Jamestown Devin mcneill

The Foundation of Jamestown

  • King James l had granted a charter to the Virginia Company to form a settlement in North America, in what was going to be Jamestown.
  • Jamestown was the first permanent English colony in America.
  • On May 13, 1607, the Godspeed, the Discovery, and the Susan Constant landed thirty miles up the James River.
  • They landed on May 14, founding Jamestown.
  • Only eight months after the founding of Jamestown, thirty-eight of the one hundred five settlers remained alive.
  • Only the efforts of Captain John Smith had saved the colony.
  • The location of Jamestown was great for defending against ships coming in, but it was not a very ideal spot for a permanent settlement.

Jamestown´s Near Failure

  • Famine, disease, and trouble with Native Americans brought Jamestown right on the edge of failure.
  • The natives wanted the colonists gone, and began picking off anyone that went too far beyond the fort.
  • The site of Jamestown was on a marshy peninsula, and it was very unhealthy for the settlers, which lead many of them to death.
  • The river´s water began to become undrinkable, and they did not find gold, which they hoped to find.
  • The winter of 1609 was known as the "starving time" because the settlers had little food that winter, and they were unable to trade with the Indians.
  • During the "starving time" the settlers ate anything they could, including leather and sometimes even dead settlers.
  • The Powhatan Indians eventually traded with the settlers, saving the colony altogether.

Jamestown´s Rise

  • Tobacco was Jamestown´s first profitable export, and it may as well have been another thing that saved the colony.
  • The marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas had brought peace between the colonists and the Powhatan Indians for a period of time.
  • In January 1608 the ¨First Supply¨ arrived with about one hundred new settlers, allowing them to add new fortifications and established guards armed with weapons.
  • Sailors would trade with the colonists for money, sassafras, furs, and other resources.
  • Settlers tried many things including glassmaking, wood production, and pitch, tar, and potash manufacture for profit.
  • The glassmakers that came with the "second supply" were not greeted very kindly.
  • The first Africans were brought to Virginia in 1619 to work on tobacco plantations.
  • Jamestown later expanded into what they called ¨New Town¨ and it remained the capital of Virginia until 1699

Captain John Smith

  • Before going to Virginia, Smith fought with France, sailed a merchant ship, fought against the Turks in the ¨Long War¨ and escaped from the Turks after being held prisoner and forced to work.
  • Smith was, in fact, a prisoner when they first landed in 1607.
  • In the December of 1607, Smith was captured by Powhatan´s men. The meeting was eventful, and lead to his supposed rescue from Pocahontas, as he reported in later years.
  • Smith had a policy of rigid discipline and had defenses strengthened.
  • Smith established the ¨no work, no food¨ policy in September 1608, which ended up keeping the colony together.
  • Smith was very resourceful, as he had ways to trade with the Powhatan Indians for food.
  • Smith was injured by burning gunpowder in the fall of 1609, and left for England.
  • Many people were happy to see him go, but sadly, he was their only tie to the Powhatans.

Jamestown´s Council

  • The council consisted of Bartholomew Gosnel, John Smith, Edward Wingfield, Christopher Newport, John Ratliff, John Martin, and George Kendall.
  • Edward Wingfield was chosen to be the first president of Jamestown.
  • Captain Smith was restrained as a prisoner because some thought he would try to kill the council and become king himself.
  • John Smith became president of the council on September 10, 1608.
  • As president, Smith ordered to repair many buildings, and had expanded the fort into a five-sided structure.
  • Smith promoted colonization of North America and published many accounts of the Virginia colony, in which historians found historically invaluable.

The Powhatan Indians

  • Chief Powhatan sat upon a fire with a great robe made from Rarowcun (raccoon) skins, with all the tails hanging by.
  • Pocahontas´s real name is Matoaka, Pocahontas is just a nickname meaning ¨the naughty one.¨
  • Just before taking Smith prisoner, he used a body as a shield to protect him against arrows the Indians fired at him.
  • Powhatan´s successor, Opechancanough, had launched a surprise attack on the colony, planning to wipe out all the colonists.
  • The company claimed that 347 colonists were killed in the surprise attack, but many people believe the death toll was much higher than that.
  • The surprise attack did not work as Opechancanough had planned, and gave the English a reason to wage war on his people, in which the colonists only spared children so they could be converted to Christianity and forced to work on plantations.
  • The period of peace between the Powhatans and the English was brought to an end in 1622.
  • A Powhatan boy had warned the English about the planned Powhatan attack, leaving most of the settlers to evade the attack.
  • The fighting between the English and the Powatans lasted 10 years before peace was reached in 1632.

Interesting Facts

  • Jamestown Island was home to several military posts during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
  • George Percy had a man sentenced to death for the killing of his own pregnant wife and consuming her flesh.
  • Pocahontas never actually saved John Smith's life.
  • At one point, there was a Catholic spy in Jamestown, who was later executed by the colonists.
  • Jamestown was the first location in the Western Hemisphere to have a law-making body.
  • African Americans were brought to Jamestown only because of John Rolfe's introduction of tobacco.

Archaeological Finds and the Rolfe Family

  • Archaeologists have found many burial shafts with two or more people in them, possibly due to disease and Powhatan attacks, where the colonists had to hide the dead numbers from the Powhatan Indians.
  • Archaeologists discovered the body of a boy about 14 years old in one of the burial shafts, and he had an arrowhead in his right femur, leaving them to believe he's the boy that George Percy recorded that had been slain during combat with the Powhatan Indians.
  • When Pocahontas married John Rolfe in 1614, she converted to Christianity and took the name of Rebecca Rolfe.
  • Pocahontas and Rolfe had a child which they named Thomas, which they took back to London.
  • While in London, Pocahontas became something of a celebrity, but she died in 1617 while she, Rolfe, and Thomas were getting ready to leave for Virginia.
  • Rolfe went back to the colony alone, leaving Thomas in the hands of an English family.

Works Cited

Gssg. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

Settlement Of Jamestown - 1607. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

"6 Fascinating Things You Never Knew About Jamestown." Ancestry Blog. 01 Sept. 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

"History of Jamestown." History Is Fun. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

History.com Staff. "Jamestown Colony." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Jarus, Owen. "Jamestown: Facts & History." LiveScience. Purch, 22 Dec. 2016. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

"John Smith." Historic Jamestowne. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.

"A Short History of Jamestown." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 27 Apr. 2017.


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