Page of

Garrison Towns, Corporate Boroughs, and the Search for Order under the Virginia Company

Garrison Towns, Corporate Boroughs, and the Search for Order under the Virginia Company

Chapter:
(p.23) Chapter One Garrison Towns, Corporate Boroughs, and the Search for Order under the Virginia Company
Source:
Urban Dreams, Rural Commonwealth
Author(s):
Paul Musselwhite
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226585314.003.0002

This chapter reveals the centrality of urban planning to the Virginia Company’s vision for the colony from 1607 until the Company’s dissolution. Company officials, strongly influenced by civic humanist thought, were acutely conscious of the need to manage the threat of self-interest in the new commonwealth, and they did so by seeking to build urban spaces and institutions for defense and market regulation. The mass cultivation of tobacco only accentuated leaders’ fears about private interests. It pushed a faction within the Company to promote a plan for incorporated boroughs, drawing upon the flourishing civic corporate traditions of England’s chartered towns and cities, in an effort to instill virtue into a society increasingly dominated by staple production. But other planters or investors rejected the corporate plan and their opposition to this spatial ordering of the colony was critical to the bitter factionalism that engulfed the Company in the 1620s. The specter of semi-autonomous city-states, which proved incapable of defending themselves against the 1622 Powhatan uprising, finally convinced James I to revoke the Company’s charter, allowing the surviving settlements to evolve into military-agricultural outposts. Virginia’s first planter class were thus born of frustrated urban corporate plans.

Keywords:   Virginia Company, urban corporations, tobacco, Virginia, Jamestown, Sir Edwin Sandys, James I

Sign In

Copyright © 2021. All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy and Legal Notice