D. England Plants the Jamestown Seedling
1. In 1606, a joint-stock company, the Virginia Company of London, received a charter form King James I for a settlement in the New World a. The main attraction was the promise of gold, combined with a strong desire to find a passage through America to the Indies b. Like most joint-stock companies, it was intended to last for only a few years, after which its owners hoped to liquidate it for profit c. The arrangement put severe pressure on the colonists, who were threatened with abandonment if they did not quickly strike it rich on the company’s behalf; few investors touch in terms of long-term 2. The charter of the Virginia Company is a significant document in American history because it guaranteed to the settlers the same rights of Englishmen that they would have enjoyed if they had stayed home 3. Setting sail in late 1606, the Virginia Company’s three ships landed near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where Indians attacked them a. Pushing on up the bay, the colonists eventually chose a location on the banks of the James River, named in honor of King James I b. The site was easy to defend, but mosquito-infested and severely unhealthy; on May 24, 1607, about a hundred English settlers, all of them men, landed and called the place Jamestown 4. The early years of Jamestown were not encouraging, colonists perished during voyages, expeditions were shipwrecked, and once ashore in Virginia, the settlers died from disease, malnutrition, and starvation 5. Instead of collecting food many spent time looking for nonexistent gold 6. Virginia was saved from collapse by the leadership and resourcefulness of a young adventurer, Captain John Smith who took over in 1608 a. He whipped the gold-hungry colonists into line with the rule b. He had been kidnapped in December 1607 and subjected to a mock execution by the Indian chieftain Powhatan whose daughter, Pocahontas, “saved” him but the symbolism of this ritual was intended to show Smith Powhatan’s power and peaceful intentions c. Pocahontas became an intermediary between the Indians and the settlers helping to preserve a shaky peace and to provide supplies 7. Of the four hundred settlers who managed to make it to Virginia, by 1609, only sixty survived the “Starving time” winter of 1609-1610 8. Diseased and despairing, the colonists dragged themselves on homeward-bound ships only to be met on the James River by the relief party headed by a new governor, Lord De La Warr; he ordered the settlers back to Jamestown and imposed a harsh military regime 9. By 1625 Virginia contained only some twelve hundred survivors of the nearly 8,000 adventurers who had tried to start life anew in the colony E. Cultural Clash in the Chesapeake
1. In 1607, the chieftain Powhatan dominated the James River area a. Powhatan asserted supremacy over a few dozen small tribes loosely affiliated in what came to be called Powhatan’s Confederacy b. The English colonists dubbed all the local Indians Powhatans c. Powhatan considered the English potential allies at first in extending his power over the other Indians but relations between the Indians and the English remained tense, especially as the starving colonists took to raiding Indian food supplies 2. After Lord De La Warr arrived in 1610, he carried orders from the Virginia Company that amounted to a declaration of war against the Indians in the Jamestown region (De La Warr introduced Irish tactics) a. His troops raided Indian villages, burned houses, confiscated provisions, and torched cornfields; a peace settlement ended this First Anglo-Powhatan War in 1614 sealed by the marriage of Pocahontas to the colonist John Rolfe—the first interracial union b. A fragile peace followed, which endured eight years but the Indians pressed by the whites an ravaged by European diseases, stuck back...
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