Jamestown (1607-1699) Matthew, Jackson, Monet, and Sahar

Jane: Proving cannibalism at Jamestown

By Monet Medeiros

It was 1609, a 14 year old girl left Plymouth, England. She was the third and final supply fleet to sail to Jamestown. Among them were 500 other people hoping to make a living in the English Settlement in Virginia. But only 150 would make it, a unseen hurricane wrecked the ships as they were approaching land. A huge setback for the settlers already hungry and dying off from the local Natives. With the lost rations and an even larger population, a infamous event in the founding in Jamestown began, the Starving Time.

Arrival of ships at Jamestown
There remained not past 60 men, women, and children, most miserable and poor creatures; and there were for the most part preserved roots, herbs, acorns, walnuts, berries, and now and then a little fish... yea even the skins of our horses - John Smith

The starving time was through the winter of 1609. Men, women and children were recorded to have resorted to eating horses, cats, dogs, snakes, and even their shoes made from leather. But it still wasn't enough, and they began to die. Corpses were everywhere in Jamestown, reminding settlers of their soon doom. However a few went crazy enough, to take advantage of the dead bodies by eating them. On July 27, 2012, archaeologists working in a Jamestown trash deposit found something very unusual. About 2.5 ft under, among animal bones, these archeologists found bones that were known to be of a fourteen year old girl who scientists later named Jane. Forensic scientists analyzed these bones and concluded that she was eaten by an unknown settler/s. These scientists discovered scratches in her skull, which they believed to be tools trying to scratch through her skull. With her discovery, historians were finally able to conclude that with this evidence, cannibalism really did happen at Jamestown. Today, we can only imagine the horrorfic starving time.

Dug up remains of Jane
“They were clearly interested in cheek meat, muscles of the face, tongue, and brain" - Doug Owlsey

Reconstruction of Janes face

"This is a very rare find, it is the only artifactual evidence of cannibalism by Europeans at any European colony - Spanish, French, English, or Dutch" - James Horn

Links to sources

Settlers tending their crops, these crops were probably tobacco and hemp.

The Cash Crops of Virginia

Before 1612 the Virginia colony was dependent on failing products such as: timber, silver, gold, and tar. After they realized that these would not be available in the area, the people of Jamestown worked on providing more sustainable sources of money such as cash crops. In 1612, the first cash crop is planted next to the James River. The producing of these cash crops steadily became more prominent around the world leading including London itself importing nearly a million and a half pounds of tobacco annually from Virginia in the 1640’s. The producing of these cash crops gave the United States of America a solid foundation to grow upon.

In the beginning, the settlers planned to temporarily live in Jamestown to mine gold, silver, and iron as well as other products. This plan was unsuccessful and shocked the settlers because the materials that they searched for were nonexistent in the area. Soon, the people adapted to their resources, and because the scenery was perfect for farming cash crops such as tobacco and marijuana, this is exactly what they did. Contrary to mining, farming requires people to tend the crops for the majority of the year. Without this, the settlers would not have colonized Jamestown.


The Abduction of Pocahontas

By: Sahar Nabizai

Pocahontas was born in 1596, in Werowocomoco. Her father was Chief Powhatan and her mother died during childbirth. When Pocahontas got married to Kocoum, Pocahontas was mentioned in the English accounts. In 1613, that changed when Captain Samuel Argall discovered she was living with the Patawomeck. Capturing Pocahontas could give him the leverage he needed to change that. Argall met with Iopassus, chief of the town of Passapatanzy and brother to the Patawomeck tribe's chief, to help him kidnap Pocahontas.

Native Americans watching Pocahontas getting kidnapped

The Patawomeck chief decided to cooperate with Argall; they could tell Powhatan they acted under fear. Pocahontas accompanied Iopassus and his wife to see Captain Argall's English ship. Iopassus' wife then pretended to want to go aboard, a request her husband would grant only if Pocahontas would accompany her. Pocahontas refused at first, sensing something was not right, but finally agreed when Iopassus' wife resorted to tears. After eating, Pocahontas was taken to the gunner's room to spend the night. In the morning, when the three visitors were ready to disembark, Argall refused to allow Pocahontas to leave the ship. Iopassus and his wife seemed surprised; Argall declared Pocahontas was being held as ransom for the return of stolen weapons and English prisoners held by her father. Iopassus and his wife left, with a reward for help Pocahontas an English prisoner. After her capture, Pocahontas was brought to Jamestown and she saw how much Jamestown has evolved since the last time she was there . Eventually, she was probably taken to Henrico, a small English settlement. Powhatan, informed of his daughter's capture and ransom cost, agreed to many of the English demands immediately, to open negotiations. In the meantime, Pocahontas was put under the charge of Reverend Alexander Whitaker, who lived at Henrico. She learned the English language, religion and customs. While not all was strange to Pocahontas, it was vastly different than the Powhatan world.

"Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one."


During her religious instruction, Pocahontas met widower John Rolfe, who would become famous for introducing the cash crop tobacco to the settlers in Virginia. By all English accounts, the two fell in love and wanted to marry. (Perhaps, once Pocahontas was kidnapped, Kocoum, her first husband, realized divorce was inevitable (there was a form of divorce in Powhatan society). Once Powhatan was sent word that Pocahontas and Rolfe wanted to marry, his people would have considered Pocahontas and Kocoum divorced.) Powhatan consented to the proposed marriage and sent an uncle of Pocahontas' to represent him and her people at the wedding.

Pocahontas and John Rolfe wedding

The Beginning of Slavery in America

By: Jackson Haroian

The very first Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619, to tend to the new cash crop of Jamestown, tobacco. About twenty Africans were traded to the officers at Jamestown for food. They came off the English warship the White Lion. The Africans were captives on a Portuguese slave ship, and were removed from the ship when the White Lion attacked it. Since tobacco was very profitable, the need for laborers was very high, especially since the plant requires lots of work to tend to. In the 1630’s the Africans weren’t considered slaves, but indentured servants; this implied that they would get their freedom. In 1640, John Punch was an indentured servant, and tried to run away. He became the very first documented slave.

England saw the profitability in the tobacco and signed the Navigation Act of 1660, making it so that only English ships could make port in Jamestown. Since trading with the rest of Europe was common in Jamestown, they had to rely on the King for their laborers. Later, in 1672, the Royal African Company was formed, to sell slaves to the colonies.
“ALL persons except negroes to be provided with arms and ammunition or be fined at pleasure of the Governor and Council." - 40-ACT X, January 1639, an act saying how Africans can not own guns and ammunition.

In 1680, slaves were not allowed to leave the plantation that they were currently working at without written permission from their masters. Even if they were given the permission, they could only go to other plantations, and for four hours at maximum. On top of this, Africans couldn’t congregate in large groups except for funerals and feasts.

A Royal African Company agent selling slaves.

The next step that the Royal African Company took to sell the much needed slaves to Jamestown, was place agents in Jamestown. These agents would sell slaves directly to the people of Jamestown, and get seven percent of the total commission.

“BEE itt enacted That in case any English servant shall run away in company with any negroes who are incapable of makeing satisfaction by addition of time, Bee it enacted that the English so running away in company with them shall serve for the time of the said negroes absence as they are to do for their owne by a former act.” - 1-ACT XXII, March 1660, an act telling that English servants would be punished for running away with African slaves.

The downfall of the Royal African Company happened in 1689. They were losing their monopoly because of many reasons. First of all, they weren’t making a profit, and in fact they were take on debts to pay their dividends. Next, the demand for slaves was much too high for the Royal African Company to keep up with. The planters wanted the monopoly to be destroyed so that there could be more companies to give them the slaves they needed.

Many other acts were passed that went against the slaves. Like how they weren’t allowed to be set free unless they pay the transportation fee to go to England six months in advance. And then in 1692, the Africans could own their own cattle, hogs, or horses. By the 1700’s, Africans had made up almost half of the workforce in Virginia.

“WHEREAS diverse ill disposed persons doe secretly and covertly track and trade with other mens servants and apprentices who to the greate injury of their masters are thereby induced and encouraged to steale perloyne and imbezell their masters goods, Bee it therefore enacted that what person or persons soever shall buy, sell, trade or truck with any servant for any comodity whatsoever without lycense or consent of the said servants master, he or they soe offending against the premisses, shall suffer one months imprisonment without baile or mainprise, give bond with security for his good behaviour, and also forfeite to the master of the said servant fower times the value of the things soe bought, sold, trucked or traded for.” - 2-ACT CV, March 1661, an act specifying how Englishmen trading with servants would be imprisoned.

This part of our history is very unfortunate, even if our founding fathers were too naive to see that. Everyone should acknowledge these facts, and understand that our country was a large contributor to the beginning of the slave trade. These events would lead to the South ceding from the North in the Civil War, and that ended with hundreds of thousands of people dying.

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