tv American Artifacts 1619 Thanksgiving at Berkeley Virginia CSPAN November 18, 2018 9:59pm-10:26pm EST
battlefield of bravery, of soldiers blue and gray, north and south. american soldiers. this culture of reconciliation, whether it is playing out in politics or economics or popular culture helped convince americans on both sides of the mason-dixon line that the horrors of war were behind them. the peoples of reconstruction are behind them. 1890's,e in the 1880's, there is a generational shift going on. veterans are not only aging. the 1890's is the high point of veterans on both sides in the u.s. congress. there is the notion you want to sell things throughout the country. sally pickett is very savvy about this when she writes her account. she wants to sell accounts to northerners and southerners. she paints this reconciliation in picture. the united states is trying to gain its place on the world stage.
the notion of a united america is an important image. >> learn more about the people and events that shape the civil war and reconstruction every saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern only on american history tv here on c-span3. = each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic laces to learn about history. in 35 english settlers arrived 1619, in berkeley, virginia. upriver from jamestown. we talked to graham woodlief, descendent of the group's leader, captain john woodlief, about how these colonists celebrated the first english thanksgiving in america. later, archaeologists marquart and describes his current project, looking for artifacts from the settlement to determine is exact location. graham: hi, my name is graham woodlief and i'm president of the virginia thanksgiving festival, an organization
devoted to the history of the first thanksgiving. this journey began in the spring of 1618 when four gentleman met in london to form the berkeley company. their names were william frogmore john smith, george throckmorton john , smith, george thorpe, and richard berkeley. they met in london because as i said they had been given a grant of over 8000 acres to start a settlement and to bring profits back to england. at that point in the early 17th century, england was going through a severe recession. poverty was rampant. king james i had tyrannical leadership. there was a lot going on and people wanted to go to the new land in the new world to see what it is like an gain their fortunes. it was easy to get people to go to the new world, and they did. in 1618. it started
they wanted an expedition to virginia to see the new land they had been given by king james i. they needed to find a leader. that leader was john woodlief. after looking at certain people, several people, they chose captain john woodlief to lead the expedition to the new world. he had been to the new world several times. he was an ancient planter, quite a distinction in those days. he was a merchant trader. he was in jamestown during the starving time, so he had experienced the new world and experienced the leadership of an expedition. the group in london made him a captain and first governor of the colony and he set on to his task of leading the expedition to the new world. what he had to do first was a margaret, from bristol, england, -- was a lease a ship, the good ship margaret, from bristol, england, in 1619.
its name was the margaret and it was due to take off from the new world with the expedition on the september 16. next he had to get a crew and he found men that were capable of building a settlement, carpenters, journeyman, those kinds of professions that were craftsmen who knew how to build a settlement that could last for a long time. so, he chose 35 men to go across has the settlement progressed. next he needed provisions for the ship and he started to do that. he had food that included biscuits and bread, wheat, bacon and horsemeat, and other kinds of things like that. he also had beer, cider, and aqua vitae. it was an alcoholic beverage during those years.
he took along tools, kitchen utensils, bibles, and 6000 beads to trade with the indians. there were a lot of things on that ship that went over. the margaret itself was a small ship for those times. it was only 35 feet long at the keel, weighing 47 tons, one of the smallest ships of the time. the men in fact, going across , the ocean had to sleep on the top deck because there would not have an room underneath because of the supplies. so, they took off on september 1619, at 8:00 in the morning. 16, it was a beautiful morning, settlers plus captain woodlief and a crew of 19. they left bristol, england for their journey. unfortunately there was not a lot of wind, so on the seventh day of the cruise a small gale came up and pushed them forward . they spent two and a half months
on the atlantic ocean. they were claustrophobic, they were homesick. there was a lot of vermin infestation. there was a lot going on. a lot of difficult times during that time span. many storms also took place, but they made it and they made it to the hampton roads area of virginia on 1619. november 29, they anchored for the night and a gale came up. the shroud storm is what it's called. they lost their capstan, the winch part of the ship and worried they wouldn't make it to the night, but they prayed constantly and they did make it through the night and headed up the james river to their destination. captain woodlief could meet with friends would already settled there. they stopped in jamestown along the way and ended up at the berkeley 100, as it would be called, on december 4, 1619.
as clifford downey says in his book, they rode to the shore, they dropped their luggage on the hard winter ground, they gazed at the woods enclosing and listened in complete silence. then at a command from the captain he said -- gentleman, kneel so we may say a prayer of thanksgiving. he said that they ordained the day of the arrival in the land of virginia as perpetually and annually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to all mighty god. it was the first official thanksgiving in the new world. the first english thanksgiving in the new world. it was two years before the pilgrims had their thanksgiving in 1621. with that said, the settlement continued on, continued sending goods to england and went about their business. george thorpe was a cleric who had come over on the ship several months later.
