Virginia Dare, after whom this webzine is named, was born on this date, August 18th, in 1587, the first English child born in the New World. Her date of death is unknown, since she, and the whole Roanoke colony, went missing, presumed massacred or enslaved, by local Indians.
Every American school kid once knew who Virginia Dare was. But this year, except for a couple of Today In History posts, the only thing I could find in the news that mentions Virginia Dare was Dare to do the impossible, By Richard Olivastro,[Email him] The Daily Caller, August 18, 2010.
Olivastro's slightly off-key column manages to associate the Virginia Dare story with sentimentalized mass immigration clichés, the kind of thing Steve Sailer calls "Ellis Island Kitsch". Olivastro wrote:
"For centuries following our country's founding 235 years ago, America has been freedom's beacon.
"The Statue of Liberty has long symbolized our welcoming shores. Many popular patriotic songs recognize and celebrate this reality.
"One that comes to mind is 'They're Coming to America".
"How does the opening line in the Neil Diamond song go?
"Yes, 'They're coming to America.'
"That's been true for years, decades, indeed centuries.
"Way back – this upcoming fact deserves a 'way, way back' – on August 18th in 1587 Virginia Dare was born.
"She was the first child of English parents born in North America.
"Virginia was the daughter of Ananias and Elenor Dare, members of Sir Walter Raleigh's ill-fated colony that settled Roanoke Island on the North Carolina coast. (Yes, in case you're wondering, the cookie cake company still bears her name.)
"Today, a statue of Virginia Dare stands on the Outer Banks of North Carolina honoring her and all those who came to our shores seeking freedom." [Links added by VDARE.com]
Now there are several things wrong with that. He doesn't mention what happened to the colony. But the main thing is that the Roanoke Colony and the settlement of Virginia, like the settlement of the West, were not what we now call "immigration".
They were colonization.
There was this mostly empty country, populated by heathen savages, and the English came to settle there, whether the natives liked it or not. (Descendants of the Indians will claim in court that they owned the land. The formulation I prefer is that they didn't own it—ownership of land being a civilized invention—they were just wandering around on the top of it.)
It's supposed to be different today. America is, as Ernest Van Den Haag wrote in 1965, (!) a "settled territory"—full of American, and not open for colonization. Americans are in a position to decide for themselves whether they want to be a colony of Mexico and/or the world.
"Today, Virginia Dare seems to be vanishing from American education too. But she was a fixture for earlier generations. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt felt free to give a speech commemorating the 350th anniversary of her birth. At one point, I planned to pay homage by bestowing her name on the heroine of a projected fictional concluding chapter in Alien Nation, about the flight of the last white family in Los Angeles. It seemed . . . symmetrical.
"I was dissuaded."
Stuff like Olivastro's Ellis Island cheerleading is what we hear from the kind of people who say "America isn't a nation like the other nations—it's an idea." But, once again, they have it wrong—America is more than an idea, it is a nation, with traditions and a political culture that go back to 1587.
On this anniversary, let's remember that.
Previous Virginia Dare Pieces, and External Links
(Nick Gillespie, editor at Reason magazine, doesn't get it.)
(Steve Sailer explains what Hollywood did to Pocahontas; and to the colonists who would be the heroes of the movie if Hollywood weren't so PC.)
Boy Scout Version of the Indian Legend: The White Deer named Virginia Dare
The Lost Colony": A Cure for Depression? (The National Park service's take on its play)
Marcus Epstein atop a fortunate coincidence.