Jamestown settlers arrive

Jamestown settlers arrive

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Some 100 English colonists arrive along the east bank of the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. Dispatched from England by the London Company, the colonists had sailed across the Atlantic aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery.

Upon landing at Jamestown, the first colonial council was held by seven settlers whose names had been chosen and placed in a sealed box by King James I. The council, which included Captain John Smith, an English adventurer, chose Edward Wingfield as its first president. After only two weeks, Jamestown came under attack from warriors from the local Algonquian confederacy, but the Native Americans were repulsed by the armed settlers. In December of the same year, John Smith and two other colonists were captured by Algonquians while searching for provisions in the Virginia wilderness. His companions were killed, but he was spared, according to a later account by Smith, because of the intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s daughter.

READ MORE: What Was Life Like in Jamestown?

During the next two years, disease, starvation, and more Native American attacks wiped out most of the colony, but the London Company continually sent more settlers and supplies. The severe winter of 1609 to 1610, which the colonists referred to as the “starving time,” killed most of the Jamestown colonists, leading the survivors to plan a return to England in the spring. However, on June 10, Thomas West De La Warr, the newly appointed governor of Virginia, arrived with supplies and convinced the settlers to remain at Jamestown. In 1612, John Rolfe cultivated the first tobacco at Jamestown, introducing a successful source of livelihood. On April 5, 1614, Rolfe married Pocahontas, thus assuring a temporary peace with Chief Powhatan.

The death of Powhatan in 1618 brought about a resumption of conflict with the Algonquians, including an attack led by Chief Opechancanough in 1622 that nearly wiped out the settlement. The English engaged in violent reprisals against the Algonquians, but there was no further large-scale fighting until 1644, when Opechancanough led his last uprising and was captured and executed at Jamestown. In 1646, the Algonquian Confederacy agreed to give up much of its territory to the rapidly expanding colony, and, beginning in 1665, its chiefs were appointed by the governor of Virginia.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the Jamestown Colony

The Indispensable Role of Women at Jamestown

Women at Governor Harvey's Jamestown industrial enclave, c. 1630. Detail from painting by Keith Rocco.

National Park Service, Colonial NHP

". the plantation can never florish till families be planted and the respect of wives and children fix the people
on the soil."

Sir Edwin Sandy, Treasurer
Virginia Company of London, 1620

THE LURE OF VIRGINIA - GOD, GLORY, AND GOLD: These were the forces that lured the first English settlers in 1606 to the new and untamed wilderness of Virginia. They carried with them the Church of England and the hopes to convert the Native Americans to Protestant Christianity. They wanted to establish an English hold on the New World and exploit its resources for use in the mother country. Some desired to find its fabled gold and riches and others longed to discover a northwest passage to the treasures of the Orient.

INITIAL LACK OF WOMEN: The settlers were directed by the Virginia Company of London, a joint-stock commercial organization. The company's charter provided the rights of trade, exploration and settlement in Virginia. The first settlers that established Jamestown in 1607 were all male. Although some, like historian, Alf J. Mapp Jr. believe that ". it was thought that women had no place in the grim and often grisly business of subduing a continent. " the omission of women in the first group of settlers may simply mean that they were not, as yet, necessary.

REASONS BEHIND DELAY: The company's first priority in Virginia was possibly to build an outpost, explore and determine the best use of Virginia's resources for commercial profits. The exclusion of women in the first venture supports the possibility that it was an exploratory expedition rather than a colonizing effort. According to historian Philip A. Bruce, it is possible that had colonization not been required to achieve their commercial goals, the company might have delayed sending permanent settlers for a number of years.

ESTABLISHING PERMANENCY: Once the commercial resources were discovered, the company's revenues would continue only if the outpost became permanent. For Jamestown to survive, many unstable conditions had to be overcome.

  1. A clash of cultures existed between the Englishmen and the Native Americans with whom they soon found to need to trade as well as to Christianize.
  2. Settlers were unprepared for the rugged frontier life in a wilderness.
  3. Many settlers intended to remain in Virginia only long enough to make their fortune and then return home to England.

WOMEN'S INDISPENSABLE ROLE: Providing the stability needed for Jamestown's survival was the indispensable role played by Virginia women. Their initial arrival in 1608 and throughout the next few years contributed greatly to Jamestown's ultimate success. Lord Bacon, a member of His Majesty's Council for Virginia, stated about 1620 that "When a plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men that the plantation may spread into generations, and not be ever pieced from without."

CONTRIBUTIONS OF EARLY VIRGINIA WOMEN: The first woman to foster stability in Jamestown was not an English woman but a native Virginian. Pocahontas, the daughter of Chief Powhatan, was among the first Native Americans to bring food to the early settlers. She was eventually educated and baptized in the English Religion and in 1614 married settler John Rolfe. This early Virginia woman helped create the "Peace of Pocahontas," which for several years, appeased the clash between the two cultures.

One of the first English women to arrive and help provide a home life in the rugged Virginia wilderness was young Anne Burras. Anne was the personal maid of Mistress Forrest who came to Jamestown in 1608 to join her husband. Although the fate of Mistress Forrest remains uncertain, that of Anne Burras is well known. Her marriage to carpenter John Laydon three months after her arrival became the first Jamestown wedding. While Jamestown fought the become a permanent settlement, Anne and John began a struggle to raise a family of four daughters in the new Virginia wilderness. Certainly, Anne and her family began the stabilization process which would eventually spur the colony's growth.

Another young woman, Temperance Flowerdew, arrived with 400 ill-fated settlers in the fall of 1609. The following winter, dubbed the "Starving Time," saw over 80 percent of Jamestown succumb to sickness, disease and starvation. Temperance survived this season of hardship but soon returned to England. By 1619, Temperance returned to Jamestown with her new husband, Governor George Yeardley. After his death in 1627, she married Governor Francis West and remained in Virginia until her death in 1628. Her many years in Virginia as a wife and mother helped fill the gap in Jamestown's early family life.

In July 1619, settlers were granted acres of land dependent on the time and situation of their arrival. This was the beginning of private property for Virginia men. These men, however, asked that land also be allotted for their wives who were just as deserving ". because that in a newe plantation it is not knowen whether man or woman be the most necessary."

The Virginia Company of London seemed to agree that women were indeed quite necessary. They hoped to anchor their discontented bachelors to the soil of Virginia by using women as a stabilizing factor. They ordered in 1619 that ". a fit hundredth might be sent of women, maids young and uncorrupt, to make wives to the inhabitants and by that means to make the men there more settled and less movable. " Ninety arrived in 1620 and the company records reported in May of 1622 that, "57 young maids have been sent to make wives for the planters, divers of which were well married before the coming away of the ships."

Jamestown would not have survived as a permanent settlement without the daring women who were willing to leave behind their English homes and face the challenges of a strange new land. These women created a sense of stability in the untamed wilderness of Virginia. They helped the settlers see Virginia not just as a temporary place for profit or adventure, but as a country in which to forge a new home.

Jamestown settlers arrive - HISTORY

Remake of the Susan Constant
Photo by Ducksters

Setting Sail for America

In 1606, King James I of England gave the Virginia Company of London the charter to establish a new colony in North America. They financed an expedition of 144 men (105 settlers and 39 crewmen) to travel to America aboard three ships named the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery. They set sail on December 20, 1606.

The three ships first headed south to the Canary Islands. They then traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Islands, landing at Puerto Rico for fresh food and water. From there, the ships headed north and finally, four months after leaving England, landed at Cape Henry in Virginia on April 26, 1607.

The first order of business was to select a site to build a fort. The settlers explored the coast and picked an island spot that could be easily defended if they were attacked by the local natives. They named the new settlement Jamestown after King James I. They then built a triangular shaped fort for protection.

