History Behind the Map
The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Virginia celebrates its 125th anniversary with a scarf depicting John Smith’s rendering of the birthplace of the Virginia Colony, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and The United States of America.
The Virginia Company of London was formed in June 1606 when a group of London entrepreneurs received a charter from King James I of England. The goal of the Virginia Company was twofold: to establish a permanent English settlement in the present-day Chesapeake Bay area; and to return a profit to its investors by identifying raw materials for trade. The first 104 colonists, including Captain John Smith, landed in December 1606 and immediately began construction on a fort. Named in honor of their king, Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in North America.
In 1608, John Smith, the colony’s newly-elected President, led two expeditions into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Covering over 2,500 miles, he gathered information subsequently featured in the first documented map of the area. A Map of Virginia: With a Description of the Country, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion was published at Oxford in 1612 and became the prototype for the multiple copies (derivatives) produced throughout Europe over next century. With an eye to geographical accuracy and cultural details, including over 200 Native American villages, the map also served as a marketing tool to entice further settlement and exploration in the region. Many of its place names are still in use today.
The Virginia Society scarf is based on an amended version of Smith’s map published in 1627 by Matthaus Merian in Frankfurt, Germany. Virginia included the now famous image of a Native American and over 200 Native America villages. The Virginia Scarf was designed by Cary Langhorne Bond King and Margaret Moncure Clary, members of the NSCDA-VA.
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