History 300

Paper from History Course

I said that I might post a paper that I wrote in history this past year and I decided on this one. It’s about 900 words, so prepare yourself. If you have any questions, let me know 🙂

Be well, do good work.

P.S. I’ve attached my Works Cited and Bibliography (incase anyone cares)Henri & Co. – Bibliography/Works Cited

Henri & Co.:

Henrico College and Its Influence on the Education of Native Americans at the College of William and Mary


In 1693, America’s second oldest college and oldest university was founded in Williamsburg, Virginia; the College of William and Mary is one of the oldest colleges in the nation. The College’s founding date is impressive in itself, but an even more interesting fact is that in the College’s original charter, the first president of the College was charged to “propagate” Christianity “amongst the Western Indians, to the glory of Almighty God.” [1] This is the same charge that nearly 80 years before had been given to the settlers of Virginia: they were to create a school for “ye education of ye children of those Barbarians in Virginia.”[2] This school would not only be the first Indian school in the nation, it would have been the oldest college in the nation; however, the school failed because of misuse of funds and a large Native American uprising. Despite its failure, however, Henrico College was an important precursor to the Indian School at the College of William and Mary.

Before the Indian school at William and Mary, there were several attempts at creating schools to educate and convert Native Americans, in fact, “the first and most carefully planned efforts in education were directed not at the settlers but at the Indians.”[3] There were several important efforts made to create schools for educating Native Americans including East India Company School, Indian College at Harvard, John Eliot’s missions in Massachusetts, and Henrico College. [4]

Planning for a college such as Henrico began within ten years of the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia around 1615. The general English sentiment was to transport Native Americans to England to live in English homes and then to return to their own homes so that they could teach and convert others. This original plan was not feasible and more people pushed for the creation of a school for Indians in the New World.[5] To this end, the governor of Virginia at the time, Sir Thomas Dale, took Pocahontas, her husband, their son, and several other Native men and women to the Court of King James I in 1616. Whilst in England she was entertained at the court and was used by the Virginia Company as a “device to publicize the colony to win support from King James I and investors.”[6] The Company’s tactics worked because on March 24, 1617, King James “instructed the archbishops of the Church of England to collect and send funds to Jamestown for the erection of some churches and schools.”[7]

The majority of the money James I called for was to be used for a planned Indian college to be called “Henrico,” after the king’s eldest son, Henry. These funds continued to amass and in 1618, a 10,000-acre plot of land about 50 miles upriver of Jamestown was seized and set aside for the college.[8] Despite this appropriation of land, the founding of the college was delayed because of diversion of funds. That year, Sir Edwin Sandys, the treasurer of the Virginia Company, announced that the fund for Henrico College had reached £1,500, which would have been just enough to create a college, however about £700 were in stock in the Virginia Company.[9]

Donations for the creation of an Indian College continued to be collected despite the diversion of funds, and by 1620 the fund included £2,043 and some acquired property. Much of this (approximately £1,000) came from an anonymous donor who signed his letters “Dust and Ashes.” This anonymous donor, later found to be Gabriel Barker, was present when Sandys reported that the £450 Barker wanted to “be used to educate Indians in London, or for a free school in Virginia for both English and Indian children” were invested in an ironworks factory on the college’s land that was paying for the education of 30 Native students.[10] There were also tenant farmers on the college’s lands specifically brought to Virginia to cultivate the land; a Eucharistic service had been held; and the Reverend Patrick Copland had been appointed rector.[11]

In addition to all of these important steps in setting up a school for the education and conversion of Indians, George Thorpe had been named as the deputy director of college lands.[12] However, all hopes for continuing the school were dashed when there was a major Indian uprising in 1622. On March 22, Good Friday, Chief Opechancanough led a major rebellion during which 347 people, including Thorpe and the tenants of the college lands, were killed.[13] After this uprising, tension grew between Anglo-Americans and Native Americans and interest in the education of native children lessened and the college disappeared in 1624 with the revocation of the Virginia Company charter.

[1] “Royal Charter,” in Special Collections Research Center Wiki (College of William and Mary), last modified October 2, 2014, accessed April 2, 2015, http://scdb.swem.wm.edu/wiki/index.php/Royal_Charter.

[2] Quoted by Cary Michael Carney, Native American Higher Education in the United States (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999), 23.

[3] Bernard Bailyn, Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press and New York : W.W. Norton, 1960), 37.

[4] Ibid., 37.

[5] Carney, Native American Higher Education in the United States, 22.

[6] David A. Price, “Pocahontas: Powhatan Princess,” in Encyclopedia Britannica, last modified May 8, 2014, accessed May 12, 2015, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/465632/Pocahontas#ref121452.

[7] Carney, Native American Higher Education, 22-23.

[8] “George Thorpe (bap. 1576–1622),” in Encyclopedia Virginia, ed. Brendan Wolfe (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2012), last modified June 4, 2014, accessed May 12, 2015, http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Thorpe_George_bap_1576-1622#start_entry.

[9] Carney, Native American Higher Education, 23.

[10] Ibid., 23.

[11] Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1783 (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1970), 210.

[12] Carney, Native American Higher Education, 24.

[13] Ibid.



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