Unfortunately, the site they chose was not ideal. In the summer, the site turned into a swamp filled with mosquitoes and poisonous water. In the winter, it was unprotected from the harsh winter storms and became bitterly cold.

The first settlers of Jamestown were all men. Most of them were gentlemen looking for gold. They hoped to get rich quick and then return to England. Few of the men were used to the hard rigors and work that it took to survive in the New World. They didn't know how to fish, hunt, or farm. Their lack of basic survival skills would make the first few years very difficult.

House in Jamestown
Photo by Ducksters

The first year was a disaster for the settlers. More than half of the original settlers died during the first winter. Most of them died from diseases, germs from the water, and starvation. A few were also killed in disputes with the local Native American peoples called the Powhatan. The settlers that did survive only survived with the help of the Powhatan and a resupply ship that arrived in January.

The local Native Americans were part of a large confederacy of tribes called the Powhatan. At first the settlers did not get along with the Powhatan. Some settlers were killed or kidnapped by the Powhatan when venturing outside the fort.

It wasn't until Captain John Smith took over the leadership of the colony that the relationship improved. When Smith attempted to visit the Powhatan Chief, he was taken captive. Smith was saved when the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, intervened and saved his life. After this event, the relationship between the two groups improved and the settlers were able to trade with the Powhatan for much needed goods.

It was in the summer of 1608 that Captain John Smith became the president of the colony. Unlike the other leaders, Smith was not a "gentleman", but an experienced seaman and soldier. Smith's leadership gave the colony a chance to survive.

A lot of the settlers didn't like Smith. He forced everyone to work and made a new rule that said "if you don't work, you don't eat." However, the rule was necessary because too many of the settlers were sitting around expecting others to build houses, grow crops, and hunt for food. Smith also told the Virginia Company to only send skilled laborers such as carpenters, farmers, and blacksmiths to the settlement in the future.

Unfortunately, Smith was injured in October of 1609 and had to sail back to England to recover.

Remake of a Powhatan home
Photo by Ducksters

The winter after John Smith left (1609-1610) turned out to be the worst year in the history of the settlement. It is often called the "starving time" because only 60 of the 500 settlers living in Jamestown survived the winter.

After the harsh winter, the few settlers left were determined to abandon the colony. However, when fresh supplies and colonists arrived from England in the spring, they decided to stay and make the colony work.

For the next few years, the colony failed to be much of a success. Things began to turn around, however, when John Rolfe introduced tobacco. Tobacco became a cash crop for Virginia and helped the colony to grow rapidly over the next several years.

Discovering tobacco

In 1612, settler John Rolfe successfully cultivated tobacco for the first time. This would become the main source of livelihood for the Jamestown settlers. Rolfe was presented as a hero, but that’s not all he would do for the Jamestown colonists. In 1614, Rolfe married Pocahontas. She was converted to Christianity and even given a Christian name— Rebecca. This marriage established a temporary peace with her father, Chief Powhatan, who gave the newlyweds property. Chief Powhatan promised his tribe would not interfere with the Jamestown settlers, and he kept this promise until his death in 1618. The rest is history.

What to Remember

Today, Fort Monroe stands where the White Lion landed. The proclamation by President Barack Obama in 2011 that made the fort a national monument reads, “The first enslaved Africans in England’s colonies in America were brought to this peninsula on a ship flying the Dutch flag in 1619, beginning a long ignoble period of slavery in the colonies and, later, this Nation.” That proclamation validated research by Calvin Pearson, who runs a local history effort called Project 1619.

But despite the official recognition, debate remains over this history &mdash down to the words best to use to describe it.

“I don’t like to use the word ‘arrive.’ I prefer landing. Arriving seems to indicate that they came willingly,” says Audrey Perry Williams, the Hampton Roads branch president of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. She also feels that state curriculum standards, which now require teachers to discuss “the impact of the arrival of Africans and English women to the Jamestown settlement,” should make clear that the first enslaved Africans landed at present-day Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., not Jamestown, though scholars disagree about precisely where events in this history took place, and whether the place more worth highlighting is the landing spot or where the people lived.

There are also some who argue the first Africans in Virginia should be classified as indentured servants, as laws on lifetime slavery &mdash including the law that said children of enslaved mothers are slaves &mdash didn’t start to appear until the late 17th century and early 18th century. Those on this side of the argument say the word “slave” wasn’t used at the time, citing a 1620s census that uses the word “servants.” Just as there were free black populations in Spanish and Portuguese colonies, there were some free black people in Virginia before the laws codified race-based slavery in the late 17th century for example, Anthony Johnson owned land in the 1650s. Earlier this year, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam referred to the long history of racism in the U.S. as dating back 400 years to “the first indentured servants from Africa” landing at Point Comfort in an interview with CBS This Morning. But co-host Gayle King quickly added that their servitude is “also known as slavery,” and many observers agreed that “indentured servant” was in this case merely a euphemism for slavery.

Rolfe’s letter says the people were traded for food, indicating they were seen as property, and research suggests most of them were kidnapped, meaning they didn’t come to America willingly. On top of that, the transatlantic slave trade had been going on for about a century by August 1619.

“There&rsquos pretty much overwhelming consensus here: there&rsquos really no evidence to argue that the Africans were not envisioned as slaves,” says Guasco.

Some scholars also advocate reframing the story of 1619 so the emphasis is less on the trade that happened in Virginia and more on the horrifying voyage to get there &mdash and what came after.

As Colita Nichols Fairfax, co-chair of the Hampton 2019 Commemorative Commission and professor at Norfolk State University, tells TIME, “Our children are not learning the human tragedy of enslavement. They&rsquore only learning that they were brought here to work for other people. They&rsquore not taught the human tragedy of being split up from the people you survived a harrowing journey with when you’re sold for food because you’re not seen as people. A woman named Angelo, who was purchased and worked in Pierce’s house, alone, no family. What was her experience like?”

So at the heart of the 400th anniversary being marked this week is a story of endurance, and of how people brought from Africa against their wills played an integral role in the American story. Their contributions ranged from vocabulary to agriculture to cuisine, including staples like rice that were a key part of the English colonies’ success. They probably also brought some Christian practices that they learned from the Portuguese Catholic missionaries in Africa. As the Internet has helped African Americans try to trace their roots back to the 17th century, interest in these aspects of the story is growing.

“We have to rethink the place of those Africans in history,” says Fairfax. “They are not just victims. They survived and contributed.”

Arrival of Sir Thomas Dale

The arrival of Sir Thomas Dale on May 19, 1611, marked a turning point in the history of Jamestown. Already in England the colony’s fortunes were rebounding thanks to a public struck by the miraculous survival of the Sea Venture. Perhaps the Reverend Symonds had been correct all along: rather than God’s curse, Virginia was God’s calling. In Dale, who served as acting governor in the absence of De La Warr and Gates, the colony found a leader with the stubborn ruthlessness to make it work. (Smith, undoubtedly, shared that quality, having once declared that “he that will not worke shall not eate,” but the Virginia Company would not allow him to return.) On Dale’s first day, the colonist Ralph Hamor later wrote, the governor “hastened” to Jamestown only to find his charges at “their daily and usuall works, bowling in the streetes.” Archaeologists such as William M. Kelso and historians such as Karen Ordahl Kupperman have countered frequent charges that the colonists were lazy with the observation, in Kupperman’s words, that malnutrition and disease “interacted with the psychological effects of isolation and despair and each intensified the other”—producing behavior that could be mistaken for idleness.

Regardless, the behavior did not last. Dale ordered crops to be planted, with the garrisons at Forts Charles and Henry specializing in corn, and the colonists at Jamestown and Fort Algernon, on Point Comfort, raising livestock and manufacturing goods. To instill discipline, Dale enforced what came to be known as the Lawes Divine, Morall and Martiall, which included a law martial for soldiers as well as a strict code of conduct for civilians. The first English-language body of laws in the western hemisphere, the orders (they were not a legal code in the modern sense) were harsh enough to invite much criticism, both in Virginia and England. Convicted of stealing oatmeal, one man suffered a needle through his tongue, after which he was lashed to a tree until he starved.

