C-R-O-A-T-O-A-N Spells Treachery

Remember the lost colony? English settlers were left on Roanoke Island (modern-day home of Manteo in Dare County) to settle the New World and when their successors arrived they found only the word "CROATOAN" carved into a fort post. Where they went is a mystery good enough to fuel an open-air drama for centuries.

It turns out that the colonists' disappearance may have been the successful result of a criminal plot orchestrated by people in powerful places in order to get a leg up in the race to own America.

I ran across a 2002 review by "DC Dave" of a book by Lee Miller: "Roanoke: Solving the Mystery of the Lost Colony." The book describes a scheme by Queen Elizabeth's "spymaster," Francis Walsingham to dump the settlers on Roanoke Island—not their original destination—where previous British military activity would ensure a hostile reception by the natives.

Wait. Why would the British doom British colonists to failure? The reviewer describes two motives. First, Walsingham sought to create inteligence that would justify England's brutal tactics in America and provide ammunition against protestors at home.

The crime was then covered up through a half-hearted attempt to find survivors in the years that followed, combined with the cover story that the missing settlers had likely been massacred by the local coastal Indians. This cover story dovetailed nicely with the need to neutralize the protests at home over the brutal tactics the Jamestown settlers began to employ toward the locals. If they were to be brutalized it helped that they first be vilified, not the first time this trick had been used, and it would not be the last.

The second reason is that Walsingham didn't like Sir Walter Raleigh.

The review is an interesting read for anyone who can remember the tingle of excitement they got when they first heard this story in grade school, and it sounds like the book is a worthy read as well.


Seems like Iraq

in a weird sort of way. Trumped up hostilities, cooked intelligence, etc., etc. Some things never change.