The Friend Accommodation of Virginians to Strangers
It was customary for plantation owners to send someone up to the road to watch for strangers. The reason is that they wanted to hear the news. This primitive method of passing the news was welcomed by colonists in remote areas. The main house usually included a guest bedroom which was accessable off the front porch and strangers were fed and treated kindly. But news came from supply ships and freighters and was at leasty three to six months old when it reached port. Official packets from England were first dispatched to the Royal Governor, the House of Burgess and other British officials. In the beginning, colonists were privy to news from Dutch trading vessels and privateers in the West Indies until Parliament intervened with its laws forbidding such trade. The reason is that the British desired to profit from trade with its colonists. Especially when tobacco increased in popularity abroad and it was so widely accepted as payment. As long as traded existed with foreign vessels, colonists paid less in tariffs and manufactured goods. Lead window panes, nails and plank boards were necessary products numbered among those goods costly to import. If you were a planter, you needed to know about incoming vessels and cargoes. Also, about the collection of tariffs and fines. The first English regulation concerning tariffs applied to those vessels which went into port. Thus, ships began avoiding the burdensome tariffs by weighing anchor off shore. By the mid 17th century, colonists were avoiding the payment of fines and tariffs. The construction of a home in Virginia was far more expensive than the same structure in England. For this reason, the colonists disassembled old structures and conserved the materials for later use. Many of the 17th and 18th century estates provide detailed accounts of the number nails and plank boards. The taxes and regulations which limited trade and prosperity in the colonies continued up until the time that the colonists had suffered enough outrage and cast the tea cargo into the sea.