In June Dale’s men faced down a Spanish reconnaissance ship at Point Comfort at the mouth of the James. They managed even to capture three of its men, including the commander, Don Diego de Molina , and a turncoat Englishman, Francis Lembry, who in 1588 had piloted a ship in the Spanish Armada. The Spanish seized one of Dale’s men, John Clark—he later served as master’s mate on the Mayflower—increasing the fear that Spain might return in force and finish off a colony that seemed perpetually to be on the verge of the abyss. But the Spanish never came, and in August Sir Thomas Gates did, along with 300 new colonists who boosted the population to about 750. In September, Dale and Edward Brewster led an expedition to the falls of the James where they managed, finally, to found a settlement outside of the by-now cramped Jamestown. They called it the City of Henrico, or Henricus, in honor of Dale’s patron and the king’s heir, Henry, Prince of Wales. In December, Henrico became the launching point for an attack on the nearby Appamattucks, whose defeat allowed for the founding of another settlement, Bermuda Hundred .

Expanding Virginia outside Jamestown was critical to its survival, but hardly solved all of the colony’s problems. By 1612, the settlers were mutinous again and the Virginia Company worried about a public-relations backlash against Dale’s stringent application of the law. Instead, in April 1613, Samuel Argall used his connections with a Patawomeck weroance to capture Pocahontas, a feat that eventually allowed Dale to negotiate an end to the long and bloody war. John Rolfe, meanwhile, who married Pocahontas in 1614, introduced to Virginia a West Indies variety of tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum) that eventually, and against the wishes of the king and company, transformed its economy.


The London Company sent an expedition to establish a settlement in the Virginia Colony in December 1606. The expedition consisted of three ships, Susan Constant (the largest ship, sometimes known as Sarah Constant, Christopher Newport captain and in command of the group), Godspeed (Bartholomew Gosnold captain), and Discovery (the smallest ship, John Ratcliffe captain). The ships left Blackwall, now part of London, with 105 men and boys and 39 crew-members. [1] [2]

By April 6, 1607, Godspeed, Susan Constant, and Discovery arrived at the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico, where they stopped for provisions before continuing their journey. In April 1607, the expedition reached the southern edge of the mouth of what is now known as Chesapeake Bay. After an unusually long journey of more than four months, the 104 men and boys (one passenger of the original 105 died during the journey) arrived at their chosen settlement spot in Virginia. [3] There were no women on the first ships. [4]

Arriving at the entrance to Chesapeake Bay in late April, they named the Virginia capes after the sons of their king, the southern Cape Henry, for Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, and the northern Cape Charles, for his younger brother, Charles, Duke of York. On April 26, 1607, upon landing at Cape Henry, they set up a cross near the site of the current Cape Henry Memorial and Chaplain Robert Hunt made the following declaration:

We do hereby dedicate this Land, and ourselves, to reach the People within these shores with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to raise up Godly generations after us, and with these generations take the Kingdom of God to all the earth. May this Covenant of Dedication remain to all generations, as long as this earth remains. May all who see this Cross, remember what we have done here, and may those who come here to inhabit join us in this Covenant and in this most noble work that the Holy Scriptures may be fulfilled.

This site came to be known as the "first landing." A party of the men explored the area and had a minor conflict with some Virginia Indians. [5]

After the expedition arrived in what is now Virginia, sealed orders from the Virginia Company of London were opened. These orders named Captain John Smith as a member of the governing Council. Smith had been arrested for mutiny during the voyage and was incarcerated aboard one of the ships. He had been scheduled to be hanged upon arrival, but was freed by Captain Newport after the opening of the orders. The same orders also directed the expedition to seek an inland site for their settlement, which would afford protection from enemy ships.

Obedient to their orders, the settlers and crewmembers re-boarded their three ships and proceeded into Chesapeake Bay. They landed again at what is now called Old Point Comfort in the City of Hampton. In the following days, seeking a suitable location for their settlement, the ships ventured upstream along the James River. Both the James River and the settlement they sought to establish, Jamestown (originally called "James His Towne") were named in honor of King James I.

The selection of Jamestown Edit

On May 14, 1607, the colonists chose Jamestown Island for their settlement largely because the Virginia Company advised them to select a location that could be easily defended from attacks by other European states that were also establishing New World colonies and were periodically at war with England, notably the Dutch Republic, France, and Spain.

The island fit the criteria as it had excellent visibility up and down the James River, and it was far enough inland to minimize the potential of contact and conflict with enemy ships. The water immediately adjacent to the land was deep enough to permit the colonists to anchor their ships, yet have an easy and quick departure if necessary. An additional benefit of the site was that the land was not occupied by the Virginia Indians, most of whom were affiliated with the Powhatan Confederacy. Largely cut off from the mainland, the shallow harbor afforded the earliest settlers docking of their ships. This was its greatest attraction, but it also created a number of challenging problems for the settlers.

Original Council Edit

King James I had outlined the members of the council to govern the settlement in the sealed orders which left London with the colonists in 1606. [6]

Those named for the initial Council were:

    , Captain of Godspeed , Captain of Susan Constant, later of Sea Venture , later executed by capital punishment in Jamestown , later founder of Martin's Brandon Plantation , twice president of the council , Captain of Discovery, second President of the Council , third President of the council, and author of many books from the period , first President of the Council at Jamestown

Construction of the fort Edit

The settlers came ashore and quickly set about constructing their initial fort. Many of the settlers who came over on the initial three ships were not well-equipped for the life they found in Jamestown. A number of the original settlers were upper-class gentlemen who were not accustomed to manual labor the group included very few farmers or skilled laborers. [7] Also notable among the first settlers was Robert Hunt, chaplain who gave the first Christian prayer at Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, and held open-air services at Jamestown until a church was built there.

Despite the immediate area of Jamestown being uninhabited, the settlers were attacked less than two weeks after their arrival on May 14, by Paspahegh Indians who succeeded in killing one of the settlers and wounding eleven more. Within a month, James Fort covered an acre on Jamestown Island. By June 15, the settlers finished building the triangular James Fort. The wooden palisaded walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses. A week later, Newport sailed back for London on Susan Constant with a load of pyrite ("fools' gold") and other supposedly precious minerals, leaving behind 104 colonists and Discovery.

It soon became apparent why the Virginia Indians did not occupy the site: Jamestown Island, then a peninsula, is a swampy area, and its isolation from the mainland meant that there was limited hunting available, as most game animals required larger foraging areas. The settlers quickly hunted and killed off all the large and smaller game animals that were found on the tiny peninsula. In addition, the low, marshy area was infested with airborne pests, including mosquitoes, which carried malaria, and the brackish water of the tidal James River was not a good source of water. Over 135 settlers died from malaria, and drinking the salinated and contaminated water caused more deaths from saltwater poisoning, fevers, and dysentery. Despite their original intentions to grow food and trade with the Virginia Indians, the barely surviving colonists became dependent upon supply missions.

