FORGOTTEN FACTS AND FANCIESOF AMERICAN HISTORY
AS civilization advances there develops in the heart of man a higher appreciation of the past, and the deeds of preceding generations come to be viewed with a calm criticism which denudes those deeds of false splendor and increases the lustre of real accomplishment. Man cannot see into the future and acquire the prescience of coming events which would make him infallible, but he can remove the veil from the past, contemplate the mistakes and successes of those who have lived before him, and who struggled with the same problems which now confront him. The results of their efforts are recorded in history, and inspired by high ideals he can study the past, and by feeding his lamp of wisdom with the oil of their experiences he secures a greater light to guide his own activities. Man remains a slave to Fate until Knowledge makes him free, and while all true knowledge comes from experience, it need not necessarily be personal experience.
In studying the past, deeds come to be estimated more with reference to their ultimate results and as factors in universal progress, and less as personal efforts; just as more and more the personal merges into the universal in all lines of endeavor. Viewed in this light of ultimate results an imperishable and increased lustre envelops the name of Sir Walter Raleigh as the pioneer and faithful promoter of English colonization in America. The recognition of his services by the people who reap the reward of his labors has ever been too meagre. A portrait here and there, the name of the capital city in a State, a mention among other explorers on a tablet in the National Library, the name of a battleship, and a few pages in history, help to remind us of his association with this nation. Perhaps a few may recognize his personal colors—red and white—in the binding in this book, and his Coat of Arms in the heraldic device which ornaments the cover, and which are mentioned "lest we forget" one we should honor.
The present and ever increasing greatness of these United States is due to the efforts of this remarkable man, who so wondrously combined in one personality the attributes of statesman, courtier, soldier, scientist, poet, explorer, and martyr. Isabella of Spain offered her jewels to aid Columbus, and the deed has been lauded and celebrated as of international value, yet it contained no touch of personal sacrifice. She was never deprived of her jewels, and while her generous offer proved her faith in the theories and ability of Columbus, it brought to her no suffering. On the other hand, the efforts of Sir Walter Raleigh were at his own expense, and entailed financial disaster on him in the end. That he sought to extend the power of England must be admitted by those who correctly estimate his character; yet no one will deny that he was the most important factor in the colonization of America by the English. Spain, France, and England contended long for supremacy in the New World, but France failed to gain any permanent power, and Spanish dominance, as illustrated in South America and Mexico, was followed by slow progress. It was the English race, led by Raleigh, which has become the leading power and modern strength of America. Colony after colony he sent to the new land, and desisted not, even after the death of his half-brother and coadjutor, Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Disaster could not daunt so brave a spirit, and with unsurpassed enterprise and perseverance he continued to send expeditions year after year to what is now the coast of North Carolina, but which was then called Virginia, and recognized as Raleigh's possessions. Much money was required, and when his own fortune was exhausted he transferred to what is known as the London Company his rights to the land, and by his advice they avoided his mistakes and made the next settlement at Jamestown instead of Roanoak Island.
These facts have been temporarily obscured by the moss of neglect, but they cannot be destroyed....