Virginia Company

Virginia Company
Formerly
Plymouth Company
London Company
joint stock company

The Virginia Company refers collectively to two joint-stock companies chartered under James I on 10 April1606[1][2][3] with the goal of establishing settlements on the coast of North America.[4] The companies were called the "Virginia Company of London" (or the London Company) and the "Virginia Company of Plymouth" (or the Plymouth Company); they operated with identical charters but with differing territories. An area of overlapping territory was created within which the two companies were not permitted to establish colonies within one hundred miles of each other. The Plymouth Company never fulfilled its charter, but its territory was claimed by England and became New England.

As corporations, the companies were empowered by the Crown to govern themselves, and they conferred that right onto their colonies. The Virginia Company failed in 1624, but the right to self-government was not taken from the colony. The principle was thus established that a royal colony should be self-governing, and this formed the genesis of democracy in America.[5]

The Plymouth Company

The Plymouth Company was permitted to establish settlements between the 38th and 45th parallels, roughly between the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay and the current U.S.-Canada border. On 13 August 1607, the Plymouth Company established the Popham Colony along the Kennebec River in present-day Maine. However, it was abandoned after about a year and the Plymouth Company became inactive. A successor company eventually established a permanent settlement in 1620 when the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts aboard the Mayflower.[citation needed]