The colony was in danger. As Robert Morgan said in 100 Bible Verses that Made America,
After Hunt’s death, Jamestown again deteriorated into chaos, splintered by weak leadership and laziness. Many settlers refused manual labor. They had come to dig for gold, but had no intention of digging for crops.
Captain John Smith responded:
Countrymen, the long experience of our late miseries, I hope is sufficient to perswade every one to a present correction of himselfe, and thinke not that either my pains, nor the Adventurers purses, will ever maintaine you in idlenesse and sloath. I speake not this to you all, for divers of you I know deserue both honour and reward, better then is yet here to be had: but the greater part must be more industrious, or starue, how euer you haue beene heretofore tollerated by the authoritie of the Councell, from that I haue often commanded you. You see now that power resteth wholly in my selfe: you must obey this now for a Law, that he that will not worke shall not eate (except by sicknesse he be disabled:) for the labours of thirtie or fortie houest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintaine an hundred and fiftie idle loyterers. And though you presume the authoritie here is but a shadow, and that I dare not touch the liues of any but my owne must answer it: the Letters patents shall each weeke be read to you, whose Contents will tell you the contrary. I would wish you therefore without contempt seeke to obserue these orders set downe, for there are now no more Counsellers to protect you, nor curbe my endevours. Therefore he that offendeth, let him assuredly expect his due punishment.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
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