tv American Artifacts 1619 Thanksgiving at Berkeley Virginia CSPAN November 22, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm EST
this weekend on reel america on american history tv, the 1967 special news series, a cbs news inquiry, the warren report anchored by walter cronkite investigating unanswered questions into president john f. kennedy's assassination. >> sunday, november 24, the mob scene continues as oswald is brought into the basement of the police building for transport and then in full sight of millions of television viewers a man jimmed janamed jack ruby su through the crowd and shoots lee oswald dead. >> watch on c-span 3. >> each week american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. in 1619, 35 english settlers
arrived in berkeley, virginia, upriver from jamestown. we talked to graham woodleaf, descendant of the group's leader, captain john woodleaf about how they celebrated the first english thanksgiving in america. later, archaeologist mark horton described his current project, looking for artifacts to the settlement to determine the exact location. >> my name is graham woodleaf, i'm president of the virginia thanksgiving festival which is an organization devoted to the history of the first thanksgiving in america. this journey began in the spring of 1618 when four gentlemen met in london to form the berkeley company. their names were william throck morton, john smith, john thorpe and richard berkeley who owned berkeley castle in england. they met in london because they had been give abgrant of 8,000
acres of beautiful land in virginia to start a settlement and 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 and people wanted to go to the new land in the new world and see what it was like and try to gain their fortunes so they were easy to get people to go to the new world and they did. it started in 1618 and they wanted an expetition to virginia to see this new land they'd been given by king james i. what they needed to do was find a leader and that leader was john woodleaf. after looking at certain people, several people, they chose captain john woodlief.ief. after looking at certain people, several people, they chose captain john woodlief. john woodlief was an ancient
planter. he was in jamestown during the starving time. he'd experienced the leadership of an expedition. the group in london made him a captain and the first governor of the colony and he seat on to his task of leading the expedition to the new world. he leased the good ship margaret from bristol and it was due to take off with the expedition on september 16. next captain woodlief had to get a crew and he found men capable of building a settlement, that are carpenters, turners, journeymen, craftsmen who knew how to build a settlement that would last for a long time. so he chose 35 men to go across
t as the settlement progressed. he needed provisions for the ship and he started to do that. he had food. that included biscuits and bread, wheat, peas, bacon and horse meat and other kinds of things like that. he also had beer, cider and aqua vitae which was an alcoholic beverage during those years. he took with him along as well tools, kitchen utensils, bibles and 6,000 beads to trade with the indians. there were a lot of things on that ship that went over. the "margaret" was a small ship. it was only 35 feet long at its keel and weighed 47 tons so it was one of the smallest ships of that period. the men, in fact, when they went across the ocean probably had to sleep on the top deck because there was not room underneath because of the supplies that
were there to sleep underneath the deck so they took off on september 16, 1619 at 8:00. it was a beautiful morning. it was actually 35 settlers plus captain woodlief and a crew of 19. they left bristol, england, and went forth on 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, home sick, there was vermin infestation, a lot going on. a lot of difficult times for them during this two and a half month span. also many storms took place but they made it to the hampton roads area of virginia on 1619. they anchored for the night and the gale came up.
a shroud storm and they lost their cap stain which was a winch part of the ship. they worried they wouldn't make it through night but they prayed constantly and they did and headed up the james river to their destination. so captain woodlief could meet with friends who already settled there. they stopped at jamestown along the way and they ended up at berkeley hundred as it would be called on december 4, 1619. as clifford dowdy says in his book "the great plantation" they road to the shore, they dropped their luggage on the hard winter ground, it was december 4 now. they gazed at the woods enclosing them and they listened in complete silence. then at a command from captain woodlief, he said gentlemen, kneel. he said we ordain this day of our ship's arrival in the land of virginia shall be perpetually and annually kept holy as a day
of thanksgiving to almighty god. that was the first official thanksgiving in the new world. first english thanksgiving in the new world and it was two years before the pilgrims had their thanksgiving in 1621. so with that said, the settlement continued on and continued sending goods to england and went about their business. george thorpe was a cleric who came over on the ship several months later. he came over and wanted to convert the indians to christianity. they also had become very differently with the indians and vice versa, the indians with them. so all of a sudden on the morning of march 22 in 1622, indian tribes came into the settlement and other settlements along the james river and picked up any weapons they saw in what's known as the massacre of 1622. it's the indian uprising. many people were killed.
