The Devil in Virginia: Fear in Colonial Jamestown, 1607-1622
Sparacio, Matthew John
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This study examines the role of emotions â specifically fear â in the development and early stages of settlement at Jamestown. More so than any other factor, the Protestant belief system transplanted by the first settlers to Virginia helps explain the hardships the English encountered in the New World, as well as influencing English perceptions of self and other. Out of this transplanted Protestantism emerged a discourse of fear that revolved around the agency of the Devil in the temporal world. Reformed beliefs of the Devil identified domestic English Catholics and English imperial rivals from Iberia as agents of the diabolical. These fears travelled to Virginia, where the English quickly Ê»satanizedÊ¼ another group, the Virginia Algonquians, based upon misperceptions of native religious and cultural practices. I argue that English belief in the diabolic nature of the Native Americans played a significant role during the â starving timeâ winter of 1609-1610. In addition to the acknowledged agency of the Devil, Reformed belief recognized the existence of providential actions based upon continued adherence to the EnglishÊ¼s nationally perceived covenant with the Almighty. Efforts to maintain GodÊ¼s favor resulted in a reformation of manners jump-started by Sir Thomas DaleÊ¼s Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, and English tribulations in Virginia â such as OpechancanoughÊ¼s 1622 attack upon the settlement â served as concrete evidence of GodÊ¼s displeasure to English observers. A religiously infused discourse of fear shaped the first two decades of the Jamestown settlement.
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