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This Day (Poorly Endowed Edition)


On this day in 1608, John Smith concluded his second voyage up the Chesapeake Bay (July 24–September 7), having traveled more than a thousand miles up to this point, having fought the Indians on more than one occasion, and even having participated in rather aggressive diplomacy both with them and between them. In a poem commemorating his adventures, Smith called the Chesapeake “a province full of fearfulness.” He went on to acknowledge, though, that “those shallow rivers let them [Smith and his men] coast about, / And by a small boat learn there first and mark / How they may come to make a greater bark.”
On this day in 1676, Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley retook Jamestown from Bacon‘s rebels. And thirty-nine years later Governor Alexander Spotswood, no admirer of the native intelligence, dissolved the House of Burgesses after a five-week session, calling its members “a Set of Representatives, whom Heaven has not generally endowed with the Ordinary Qualifications requisite to Legislators.” And to think that the United States Congress didn’t even exist yet!
Today also marks the death, in 1892, of Joseph Reid Anderson, who during the Civil War ran the Tredegar ironworks in Richmond. While he tried to play soldier, he was a much savvier businessman, operating the largest supplier of arms and other iron products to the Confederacy. He also brought home a pretty penny for himself. Using a ship purchased from the Confederate navy, he transported huge amounts of cotton to Britain. “Anderson insisted that the cotton sales were used to finance greater production of military and railroad supplies at Tredegar,” our entry tells us, “but most of the money went into a sterling account in London.”
Of course it did.
* Our John Smith entry is still being edited, but for more information on Smith’s exploration, see John Smith’s Voyages, 1607–1609 by Helen C. Rountree, Wayne E. Clark, and Kent Mountford (University of Virginia Press, 2007).
IMAGES: Spotswood portrait by Charles Bridges (1736; Library of Virginia); post-war portrait of a uniformed Anderson by Mathew Brady (Library of Congress)

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