First Supply Edit

Newport returned twice from England with additional supplies in the following 18 months, leading what were termed the First and Second Supply missions. The "First Supply" arrived on January 2, 1608. It contained insufficient provisions and more than 70 new colonists. [8] Shortly after its arrival, the fort burned down. [9] The council received additional members from

Second Supply Edit

On October 1, 1608, 70 new settlers arrived aboard the English "Mary and Margaret" with the Second Supply, following a journey of approximately three months. Included in the Second Supply were Thomas Graves, Thomas Forrest, Esq and "Mistress Forrest and Anne Burras her maide." Mistress Forrest and Anne Burras were the first two women known to have come to the Jamestown Colony. Remains unearthed at Jamestown in 1997 may be those of Mistress Forrest. [10]

Also included were the first non-English settlers. The company recruited these as skilled craftsmen and industry specialists: soap-ash, glass, lumber milling (wainscot, clapboard, and 'deal' — planks, especially soft wood planks) and naval stores (pitch, turpentine, and tar). [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] Among these additional settlers were eight "Dutch-men" (consisting of unnamed craftsmen and three who were probably the wood-mill-men — Adam, Franz and Samuel) "Dutch-men" (probably meaning German or German-speakers), [17] Polish and Slovak craftsmen, [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] who had been hired by the Virginia Company of London's leaders to help develop and manufacture profitable export products. There has been debate about the nationality of the specific craftsmen, and both the Germans and Poles claim the glassmaker for one of their own, but the evidence is insufficient. [18] Ethnicity is further complicated by the fact that the German minority in Royal Prussia lived under Polish control during this period. Originally, the colony's Polish craftsmen were barred from participating in the elections, but after the craftsmen refused to work, colonial leadership agreed to enfranchise them. [19] These workers staged the first recorded strike in Colonial America for the right to vote in the colony's 1619 election.

William Volday/Wilhelm Waldi, a Swiss German mineral prospector, was also among those who arrived in 1608. His mission was seeking a silver reservoir that was believed to be within the proximity of Jamestown. [20] Some of the settlers were artisans who built a glass furnace which became the first proto-factory in British North America. Additional craftsmen produced soap, pitch, and wood building supplies. Among all of these were the first made-in-America products to be exported to Europe. [21] However, despite all these efforts, profits from exports were not sufficient to meet the expenses and expectations of the investors back in England, and no silver or gold had been discovered, as earlier hoped.

Smith's role Edit

In the months before becoming president of the colony for a year in September 1608, Captain John Smith did considerable exploration up the Chesapeake Bay and along the various rivers. He is credited by legend with naming Stingray Point (near present-day Deltaville in Middlesex County) for an incident there. Smith was always seeking a supply of food for the colonists, and he successfully traded for food with the Nansemond Indians, who lived along the Nansemond River in the modern-day City of Suffolk, and several other groups. However, while leading one food-gathering expedition in December 1607 (before his term as colony president), this time up the Chickahominy River west of Jamestown, his men were set upon by the Powhatan. As his party was being slaughtered around him, Smith strapped his Native guide in front of him as a shield and escaped with his life but was captured by Opechancanough, the Powhatan chief's half-brother. Smith gave him a compass which pleased the warrior and made him decide to let Smith live.

Smith was taken before Wahunsunacock, who was commonly referred to as Chief Powhatan, at the Powhatan Confederacy's seat of government at Werowocomoco on the York River. However, 17 years later, in 1624, Smith first related that when the chief decided to execute him, this course of action was stopped by the pleas of Chief Powhatan's young daughter, Pocahontas, who was originally named "Matoaka" but whose nickname meant "Playful Mischief". Many historians today find this account dubious, especially as it was omitted in all his previous versions. Smith returned to Jamestown just in time for the First Supply, in January 1608.

In September 1609, Smith was wounded in an accident. He was walking with his gun in the river, and the powder was in a pouch on his belt. His powder bag exploded. In October, he was sent back to England for medical treatment. While back in England, Smith wrote A True Relation and The Proceedings of the English Colony of Virginia about his experiences in Jamestown. These books, whose accuracy has been questioned by some historians due to some extent by Smith's boastful prose, were to generate public interest and new investment for the colony.

Virginia Company of London's unrealistic expectations Edit

The investors of the Virginia Company of London expected to reap rewards from their speculative investments. With the Second Supply, they expressed their frustrations and made demands upon the leaders of Jamestown in written form. It fell to the third president of the council to deliver a reply. By this time, Wingfield and Ratcliffe had been replaced by John Smith. Ever bold, Smith delivered what must have been a wake-up call to the investors in London. In what has been termed "Smith's Rude Answer", he composed a letter, writing (in part):

When you send again I entreat you rather send but thirty Carpenters, husbandmen, gardiners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided than a thousand of such awe have: for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before they can be made good for anything. [6]

Smith did begin his letter with something of an apology, saying "I humbly intreat your Pardons if I offend you with my rude Answer. ", [22] although at the time, the word 'rude' was acknowledged to mean 'unfinished' or 'rural', in the same way modern English uses 'rustic'. There are strong indications that those in London comprehended and embraced Smith's message. Their Third Supply mission was by far the largest and best equipped. They even had a new purpose-built flagship constructed, Sea Venture, placed in the most experienced of hands, Christopher Newport. With a fleet of no fewer than eight ships, the Third Supply, led by Sea Venture, left Plymouth in June, 1609.

On the subject of the Virginia Company, it is notable that, throughout its existence, Sir Edwin Sandys, was a leading force. He, of course, also hoped for profits, but also his goals included a permanent colony which would enlarge English territory, relieve the nation's overpopulation, and expand the market for English goods. He is closely identified with a faction of the company led by Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Although profits proved elusive for their investors, the visions for the Colony of Sir Edwin Sandys and the Earl of Southampton were eventually accomplished.

Pocahontas Edit

Fredericksburg, about 65 miles (105 km) from Werowocomoco. She was abducted by Englishmen whose leader was Samuel Argall, and transported about 90 miles (140 km) south to the English settlement at Henricus on the James River. There, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the name "Rebecca" under the tutelage of Reverend Alexander Whitaker who had arrived in Jamestown in 1611. She married prominent planter John Rolfe, who had lost his first wife and child in the journey from England several years earlier, which served to greatly improve relations between the Virginia Native Americans and the colonists for several years. However, when she and John Rolfe took their young son Thomas Rolfe on a public relations trip to England to help raise more investment money for the Virginia Company, she became ill and died just as they were leaving to return to Virginia. Her interment was at St George's Church in Gravesend.

What became known as the "Starving Time" in the Virginia Colony occurred during the winter of 1609–10, when only 60 of 500 English colonists survived. [23] [24] [25] The colonists, the first group of whom had originally arrived at Jamestown on May 14, 1607, had never planned to grow all of their own food. Instead, their plans also depended upon trade with the local Virginia Indians to supply them with enough food between the arrival of periodic supply ships from England, upon which they also relied. This period of extreme hardship for the colonists began in 1609 with a drought which caused their already limited farming activities to produce even fewer crops than usual. Then, there were problems with both of their other sources for food.

An unexpected delay occurred during the Virginia Company of London's Third Supply mission from England due to a major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. A large portion of the food and supplies had been aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, Sea Venture, which became shipwrecked at Bermuda and separated from the other ships, seven of which arrived at the colony with even more new colonists to feed, and few supplies, most of which had been aboard the larger flagship.

The impending hardship was further compounded by the loss of their most skillful leader in dealing with the Powhatan Confederacy in trading for food: Captain John Smith. He became injured in August 1609 in a gunpowder accident, and was forced to return to England for medical attention in October 1609. After Smith left, Chief Powhatan severely curtailed trading with the colonists for food. Instead, the Powhatans used the prospect of trading for corn to betray an expedition led by John Smith's successor, John Ratcliffe. [26] Ratcliffe was lured by the prospect of food, but was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by the Powhatans. [27] Neither the missing Sea Venture nor any other supply ship arrived as winter set upon the inhabitants of the young colony in late 1609.

Third supply Edit

Sea Venture was the new flagship of the Virginia Company. Leaving England in 1609, and leading this Third Supply to Jamestown as "Vice Admiral" and commanding Sea Venture, Christopher Newport was in charge of a nine-vessel fleet. Aboard the flagship Sea Venture was the Admiral of the company, Sir George Somers, Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Gates, William Strachey and other notable personages in the early history of English colonization in North America.

