Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America’s Origin
We all know the great American origin story. It begins with an exodus. Fleeing religious persecution, the hardworking, pious pilgrims thrived in the wilds of New England, where they built their fabled city on a hill. Legend goes that the colony in Jamestown was a false start, offering a cautionary tale. Lazy louts hunted gold till they starved, and the shiftless settlers had to be rescued by English food and the hard discipline of martial law.
Neither story is true. In Marooned, Joseph Kelly reexamines the history of Jamestown and comes to a radically different and decidedly American interpretation of these first Virginian colonists.
In this gripping account of shipwrecks and mutiny in America's earliest settlements, Kelly argues that the colonists at Jamestown were literally and figuratively marooned, cut loose from civilization, and cast into the wilderness. The epic origin of America was not an exodus and a fledgling theocracy. It is a tale of shipwrecked castaways of all classes marooned in the wilderness fending for themselves in any way they could—a story that illuminates who we are today.
Joseph Kelly is a professor of literature at the College of Charleston. He is the author of America's Longest Siege: Charleston, Slavery, and the Slow March Toward Civil War, and the editor of the Seagull Reader series. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.
Many have reimagined what Jamestown had looked like before it was left in ruins. In this lithograph named ‘All that remains of Jamestown (Virginia) : the first English settlement in North America, A.D.1607.’ created for the Norfolk Orphan Asylum, the artist depicts the ruins of this early colonist town.