It was an odd thing to do, of course, but the circumstances were very unusual, and the plan of importing sweethearts by the cargo really seems to have been a very good one. It must have been a strange sight when the girls landed and met the men who had come to the town to woo and marry them. And many of the girls must have felt that they took great risks in coming three thousand miles from home and marrying men whom they had known for so short a time; but it seems that the marriages were happy ones, in spite of the haste in which they were made. The newly-married pairs went to work in earnest to create good homes for themselves, and when their English friends learned from their letters how happy and prosperous they were, another company of sixty sweethearts set sail for the colony and became the wives of good men.
It was in this way that the English camp at Jamestown was changed into a real colony of people who meant to live in America and to build up a thriving community here. Now that the men had wives and children to provide for, they no longer lived “from hand to mouth,” hoping to make a fortune by some lucky stroke, and then to leave the colony forever. They went to work, instead, to cultivate the land, to build good houses, to make and save money, to educate their children, and to become prosperous and happy in their homes. Virginia, which had been a mere stopping-place to them, was now their own country, where their families lived and their nearest friends were around them. There they expected to pass their lives in efforts to better their own fortunes, and to make the country a pleasant one for their children and grandchildren after them to live in. They were anxious to have schools and churches, and to keep up right standards of morals and proper manners in the colony, so that their children might grow to be good and happy men and women.
That is the way in which the first English colony in America became prosperous, and many of the men who afterwards became famous in the history of the nation were the great-great-grandsons of the women whom Sir Edwin Sandys sent out as sweethearts for the colonists.
The Pilgrims, who settled at Plymouth about the time that all this happened, brought their families with them, and quickly made themselves at home in America. The planting of these two colonies–the first in Virginia and the second in Massachusetts–was the beginning from which our great, free, and happy country, with its fifty millions of people, has grown.