in fact, 11 people were killed at berkeley. many were injured and others just ran into the woods. this happened up and down the james river. the chief had planned the assault. jamestown was spared because an indian named chanko who befriended one of the settlers let him know what was going on and the settler road across to jamestown the night before and warned them of the impending hostility. so jamestown was spared. captain woodlief was spared. he was in england at the time and his family was in jamestown. captain woodlief eventually settled at scion hill across the james river from where the settlement was in what is known as jordan point today in hopewell, virginia. how did we find out about this? well, in 1931, the president of the college william & mary and the son of john tyler came
across papers at the new york public library known as the nibley papers and they chronicled the journey across the atlantic and once they landed. dr. tyler was excited to find this as he lived on the james river and close to the berkeley plantation. he wrote an article in the richmond news leader in 1931 about his find and i think this is the first time people really realized that the first thanksgiving happened in virginia and not in massachusetts as many people believed. so he wrote his article and then told his neighbor who was mack jamieson at the time who owned berkeley plantation about his discovery and years later in 1958 the jamieson family invited the woodlief family to the plantation to celebrate this historic event that happened on their land. the woodlief family started meeting in 1958 and three years later opened it to the public
and today as we celebrate thanksgiving, we celebrate it with the virginia thanksgiving festival that has been held for the last 57 years. it actually y lly recreates the thanksgiving when that first thanksgiving occurred. but the main purpose is we have been reenacted that thanksgiving ever since 1958 as they ordered in the initial papers. now, once captain woodlief left england they had given 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's why captain woodlief had his men kneel and gave the prayer of thanks. and we think the reason they did that and it's an official first thanksgiving is because it was ordered by england. other thanksgivings in the new world were spontaneous, not any specific orders from anyone, although the pilgrims had orders
from their colony governor william bradford. but but it was order by england. so that makes the difference and how that's different from the pilgrims in massachusetts and other thanksgivings and it was two years earlier. in those days thanksgivings were primarily a part of the new england life-style. it was also a lady by ithe name of sarah hale, a 73-year-old magazine editor, and she had been trying if 15 years to get one of the presidents of the united states to listen to her. she was very well thought of in united states and quite influential. eventually, after 15 years abraham lincoln did listen to her and designated the official thanksgiving day. it was five days after he met
with her that he did that. so he was -- it's said in a "washington post" article 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 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 harvest so you have food, football games but it comes down to being a family time and giving thanks for what the good lord provided. let me mention something else that's interesting. in 1962, john j. wicker who was a virginia state senator saw president kennedy's -- john f.
