This blog article will be focusing on the settlement of the colonial Chesapeake region of America. This will highlight how helpful LED lighting is in the modern world and by adding this technology to the past we will be able to see a huge benefit which could have led to less mortality rates and better security to name but a few.
Initially it was English Protestants in exile in the Netherlands who had set off for the New World in 1606, who wanted the freedom of practising their religion freely without fear of persecution. It was King James I who had granted a Royal Charter for the expedition instructing Captain John Smith to settle the colony Virginia and find gold. This for the majority of colonists was the main reason for the expedition as many held strong capitalistic tendencies.
The long days at sea and the horrible damp darkness, which engulfed the night, would have been easily extinguished with the use of LED lighting. The ragged lighting, which was used, would have been very ineffective at offering quality light and the unreliability of long usage would have meant that LED lighting would have been a huge benefit. Incredibly the voyage could take anywhere from 47 to 138 days. LED lighting would have offered ships the luxury of instant, clean, bright light and with the added benefit of a long lasting bulb the ships would very seldom need to change the bulbs. This instant bright light would have led to less crime on board ships and lower mortality rates of people falling over board as the clean effective light would have enabled the crew and passengers a clear line of sight.
The first colony established is the oldest in American history and is known as ‘Jamestown’. However the men selected by John Smith were gentlemen who were deluded into thinking that they would land in America and trip over gold instantly. While actually the men needed to make the colonisation a success were craftsmen, husbandmen, labourers and electricians! These skilled workers would ensure that the fundamental aspects of society were in place to enable the foundations for a thriving colony to grow.
The shocking lack of planning and structure by the Virginia Company of London led to the high mortality rates suffered by the early colonists. This negligence and somewhat ignorance further impeded the prosperity of the colony of Jamestown as more gentry where recruited for the colonisation. What is important is that gentry at this time where not used to doing the menial tasks of labourers and so a sense of idleness had set in throughout Jamestown. If LED lighting had been available during this colonisation we may have potentially seen a higher work rate between the colonists, as the high luminous flux and long life of the bulb would have increased the sensitivity of the colonists eyes and nervous system early in the dark mornings making them more alert and ready for the tasks ahead.
In the autumn of 1609 the colonists had begun to run out of food supplies and knew that they could not survive the winter as many of the gentry had abandoned the colony in search of gold. Luckily the Indian Chief in the Chesapeake region was Powhatan who remained friendly and was readily available to trade with the colonists. Trade mainly included weapons from the colonists for food. This posed a huge problem for the colonists, as local Native American tribes from the very start of colonisation regularly attacked them. These attacks became worse with the involvement of western weaponry. If LED lighting had been available to the colonists whilst on expeditions at night they would have had an increased sight of vision if using a portable LED light. The superb display of light would have seemed alien to the Native Americans and with an increased line of vision we would have undoubtedly seen a reduction in the mortality rates of colonists due to Native American attacks.
Leading on from these skirmishes between Native Americans and Colonists outside of the colony boundaries led to attacks on the colony. These attacks regularly occurred at night and as a result the watchmen found it very hard to detect the Natives even with men on watch. The result would have been simple with LED Floodlight technology and the ability of motion detection. Although the colonists would have needed to make sure they were IP65 rated LED floodlights if using them outside! Having these floodlights strategically positioned around the boundaries of Jamestown would have resulted in better security and a far safer environment for the colony to prosper.
With the supplies plentiful in the colony the colonists created lots of fire for cooking, warmth and light. Now with LED lighting colonists would have been able to enjoy a clean consistent bright light and reduced the carbon emissions, which they were inhaling. This alone could have significantly reduced the mortality rates of the colonists.
As we know the early Colonists of Jamestown were gentlemen who were only interested in making money now with the cultivation of the stable cash crop -tobacco in 1612 we can get a sense of the real capitalist tendencies of the English gentry during the seventeenth century. LED lighting would definitely have appealed to this capitalist way of thinking as it could result in 24 hour tobacco cultivation making the gentry of Jamestown far richer than they could ever have dreamed.
As we can see LED lighting technology has a number of benefits in the modern world from exceptional light quality to incredible long lasting life expectancy. However we have also shown that if we could have taken this technology and applied it to the past in particular the settlement of Jamestown we can see how it would have benefited every level of the colonisation from the transportation across the Atlantic to the fabric of the colonial society.