While at sea, the fleet encountered a strong storm, perhaps a hurricane, which lasted for three days. Sea Venture and one other ship were separated from the seven other vessels of the fleet. Sea Venture was deliberately driven onto the reefs of Bermuda to prevent her sinking. The 150 passengers and crew members were all landed safely but the ship was now permanently damaged. [28] Sea Venture's longboat was later fitted with a mast and sent to find Virginia but it and its crew were never seen again. The remaining survivors spent nine months on Bermuda building two smaller ships, Deliverance and Patience, from Bermuda cedar and materials salvaged from Sea Venture.

The survivors of the shipwreck of the Third Supply mission's flagship Sea Venture finally arrived at Jamestown the following May 23 in two makeshift ships they had constructed while stranded on Bermuda for nine months. They found the Virginia Colony in ruins and practically abandoned: of 500 settlers who had preceded them to Jamestown, they found fewer than 100 survivors, many of whom were sick or dying. Worse yet, the Bermuda survivors had brought few supplies and only a small amount of food with them, expecting to find a thriving colony at Jamestown.

Thus, even with the arrival of the two small ships from Bermuda under Captain Christopher Newport, they were faced with leaving Jamestown and returning to England. On June 7, 1610, having abandoned the fort and many of their possessions, both groups of survivors (from Jamestown and Bermuda) boarded ships, and they all set sail down the James River toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Lord De La Warr Edit

During the same period that Sea Venture suffered its misfortune and its survivors were struggling in Bermuda to continue on to Virginia, back in England, the publication of Captain John Smith's books of his adventures in Virginia sparked a resurgence in interest in the colony. This helped lead to the dispatch in early 1610 of additional colonists, more supplies, and a new governor, Thomas West, Baron De La Warr. Fortuitously, on June 9, 1610, De La Warr arrived on the James River just as the settlers had abandoned Jamestown. Intercepting them about 10 miles (16 km) downstream from Jamestown near Mulberry Island (adjacent to present-day Fort Eustis in Newport News), the new governor forced the remaining 90 settlers to return. Deliverance and Patience turned back, and all the settlers were landed again at Jamestown. [29]

With the new supply mission, the new governor brought additional colonists, a doctor, food, and much-needed supplies. He also was of a strong determination that Jamestown and the colony were not to be abandoned. He turned the departing ships around and brought the entire group back to Jamestown. This was certainly not a popular decision at the time with at least some of the group, but Lord Delaware was to prove a new kind of leader for Virginia. Included in those returning to Jamestown was a colonist John Rolfe, whose wife and child had died during the shipwreck of the Sea Venture and the time at Bermuda. A businessman, he had with him some seeds for a new strain of tobacco and also some untried marketing ideas.

Then, Sir George Somers returned to Bermuda with Patience to obtain more food supplies, but he died on the island that summer. His nephew, Matthew Somers, Captain of Patience, took the ship back to Lyme Regis, England instead of Virginia (leaving a third man behind). The Third Charter of the Virginia Company was then extended far enough across the Atlantic to include Bermuda in 1612. (Although a separate company, the Somers Isles Company, would be spun off to administer Bermuda from 1615, the first two successful English colonies would retain close ties for many more generations, as was demonstrated when Virginian general George Washington called upon the people of Bermuda for aid during the American War of Independence). In 1613, Sir Thomas Dale founded the settlement of Bermuda Hundred on the James River, which, a year later, became the first incorporated town in Virginia.

By 1611, a majority of the colonists who had arrived at the Jamestown settlement had died, and its economic value was negligible with no active exports to England and very little internal economic activity. Only financial incentives to investors financing the new colony, including a promise of more land to the west from King James I, kept the project afloat.

First Anglo-Powhatan War Edit

The Anglo-Powhatan Wars were three wars fought between English settlers of the Virginia Colony, and Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy in the early seventeenth century. The First War started in 1610, and ended in a peace settlement in 1614.

Tobacco Edit

In 1610, John Rolfe, whose wife and a child had died in Bermuda during passage in the Third Supply to Virginia, was just one of the settlers who had arrived in Jamestown following the shipwreck of Sea Venture. However, his major contribution is that he was the first man to successfully raise export tobacco in the Colony (although the colonists had begun to make glass artifacts to export immediately after their arrival). The native tobacco raised in Virginia prior to that time, Nicotiana rustica, was not to the liking of the Europeans but Rolfe had brought some seed for Nicotiana tabacum with him from Bermuda.

Although most people "wouldn't touch" the crop, Rolfe was able to make his fortune farming it, successfully exporting beginning in 1612. Soon almost all other colonists followed suit, as windfall profits in tobacco briefly lent Jamestown something like a gold rush atmosphere. Among others, Rolfe quickly became both a wealthy and prominent man. He married the young Virginia Indian woman Pocahontas on April 24, 1614. They lived first across the river from Jamestown, and later at his Varina Farms plantation near Henricus. Their son, Thomas Rolfe, was born in 1615.

Governor Dale, Dale's Code Edit

In 1611, the Virginia Company of London sent Sir Thomas Dale to act as deputy-governor or as high marshall for the Virginia Colony under the authority of Thomas West (Lord Delaware). He arrived at Jamestown on May 19 with three ships, additional men, cattle, and provisions. Finding the conditions unhealthy and greatly in need of improvement, he immediately called for a meeting of the Jamestown Council, and established crews to rebuild Jamestown.

He served as Governor for 3 months in 1611, and again for a two-year period between 1614 and 1616. It was during his administration that the first code of laws of Virginia, nominally in force from 1611 to 1619, was effectively tested. This code, entitled "Articles, Lawes, and Orders Divine, Politique, and Martiall" (popularly known as Dale's Code), was notable for its pitiless severity, and seems to have been prepared in large part by Dale himself.

Henricus Edit

Seeking a better site than Jamestown with the thought of possibly relocating the capital, Thomas Dale sailed up the James River (also named after King James) to the area now known as Chesterfield County. He was apparently impressed with the possibilities of the general area where the Appomattox River joins the James River, until then occupied by the Appomattoc Indians, and there are published references to the name "New Bermudas" although it apparently was never formalized. A short distance further up the James, in 1611, he began the construction of a progressive development at Henricus on and about what was later known as Farrars Island. Henricus was envisioned as possible replacement capital for Jamestown, though it was eventually destroyed during the Indian Massacre of 1622, during which a third of the colonists were killed.

An investor relations trip to England Edit

In 1616, Governor Dale joined John Rolfe and Pocahontas and their young son Thomas as they left their Varina Farms plantation for a public relations mission to England, where Pocahontas was received and treated as a form of visiting royalty by Queen Anne. This stimulated more interest in investments in the Virginia Company, the desired effect. However, as the couple prepared to return to Virginia, Pocahontas died of an illness at Gravesend on March 17, 1617, where she was buried. John Rolfe returned to Virginia alone once again, leaving their son Thomas Rolfe, then a small child, in England to obtain an education. Once back in Virginia, Rolfe married Jane Pierce and continued to improve the quality of his tobacco with the result that by the time of his death in 1622, the Colony was thriving as a producer of tobacco. Orphaned by the age of 8, young Thomas later returned to Virginia, and settled across the James River not far from his parents' farm at Varina, where he married Jane Poythress and they had one daughter, Jane Rolfe, who was born in 1650. Many of the First Families of Virginia trace their lineage through Thomas Rolfe to both Pocahontas and John Rolfe, joining English and Virginia Indian heritage.

Virginia's population grew rapidly from 1618 until 1622, rising from a few hundred to nearly 1,400 people. Wheat was also grown in Virginia starting in 1618.

1619: First representative assembly Edit

The General Assembly, the first elected representative legislature in the New World, met in the choir of the Jamestown Church from July 30 to August 4, 1619. This legislative body continues as today's Virginia General Assembly. [30]

1619: First Africans Edit

In August 1619, "20 and odd Negroes" arrived on the Dutch Man-of-War ship at Point Comfort, several miles south of the Jamestown colony. This is the earliest record of Africans in colonial America. [31] These colonists were freemen and indentured servants. [32] [33] [34] [35] At this time the slave trade between Africa and the English colonies had not yet been established.

