Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shipping and the New World by Irina Shapiro

After reviewing the book, THE HANDS OF TIME by Irina Shapiro, I asked her to write up a guest post for History Undressed on shipping and the New World during the 17th century Enjoy!

Shipping and the New World

by Irina Shapiro

A handful of brave souls traversing the Atlantic in rickety wooden ships in search of a place where they could escape religious persecution is how most of us picture the first colonists to settle in the New World.  We envision Pilgrims in Massachusetts Bay Colony sitting down to their Thanksgiving dinner, ready to overcome tremendous hardship and sow the seeds of freedom that would eventually become the United States. 
However, the reality was not quite so romantic.  Just like today, most ventures were driven by profit, and the colonies were initially established with just that in mind.  After centuries of supporting a population, and the more recent wars with Spain, England was in dire need of natural resources, especially timber.   King James I was well informed of the commercial potential of what is now Virginia and the Carolinas from Walter Raleigh’s previous visits to the area in late sixteenth century, and wasn’t to be outdone by the Spanish who’d controlled the southeastern part of North America for decades, then known as Spanish Florida.   The French and Dutch also had a presence in the area, and colonized parts of North America ranging from the south to what is now parts of Canada.
In April 1606,  James I granted a charter to the Virginia Company, which consisted of the join stock London Company and Plymouth Company, giving them permission to establish settlements along the coast of North America with the express purpose of shipping materials back to England.   Although in later years tobacco became the primary export of Virginia, the initial interest of the British was in timber needed to build ships for the Navy.   The heavily wooded coast was the perfect place to establish a foothold for this purpose.   The investors of the Virginia Company also hoped to trade in precious metals, spices, and animal skins traded from the Natives, who they saw as savages with no claim to the land they’d lived on for generations.
Ships left the colonies loaded with raw materials bound for England and returned with much-needed supplies for the colonists.  However, it wasn’t long before the ships bound for America began to arrive with a different type of cargo.   Ships from England brought loads of indentured servants, some of whom had sold themselves out of dire financial need and some who’d been convicted of a crime and sentenced to seven years of servitude.   The indentured servants were treated marginally better than the black slaves who were brought to the colonies and sold at slave auctions, usually held right at the dock.    Both the indentured servants and the African slaves were an integral part of the survival of the colonies as they toiled in the fields and the forests, lining the pockets of their owners and providing the supplies so eagerly awaited in the England. 

For England and the American Colonies shipping was a lifeline that flowed both ways, and continued to do so until the Revolutionary War.   Today, we pride ourselves on our global community and business acumen, but centuries ago, Europeans had pioneered and colonized new lands, and took trade to a whole new level using only stars for navigation and wooden ships for transport.  A handful of brave souls indeed.

About The Hands of Time

Publication Date: December 7, 2011
Merlin Press

When a young American woman vanishes without a trace from a quaint fishing village on the coast of England only one person knows the truth, but he remains silent, allowing the authorities to search for her in vain, safe in the knowledge that she will never be found.  As Valerie’s bereft sister returns home alone, she struggles to understand what happened and come to terms with her terrible loss when she suddenly stumbles upon a clue that might finally shed some light on her sister’s disappearance.

Meanwhile, Valerie Crane finds herself transported to the year 1605. Terrified and confused she turns for help to the Whitfield brothers, who take her in and offer her a home despite their misgivings about her origins. Both Alexander and Finlay Whitfield fall in love with the mysterious woman who shows up on their doorstep, creating a love triangle that threatens to consume them all.  Valerie must make her choice, deciding between the brother who will lead her down the path of destruction or one who will give her the love she couldn’t find in her own time.

About the Author

Irina Shapiro was born in Moscow, Russia, where she lived until she was eleven.  In 1982 her family emigrated to the United States and settled in New York.  Due to her love of reading, Irina was able to pick up English very quickly, and was an honor student throughout her school career.

After graduating from Bernard M. Baruch College in 1992 with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business, Irina worked in advertising for two years before shifting her focus to Import/Export.  She worked her way up to the position of Import Manager in a large textile house before leaving the work force in 2007 to focus on her autistic son.

It wasn’t until Irina had been at home for some time that she began to write.  Eventually the characters began to take on a life of their own and have conversations in her head, and once she started writing her musings down the stories came easily enough.  Irina incorporated her love of history and travel into her writing to create a rich and detailed background for the characters.  Since then Irina has written eight novels.  She is currently working on book five of The Hands of Time Series.

Irina Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.

For more information, please visit www.irinashapiro.com.  You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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