In the painting Construction of James Fort
, colonists constuct the original palisaded walls of the Jamestown, Virginia three sided fort. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
In 1606, a joint-stock company, the Virginia Company of London, …
…received a charter from King James I to establish a colony in North America.
“Charter for the Virginia Company of London, 1606.” This image is courtesy of the Library of Congress
The English had three main reasons for establishing the colony:
English colonists land at Jamestown, Virginia. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
First, to find gold.
This elongated gold nugget was found in Alaska. This photo was taken circa 2010 by Rob Lavinsky of iRocks.com and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Second, find a water passage through America to Asia.
A map of the fictitious Strait of Anian that would take travelers by water from the Atlantic Ocean, across North America to the Pacific Ocean. This image by Guillaume Sanson was produced circa 1687 and is in the Yale Univeristy Library Map Collection. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The third reason was to convert the natives to Protestant Christianity.
This painting depicts the ceremony in which Pocahontas, daughter of the influential Algonkian Chief Powhatan, was baptized and given the name Rebecca in an Anglican church. The ceremony took place in either 1613 or 1614 in the colony at Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas is thought to be the earliest native convert to Christianity in the English colonies. This ceremony and her subsequent marriage to John Rolfe helped to establish peaceful relations between the colonists and the local Native American groups. This painting by John Gadsby Chapman was created in 1839 and placed in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol in 1840. It is courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.
These overseas settlers were promised the same rights as Englishmen who lived in the mother country.
A cooper making barrels at his shop in Jamestown, Virginia. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Their settlement, Jamestown, was located on the tree lined, but mosquito-infested banks of the James River, both named in honor of their king.
An aerial view of how Jamestown might have looked in the year 1614. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Although unhealthy, the Jamestown Island location on the water was considered to be a good spot to defend against the Indians who might attack by land…
Native Americans watch as the English colonists construct James Fort. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
… and a feared attack of the Spanish by water.
A detail from the painting Construction of James Fort
. The fort was constructed to defend the settlers from attacks by the Native Americans by land and the Spanish from the water. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Hunting on the island was poor. The colonists depended on the local natives and the arrival of ships to supply them with food.
John Smith negotiating with the local Native Americans for food at Jamestown, Virginia. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
The James River and the Chesapeake Bay contained many edible fish, but the colonists did not work enough at supplying their needs from the water.
When the English colonists first arrived in the Chesapeake Bay, they explored Cape Henry on April 26, 1607. They moved farther up the James River to found Jamestown on May 13, 1607. This painting by Sidney King of the First Landing
at Cape Henry is courtesy of the National Park Service
The land surrounding Jamestown Island was ready to be ploughed and to grow corn, but the colonists planted their corn too late in the growing season.
Orders from the Virginia Company, however, pressured the first colonists, some of whom were not the working poor, but “gentlemen”…
Sir Peter Saltonstall (not an English colonist) was in charge of the horses to King James I. This painting, circa 1610, is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
…and many of whom were not used to living in a wilderness…
The Native Americans in the Tidewater Virginia area were used to living in the wilderness, and would frequently check on the progress of the colonists at Jamestown. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
… to search for gold, or be abandoned by the company.
Jamestown did not have very much, gold, especially compared to parts of Alaska where this 63.8 gram gold nugget was found. This image by Rob Lavinsky of iRocks.com
is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.Wikimedia Commons
The adventurer John Smith took charge of the Jamestown settlement from 1608-1609.
This line engraving of John Smith appeared on a 1616 map of New England. The engraving was created by Simon de Passe (circa 1595-1647). The original is in the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. The image is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
His attempts at instilling discipline into the colonists appeared to work for a time.
Colonists were impressed with the deep, tall forests of Virginia. They would not only use the lumber for their own needs, they would export the lumber to England. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
His rules for the young “gentlemen” who did not feel that they needed to do physical labor included: “He who will not work shall not eat.”
Smith would claim that the daughter of Chief Powhatan, Pocahontas, saved his life while he was bargaining with the Indians for supplies.
Artist depiction of Pocahontas saving the life of Captain John Smith. This image was created in 1870 by the New England Chromo Lithograph Company. It is courtesy of the Library of Congress
Smith was wounded by an explosion/ignition of gunpowder in 1609 and went back to England to recover.
Although John Smith visited New England in 1614, he never returned to Virginia following his wound from the explosion/ignition of gunpowder. He died on June 21, 1631 and was buried in St. Sepulchre’s Church in London. This statue was created by William Couper and erected at Jamestown in 1909. This photograph is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Although colonists had died in significant numbers from disease while Smith was in charge of Jamestown…
Mass grave at Jamestown National Historic Park. The graves are located beneath the foundations of one of the later capitol buildings. This photo by Sarah Stierch was taken on May 1, 2009 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
…the winter of 1609-1610 was an extremely difficult period. Hundreds of colonists died from not only disease, but from starvation.
The “Starving Time” at Jamestown was a period of forced starvation initiated by the Powhatan (local Native American) Confederacy to remove the English from Virginia. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Of the 500 colonists that had settled in Jamestown, only 60 of them survived what became known as the “starving time.”
The first group of English colonists at Jamestown had never planned to grow all of their own food. Their plans depended on trade with the local Native Americans. The Indians (Powhatan Confederacy was to supply them with food between the arrivals of supply ships from England. When the Powhatans did not trade with the English for food the colonists starved. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
The survivors boarded ships, abandoned the colony and sailed towards the Chesapeake Bay. There a supply convoy with new supplies intercepted them and returned the colonists to Jamestown.
