Regarding Rick Warren’s March 22 op-ed, “America’s First Freedom, in practice”:
While I don’t disagree with some of the sentiment of Warren’s commentary, I certainly disagree with this statement: “The first people who came to America from Europe were devout Pilgrims seeking the freedom to practice their faith.” This is a canard that I thought had been dispelled for decades.
Disregarding the likelihood that the first Europeans who came to America were Vikings and that the first Europeans to settle in this country were Spaniards (Spain still being in Europe the last time I looked), it is a certainty that the first English-speaking Europeans who came to America and settled, permanently, were the fellows of the Virginia Company of London, who founded Jamestown in 1607 — years before any “devout Pilgrims” landed in Massachusetts.
Further, the primary ambition of the Jamestown settlers had nothing to do with religious freedom. It had to do with commerce and the accumulation of wealth. While the wealth part did not come to fruition until the introduction and cultivation of tobacco, these were businessmen, not persecuted Pilgrims seeking religious freedom.
Gary Carpenter, Williamsburg