he had come over and wanted to convert the indians to christianity. they also had become very friendly with the indians and vice versa the indians with them so suddenly on the morning of , 1622, indian tribes came into march 22, the settlement and other settlements along the james river and picked up any weapons they saw in what was known as the massacre of 1622, the indian uprising. many people were killed. 11 people were killed at berkeley. many were injured and others just ran into the woods. this happened all up and down the james river. the chief had planned the assault. jamestown was spared because an indian named chanco who had the friend at one of the settlers let him know what was going on and the settler rode across the night before and warned them of
the impending hostility. so, jamestown was spared, captain graham woodlief, he was in england at the time and his family was in jamestown. captain put these eventually settled at zion hill across the river in what is known as a jordan point today. that is hopewell, virginia. in 1931, dr. lion tyler, president of the college of william and mary, son of john tyler, came across the papers at the new york public library and they chronicled the journey across the atlantic from once they landed. dr. tyler was excited to find this, as he lived on the james river close of the berkeley plantation. he wrote an article in 1931 about his find. this was the first time people realized the first thanksgiving happened in virginia and not
massachusetts as many believed. he wrote his article and then he told his neighbor about his discovery and years later, 1958, the jamison family invited the woodlief family to the plantation to celebrate the historic event that had happened on their land. the woodlief family started meeting in 1958 and 3 years later opened it to the public. today as we celebrate thanksgiving, we celebrate at the virginia thanksgiving festival that is withheld -- that has been held for the last 57 years, it actually re-creates the first thanksgiving when the the landing occurred at berkeley. and a lot of other colonial games and things take place, but the main purpose is we have been reenacting that thanksgiving ever since as they had ordered 1958 in the initial papers. once captain woodlief left england, they gave him instructions to do 10 things.
the very first thing was when he landed to say thanks for their safe journey and to do that perpetually and annually. that is why captain woodlief had his men kneel and give a prayer of thanks. we think that that is the reason they did that as part of the official first thanksgiving, because it was ordered by england. other thanksgivings in the new world were spontaneous, not on orders from anyone although the , pilgrims and the colony governor william bradford. the one at berkeley was official because it was ordered by england and to be done perpetually and annually, which it was. that makes a difference between the thanksgiving at berkeley and how it differs between the other thanksgivings at the time. plus it was two years earlier. , in those days, thanksgivings were primarily a part of the new england lifestyle. there was also a lady by the
name of sarah hale, a 73-year-old magazine editor who had been trying for 15 years to get one of the presidents of the united states to listen to her. she was well thought of in the united states in those days and quite influential. eventually, after 15 years abraham lincoln listened to her and designated the official thanksgiving day. it was five days after he met with her that he did that. it is said in a washington post article that i just read recently that she may have had some influence on him with the pilgrims being recognized as the first thanksgiving. the pilgrims had a harvest festival in addition to a somewhat of a religious service. so that was different. but in those days it was more of a giving thanks for safe voyages and good harvests, things like that. so today you have got food,
you got football games, a lot of things like that. it comes right down to being with family and being a family time and giving thanks for what the good lord has provided. let me mention one other thing, that is pretty interesting. in 1962, john jay wicker, a virginia state senator, saw john f. kennedy's thanksgiving proclamation where he gave massachusetts full credit. he wrote to the president and arthur/injured answered -- schlesinger. he asked why virginia was not recognized. he sent him a note saying that he was basically sorry that the
error occurred but due to on comparable new england bias on the part of the white house, they had overlooked virginia being the first of the 1963 thanksgiving proclamation by john f. kennedy included virginia first and massachusetts after that. we feel it we have gotten our do as far as recognition. the woodlief family had an association they started in 1968 -- in 1958 and it has been a part of my life ever since i was a child. they would send out information. they would have, the festival down here. it has been an important part of our life, something that we have enjoyed and learned a lot from. the foundation is commemorating certain historic events that happened in 1619. one was the first groups of the females coming to the new world. the first legislative body was in jamestown in 1619. in the first thanksgiving was here at berkeley.
