The lost colony and the flowering of freedom
The Elizabethan Gardens on Roanoke Island are memorial to the the lost colony.
The Garden Club of North Carolina adopted the Elizabethan Gardens as a project in 1951.
As so often occurs, history's dates are lost in the mirage of the years. However, it is believed that June 4th 1584 is the day when English men and women settled Roanoke Island, now in present-day North Carolina. It was the first English colony in the New World.
The queen on the throne was Elizabeth I, and the colony was called Virginia, after the Virgin Queen. The settlers were short on every kind of supply and they eventually hitched a ride back to England with Francis Drake.
Poet and adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh financed a second effort in 1587. Once again, supplies proved a critical issue.
Crossing the Atlantic was always a risky business in the 16th century, and very few attempted it. In the autumn of 1587, John White left Roanoke for England on a desperate errand to obtain provisions and help for the new Virginia colony. He managed to return to England through fierce equinoctial storms, but no boat would venture out in mid-winter, and in the spring of 1588 every available ship was being commandeered to fight the Armada.
Back in Roanoke, waiting for him, were White’s daughter, son-in-law and baby granddaughter, Virginia Dare, the first English child to be born in America. With one hundred other men, women and children they faced aggrieved and hostile American Indians and the driest summer in eight hundred years. (According to recent research on tree rings, the terrible drought lasted three years.)
White finally managed to hire two smaller vessels, and set out across the Atlantic, but the two ships were captured by privateers and their cargos were taken. With nothing to deliver, the ships limped back to England. It was 1590 before White gained passage on a privateering expedition that agreed to stop off at Roanoke on the way back from the Caribbean.
In 1590, on his granddaughter's third birthday, White landed. He found the settlement deserted. Ninety men, seventeen women, and eleven children had vanished without any sign of a struggle or battle. The only clue was the word "Croatoan" carved into a post of the fort and "Cro" carved into a nearby tree.
White thought this meant they had moved to Croatoan Island (now Hatteras), where the Indians were said to be friendly, but the men of the privateer refused to search any further. The next day, “White stood on the deck of his ship and watched, helplessly, as Roanoke Island receded.”
He was never to return to America. The fate of the Lost Colony remains a mystery today. (The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research has excavated English artifacts within the territory of the Croatan tribe.)
The history of North America did not become the history of Spanish settlement, as it might have done had the Armada won. Instead daring English settlers and Americans who loved freedom carried the day.
Call me a dreamer, but the freedom and just law established by English settlers and Americans is connected by a fine and indestructible thread to the Tiananmen Square protests, and the brave resistance of freedom-loving Chinese on June 4th 1989.
And still another thread - June 4th 1989 saw the "flowering of freedom" when Poles went to the polls able for the first time to vote for Solidarity. The stunning result: Solidarity won "99 out of 100 seats in the Senate and every seat it could contest in the Sejm. Two months later, the first noncommunist government in Eastern Europe since the 1940s took office in Warsaw. Spontaneous and similarly peaceful revolutions brought down communism in the other Eastern European states before the year was out" (Wall Street Journal).