EXPLORER OF THE NEW WORLD: Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh

BY FA

I am Sir Walter Raleigh and I was born in 1552 near Budleih Salterdon, in Devonshire, six years before Englandís greatest Queen the red-haird, shrewd,and hot tempered Elizabeth the first, came to the throne at the age of twenty- five and united the country as never before.

Then I Sir Walter Raleigh got a patent for founding North America colony in 1584. I also named the entire area Virginia. The year I set out on an expedition, commanded by Richard Grenville, to establish a colony on the site. Within a year the colony had failed and was evacuated by a force led by Sir Francis Drake. A skeleton force left behind to man the colonyís fort was wiped out by the local Algonquin Indians.

After 13 years in prison I persuaded King James to let me return to Guyana in search of gold. James agreed but warned me not to attack the Spanish in the area. This expedition, which set out in 1616, was a complete failure. They found no gold, and my son was killed while attacking the Spanish settlement in defiance of the Kingís orders.

When I returned to England, the old sentence was revived against him and in 1618, after writing a defense of his acts, he was executed.

King James let me return to Guyana in search of gold and warned me not to attack Spanish in the area. But they still attacked the Spanish people. Because of that they never found any gold.

The request was granted apart from Florida, where some Frenchman had attempted to settle. North America was still a land of mystery.

A spell seemed to hang over that wild, vast continent across the Atlantic Ocean. Like all the early explorers, Gilbert and I believed North America to be a kind of earthly Eden, conveniently filled with gold.

Gilberts expedition sailed in November, 1578. With it went the ship Walter, bound for adventure. The hostile warships of Spain sighted the England vessels at sea and opened fire. Gilbertís largest ship was 150 tons and carried only 12 small guns. The Spanish warships were three times bigger and mounted forty, fifty, and sixty cannon. The little English fleet was forced to escape.

I found myself back in England without having even sighted the New World. He was twenty seven years old, and his first attempt to earn fame and fortune for himself had failed. All he had gained was a bitter and undying hatred of Spain.

During mush of his life I was an unpopular man in England, particularly during his period of favoritism with the Queen Elizabeth. Mainly because of the grasping and extortionate means by which he built up his fortune. With the death of the Queen the mood changed. He had no secret of his enmity against Spain, which endeared him to a public that was suspicious of James close relations with that count, and the patent falsity of his trial in 1603 and his long years in captivity in the tower made him a popular hero.

His execution at the Spanish ambassadorís instigation and insistence enhanced his popularity.

Through the centuries that have followed his death, he has remained in popular affection as one of the heroes of Elizabeth England, his name linked with those of men such as Drake, Hawkins, and others of that famous band of sea adventure.