Jamestown Fiasco?

Topics: Jamestown Settlement, Jamestown, Virginia, John Rolfe Pages: 2 (647 words) Published: February 27, 2012
Was Jamestown a Fiasco?
The article Taking Sides has two very interesting points of view. On one side you have Edmund Morgan that makes the argument that the settlement of Jamestown was a fiasco more than a plan. The other side has Karen Kupperman taking the stance that the whole Jamestown settlement was an experiment of trial and error. They both make very compelling arguments and there is truth to both sides. Although I would have to say I agree more with Karen Kupperman on the fact that it was more of an experiment than anything else.

I don’t feel that Jamestown could be classified as a fiasco because by definition that means that the settlement would have failed. It was certainly not a total success, but when building something new, the way the Virginia Company was trying to, you are going to have failures, which in this case can be classified as an error in planning. One such error was the fact that the early structure of high-ranking governors and young men was due to the Virginia Company’s fear of the settlement being attacked by the Spanish. This arrangement of men is well suited if attacked, but does not work well when trying to start a settlement from the ground. What skills did these men have? Did they even know how to farm so that they could grow their own food? On top of these questions about the young men the other problem with this was that the social status of each group did not make it to the settlement from England very well. Due to this “the company deemed brute force under martial law necessary to keep the Jamestown colonists in line” (Kupperman 2009). Finally, it was figured out that this style of society wouldn’t work for the new settlement and people were given their own land to provide incentive to work and produce for themselves and the Company.

The second trial and error experiment was due to the lack of knowledge the English had about the land. The Virginia Company thought that the economic base of Jamestown should be...
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