History 111 Midterm Exam
Essay Question 2: Analyze the role joint-stock companies had in settling America.
Joint-stock companies charted by King James I funded the English colonial enterprises. Investors bought shares in the company, and at the end of a specified period received their investment back plus a percentage of the profits of the company. In April of 1606, the king issued a charter to the Virginia Company of London to create a colony in America. In December 1606, three ships set sailed for the Chesapeake and arrived off the coast of Virginia in May 1607. The new settlement was called Jamestown, in honor of England’s King James I. The colony was settled at the edge of a swamp, which was a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying malaria. The Salt water from the nearby river contaminated the wells that were dug for fresh drinking water. Poor drainage meant the colonists’ own waste occasionally contaminates the water. Many setters died within a year. The Virginia Company misrepresented the Jamestown colony in their promotional pamphlet as an “earthly paradise”. The pamphlet offered opportunities for new settlers to become rich. About one-third of the early settlers were unprepared for the hard life in Virginia and who thought manual labor to be undignified. The Virginia Company settlers searched for silver and gold in the region and spent most of their time searching for the mineral wealth instead of planting crops or reinforcing fortifications. Dissension and lack of firm political leadership undermined the colony as well. The new settlers expelled the local populations of Indians and the Indians came to realize the settlers were not temporary visitors interested in trade, but permanent settlers. The Indians helped the settlers stave off starvations and exchanged food for good with the Indians. During the winter of 1609-1610, there was enormous suffering and high mortality. Known as the “starving time”...