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Sir Walter Raleigh, Portrait, 1584


Sir Walter Raleigh was an English explorer who was granted a charter by Queen Elizabeth I to explore the New World. His team landed on Roanoke Island in 1584, and the crew quickly set about befriending the local Native Americans, two of whom returned to England to tell Raleigh about the land and its potential.

Raleigh twice attempted to form permanent settlements in Roanoke, but found success with neither attempt. The first settlement was met with disaster due to strife between the colonists and Native Americans, resulting in the remaining colonists fleeing to England. The second settlement was initially more successful, but ultimately ended with the disappearance of all of the colonists, including Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the colonies. Despite this, Raleigh's work proved extremely influential for further exploration and colonization.

Citation: Mann, Harry C. Portrait, Sir Walter Raleigh. 1907. Visual Studies Collection Harry C. Mann Photograph Collection, Library of Virginia.


VS.1, VS. 3a, USI.1 USI. 4a, USI. 4b, USI. 5a, WHII.1, WHII.4,   VUS.1, VUS.2, VUS.3

Suggested Questions

Analyze: What do you think could have been done to make the colonies more successful? Do you think that things may have been different if Raleigh had been more “hands on” and traveled to the New World himself? 

In Their Shoes: Pretend that you are Sir Walter Raleigh, what possible conclusions could you reach for the missing people of Roanoke Island? 

Social Media Spin: If you were one of the Native Americans taken back by Raleigh; describe in 280 characters or less what you would say upon reaching England. 

Artistic Exploration: Look closely at the portrait of Raleigh and note his posture, facial expression, and clothes. What can you conclude about Raleigh the man and Raleigh the legend? Be specific.


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