Records from 1623 and 1624 listed the African inhabitants of the colony as servants, not slaves. In the case of William Tucker, the first Black person born in the colonies, freedom was his birthright. [36] He was son of "Antony and Isabell", a married couple from Angola who worked as indentured servants for Captain William Tucker whom he was named after. Yet, court records show that at least one African had been declared a slave by 1640 John Punch. He was an indentured servant who ran away along with two White indentured servants and he was sentenced by the governing council to lifelong servitude. This action is what officially marked the institution of slavery in Jamestown and the future United States.

1620: More craftsmen from Germany, Italy and Poland arrive Edit

By 1620, more German settlers from Hamburg, Germany, who were recruited by the Virginia Company set up and operated one of the first sawmills in the region. [37] Among the Germans were several other skilled craftsmen carpenters, and pitch/tar/soap-ash makers, who produced some of the colony's first exports of these products. The Italians included a team of glass makers. [38]

On June 30, 1619 Slovak and Polish artisans conducted the first labor strike (first "in American history" [39] [19] ) for democratic rights ("No Vote, No Work") [39] [40] in Jamestown. [40] [41] [42] [43] and granted the workers equal voting rights on July 21, 1619. [44] Afterwards, the labor strike was ended and the artisans resumed their work. [41] [42] [45] [46]

1621: Arrival of marriageable women Edit

During 1621 fifty-seven unmarried women sailed to Virginia under the auspices of the Virginia Company, who paid for their transport and provided them with a small bundle of clothing and other goods to take with them. A colonist who married one of the women would be responsible for repaying the Virginia Company for his wife's transport and provisions. The women traveled on three ships, The Marmaduke, The Warwick, and The Tyger.

Many of the women were not "maids" but widows. Some others were children, for example Priscilla, the eleven-year-old daughter of Joan and Thomas Palmer on the Tyger. Some were women who were traveling with family or relatives: Ursula Clawson, "kinswoman" of ancient planter Richard Pace, traveled with Pace and his wife on the Marmaduke. There were a total of twelve unmarried women on the Marmaduke, one of whom was Ann Jackson, daughter of William Jackson of London. She joined her brother John Jackson who was already in Virginia, living at Martin's Hundred. Ann was one of nineteen women kidnapped by the Powhatans during the Indian Massacre of 1622 and was not returned until 1628, when the Council ordered her brother John to keep Ann in safety until she returned to England on the first available ship. [47]

Some of the women sent to Virginia did marry. Most disappeared from the records—perhaps killed in the massacre, perhaps dead from other causes, perhaps returned to England. In other words, they shared the fate of most of their fellow colonists. [48]

The relations with the natives took a turn for the worse after the death of Pocahontas in England and the return of John Rolfe and other colonial leaders in May 1617. Disease, poor harvests and the growing demand for tobacco lands caused hostilities to escalate. After Wahunsunacock's death in 1618, his younger brother, Opitchapam, briefly became chief. However, he was soon succeeded by his own younger brother, Opechancanough. Opechancanough was not interested in attempting peaceful coexistence with the English settlers. Instead, he was determined to eradicate the colonists from what he considered to be Indian lands. As a result, another war between the two powers lasted from 1622 to 1632.

Chief Opechancanough organized and led a well-coordinated series of surprise attacks on multiple English settlements along both sides of a 50-mile (80 km) long stretch of the James River which took place early on the morning of March 22, 1622. This event came to be known as the Indian Massacre of 1622, and resulted in the deaths of 347 colonists (including men, women, and children) and the abduction of many others. Some say that this massacre was revenge. [ citation needed ] The Massacre caught most of the Virginia Colony by surprise and virtually wiped out several entire communities, including Henricus and Wolstenholme Town at Martin's Hundred. A letter by Richard Frethorne, written in 1623, reports, "we live in fear of the enemy every hour." [49]

However, Jamestown was spared from destruction due to a Virginia Indian boy named Chanco who, after learning of the planned attacks from his brother, gave warning to colonist Richard Pace, with whom he lived. Pace, after securing himself and his neighbors on the south side of the James River, took a canoe across river to warn Jamestown, which narrowly escaped destruction, although there was no time to warn the other settlements. Apparently, Opechancanough subsequently was unaware of Chanco's actions, as the young man continued to serve as his courier for some time after.

Some historians have noted that, as the settlers of the Virginia Colony were allowed some representative government, and they prospered, King James I was reluctant to lose either power or future financial potential. In any case, in 1624, the Virginia Company lost its charter and Virginia became a crown colony. In 1634, the English Crown created eight shires (i.e. counties) in the colony of Virginia which had a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. James City Shire was established and included Jamestown. Around 1642–43, the name of the James City Shire was changed to James City County.

New Town and palisade Edit

The original Jamestown fort seems to have existed into the middle of the 1620s, but as Jamestown grew into a "New Town" to the east, written references to the original fort disappear. By 1634, a palisade (stockade) was completed across the Virginia Peninsula, which was about 6 miles (9.7 km) wide at that point between Queen's Creek which fed into the York River and Archer's Hope Creek, (since renamed College Creek) which fed into the James River. The new palisade provided some security from attacks by the Virginia Indians for colonists farming and fishing lower on the Peninsula from that point.

Third Anglo-Powhatan War Edit

On April 18, 1644, Opechancanough again tried to force the colonists to abandon the region with another series of coordinated attacks, killing almost 500 colonists. However, this was a much less devastating portion of the growing population than had been the case in the 1622 attacks. Furthermore, the forces of Royal Governor of Virginia William Berkeley captured the old warrior in 1646, [50] variously thought to be between 90 and 100 years old. In October, while a prisoner, Opechancanough was killed by a soldier (shot in the back) assigned to guard him. Opechancanough was succeeded as Weroance (Chief) by Nectowance and then by Totopotomoi and later by his daughter Cockacoeske.

In 1646, the first treaties were signed between the Virginia Indians and the English. The treaties set up reservations, some of the oldest in America, for the surviving Powhatan. It also set up tribute payments for the Virginia Indians to be made yearly to the English. [51] That war resulted in a boundary being defined between the Indians and English lands that could only be crossed for official business with a special pass. This situation would last until 1677 and the Treaty of Middle Plantation, which established Indian reservations following Bacon's Rebellion.

Governor Berkeley, Bacon's Rebellion Edit

Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion in 1676 by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. In the 1670s, the governor was serving his second term in that office. Berkeley, now in his seventies, had previously been governor in the 1640s and had experimented with new export crops at his Green Spring Plantation near Jamestown. In the mid-1670s, a young cousin through marriage, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., arrived in Virginia sent by his father in the hope that he would "mature" under the tutelage of the governor. Although lazy, Bacon was intelligent, and Berkeley provided him with a land grant and a seat on the Virginia Colony council. However, the two became at odds over relationships with the Virginia Indians, which were most strained at the outer frontier points of the colony.

In July 1675, Doeg Indians crossed from Maryland and raided the plantation of Thomas Mathews in the northern portion of the colony along what became the Potomac River, stealing some hogs in order to gain payment for several items Mathews had obtained from the tribe. Mathews pursued them and killed several Doegs, who retaliated by killing Mathews' son and two of his servants, including Robert Hen. A Virginian militia then went to Maryland and besieged the Susquehanaugs (a different tribe) in "retaliation" which led to even more large-scale Indian raids, and a protest from the governor of Maryland colony. Governor Berkeley tried to calm the situation but many of the colonists, particularly the frontiersmen, refused to listen to him and Bacon disregarded a direct order and captured some Appomattoc Indians, who were located many miles south of the site of the initial incident, and almost certainly not involved.

