Section II. Exploration to Revolution Resources

Exploration to Revolution: Pre-Columbian Times to the 1770s

  • 2.01 Map of Virginia: Discovered and Described by Captain John Smith, 1606
  • 2.02 Henry Fleet’s account of trading with Indians, 1632
  • 2.03 Known Indian settlements (Metropolitan view and Arlington view)
  • 2.04 Chesapeake Bay navigation chart, 1776

Source 2.01: Smith, John, and William Hole. Virginia. [London, 1624] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

This map is already a part of most teachers’ document repertoire, but just in case it is not, here is a copy. This map in particularly benefits from being enlarged. Here is some background on Smith and this map.

Source 2.02: Fleet, Henry. “Fleet’s Journal of a Voyage in Ship Warwick.” The Founders of Maryland as Portrayed in Manuscripts, Provincial Records and Early Documents. Ed. Edward D. Neill. Albany: Joel Munsell, 1876. 19-37. Print.

Henry Fleet was one of the early Virginia (or perhaps Maryland) fur traders. He was captured by Nacostine Indians in the D.C.-area  in 1622 and held captive for 5 years. These excerpts from his journal document great examples of political and economic relationships between London, the colonies, English settlers, and different groups of Indians. Consider using each page depending on what a teacher might want to get out of the journal and what time allowed for. Here is narrative account of Fleets journal to understand the bigger picture.

Page 1 – The 4th of July 1631

  • Trade routes between London, New England, and the Chesapeake Bay
  • Demand in Europe driving economic behavior of Indians and traders to supply beaver in America
  • The influence of geography

Page 2 – Monday, the 21st of May [1632],

  • Competition in the beaver trade
  • Relationships among the different groups English and Indians
  • Contrast of a frontier economy versus the plantation economy

Page 3 – On Monday, the 25th of June

  • A description of the Arlington shore
  • Intratribal conflict

Page 4 – The 10th of July

  • An interaction similar to the adoption ritual John Smith experienced on a minor scale
  • Intratribal competition
  • What commodities Indians were interested in
  • How the English were able to communicate with Indians
  • The audience and purpose of Fleet’s  journal

Further Reading:

Source 2.03a: Proudfit S. V. “Ancient Village Sites and Aboriginal Workshops in the DIstrict of Columbia.” American Anthropologist 2.3 (1889): 241-246. Print

Source 2.03b: Sims, B. L., III. “Indian Village Sites in Arlington (from Proudfit).” Arlington County, Virginia: A History. By C. B. Rose. Arlington, VA: Arlington Historical Society, 1976. 12. Print.

Native Americans are believed to have lived in the D.C.-area as far back as 13,500 years ago. By 1679, intratribal conflict led to the Nacostines migrating further north up the Potomac. Many Indian village sites have been identified in Arlington and around the area, but the sites were dug before stratigraphy and cross-dating were used to date artifacts and dig sites. Still, these maps are testament to the people who came before for us, and artifacts from these sites do provide evidence of trade networks that extend to Canada.  

Further Reading:

Source 2.04: Sayer, Robert and John Bennett. A new and accurate chart of the Bay of Chesapeake, with all the shoals, channels, islands, entrances, soundings, and sailing-marks, as far as the navigable part of the rivers Patowmack, Patapsco and north-east. London, Printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennett, 1776. Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress.

This map (S2.04) emphasizes the importance and continued dominance of navigable waterways to trade and development throughout the eighteenth-century (e.g. Alexandria chartered in 1748, founded in 1749, town incorporated 1779).   

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