Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Founding of Maryland and the Trouble with William Clayborne

In 1632, a guy named Cecil Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore, got permission to found a new colony in America from King Charles I. That was pretty exciting news for him and his kin because it meant, A) getting probably a shit ton of money and B) creating a safe-haven for English Catholics (who, admittedly, weren't actually in any danger under Charles, whose wife was a Catholic.)

Cecil was pretty gung-ho about the whole thing, and was right pissed off when the Virginians, (probably) under the direction of a Puritan dick named William Clayborne, protested the land-grant for the state of Maryland. Clayborne had managed to start new settlements in the land that would become Maryland, specifically Kent Island, so he was pretty fucking worried that he was about to lose a big part of his income source. What's more, those areas North of the Potomac that Clayborne said should belong to Virginia, were a good source of Indian trade for furs and other shit that the Virginians were making dough on.

Cecil Calvert's Brother
Luxiously-haired Leonard Calvert. 
Luckily, though, Cecil managed to convince the King that Virginia had no right to the lands North of the Potomac. So he had a green light. Time to go to America! "Except, oh wait, I changed my mind, my brother Leonard should go instead," Cecil might have kind of said.

So Leonard went with a bunch of other people and, taking the standard route up through the Caribbean and hugging the East Coast, landed somewhere in Virginia on the West side of the Chesapeake Bay. Okay, fine but, too far South, he realized. So they traveled up the Potomac River a little ways and took a right turn at a branch near the mouth of the river.

Early depiction of St Mary's City along the Potomac
There they found an Indian settlement, where they got out of their boats and introduced themselves.

The good news was that these Indians were friendly to the English, as many Indians in the area were. This is mostly because the Spanish reputation for being huge assholes had preceded them, and the English were practically at war with that country. "An enemy of my enemy is my friend."

The great news was that these Indians, the Yoamacoans, offered to share their little town with these newcomers. The reasons for such a gesture are not clear, but its probably because a rival tribe, the Susquehanock, had been raiding their settlement for some time and stealing their women. The Yoamacoans were pleased to have the extra protection.

The really great news was that the Yoamacoans said, "alright so we'll share this sweet-ass village with you guys til the end of the year, then we're gonna pack up and head, like, west, probably." This village eventually became St Mary's City!

So, while the Virginians who founded Jamestown had been attacked on their first night, the Marylanders were so charming and cool and awesome that they got a free village and about 8 months of hunting, fishing, and planting training from the New World Wise Yoamacoans. Cool!

One of our story's two main villains
William Clayborne:
Look at that mustache. Probably pulled at it
villainously while thinking of new evil plots
But all was not so cool. What had our villain, Mr Clayborne been doing all this time? Well, as the settlers and Indians shared a village, there suddenly came a day when the Yoamacoans were acting real pissed off and distrustful of their roommates. Apparently, Clayborne had been spreading rumors that these new Maryland settlers were actually Spanish in disguise! Oh fuck! The Indians were probably made to believe such retarded shit because the Marylanders were Catholic and shared some obvious symbolism and actions with their Spanish enemies (sign of the cross, etc).

Luckily, shit chilled out before anything bad happened and everyone was friends again, except Clayborne, who was still a dick. The Indians moved out and left the Marylanders to their own devices. The Marylanders, for their part, did awesomely, and managed to produce so much corn in their first two years
that they exported a frakking shit-ton to New England.

Meanwhile, Clayborne, pissed off that his plan of turning the Indians against the newcomers didn't work, devised a new and much more villainous plan. He was going to steal all their little disembarking ships (not that little, still had sails and guns), and patrol the Potomac looking for a fight. Lead by a man named Ratcliffe Warren, a group of pirate-like river jerks stole some of the Maryland boats. Luckily, St Mary's had been tipped off to such a plot, and so armed two of their own boats with some men and guns.

America's first naval engagement was fought in three
boats like this

The two groups met in the spring of 1635 and the encounter ended with 3 men killed, including Ratcliffe Warren. Thomas Cornwallis, the leader on the Maryland side, took the survivors of the encounter prisoner and brought them back to St Mary's City to await trial. Clayborne had been foiled again.

See what happens next week on: Virginians are Jerks!

No comments:

Post a Comment