The convoy that met the colonists in Chesapeake Bay was led by a newly-appointed governor, Lord Delaware. He not only brought food, he also brought other colonists and a doctor. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Colonists also died in armed conflicts with the Indians who were upset about the amount of land the colonists were taking.
In 1622 Indians, who came into the colony pretending to sell the colonists provisions suddenly began attacking the English. 347 men, women and children of all ages were killed. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Pocahontas and other Native Americans were instrumental in supplying food to keep the colony from collapsing.
This painting, “Trading With the Indians” at Jamestown appears to show the English colonists have traveled by ship to a Native American village. They are discussing with the natives how they can trade for food. This painting by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
In 1614 Pocahontas married colonist John Rolfe.
John Rolfe’s first wife, who was English-born had died in Bermuda in 1609. The marriage of Pocahontas to John Rolfe created a climate of peace between the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan’s tribes for several years. This image by Henry Brueckner was created in 1855. It is titled, “The Marriage of Pocahontas” and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
John Rolfe, with the help of the Native Americans developed and cured tobacco so that it would not have a bitter taste.
John Rolfe (circa 1585-1622 ) somehow brought to Jamestown tobacco seeds from a popular strain then being grown in Trinidad and South America. The Spanish, who controlled the tobacco market, had declared a penalty of death to anyone selling such seeds to somebody who was not Spanish. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
Tobacco use became wildly popular in England other other parts of Europe, and the colony was put on a firm economic foundation.
This image by Dirck Hals is titled Gentlemen Smoking and Playing Backgammon in an Interior
. It is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The growth of the tobacco industry in Virginia led to the establishment of large plantations and a need for many laborers.
In 1619 a British pirate ship flying a Dutch flag, appeared off the shore of Jamestown and sold the colonists approximately twenty Africans.
This image, titled Landing of Negroes at Jamestown from a Dutch Man-of-War, 1619 depicts the first 20 slaves to be brought to an English colony. This image was created in 1917 by Howard Pyle.
The records are unclear, but while it appears that these first Africans were treated as indentured servants…
An indentured servant was frequently a young, unskilled laborer contracted to work for an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years. In exchange for his work, the employer would provide his indentured servant : transportation, food, clothing, lodging, and other necessities during the term of his or her indenture. They were not paid wages. This image of indentured servants is courtesy of the College of William and Mary
…this event marked the beginning of slavery in the English colonies.
On Board a Slave Ship
. This image shows captives being brough on board a slave ship on the West Coast of Africa. This image was created circa 1880 and is courtesy of the University of Virginia
In 1619, the same year that slavery was probably introduced to Virginia, representative self-government was also born at Jamestown.
This image of a desk in the chamber of the House of Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia is courtesy of the National Park Service
The London Company, allowing the colonists some local control, granted them a voice to run their own government.
The House of Burgesses first met in Jamestown, Virginia. This image by Sidney King is courtesy of the National Park Service
The first assembly of the House of Burgesses, met for only five days because of an outbreak of malaria,…
This photgraph of a reenactment of the first meeting of the House of Burgesses at Jamestown, Virginia, is courtesy of the Commonwealth of Virginia
…but it was the first of many town councils and colonial legislatures to emerge in America.
In 1620 another significant group sailed into Jamestown.
The stern of the replica of the Susan Constant
, one of the first ships to sail to Jamestown in 1607. The replica, constructed in 1989, is located in Jamestown Settlement. This photo by Bmrbarre was taken on June 2, 2007 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Approximately 100 women arrived,…
In 1620 approximately 90 single women joined the men of Jamestown. There had been women at Jamestown as early as 1608, but they were few in number. The arrival of the “Maids” gave the settlement some permanence. This painting by Sidney King titled Arrival of the Maids
, is courtesy of the National Park Service
…and the colony’s population began to steadily grow.
By 1750 Jamestown was secure from attacks from the local Native Americans. The tobacco trade led to the steady growth of what was then the capital of Virginia. This painting by Keith Rocco is courtesy of the National Park Service
Another North American English Colony was established in 1607 a few months after Jamestown.
This map of the Popham Colony and Fort St. George shows a star-shaped fort including diteches, ramparts, a storehouse, a chapel, and more than fifteen structures. This map by John Hunt was created circa 1607-1608 and is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Popham Colony and its Fort St. George was located in the present-day state of Maine.
One of the primary reasons it was established was for shipbuilding.
This three cent stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service in 1957.
The colonists did construct a 30 ton ship which they named Virginia.
This model of the Virginia
is on display at the Maine Maritime Museum. This image is courtesy of the Maine Maritime Museum
It proved to be very seaworthy and was the first ship built by Europeans in North America.
Drawing of a small pinnace, which was the same type of ship as the Virginia
, built by the Popham Colony. This image by an unknown artist is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Popham was abandoned in 1608 when its leader, Raleigh Gilbert, son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert…
Raleigh Gilbert was the sixth son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. Sir Humphrey Gilbert died after attempting to establish a colony in Newfoundland in 1583.
…learned he had inherited a large English estate and decided to go home. The rest of the colony chose to return with him.
The Mary and John was one of two ships to bring settlers to the Popham Colony in 1607. This image is courtesy of affordableAcadia.com