Amphion by Paul Valéry

By Paul Valéry

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Exactly when Pettus first arrived in Virginia is unknown, but he was living in 67 the colony by 1 6 4 1 , the first year that he served on the Governor's C o u n c i l H e could have acquired land by the right o f his uncle, Sir John Pettus, who had purchased two shares in the original Virginia Company. With that initial acquisition o f 2 0 0 acres (2 shares) o f Virginia soil, Pettus proceeded to accumulate additional acreage by what had then become a Virginia tradition, marrying a rich widow.

Simcoe's m a p o f the capture o f BurwelPs Landing, 1 7 8 1 , showing houses in the approximate location o f James Bray's mansion (circle) and Lewis BurwelPs mansion and dependency (upper left). ) with abundant land upon which he in turn built a respectable political career, serving as burgess and, for a short time, member o f the Governor's Council, in 1 7 0 1 97 By two marriages, Lewis Burwell II had a total o f nine children, and he had accumulated such a vast family landholding empire that there was plenty to g o around for all at his death in 1710.

But 5 years and many thousands o f lives later, England's colonial experiment in Virginia abruptly ended. The surrender o f the British Army at Yorktown signaled the birth o f an independent national experience for America and a well-deserved celebration in Virginia. But when the fireworks faded on that last battleground and as the century drew to a close, the Tidewater area o f Virginia fell on hard times. As late as 1795 the French traveler Liancourt described the lingering impact o f the war on Yorktown and the countryside generally: General Nelson's house, the most considerable ediface in the whole town [Yorktown].

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