Jamestown

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Jamestown was a small colony situated on an island in the James River. The Jamestown colony was on a course to fail from the beginning due to the poor location, lacking leadership and ill prepared people, and deadly conflicts with the natives. Colonists began arriving at the first permanent English colony in 1607, the first group consisted of 110 settlers of various backgrounds.(Doc C)

Jamestown’s location on an island was a rather poor decision for many reasons. One of which was the lack of fresh water available to settlers. Since the island was near the coast, it was surrounded by brackish water, a mix of salt water and fresh water resulting in an undrinkable water source around the island. Wells dug on the island were usually shallow and thus suffered the chance of drought or salt water intrusion from the surrounding water.(Doc A) Without a readily available supply of water the colonists were more susceptible to disease because the colonists were not able to replenish the amount of water lost due to disease. Also the salty water made it harder to grow crops such as corn because corn is rather salinesensitive and this limited food supplies which led to starvation among colonists. Another 2

undesirable trait of their location was the inconsistent amounts of natural game. Fish were only in great numbers during spring and early summer.(Doc A) The lack of natural food also contributed to their starvation.

Another factor that contributed to the failure of the colony was the poor leadership and the ill prepared people. According to ship lists a little over a third of the first people to arrive were gentlemen who were not accustomed to manual labor and did not contribute much.(Doc C) People who were not prepared to do manual labor necessary to the colony were detrimental because they were using food and space that could have been put to better use. Many of the people were also trying to get rich in the new world so instead of food and...
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