a century the name of the first settlement, the so-called -City of Raleigh," disappears from our annals; until in 1654 a company of explorers from Virginia reached Roanoke, and saw what they termed the "ruins of Sir Walter Raleigh's fort." The lapse of time has probably altered its appearance but little from what it then was, except for the changes wrought by a luxuriant vegetation. Its present condition is thus described in Harper's Magazine for May, 1860: “The trench is clearly traceable in a square about forty yards each way. Midway of one side another trench, perhaps flanking the gateway, runs inward fifteen or twenty feet. On the right of the same face of the enclosures, the corner is apparently thrown out in the form of a small bastion. The ditch is generally two feet deep, though in many places scarcely perceptible. The whole site is overgrown with pine, liveoak, vines, and a variety of other plants. A flourishing tree, draped with vines, stands sentinel near the centre. A fragment or two of stone or brick may be discovered in the grass, and then all is told of the existing relics of the city of Raleigh."
Surely, these interesting historic remains should be saved from further decay, and kept intact for all time to come. No spot in the country should be dearer or more sacred to us than that which was marked by the first footprints of the English race in America. In this year of the great Exhibition at Chicago, and in these days of enthusiasm about Columbus and his explorations, it is especially important not to lose sight of the fact that he did not discover the continent of North America, and that the United States owe nothing to Spanish civilization. That influence was to mould the destiny of the peoples who gathered in the new world south of the Gulf of Mexico; but Cabot with his English explorers was the first to set foot on our Atlantic coast, and it is to English enterprise, English moral standards, English political ideas, and English civil and religious liberty, that we owe the manifold blessings we now enjoy, and to which we must gratefully ascribe the marvelous progress and prosperity of our beloved country.
And now we sons of Carolina, whose lot is cast beyond her borders, appeal to you at home for help in our patriotic undertaking. Perhaps those who are privileged to hang ever on the mother's breast do not so fully realize how dear she is as we who yearn for her from afar. But however this may be, our love for the dear old mother State is deep and tender; we are proud of her glory, jealous of her honor; eager to work for her, to plead for her; and ready I trust, if God will, to die for her.
Her record is illustrious, but the world does not know it,---her history is full of good deeds, great deeds, noble deeds, but it is largely unwritten. Shall this ever be so? Shall no stepping-stone mark her grand progress across the waters of time? Are no statues to rise in honor of our immortals,---no monuments to our heroic dead,---no memorials of great epochs in our history?
To put these questions is to answer them, and we can no longer remain unmindful of our worthy past. The times are full of hopeful signs: associations are forming for patriotic purposes; historical societies are springing up in our principal towns; a few men have found that they have no time to make money, and are spending happy laborious days in turning over old manuscripts and publishing
*King Henry VIII, V.4, 53.
Source: Trinity College Historical Society