1646 - Opechancanough captured

       The problem faced by the colonists in Jamestown (and their investors in England) was that none of the Indians in Virginia had been 'conquered.'  Until that day, the rights claimed by the Virginia Company could not been formally vested by the rights of conquest.  The tide began to turn in the colonists favor once Powhatan died.  His brother, Opechancanough was a much more aggressive and adversarial neighbor, and he launched an attack on the colony shortly after becoming the tribe's leader.      

        The colonists' counter attack succeeded, but it took a generation secure the fruits of victory.. They captured Opechancanoughs, but he was shot in the back before he could be sent to London for trial.  His successor, Necotawance, signed a treaty with the English and ceded most of the Powhatan confederacy's remaining lands.  The English crown's right over land owned by savages in the colony of Virginia had finally been perfected, and all legal impediments how been removed from the company's claim over distant lands.  The Indians reserved for themselves a small area north of the York River.

         Though it took forty years, the first tribes on the North American continent had now been brought under the yoke of English sovereignty.  Indian resistance to English claims to land by conquest were punishable under the laws of God and nations, and the subjugation of the infidels had now been shown to be the most important tool in the exercise of will to empire.

         England, by 'right natural', had now established the basic theme of her colonizing activities in the New World.  The English Crown held superior sovereignty over the lands occupied by the American Indian, who, in his natural state, lived in perpetual violation of the law of nations and the law of God.  As outlaws of humanity, the Indians could not only be dispossessed of their lands, it was seen as the divine duty of the monarch to do so for the purpose of establishing a superior civilization in the new world.   

         Here, then, was the organizing principle that would reappear centuries later in Manifest Destiny.  These legal precepts, which would govern the partitioning of the continent for the next three centuries, had been resurrected on American soil from the papal discourses on conquest in the Middle Ages.