Walter Raleigh popularized tobacco, grown in the America’s, in England. He set sail in South America searching for El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. Raleigh never found the golden city but he did find tobacco, bringing it back to England. He committed a crime and was pardoned but, on a second journey in search of El Dorado, his people ransacked a Spanish outpost. To keep the peace, Raleigh was executed in 1618.

The English developed a taste for tobacco, the then popular strand which did not grow well in North America. Colonialist John Rolfe smuggled some South American tobacco seeds, cross-pollinated those, and, in 1611, created Nicotiana tabacum, modern sweet tobacco that grew abundantly in Virginia and had a high nicotine content. This became the primary cash crop for North American British colonialists. To secure more land, and keep peace, Rolfe married a native American woman, Pocahontas (who was baptized and renamed Rebecca). Eventually, they had a son, Thomas, and Rolfe returned with Pocahontas to England where she was well treated but died.