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The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown

The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America

Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

Henry Holt and Co.

A freshly researched account of the dramatic rescue of the Jamestown settlers The English had long dreamed of colonizing America, especially after Sir Francis Drake brought home Spanish treasure and dramatic tales from his raids in the Caribbean. Ambitions of finding gold and planting a New World colony seemed within reach when in 1606 Thomas Smythe extended overseas trade with the launch of the Virginia Company. But from the beginning the American enterprise was a disaster. Within two years warfare with Indians and dissent among the settlers threatened to destroy Smythe’s Jamestown just as it had Raleigh’s Roanoke a generation earlier.To rescue the doomed colonists and restore order, the company chose a new leader, Thomas Gates. Nine ships left Plymouth in the summer of 1609—the largest fleet England had ever assembled—and sailed into the teeth of a storm so violent that “it beat all light from Heaven.” The inspiration for Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the hurricane separated the flagship from the fleet, driving it onto reefs off the coast of Bermuda—a lucky shipwreck (all hands survived) which proved the turning point in the colony’s fortune.

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Chapter One  

LONDON DREAMS  In the spring of 1606, Sir Thomas Smythe’s Philpot Lane house fairly buzzed with activity. His family’s principal residence served as a gathering spot for London’s ambitious merchants and gentlemen who dreamed of spreading their wealth and power and Christian faith beyond the boundaries of their small island nation. Smythe played such a central role in the city’s leading overseas trading operations that he used the ground floor of his home for offices for the Levant, East India, and Muscovy Companies, and, most recently,
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Praise for The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown

“In this gripping account of shipwreck, mutiny, perseverance, and deliverance, the epic story of the wreck of the Sea Venture and its consequences for the survival of Jamestown, England's first successful colony in the New World, is told for the first time. Glover and Smith persuasively make the case that in saving themselves, the 150 castaways stranded for nearly a year on the remote island of Bermuda ultimately saved English America.”—James Horn, author of A Land As God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

  • Lorri Glover is the author of two books on the early South, including Southern Sons: Becoming Men in the New Nation. She is a professor of early American history at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

    Daniel Blake Smith is the author of An American Betrayal, The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown, Inside the Great House: Planter Family Life in Eighteenth Century Chesapeake Society, and many articles on early American history. Formerly a professor of colonial American history at the University of Kentucky, Smith now lives in St. Louis where he works as a screenwriter and filmmaker.

  • Daniel Blake Smith
    Daniel Blake Smith
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    The Shipwreck That Saved Jamestown

    The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America

    Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Henry Holt and Co.

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