Following the establishment of the Long Assembly in 1676, war was declared on "all hostile Indians" and trade with Indian tribes became regulated, often seen by the colonists to favor friends of Berkeley. Bacon opposed Berkeley and led a group in opposition to the governor. Bacon and his troops set themselves up at Henrico until Berkeley arrived which sent Bacon and his men fleeing upon which Berkeley declared them in rebellion and offered a pardon to any who returned to Jamestown peaceably.

Bacon led numerous raids on Indians friendly to the colonists in an attempt to bring down Berkeley. The governor offered him amnesty but the House of Burgesses refused insisting that Bacon must acknowledge his mistakes. At about the same time, Bacon was actually elected to the House of Burgesses and attended the June 1676 assembly where he was captured, forced to apologize and was then pardoned by Berkeley.

Bacon then demanded a military commission but Berkeley refused. Bacon and his supporters surrounded the statehouse and threatened to start shooting the Burgesses if Berkeley did not acknowledge Bacon as "General of all forces against the Indians". Berkeley eventually acceded, and then left Jamestown. He attempted a coup a month later but was unsuccessful. In September, however, Berkeley was successful and occupied Jamestown. Bacon's forces soon arrived and dug in for a siege, which resulted in Bacon's capturing and burning Jamestown to the ground on September 19, 1676. [52] Bacon died of the flux and lice on October 26, 1676 and his body is believed to have been burned.

Berkeley returned, and hanged William Drummond and the other major leaders of the rebellion (23 in total) at Middle Plantation. With Jamestown unusable due to the burning by Bacon, the Governor convened a session of the General Assembly at his Green Spring Plantation in February, 1677, and another was later held at Middle Plantation. However, upon learning of his actions, King Charles II was reportedly displeased at the degree of retaliation and number of executions, and recalled Berkeley to England. He returned to London where he died in July 1677.

Despite the periodic need to relocate the legislature from Jamestown due to contingencies such as fires, (usually to Middle Plantation), throughout the seventeenth century, Virginians had been reluctant to permanently move the capital from its "ancient and accustomed place." After all, Jamestown had always been Virginia's capital. It had a state house (except when it periodically burned) and a church, and it offered easy access to ships that came up the James River bringing goods from England and taking on tobacco bound for market. [53] However, Jamestown's status had been in some decline. In 1662, Jamestown's status as mandatory port of entry for Virginia had been ended.

On October 20, 1698, the statehouse (capitol building) in Jamestown burned for the fourth time. Once again removing itself to a familiar alternate location, the legislature met at Middle Plantation, this time in the new College Building at the College of William and Mary, which had begun meeting there in temporary quarters in 1694. While meeting there, a group of five students from the college submitted a well-presented and logical proposal to the legislators outlining a plan and good reasons to move the capital permanently to Middle Plantation. The students argued that the change to the high ground at Middle Plantation would escape the dreaded malaria and mosquitoes that had always plagued the swampy, low-lying Jamestown site. The students pointed out that, while not located immediately upon a river, Middle Plantation offered nearby access to not one, but two rivers, via two deep water (6-7' depth) creeks, Queen's Creek leading to the York River, and College Creek (formerly known as Archer's Hope) which led to the James River.

Several prominent individuals like John Page, Thomas Ludwell, Philip Ludwell, and Otho Thorpe had built fine brick homes and created a substantial town at Middle Plantation. And, there was of course, the new College of William and Mary with its fine new brick building. Other advocates of the move included the Reverend Dr. James Blair and the Governor, Sir Francis Nicholson. The proposal to move the capital of Virginia to higher ground (about 12 miles (20 km) away) at Middle Plantation was received favorably by the House of Burgesses. In 1699, the capital of the Virginia Colony was officially relocated there. Soon, the town was renamed Williamsburg, in honor of King William III. Thus, the first phase of Jamestown's history ended.

By the 1750s the land was owned and heavily cultivated, primarily by the Travis and Ambler families. A military post was located on the island during the American Revolutionary War and American and British prisoners were exchanged there. During the American Civil War the island was occupied by Confederate soldiers who built an earth fort near the church as part of the defense system to block the Union advance up the river to Richmond. Little further attention was paid to Virginia until preservation was undertaken in the twenty first century.

The first Polish immigrants came to the Jamestown colony in 1608, twelve years before the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. [9] These early settlers were brought as skilled artisans by the English soldier–adventurer Captain John Smith, and included a glass blower, a pitch and tar maker, a soap maker and a timberman. [9] English writer Richard Hakluyt wrote in 1586 that colonization would require "men skillful in burning of Sope ashes, and in making of Pitch and Tarre, and Rosen, to be fetched out of Prussia and Poland, which are thence to be had for small wages, being there in manner of slaves." [10] John Smith traveled from England to Poland in 1603 to find artisans for his voyage to America. There were six Polish men that traveled with him in 1603 their names were never known definitely until 1943, when historian Karol Wachtl searched through historical Polish pamphlets in war-torn France dating to the mid-19th century. Although it is not known what documents he used in his findings, his publication, "Polonia w Ameryce" was accurate in naming the settlers. In 1947, a purported historical memoir, [10] [11] "Pamiętnik handlowca" ("A Merchantilist's memoir") was rumored to have surfaced in the United States and to have confirmed the names of the settlers. [12] The memoir was to have been written by Zbigniew Stefanski, a Pole who lived in the Jamestown colony with John Smith and later to have written his memoir in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1625. The memoir was to have revealed much about the Jamestown colony, and to have detailed stories about how Polish settlers taught the pioneers how to dig wells for drinking water, fought a strike for their right to vote, and introduced the settlers to baseball. [10] No copy of the original text is known to exist. [10] Nonetheless, famed settlers known today include Michał Łowicki, Zbigniew Stefański, Jan Mata, and Stanisław Sadowski. [1] [2] [3] [4] [6] [7] [13] Stefanski's purported memoir changed the perception of Jamestown history it is known from primary English sources that the Poles were hired as skilled artisans, but in Stefanski's memoir, the 6 men were to have been merchants (or at least trading officials) in Poland. [14] No mention of the religious background of the Polish settlers was made, and historian James Pula suggests that the Poles were likely Protestant because contemporary English sources such as Richard Hakluyt's in 1584 explicitly said no Catholic artisans should be used because of "the special inclination they have of favor to the King of Spain" [15] Captain John Smith noted that two craftsmen helped save his life during an Indian attack that occurred near the glasshouse. [4] [5] [10] [16] (also noted in "Smith's own journals"). [17] An excavation done in 1948–1949 found four Hessian crucibles and large quantities of "common green glass". The glass remains of window panes, bottles, and drinking jugs were found. The Glass House and the glass manufacturing industry was started and operated exclusively by the Polish workers. [18]

Polish settlers launched a labor strike in 1619 against the Virginia Company, and were successful in reaching an agreement. The skills of these Polish colonists were vital to the new settlement, as the House of Burgesses ultimately recognized when it met in 1619. During its deliberations, the House excluded the Polish community from voting rights. In reaction, the Poles launched the first recorded strike in the New World. [19]

"For pitch and tar, we advise and require that the Polackers be returned in part to these their works, with such other assistance as shall be necessary. The like we shall desire for pot-ashes and soap-ashes, when there shall be fit store of hand to assist them: Requiring in the mean time, the care be generally taken, that Servants and Apprentices be so trained up in these works, as that the skill do not perish together with the Masters." (from Records of the Virginia Company, May 17, 1620.)