so, we have invited charles berkeley to the 400th anniversary, which is next year. 2019. charles berkeley owns berkeley castle now and is a member of the original berkeley family. so, he is coming. as a part of that they have had a lot of excavations done around berkeley castle in england and the gentleman doing that is here now, excavating looking at and , surveying the grounds to see if we can find the original settlement where they built the -- when the first thanksgiving occurred. mark horton is his name and he emailed me and said he would like to come to virginia. we met with him about six months ago. we looked at the land. between mr. jameson and mark horton, they decided where they thought the ship may have come in and they decided to come back to do further surveys. they have been here for the last four days doing that and we hope
they will find something meaningful. >> we have been working in berkeley gloucestershire, , england, the last 10 years. we are fascinating in trying to uncover the story of berkeley america, the famous berkeley established in 1619. 100 one of the big mysteries is where the berkeley settlement of is actually located. 1619 clearly it's somewhere here on the property, known as the berkeley hundred for hundreds of years, but the precise location of where the settlement is located has never been well -- never been discovered by archaeologists or historians. or even in the memory of the people who lived here. our task is to use modern
scientific machinery, geophysics equipment and so forth to find where the 17th century settlement really was. we have been surveying this huge field here, because we think that this is the most likely place for they would have been. there is a spring over here, a shallow landing by the river, and a fantastic view in both directions of the james river. if i was a colonist coming here for the first time, this is where i would end up. that's the reason we have come to this particular field. we have done a massive survey using magnetometer and radar across the entire field to see if we could find traces of the settlement. as a result of the geophysics we , found a series of targets. anomalies in the geophysics. what we are trying to do is to
ground truth what the anomalies are. whether they are from the civil war. millions of men were camped here during the american civil war. but could it also be part of the remains of the settlement here in the 17th century? this is one dig we are doing, to see if there is any evidence from what we have found from the promising anomaly in this place into seeing if there is actually any real archaeology there at all. a lot of the archaeology of the area, centered on jamestown, has come from the london area. from britain. from the southeast. east anglia, london, so forth. what was interesting about the berkeley company is they came from the west country, from bristol, where the pottery in the pipes are really quite different to what was being consumed in london. so what we actually have in our excavations in england is the
precise material that we would expect to find under our feet here. from the excavations of other plantation sites on the james river, just quantitative material discovered that his massive. we know that the berkeley company was very rich. ofhad a lot of investments thousands of pounds, even in 17th century standards, probably 5 million to 10 million pounds of goods stored here, so hopefully there is stuff here to find. one thing we noticed immediately when we come here is how similar the landscape is to where they came from. river severnn the they almost say that the witness , is here and it's back in england. it's almost as if they chose a place that was familiar in terms of their landscape. of course the trees were different, the vegetation was different. it would have been much more
forested. yes, it would have been a very alien environment. but we know they took a lot of material with them to make them feel at home. ceramics, the pipes and so forth. so, it is clearly -- it would have been a real wrench, but the conditions back in england were not good at the time. a lot of poverty. we have excavated a lot of the graves of the people, the poor people of the parish. the people who would've volunteered to come out here. we can see that they were wracked with scurvy, rickets, and all of these horrible diseases. they were malnourished. there is a good reason they would want to come out here to seek out the new life in the new opportunities. there are two things that set them apart. one, they came from the west of britain rather than the east. the west country has a long history of engagement with north
america, going back to the roanoke ventures of the late 16th-century. discover northo america in 1498. it's a long history of engagement from the west country with north america. which has sometimes been neglected. one of the things we are interested in understanding that and putting that into a context to the other thing the berkeley site is interested about is a clearly have a strong christian ethos here. we know from the people organizing the colonies that their outlook and in particular one of the key figures in the history of the society, george thorpe, was a proselytizing christian who believed that native americans should be converted to christianity. as far as we can see those
relations between the berkeley company here and the native americans were good. george thorpe went out of his way to both be friendly and attempt to educate and christianize the native americans. he built a school for them and moved between here and there on a regular basis. clearly he had friendly relationships with them. the story goes in the 1622 massacre is that when it was brought into the border what eventually happened in the james river, he saw his friendly indians. he went up to greet them and as part of the massacre, they attacked him and killed him on the spot. i think he said -- my children, what's the problem? he suffered a horrible fate. this place tells a story of
those relations and events, i should say, took over, which is why we have an empty field here now. we know that 12 of the settlers were killed in the massacre. including george thorpe. probably there would have it about 50 or 60 of them living here at the time. it would have been quite substantial. obviously most of them escaped back to jamestown. but it certainly brought to an end the settlement here. the berkeley company carried on. they attempted to trade to go -- trade and tobacco through jamestown but by 1625 with her -- we hear no more of it. of this, two particular features -- one of the interesting aspects of this, two particular features that were famous, the first is
that we have good evidence that the promotional colonist, john smith, not the one from jamestown but another one who was the -- he lived in berkeley and was a scientist. he communicated with an apothecary who set a particular type of apparatus that could cure people from the diseases they were likely to get here. it is a most certainly distillation. evidencefairly good that they experimented with it here where we are standing. this is the first place if you like where bourbon was distilled in america. the second thing the colony is famous for is the first thanksgiving. that is contained in the articles of instruction for the colonists when they came here.
they had to say thanksgiving both in their arrival and annually on the date thereafter, find a special day for it. what's interesting is that the idea of thanksgiving comes out of a christian ethos of the colony and specifically part of the instructions for the promoters of the company issued for here. it gives an idea of the christian ethos where thanksgiving was intended. yes, quite clearly i convinced they would have said thanksgiving in 1619 and annually until 1622. from a british perspective, we never simply come through the story of english early colonization in america from a slightly different viewpoint. and north american archaeologist and historians are working entirely within an american framework.
i think one of the things that we learned is relative how minor in terms of our history this colonization process was. it was not the big thing as it occurs here. these things happened. the berkeley expedition is hardly mentioned in english textbooks and history books. it is completely forgotten about. i live very close to there and i -- nobody in my town has ever heard of it. how much of it has been written out of our history. what our work is trying to do is bring back some american history to put it in a proper perspective. what we want to do in our investigations is find a link to this period in 1619. it's becoming so iconic in virginia