"Jamestown - first permanent English colony" Jamestown by smschley

Jamestown Travel Guide: 66 reviews and 255 photos

On May 14, 1607, the Virginia Company explorers landed on Jamestown Island, to establish the Virginia English colony on the banks of the James River, thus becoming the first permanent English colony in the New World. In a little over a month they managed to "beare and plant palisadoes" enough to build a wooden fort. While disease, famine and continuing attacks of neighboring Algonquians took a tremendous toll on the population, there were times when the Powhatan Indian trade revived the colony with food for copper and iron implements. It appears that eventual structured leadership of Captain John Smith kept the colony from dissolving. The "starving time" winter followed Smith's departure in 1609 during which only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived. That June, the survivors decided to bury cannon and armor and abandon the town. It was only the arrival of the new governor, Lord De La Ware, and his supply ships that brought the colonists back to the fort and the colony back on its feet. Although the suffering did not totally end at Jamestown for decades, some years of peace and prosperity followed the wedding of Pocahontas, the favored daughter of the Algonquian chief Powhatan, to tobacco entrepreneur John Rolfe.

Bad relations with the Indians had continued to plague the settlers. Once, when the Indians held several English captive, the colonists captured and held hostage the chief's beloved young daughter, Pocahontas. John Smith's later writings tell us that a few years earlier at the age of 12, Pocahontas had dramatically saved Smith from her father, the Powhatan's, wrath. This incident could more likely have been a ceremonial "saving," or even nonexistent, but it is verifiably established that in the early days she did indeed often help the colony--with food or with warnings of attack.

  • Last visit to Jamestown: Aug 1998
  • Intro Updated Feb 14, 2005
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