Manteo, Raleigh, and the politics of the Lost Colony

IMG_1652-002Wednesday Rebekah and I woke up on the Outer Banks, worked our way slowly back home, via Manteo, then went to sleep in our own beds here in Wake Forest. Along the way we enjoyed some more natural beauty, and we learned some interesting history – it’s all good.

Manteo sits on Roanoke Island, the site of the ill-fated 1587 “Lost Colony.” So we checked in at Fort Raleigh, then enjoyed one last seafood lunch in town. Manteo is a great little town. It’s walkable, has some good restaurants, and features a beautiful waterfront.

Manteo waterfront

It was the perfect way to wrap up a relaxing three day trip. We enjoyed getting away for a while, and my parents were delightful company. Rebekah and I feel like we’ve got to know one more aspect of North Carolina; and – as always thus far – we really like what we see.

LOST COLONY: The story of The Lost Colony has been working at the back of my mind, so I’ll share some of my thoughts and – hopefully – make some sense.

I’m a fairly good student of history. I especially like learning about real people and the way their stories overlap with the big picture of history. It seems to me that the people in The Lost Colony were pawns in a much bigger game played by people like Walter Raleigh.

Raleigh was trying to convince Elizabeth l that she should put the weight and prestige of royal resources behind colonization. He envisioned his new settlement as a base for privateers who would attack Spanish treasure ships and enrich the crown (and himself).

He advertised what became The Lost Colony as an easy opportunity for young families; they would each receive 500 acres of pristine land, they’d be welcomed by friendly natives, and they would quickly establish themselves as a prosperous English community.

David and Grace Maul on Roanoke Island

Instead, they were left on Roanoke Island in difficult conditions, found themselves near indigenous people who had already been brutally attacked by an earlier expedition, and had none of the advantageous circumstances and resources promised in the sign-up brochure. Their leader, John White, soon returned to England for supplies, but he was unable to get back to Roanoke Island for a full three years. When he did, there was no sign – not a trace – of the 115 colonists.

The fate of The Lost Colony, according to historians, remains a mystery.

NO MYSTERY: But it’s no mystery to me what happens when government – and the politics of ambition, narcissism (Sir Walter Raleigh), and spin – rides roughshod over the lives of the people it is supposed to serve.

I can only pray that leaders will emerge who are less interested in themselves and their own ambition than they are the lives of the people they have sworn to serve. And I don’t mean serve the rich and the powerful, but serve the least among us – like those colonists who trusted people like Walter Raleigh with everything that they had.

“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:37-40


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