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Jamestown: Utopia for Whom


Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special preview of the first episode, Jamestown: Utopian for Whom, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey it's man! I want to share special preview. Vanunu show from the box. Media pack has network, it is produced by curbed, are cisterna. Margaret covers homes, cities and communities of the show was called nice. Try, Elizabeth Perpetual Search for the perfect place each using. You can hear stories by people who tried to design a better world and what happens when those designs don't go. According to plan the season is called utopian, is hosted by every Travelin who you might know from major nine percent, invisible, I'm gonna. Let her take it from here. Five hundred years ago, Thomas more wrote a novel about an idyllic society on an island. He called the island utopia which could be traced to the greek roots you Tokyo, meaning a good place or who Tokyo meaning no place. It's a brilliant etymology, encapsulating somewhere
is perfect and does not exist. I'm every truffle men and I'm the hosts of nice try a new podcast from curbed and the box media podcast network. It stories about how people have tried to design a better world and what happens when those designs dont go according to plan season. One is called utopian and it's about the perpetual search for the perfect place. You're about to hear preview of nice try in which we dive into the story of Jane town, the first permanent English settlement in America. It's not true I tell you might know from a certain Disney animated film. Instead, it's a story of transformative failure and look at how the stories we tell ourselves bout failure inform the way we live today. Why you listening? Go subscribe to nice, try utopian an apple podcast or your favorite podcast up as also linking the episode notes. Stop you subscribe
This is, of course, one of the totally kickass songs from the ninety ninety five Disney animated movies Pocahontas. I was for when it came. but I had it on the edge S and I watched it again and again- and again of ways and the popular imagination. The story of Jamestown has been acquainted with the story of Pocahontas This is Irene with my Lord. The car voice at every level When I hear this voice and and not recognize you it'll be kind of a fundraiser. This is in the died, the Voice of Disney's Pocahontas. What what did you say? My name is Pocahontas, talking to Irene. It was hard to figure out how she felt about the movie HANS. There seem to be a lot of mixed feelings:
Da Irene his native American herself. I grew up being called Pocahontas derogatory way, Irene said that the movies writers listened to her and asked for her input. But of course, the plot itself ended up over simplified history of courses always told from the victor. and this was an easy way to portray the the Good Indians who helped a masterful settlers who you know created the bureau. America that we now live in in the day, The telling of progress on this issue framed as a love story, a strapping John Smith, gets off this boat in the new world, falls in love with the native princess Pocahontas in this Romeo and Juliet kind of way, and a kind of peace is made between the English and the local pilot and tribe. We cling to this love story, even though its very
transparently, not true, and she was only ten years old. Nine or ten, when John Smith came to the village in historical accounts, Pocahontas was kind of the cool neighbourhood, kid she's, very spunky and friendly and was always doing cartwheels and everyone Jamestown was happy to see her. She actually helped John Smith, learn Algonquin or a dialect of Algonquin that the poet and spoke so obviously John Smith was also a real person. That's right, I'm not about the luxury boys have all upon aside from being a steadily cart. Invoiced by male Gibson. John Smith was extremely significant. Historically, if you think about the story of north american history, like the Bible, then George Washington was kind of like the Abraham and John Smith was the Adam and here's why? When they got there had marching orders to go to Virginia all of
lies the organization of the society and the leaders of that society were written down and put in a box Kathleen Donovan. Is a professor of English. You see Berkeley and the author of seasons of misery, catastrophe and colonial settlement Early America. She says the idea was Jamestown would be run by council, the names in the Box and the council. What elect a president who would govern the colony the box was sealed and it was only to be open when the Ships reached Virginia because they didn't want them to argue while they were at sea and they didn't want any kind of arguments to erupt during the journey. Although clearly, some kind of argument erupted at some point, because in sixteen o, seven John Smith arrived in Virginia in chains or each on this ship because for insubordination This is caring, Superman she's, a historian who wrote the book on Jamestown the Jamestown Project,
he and Catholic down again will be our two experts here. So the ship arrives and We were surprised when the men get out in the open the box. They find John Smith name this right, guy they had to lock up Smith was the only person named the council who wasn't of high rank. social or military rank and the idea that he thought he knew what should be done. I'm sure rankled, these people and here's the thing We like to imagine as so deeply american about John Smith. He was common guy- and it turned out in time that he was a pretty decent diplomat, he learned Algonquin, he got to know the different tribes. He eventually became president of the colony which, on Smith, understood
Is that in this new venture, that authority was going to be made up of something different was going to made up of experience? It was going to be made up of what you knew. What you could accomplish, how you could learn, who you could manipulate that those were going to be the basis of authority and not anything that came through bloodlines and not anything that came through land and not anything that came through institutions? but things that came through experience and he was right in the colony there were some fancy man of upper classes who are like him. I told you I don't work and John Smith had none of that. John Smith was the one who said if you dont work, you don't eat, and that was a radical thing to say to the people who are in charge and Jane Ten, although eventually even he who worked also did not eat Jamestown colonies were mill, Terry men, they didn't have the skills to actually create a settlement, the council's first
but her back to the Virginia company in late June. Sixteen o seven reads like a kid writing to their parents from summer camp trying to sound happy, but actually having a terrible time in that first, Letter the leaders praise the land they chose and say they have a good store of wheat, but sign off your poor friends. Eventually, those stores ran out the work itself, slowly, transition to begging for food, not growing, or hunting for it begging for it, because they never had plans to grow their own food. They really thought that native Americans would give them food- oh my god. They they thought that that
there is a very famous line from a historian and Morgan who writes about this. Who says that is not what you came to Virginia Four says: you still didn't get around planting too much corn, the men of James Town, had a mix of vulnerability, starvation and arrogance, a truly toxic combination and these colonizers are getting hungrier, hungrier and drought comes and winter. Since they are constantly sending boats first up the James River and then up up to the Potomac constantly looking searching looking for food and in one case, Captain John Smith says that as they forced this native group to give them food end as they pulled away, they saw the women and children on the river bank weeping because food was so short for them because
they disastrous drought, men are dying. A hundred and four men landed in May of sixteen o seven by the end of the year, when we thirty eight were still alive. This does not make the Virginia company look good. They have got to save face for their many bondholders in England. There's serious investment in this endeavour from wealthy his ends in the government, and they cannot blow it on damage control, the Virginia Company sends over more men, along with new leader, a new plans, all the leaders and the new plans on one ship and then all the men on other ships and that one ship, the one with the leadership in the rules it gets wrecked in Bermuda. But ah the other ships with all the men they arrive in Virginia. There are three hundred new men now and James Town, with no leadership
No laws, no provisions, nothing. Just these three hundred men, which came to be known as the headless remnant right the head, was crashed. These were the headless remnant, so here come through hundred lawless rowdy men into what is John Smith's Virginia, now, these scores of new men also need to be fed, and these men, are restless and upset and starving and hard to control. To try to keep relative peace. John Smith tries to separate the men in various posts. One day he visits and especially rowdy one John Smith gets back in his bow goes back down the river to James Town, and it was during that trip down river that there was gun powder on his lap that a match flew into the gunpowder and the gunpowder exploded in his lap, maiming him for life.
at that point he had to return to England, so John Smith is gone and from their things are about to get bad very bad. That was just a preview here. The full story subscribed to nice. Try on Apple podcast, for on your favorite podcast at.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-10.