Impact and historical significance Edit

In need of their industries, the House of Burgesses extended the "rights of Englishmen" to the Poles (which included some East Prussians.) Historians have identified this struggle a historical first in many respects: as an American labor strike, fight for civil rights and voting representation, and the origin of the first-ever trade apprenticeship in the American colonies. [10]

Subsequently, the Poles established the first bilingual schools in the New World, teaching both Polish and English and later extending the curriculum to include Latin and German. [19] The political and economic power of the Polish community declined, however, with the increased colonial warfare with Native Americans. [19]

Arguably the best-known rendition of the Jamestown Polish craftsmen is the painting of Poles in Jamestown by Arthur Szyk. The painting was part of a collection in the Polish Pavilion of the New York World Exposition in 1939. It displays 11 Poles, when historical documents state there were "eight Dutchmen and Poles". Historian Arthur Waldo recalled expecting to see only five Poles in the painting, and asked Szyk in-person why he chose to portray 11. [20] Szyk explained that he was inspired to make the painting by a group of historians from the Polish Foreign Office who wanted the painting to be against a summer backdrop. [20] Staying true to history, Szyk chose to paint the second arrival of Jamestown Polish craftsmen, who arrived in 1609, rather than the first group of Poles, who were believed to number five. [20] The painting also shows Poles in tight-fitting trousers and bright decorations characteristic of the mountaineer region, but the black summer cap tops were clearly Krakovian. Szyk explained to Waldo that they were shown as peasants rather than artisans because doing so allowed more creative license in making folk costumes and creating a distinctly Polish look. [20] Szyk, reflecting on his work, took satisfaction in expressing Polish identity and pride through the painting. [20]

The English Establish a Foothold at Jamestown, 1606-1610

On December 20, 1606, ships of the London Company set sail from England to establish a colony in Virginia. The would-be colonists arrived in Chesapeake Bay in April 1607. On board were 105 men, including 40 soldiers, 35 "gentlemen," and various artisans and laborers.

The Company had instructed Captain Newport, the commander of the ships, to find a site for a colony that was secure from Spanish discovery and attack but that also had easy access to the sea. He therefore sailed up a river (which the English named the James) and fifty miles from its mouth found a low-lying, marshy peninsula that seemed to meet all specifications. There they established what they called James towne.

At first, things seemed to go well. The colonists cleared some land and erected a palisade for protection. Inside the palisade they built small, rather rude, dwellings. The colonists also began to clear some land for planting crops. Meanwhile the resident confederation of tribes led by Powhatan seemed to change from initial hostility to friendship and hospitality. With the offers of food and friendship, the English began to pay less attention to planting crops and more to exploring the region for quick riches.

Despite the early promise of success, there were already danger signs. During the summer and autumn, many colonists began to sicken and die. In part, we now know, illness and death were caused by siting Jamestown at a very swampy, unhealty location. In addition, many colonists had brought with them typhoid and dysentery (what people at the time called "the bloody flux"), which became epidemic because the colonists did not understand basic hygiene. Further, the water supply at Jamestown was contaminated both by human wastes and seawater.

Moreover, by autumn it became obvious that the colonists had insufficient food to get them through the winter. Not enough land had been cleared and not enough crops had been planted and harvested. Part of the problem here was that the "gentlemen" resisted working like mere laborers. Fortunately for the colonists, Powhatan remained friendly and supplied the English with food. Even so, by the time the "first supply" of more settlers and provisions arrived in early 1608, only 35 of the initial colonists had survived.

Although the evidence is skewed in his favor, there is little question that Captain John Smith saved Jamestown. He organized the colonists and forced them to work in productive ways. He was also able to trade with the natives for food stuffs when they were reluctant to trade, he took what he needed, souring relations with the natives. Although Smith soon returned to England, his and other colonists' reports back to the London Company led that body to change some of its methods. Essentially it codified Smith's dictatorial regime by bestowing much greater authority on the colonial governor.

For additional documents related to this topic, we would suggest focusing on the collection most pertinent to early Jamestown, The Capital and the Bay. Within that collection are two essential sources: Captain John Smith's Generall Historie of Virginia and the four volumes edited by Peter Force in the mid-19th century. Both of these sources are full-text searchable via The Capital and the Bay.

A History of Jamestown

The founding of Jamestown, America’s first permanent English colony, in Virginia in 1607 – 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in Massachusetts – sparked a series of cultural encounters that helped shape the nation and the world. The government, language, customs, beliefs and aspirations of these early Virginians are all part of the United States’ heritage today.

The colony was sponsored by the Virginia Company of London, a group of investors who hoped to profit from the venture. Chartered in 1606 by King James I, the company also supported English national goals of counterbalancing the expansion of other European nations abroad, seeking a northwest passage to the Orient, and converting the Virginia Indians to the Anglican religion.

The Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, carrying 105 passengers, one of whom died during the voyage, departed from England in December 1606 and reached the Virginia coast in late April 1607. The expedition was led by Captain Christopher Newport. On May 13, after two weeks of exploration, the ships arrived at a site on the James River selected for its deep water anchorage and good defensive position. The passengers came ashore the next day, and work began on the settlement. Initially, the colony was governed by a council of seven, with one member serving as president.

Serious problems soon emerged in the small English outpost, which was located in the midst of a chiefdom of about 14,000 Algonquian-speaking Indians ruled by the powerful leader Powhatan. Relations with the Powhatan Indians were tenuous, although trading opportunities were established. An unfamiliar climate, as well as brackish water supply and lack of food, conditions possibly aggravated by a prolonged drought, led to disease and death. Many of the original colonists were upper-class Englishmen, and the colony lacked sufficient laborers and skilled farmers.

The first two English women arrived at Jamestown in 1608, and more came in subsequent years. Men outnumbered women, however, for most of the 17th century.

Captain John Smith became the colony’s leader in September 1608 – the fourth in a succession of council presidents – and established a “no work, no food” policy. Smith had been instrumental in trading with the Powhatan Indians for food. However, in the fall of 1609 he was injured by burning gunpowder and left for England. Smith never returned to Virginia, but promoted colonization of North America until his death in 1631 and published numerous accounts of the Virginia colony, providing invaluable material for historians.

Smith’s departure was followed by the “starving time,” a period of warfare between the colonists and Indians and the deaths of many English men and women from starvation and disease. Just when the colonists decided to abandon Jamestown in Spring 1610, settlers with supplies arrived from England, eager to find wealth in Virginia. This group of new settlers arrived under the second charter issued by King James I. This charter provided for stronger leadership under a governor who served with a group of advisors, and the introduction of a period of military law that carried harsh punishments for those who did not obey.

In order to make a profit for the Virginia Company, settlers tried a number of small industries, including glassmaking, wood production, and pitch and tar and potash manufacture. However, until the introduction of tobacco as a cash crop about 1613 by colonist John Rolfe, who later married Powhatan’s daughter Pocahontas, none of the colonists’ efforts to establish profitable enterprises were successful. Tobacco cultivation required large amounts of land and labor and stimulated the rapid growth of the Virginia colony. Settlers moved onto the lands occupied by the Powhatan Indians, and increased numbers of indentured servants came to Virginia.

The first documented Africans in Virginia arrived in 1619. They were from the kingdom of Ndongo in Angola, west central Africa, and had been captured during war with the Portuguese. While these first Africans may have been treated as indentured servants, the customary practice of owning Africans as slaves for life appeared by mid-century. The number of African slaves increased significantly in the second half of the 17th century, replacing indentured servants as the primary source of labor.

The first representative government in British America began at Jamestown in 1619 with the convening of a general assembly, at the request of settlers who wanted input in the laws governing them. After a series of events, including a 1622 war with the Powhatan Indians and misconduct among some of the Virginia Company leaders in England, the Virginia Company was dissolved by the king in 1624, and Virginia became a royal colony. Jamestown continued as the center of Virginia’s political and social life until 1699 when the seat of government moved to Williamsburg. Although Jamestown ceased to exist as a town by the mid 1700s, its legacies are embodied in today’s United States.

Watch the video: Jamestown: First English Settlement In America 12 - 221434-01X. Footage Farm


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