The First Polish Settlers
It was in the summer of 1608 that the group of Polish glass makers who were in London, England establishing a glass making industry, set sail on the Mary and Margaret for their journey to America. Until that time, England imported the majority of its glassware from Poland. In early 1608, the Virginia Company of London decided that they would establish a glass making industry in America which could sell its products to England and other countries. Since the glass makers from Poland were successful in setting up a new glass making industry in London, they were commissioned to establish a new industry in America.


On October 1, 1608, the Mary and Margaret landed at Jamestown, Virginia and the Polish settlers first set foot on American soil. This group of industrious Polish workers contributed greatly to the establishment of the new settlement as they were not only experts in manufacturing glass, but also pitch, tar, and other products necessary for the success of the new colonies. Upon their arrival, the Polish settlers built a furnace and began manufacturing glass products. It was the glass products they produced which established the first factory in America and the first made-in-America products that were exported to Europe.


The Polish settlers were also the first to demand civil rights in the new land. When the first Virginia Assembly met on July 30, 1619, without the participation of the Polish settlers in the new representative government, the Polish workers reacted angrily. To protest this injustice, the Polish settlers organized the first labor walk-out. The assembly quickly realized that the Polish settlers were crucial to the settlement's survival and granted them the same voting privileges as enjoyed by the English.

The First Polish Immigrants (They were here before the Pilgrims)


 

Visit Our Gift Shop

PACC Guestbook

 

back to featured men and women

back to Cultural Center

back to the home page