kennedy's thanksgiving proclamation where he gave massachusetts full credit. he wrote to the president but arthur schlesinger answered. arthur schlesinger was a historian for the white house asking him why virginia was not recognized. arthur schlesinger sent him a note back basically saying he was sorry the error occurred but due to unconquerable new england bias on the part of the white house they had overlooked virginia being the first and the 1963 thanksgiving proclamation by john f. kennedy included virginia first and then massachusetts after that so we feel like we've gotten our due as far as recognition. the woodlief family had a woodlief association they started in 1958 when the jamiesons invited them the plantation and it's been a part of my life ever since i was a child that i -- because they would send out information, they would have the festival down
here. it's been an important part of our life and something we enjoyed and learned a lot from. the state of virginia through the jamestown/yorktown foundation is commemorating certain historic events that happened in 1619. one was the first africans came to the new world. first groups of females came to the new world. the first legislative body in jamestown in 1619 and the first thanksgiving was here at berkeley. so we have invited charles berkeley to the 400th anniversary which is next year in 2019. charles berkeley owns berkeley castle now, is a member of that original berkeley family so he's coming as a part of that, though they've had excavations done around berkeley castle in england and the gentleman doing that is here now surveying the berkeley grounds to see if we can find the original settlement
where they built that -- when that first thanksgiving occurred. so mark horton is his name e-mailed me and said i'd like to come to virginia. we met with him about six months ago. we looked at the land with the owner of berkeley and between mr. jamison and mark horton they decided where they thought the ship may have come in sond so they decided to come back and do further surveys so they have been here it is t last four days doing that and we're hoping to find something meaningful. >> we've been working in barkley gloucestershire england for the last 10 years and we're fascinated in trying to uncover the story of berkeley america, the famous berkeley hundred that
was established in 1619 by people that came from barclay, england. one of the big mysteries is where the berkeley settlement of 1619 is located. it's clearly somewhere on the property. it's been known as berkeley hundred for hundreds of years but the precise location whereof the settlement is location has never been discovered by archaeologists or historians. or even in the memory of the people that lived lived here so our task is to use geo physics equipment to see if we can find where the settlement was. we've been surveying this huge field because we think this is the most likely place where they would have been. there's a small spring over here. there's a shallow land big the river where they could have brought their boats up and there's a fantastic view so if i
was a columnist this is where i would end up. so that's the reason why we've come to this particular field and we've done a massive survey using magnet tom tri and radar across this entire field to see if we could find traces of the settlement. as a result of the geophysics we find a series of anomalies in the geophysics so we're trying to ground truth what those anom lis are to work out whether they're from the civil war because millions of men were camped here during the american civil war but could bit the remains of the sellmentment in the 17th century. so this is one dig we're doing to see whether there's any evidence from what we found is a promising anomaly at this place so we're trying to see whether there is any real archaeology at
a all. a lot of the archaeology has come from the london area, from southeast, kent, east ang leia, london and so forth. it came from the west country, from bristol where the pottery and the pipes are quite different to what was being consumed in london. so what we actually have in our excavations is precise material culture we would expect to find underneath our feet here. from the excavations of other plantation sites, just the quantity of material that has been discovered is massive. and we know that the barclay company was very rich. it had thousands of pounds, even in 17th century standards. >> probably five, ten million
pounds of goods brought here. one thing we notice is how similar the landscape is. barclay is on the river seven. the seven is almost the same width that it is here than it is back in england. it's almost as if they chose a place that was familiar in terms of their landscape. of course the trees are very different, the vegetation is very different and it would have been much more forested so, it would have been an alien environment but we know that they took a lot of material with them to make them feel at home, ceramics, pipes and so forth so it would have been a real wrench but conditions back in england were not good in this time. we've seen a lot of graves of
poor people of the perish, the people that would volunteer to come out here and we can see they were wracked with scurvy and rickets and they were malnourished so there's a good reason why they would want to come out here to seek out a new life and new opportunities. i think there's two things that set them apart. one was they came from the west of britain rather than the east. the west country has a long history of engagement with north america going all the way back to rally and the roanoke ventures in the late 16th ch century. so it was a long history of engagement of the west country north america. which sometimes has been neglected. one of the things that we're interested in is understanding that and putting that into a
context. the other thing that the barkley site is about is that it has a christian here. we know from the people organizing the colony, they were very strongly determined in their outlook. and in particular one of the key figures was a christian who believed that native-americans should be converted to christianity. as far as we can see, the relations between the berkeley company here and the native- americans was -- was a way to be friendly and attempt to education and christianize the native-americans. he built a school for them. and moved from here and there on a regular basis and had friendly relationships with
them. as the story goes in the 1622 massacre, when this site was put up into the -- what was happening in the james river, that -- he went up to greet the indians and as part massacre, the indians attacked him and killed him on the spot. i think he said my children. and suffered a horrible fate. so i think this place tells a story of those relations. and events took over. that's why now we have an empty field here. >> we know that 12 of the settlers were killed in the massacre. there were probably 50 or 60 living here at the time. it would have been quite a substantial.
