Exploded: The Myth of Virginia Dare

Racially tinged material is often more easily identified by a reader from its blatant content. White supremacy (or white identity) writings are more subtle, appealing to what we now describe as white privilege. Sadly, Virginia has been a petri dish for cultivating white supremacy, from its kidnapping of African Americans to its shores in 1619, to the anti-suffragists in the 1920s, to George Lincoln Rockwell in the 1960s. To be sure, the Commonwealth has more recently undertaken a number of efforts to confront its history in this regard.

However, some remnants of supremacist activity have persisted longer. In October 2019, VoxFairfax posted about an organization called VDARE (https://wp.me/p9wDCF-e8), which originated in Virginia and now is located in Litchtfield, Connecticut: 

White supremacists and their allies still claim Virginia Dare as their own. Peter Brimelow, a friend of former White House adviser Stephen Bannon and current White House adviser Stephen Miller, founded the VDARE Foundation and vdare.com in 1999, to warn Americans about the danger posed by African and Asian immigrants.

History records Virginia Dare as the first child born in the New World at the Roanoke Island colony in 1587. A return voyage bringing supplies in 1590 arrived to discover only the remnants of the Roanoke Colony and  – Croatoan –  chiseled into a tree ostensibly by the colonists.  The 100-plus original settlers were not to be found. Subsequent investigations by the Jamestown Virginia, colonists produced reports that the Roanoke settlers had been massacred, while other tales related that people with European features in Native American villages had been seen.

As no hard evidence had been produced, interest in the matter and fate of the Lost Colony waned until 1834, when George Bancroft published his account of the events in A History of the United States. Bancroft’s description of the colonists, particularly John White’s infant granddaughter Virginia Dare, cast them as foundational figures in American culture and captured the public imagination

In the heyday of Jim Crow in the American South, at the 1907 exposition celebrating Jamestown’s 300th anniversary, Virginia Dare was profiled in the North Carolina exhibit as the “infant child of pure Caucasian blood” who launched “the birth of the white race in the Western Hemisphere.” In the 1920s, a group opposing suffrage for women feared that black women would get the vote, prompting a campaign in Raleigh urging “that North Carolina remain white … in the name of Virginia Dare.” 

Today, her name is used for the VDARE website, which is associated with white supremacy, white nationalism, and the alt-right. Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia describes VDARE as “one of the most prolific anti-immigration media outlets in the United States” and says that it is “broadly concerned with race issues in the United States.” The organization has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Although there has to this point been no hard evidence to explain the fate of the Lost Colony, recent archeological findings on Hatteras Island where the Croatoan were located have unearthed materials from the 1500s that strongly suggest that the Roanoke colonists relocated from Roanoke to Hatteras…. [if true], the ramifications for the white supremacist VDARE organization are shattering.

Although there has to this point been no hard evidence to explain the fate of the Lost Colony, recent archeological findings on Hatteras Island where a habitation called  Croatoan was located have unearthed materials from the 1500s that strongly suggest that the Roanoke colonists relocated from Roanoke to Hatteras. This potential conforms with early tales of European-looking individuals in the area. The evidence is not beyond a doubt but the clues are increasingly persuasive.  Further archeological findings are emerging to confirm that the Lost Colony was not at all lost but merely transported itself.  The ramifications for the white supremacist VDARE enterprise may be shattering.

Under current white supremacist dogma, Virginia Dare must be characterized as an “anchor baby,” certainly if she was not lost.  And since it is a potential fact that she survived any rumored massacre, that survival destroys the supremacist myth value in the demise of Virginia Dare as a representation of the demise of white culture.

To the contrary, Virginia Dare would represent the precise opposite, as one historian noted:

Virginia Dare’s story reveals our desire to assimilate and our anxiety about doing just that. This conflict is at the root of the cultural battle that led to violence last summer [2017] in Charlottesville, as white Americans confront the growing numbers of black and brown people with whom they share a country. The infant of Roanoke offers us two very different futures. We can be martyred for some imagined race, or we can recognize that to be American is, in its essence, to be willing to redefine our beliefs, goals, and even our ethnicity. Only by getting lost can we become something new.

–Andrew Lawler, The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke.

As noted, Brimelow’s white supremacy thesis relies upon his view that Anglo-Saxon Americans and their culture are in danger of disappearing like Virginia Dare. History and continued research may have created a petard upon which Brimelow and his theory are hoisted. That new research has led to new conclusions. According to recently published material, the English colonists who settled the so-called Lost Colony before disappearing from history simply went to live with their native friends — at  Croatoan in Hatteras. “They were never lost,” said Scott Dawson, who has researched records and dug up artifacts where the colonists lived with the Indians in the 16th century. “It was made up. The mystery is over.”

OMG! If Virginia Dare has not been lost and now found, the white supremacists are left with an anchor baby who consorted with Native Americans. Good grief! What can the response be if further research reveals Ms. Dare bore children of an interracial marriage? Why is history so persnickety?


Categories: Immigration, Issues, Local, National, politics, State

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