The early struggles of the first colony, John Rolfe and John Smith, and “Brown Gold”. An English Settlement at Jamestown. Founding Colonies. English colonies were unique from other colonies since they were not founded by rulers.
The early struggles of the first colony, John Rolfe and John Smith, and “Brown Gold”
An English Settlement at Jamestown
English colonies were unique from other colonies since they were not founded by rulers.
Joint-Stock companies would allow for several investors to pool their wealth to form a colony for personal profit.
With a permit from the king, also known as a charter, the joint-stock company could then establish a colony.
The Virginia Company was granted a charter in 1606 by King James I, and they set sail in their three ships: Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed.
The Virginia Company departed with 150 passengers and reached the shores of Virginia in April of 1607.
Look at this map and explain what the various lines mean? Answer the following questions.
What was considered Virginia in 1609?
What do you notice about the size of Virginia?
Virginia claimed all land to the Pacific in 1609, and later still claimed up into Wisconsin by 1784. They also ran Bermuda for two years. Also, where is West Virginia?
Virginia was named by Sir Walter Raleigh for the “virgin queen,” Elizabeth I and the colonist named the settlement James town after King James I.
Jamestown was not the first English colony in North America. The colony of Roanoke was originally established in 1585, it failed, and was repopulated in 1587.
This original settlement was not meant to land on Roanoke, but fate seemed to intervene twice, leaving the ship no choice but to stop there.
The only hint to where the settlers may have went was an engraving on a tree: CROATOAN.
When the leader, John White, returned from England, he found the settlement deserted.
What law did John Smith pass to establish order and stability in Jamestown?
John Smith, captain and leader in Jamestown, sensed that the colony would face hardship.
Disease from contaminated water, hunger, and a lack of work force led to the death of over 100 settlers.
“…he that will not work shall not eat”
Also, with the help of the Powhatan tribe, the settlers were able to acquire some food.
Unfortunately the arrival of 600 new settlers in 1609 led to the Powhatan becoming hostile and they sabotaged farms and killed settlers livestock.
The 600 colonists who arrived in Jamestown quickly fell to starvation and disease. Many were forced to eat things such as boiled shoe leather, rats, snakes, and roots to survive.
Seeming doomed, the colonists left to abandon the settlement. What made them return and begin to flourish by the late 1620’s?
An incoming ship intercepted the group and persuaded them to return. New, more strict leadership forced the settlers to work. And two important new factors led to success.
Tobacco and Indentured Servants led to Jamestown flourishing.
John Rolfe was the reason behind the success of tobacco, or “brown gold,” and his strain grew rapidly in the new colony.
What was the importance of the Headright System introduced by the Virginia Company?
It led to several wealthy plantation owners importing indentured servants to Jamestown, thus raising the work force substantially.
Indentured servants were lower class Europeans who would work 4-7yrs for transportation from Europe and food and shelter upon arrival.
In 1619, a Dutch ship landed in Jamestown with the first 20 Africans to join the settlement. Why were they treated as indentured servants?
The availability and cost of indentured servants made them a better economic choice. It would be another 30yrs before slavery became entrenched in the colonies.
Indentured Servants= 1,000lbs of tobacco
African Slaves= 2,000-3,000lbs of tobacco
Africans who were indentured servants were granted their freedom after their contract was completed, considered citizens, and could own land.
What two reasons led to the conflicts between the English settlers and the Powhatan Indians?
The English viewed the Natives as they viewed the Irish, a wild group they did not want to live with or intermarry. Also, they wanted to retaliate for the Powhatan’s attacks during the “starving time,” in Jamestown.
The English began demanding food and labor from the natives, and if refused they would kidnap the children.
In 1622, Chief Opechancanough planned an attack on the colonists and over 340 settlers were killed.
The attack led to the Virginia Company going bankrupt due to troops and supplies being sent.
King James I grew tired of the turmoil in Virginia and took control in 1624, making it a royal colony. This put Virginia directly under the control of the king.
Under the King’s control, Virginia grew in population to 10,000 with more troops and the native population plummeted.
What conflicts arose under the rule of the king? What did these issues lead to in 1676?
Appointed by the king, Sir William Berkeley acted as the colonial governor. He was not liked due to his misuse of power to levy high taxes which would benefit the wealthy planters, as well as his lack of support for western farmers being attacked by Native Americans.
The economic split between the poor farmers and wealthy planters, coupled with Berkeley’s poor leadership, led to Nathanial Bacon taking matters into his own hands.
Nathaniel Bacon was a 29yr old planter and son of a wealthy Englishman. He hated Native Americans, and turned on Berkeley for not helping the western frontier.
Bacon raised an army to fight the natives in 1676, but Berkeley declared his army illegal. Angered with his ruling, Bacon marched into Jamestown with his army to confront colonial leaders about several issues.
The mob turned violent and set fire to the town. Berkeley and the colonial leaders fled the settlement by ship.
Although Bacon died shortly after, the rebellion was successful in getting the king’s attention. He recalled Berkeley. It also allowed the poor farmers to see their power in numbers.
In the Disney film, Pocahontas, John Smith is depicted as the husband of the chief’s daughter.
The real story behind Pocahontas is very different. She was kidnapped by the colonists in retaliation for the Powhatan attacks during the starving time.
While in captivity, John Rolfe (Tobacco Extraordinaire) fell in love with her and they married. This led to a brief time of peace between colonists and natives.
Pocahontas remained with Rolfe and even traveled to England with Rolfe and met with the royal family. She became gravely ill in 1617 and died on the ship that was returning to Virginia.
Disney manipulates history… go figure.