most of them stayed back to jamestown. but it certainly brought to an end the settlement here. the barkley company after 1622 massacre carried on. and attempted to trade in tobacco through jamestown. clearly this wasn't particularly successful. by 1625, we had no more of it. i think one of the interesting aspects of colony was the two particular features which is famous for. the first is we have good evidence that the -- that scientists, famous john smith from jamestown but another one who was the -- lived in barkley and he communicated and said that he had a particular type of apparatus that could cure people from the diseases. they were likely to get here.
this apparatus was distillation. and so it is fairly good evidence that we have that they experimented with it here where we're standing. this is the first place where bourbon was disstilled in america. the second thing that the colony is famous for is the fight of the first thanksgiving. that is contained in the articles of instruction for the colony when they came here. and they had to -- annually on that day thereafter set aside a special date for it. what is interesting is this idea of thanksgiving i think comes out of the christian of the colony and was specifically part of the instructions that the promoters of the company issued for here. so it gives an idea of that
thanksgiving what was intended. so yes, quite clearly i'm convinced they would have said thanksgiving 1619 annually until 1622. i think that perspective comes through the story of early english colonization. i think one of the things that we learn is minor in terms of our history how the process was. it was not the big thing that occurs here. these things happened. the barkley expeditions is hardly mentioned in english textbooks, english history books. it is completely forgotten
about. i live close to barkley. nobody in my town has ever, ever heard of it. it is written out of our history. what our work is trying to do is to -- bring back some american history and push it within a proper perspective back new england. what we want to do in our investigations is find some tangible link to this period in 1619. it is becoming such an iconic year in virginian history with all sorts of commemorations happening at this time. what we would like to do is provide some tangibleility. we know that thanksgiving happened here in 1619. where exactly. what we are trying to find is exactly the physical place on the ground where the colony settled. >> you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by
visiting our website at cspan.org/history. this weekend on c-span, saturday at 8:00 p.m. eastern, photo georgist wills talk about their favorite photographs on the campaign trail. >> that is kind of how i do it first and then you look really hard and work really hard. because there's always a story to tell. it is like this is stage craft, political theater. but you always try to lift the veil so people can maybe understand what they're like and about. >> on book tv on s span 2 on saturday 8:00 p.m. eastern. lindsey adaria talks about photos she has taken in the middle east. >> there was a call to arms and they went. and we went with them. it was terrifying because as we were hit by the troops and there were airstrikes at that time, there were mortar rounds,
tank rounds, fire. it was relentless and the guys would run away, leave us the journalists on the front line. so we had to run away after them. >> c-span 3 how the pilgrims became part of america's founding story. >> one of the reasons why they become this influential and important origin is they could be used to give america a noble identity or a noble cause. right. so we hear that the pilgrims came for freedom or god or for self government or all three of those things. because they came for those reasons, that is what america stands forever since. >> this weekend on the c-span networks. >> who was martin van buren? good question. a lot of people -- we need to ask that question.
martin van buren was the 8th president of the united states. and he's often forgotten. his presidency was only four years long. >> sunday on q and a, chad whitmer on his biography of martin van buren. >> he spent a lot of time with the murderer. so persistent that he implanted them in his november he will that he may have been the illegitimate son of aaron burr. we don't know. no one will ever know. but john witness eadams once wrote in his diary. i saw it that martin van buren looks a lot like aaron burr and acts a lot like aaron burr. always trying to organize and try to get people in political
alliances together. >> on c-span q and a saturday night. >> next on the civil war, joanne freeman talks about her book the field of blood violence in congress and the road to civil war. she describes the process of researching the topic and says she found that while fights were not always included in the official congressional record, clerk notes and private letters showed more than 70 altercations in the an at tebellum period. this is about an hour. >> i'm please today introduce freeman. a professor of history and american studies at yale university as well as a leading authority on early national politics and political culture. she is the author of affairs of honor, national politics and the new