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Thoma, Harry C. (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 38, Number V (Feb. 1937)

Fish, Carl Russell
Representative Americans,   pp. 184-185


Page 184


             R1epreselrlalive Americaims
                                                  A  posthumous publication
          of some of
   (Editor's note: The Alumnus
considers itself most fortunate indeed                              of. 
                   7
to be privileged to present the first of          the   lectures    O   
W  isconsin s     beloved
a series of interesting highlights on
outstanding historical characters as                       Carl      Russell
        Fish
originally presented in the late Carl
Russell Fish's course, "Representative
Americans."   We are indebted    to
Mrs. Carl Russell Fish and the Wisconsin Historical    never in the British
colonies that legal distinction be-
Society for permission to publish this series from the  tween the European
and American born that did so
original manuscript. All material contained herein is  much to embitter life
in the Spanish Americas while
copyrighted, 1937, by The Wisconsin Alumnus.)          that great creation
of human experience, the English
                                                       Common Law, was by
the Raleigh charter sent over
K]F~ifHE Virginia group of the first generation of     in toto, to develop
on American soil.
       colonists is disappointing to the romantically
   l  inclined. That Virginia civilization which is      IN coming to the
real actors of the first generation,
       perhaps the most charming aspect of American    priority of mention
perhaps belongs to one who saw
       life, was an American creation, and it took     the first seeds of
our national life planted, and
time to create. Virginians are proud that so many      watched them   with
keen and critical interest, the
chevalier families brought to the James the tradition  Indian chief, Powhattan.
  Unfortunately, we have
of the gentlest English blood; but the chevalier had   no record of his impressions,
but he is at least impor-
little incentive to do so until the overthrow of Charles  tant because he
could have uprooted those first seeds
the Martyr in 1648.   Among the first settlers were    and did not. His actions,
moreover, were representa-
indeed ancestors of such later leaders as Jefferson and  tive of that of
dozens of other native born, red
Madison, but on the whole those who were "born"        Americans,
who, first on the coast, and then from
or distinguished were few before the turn of the cen-  point to point westward,
saw white men arrive and
tury, and the gracious ways of living which later      suffered them.
characterized the Tidewater, required an economic         Captain John Smith,
a mutual friend of Powhat-
foundation that took time for the laying. It will be   tan and ourselves,
called him  "emperor."  It is a
in the second and third generations that we find the   title not more misleading
than that of Indian chief,
flower; here we meet some of the seed, but mostly      as the latter is generally
understood. He was a chief,
the gardeners.                                         exercising a limited
power over other chiefs, whose
  We begin with a man who belonged to the pre-         combined territory
included that part of Virginia
ceding generation, and was one of its most representa-  first settled by
whites. It is needless to say that his
tive characters, who was quite out of place with       life was simple, and
his manners shocking to those
those we are now to meet, spent most of his overlap-   accustomed to other
manners.   It is, however, nec-
ping years in prison, and ultimately lost his head.    essary to remember
that they were manners.      He
Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618) at one time pro-        possessed an hereditary
position, and had grown up
cured such title to Virginia as Queen Elizabeth could  in an atmosphere of
deference and of conventionality.
give him, and he named it in honor of her cherished    In Indian life were
ranks and classes and the sensi-
chastity. He lost what would today be millions in      bilities they produce.
William Byrd wrote in 1728
his attempt to settle it, and he failed.                              "The
Daughter of the Totero King
One dislikes, however, to leave out   -f                               bwent
away with the Sapponys, but
this gallant and gallante soldier and                    /              eing
the last of her nation, and fear-
student, and one act of his renders                 |                 ing
she should not be treated accord-
him indispensable, for it affected and                                 ing
to her Rank, poisoned herself,
affects all those who subsequently be-              M                 like
an Old Roman, with the Root
came Americans, with the exception                                    of
the Trumpet-Plant."
of the settlers of Louisiana. At least                                  
The head of a state, whether clad
one supposes that it was he, though it                                in
ermine or breech-clout, has to ex-
might have been Sir Philip Sidney,     (                              ercise
the qualities of statesmanship.
who was responsible for the new                                       Powhattan
had to decide whether to
clause introduced into his 1584 char-                                 nip
in the bud this group of strange
ter, the sense of which was incorpo-                                  beings
who sought lodging on his
rated in all subsequent charters from                                 shore,
or to associate with them. We
the British government for the found-                                 have
no key to his mind.    Captain
ing of American colonies; that the                   ;                Smith
attributes the action he took
settlers should remain  Englishmen    ,                                to
the persuasions of his daughter;
and should take their law with them.            A                     and
such feminine influences are not
George Washington was in his day       F                              unknown
in the decisions of states-
angry enough at the assumption of     ,                               men.
The fact, however, that nearly
superiority on the part of the English    Along University Avenue     all
the Indian potentates confronted
officers over colonials, but there was  A virtual fairyland this winter 
by this problem made the same de-
                                                   184


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