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In 1607, the Virginia Company sponsored the first successful English colony in North America. Jamestown. National Geographic Magazine, May 2007. by Karen Phillips. Jamestown - the Peninsula.
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In 1607, the Virginia Company sponsored the first successful English colony in North America. Jamestown National Geographic Magazine, May 2007 by Karen Phillips
Jamestown - the Peninsula When 104 English male settlers arrived in May 1607 in the Chesapeake Bay area, they had little choice of land. The Indians were hunting, gathering, or farming on all the good land. So the settlers had to pick land that was swampy, mosquito-infested, and had bad water many months of the year.
The 1607 colonists were all male, including a few boys. • Most of them were English gentlemen, craftsmen, and laborers. • The colonists came hoping to find gold and other valuables, like plants that could be used to cure diseases. Who Were The Settlers?
Why Settlers Left England? In the seventeenth century in England, a first-born son inherited a family’s whole estate. This meant that younger siblings had to make their own fortunes, or be dependent on an older brother’s generosity for the rest of their lives. Because of this law of primogeniture, many younger siblings left England hoping to obtain land and make their fortunes in the New World.
The Virginia Company Although the colony was named for King James, he didn’t fund the colony. A for profit company, called the Virginia Company, sold shares to investors, who were hoping to make a quick profit when the colonists found gold.
The Indians and Their Land in 1607 • The land that the English arrived in was not a semi-deserted wilderness as historians long believed. • Unlike other Indians in the Americas, the Powhatan Indians had not been killed by European diseases. • About 15,000 Indians were living in the Chesapeake Bay area when the colonists arrived.
By 1607, Powhatan, the area’s powerful Indian chief, had organized six of the area’s tribes into a confederation that reached from the Patomac River to Cape Henry.
The Indians the English called the Powhatan, did not welcome the English, nor did they exterminate them even when they could have. Why not?
Why the Indians Let the Colony Survive • Researchers posit that the Indian leader Powhatan thought the colony would fail without the Indians destroying it. • Researchers also suggest that the Indians wanted the copper, beads, and guns the colonists traded more than they wanted to be rid of the English.
104 colonists arrived in May, 1607. Fate of the Original Colonists About half of them had died by September, 1607.
Danger of Colonization Between 1607 and 1624, 3 out of every 4 colonists died of famine, disease, or conflict with the Indians.
The Starving Time • The years 1609 and 1610 are called “The Starving Time,” because over 40% of the colonists died during this time. • During the Starving Time, the colonists ate leather and humans who died. One man was said to have killed his possibly pregnant wife and eaten part of her before he was discovered. • Archaeologists have found the remains of and think the colonists ate poisonous snakes, bad smelling turtles, and horses during this time.
What Caused the Starving Time? • Drought • The worst drought in 700 years had stricken the Chesapeake Bay area. • Indians did not have extra food to share with the colonists. • Plague from European rats sickened colonists with bubonic plague. • Arsenic poisoning • Some researchers believe the Spanish poisoned the colonists.
Why Didn’t the Colony Die? • When John Rolfe arrived after his own year long, catastophe-ridden trip from England to Jamestowne, he found only 60 surviving colonists left alive. • He got the survivors on board his ship and set sail to return England. • As they sailed away, a ship appeared with a new governor, Lord De La Ware, and new colonists. De La Warre forced the survivors to return to the colony and kept the colony alive.
Math Problem If 40% of the colonists died and 60 people survived, how many colonists were in the colony before The Starving Time killed so many?
How do we explain that the English were able to • prosper, • defeat, and • prevail over the more organized, populous, and successful Indian culture?
the exchange between the Old and New World of flora and fauna, ideas, and diseases The ColumbiaExchange: Worms Pigs Honeybees Tobacco Why were these animals and this plant so dangerous to the Indians of the Chesapeake?
How Do We Explain the English Success? • In the Chesapeake Bay area, the Indians were not killed by European diseases. • Although three quarters of the colonists died, the Jamestown colony finally prospered and defeated the more organized, populous, and successful Indians. • Current research suggests:
The Changing Land ｷThe English changed the ecology of the land and made it unlivable for the Indians. ｷThe English brought pigs, worms, cattle, and honeybees, which all destroyed the Indians’ habitat. ｷThe English fenced in their crops, but the Indians didn’t. ｷThe English pigs would escape, quickly grow wild, and eat and destroy the Indians’ crops that weren’t fenced.
Worms Made the Difference ｷApparently, worms had died out in the New World during the last Ice Age. ｷ The worms that the Europeans brought ate the leaf litter that supplied the North American trees with nutrients. ｷ With the leaf litter gone, the flora the Indians knew disappeared, and trees the Europeans used prospered.
Tobacco Ruined the Indians, but Saved the Colonists • Tobacco made the English colony succeed financially. • Tobacco needed lots of land to grow, and it used up the nutrients in the land quickly, creating the need for more and more land. • When the Indians didn’t plant on a field to let the soil grow rich again, letting a field lie fallow, other Indians could use the field for hunting and gathering.
Culture Clash • The English thought these lands were unclaimed, and claimed these lands for themselves. • The English gradually took control of all the best land that bordered the rivers.
Sources Cited Mann, Charles C. “America, Found & Lost.” National Geographic Magazine. May, 2007. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic. Lange, Karen E. “What would you take to the New World?” National Geographic Magazine. May, 2007. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic.