The beginnings of English colonization in America were the result of a seminal change in power in Europe. Following the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the English became the dominant military power in Europe. England turned its eyes overseas in order to increase its power. England's earliest successful settlement in the New World was at Jamestown, Virginia, where the English first arrived in May 1607. There had been an earlier attempt by the English to settle in America in 1585 at Roanoke, also in Virginia, but it had been disastrous; apparently all the settlers perished, their ultimate fate is unknown. In June of 1606, King James I granted a charter to a group of capitalists, known as the London Company, to establish an English settlement in the Chesapeake area of North America. In December of that year, 108 settlers left London; their orders were to settle Virginia, to find gold and a water route to the Orient. The group landed on the banks of the James River 60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Within a month they built a fort on the banks of the river. They named the settlement after their king, and established the English colony. The colonists were the victims of poor planning and bad management. The London Company wanted to exploit the land and did not plan to develop farms to for the colony to become self-sufficient. They had unwisely decided to keep the colony stocked with supplies from England, the first of which did not arrive until 1608. The colonists were ill prepared to live in the unfamiliar climate and many became ill and succumbed to malaria and other diseases that were prevalent in their swampy home. The leaders of the colony were mainly aristocrats who did not know how to work and many of the workers did not want to work. An important member of the group was John Smith. Smith was one of the most important early leaders of the English colonies. His strong leadership of his fellow colonists enabled them to...
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