Issue: June 2007
FROM THE EDITOR: An Affair to Remember


By the time you read this, Her Majesty the Queen and Phil the Royal Husband will have come and gone from our midst. And the Jamestown 400th anniversary hoopla will be in full swing. Three replicas of Captain John Smith's "discovery barge," or shallop, will be afoot on the Bay--one of them actually retracing Smith's famous 1,700-mile exploring marathon of 400 summers ago. A new and improved replica of the Godspeed, one of the three ships that brought the English to Jamestown in 1607, will also be out and about, continuing her tour of Chesapeake ports. And everywhere you turn there will be re-enactments and festivals and exhibits and concerts and seminars and . . . well, in a nutshell, all Jamestown all the time.

But you knew all that, didn't you? Because you read about it in our big overview of the Jamestown 400th in last month's issue. And about now, I suspect, you're saying, oy, enough already with the Jamestown! . . . We don't blame you. In fact, we agree. It is all, as my dear old Ma is fond of saying, a little bit of much. So from this issue on, for our sake as much as yours, we're going to keep one foot on the brake, as it were. We'll limit our coverage to a series of features this summer, focusing on what we consider the most interesting and meatiest aspects of the Jamestown commemoration.

And I use the term "commemoration" advisedly. That word, rather than "celebration," is much preferred by descendants of the Native Americans who were here when Smith and company came ashore. That comes through loud and clear in this month's interview with Kenneth Adams, chief of the Upper Mattaponi tribe in Virginia [see page 56]. "There are some things we can celebrate, that we're part of a great country and that we have survived against overwhelming obstacles," Adams says. "What I can't celebrate is that ninety percent of our people were erased from the face of the earth. . . . I don't see how a reasonable person could celebrate that." He has a point, and he makes it quietly and without spite. Indeed, he's politic enough to say nothing at all about the anniversary's gallingly euphemistic catchphrase, "a convergence of cultures." That makes me wince every time I read it. A convergence of cultures? Really? And a bank robbery is what, a "financial transaction"?

Next month we'll talk archaeology--or rather, William Kelso will. Jamestown's chief archaeologist will tell us how he discovered in the 1990s, to everyone's great surprise, that the settlement's original fort had not been washed away by the James River, as had been presumed for years. In the August issue, our man in Norfolk, Paul Clancy, will tell us what it was like to watch the replica ships of the "Jamestown fleet" come ashore for the big re-enactment this spring at First Landing State Park. And we'll wrap it up in September with an inside report on the shallop voyage--dispatches from Andy Bystrom, brother of the skipper and official "scribe" of the shallop crew.

All Jamestown all the time? No, more like a little bit of just enough.