Facts about Jamestown

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1.Spanish domination in Americas

Following the historic voyage by Christopher Columbus in 1492, Spain led the race of establishing colonies in North and South America as efforts by the English men like the ‘Roanoke lost colony’  failed in 1587. King James I gave a new venture named the Virginia Company a charter to establish a settlement in the North America.

 2.Virginia covered the whole Eastern Coast

Virginia was an English name that was used to refer to the whole eastern coast, north of Florida in North America. The English men had named it so for Elizabeth I, who was also referred to as the ‘virgin queen’.

 3.Mission to Search for Minerals

The Virginia Company had plans to find silver and gold in the New World where they set out to explore. They were also out to find a river route that would enable them access the Pacific Ocean so that they can trade with the Orient.

 4.First English Settlement

Three ships, the Godspeed, the Susan Constant and the Discovery set out on a journey to North America’s Virginia area in 1606. 104 boys and men arrived in Virginia in 1607 to begin a settlement. On May 13th, they identified Jamestown, Virginia as their settlement area and named after King James 1. This became the very first permanent settlement by Englishmen in North America.

 5.Established on the banks of James River

Members of the Virginia Company, a joint venture established Jamestown on the James River bank. This site was preferred because it was surrounded by water on all three sides though it wasn’t a full island. It was also far inland which made it easy to protect the town from Spanish attach. The surrounding water was deep to enable English men pack their ship and the area had no Natives inhabiting it.

 6.The town almost failed to pick up initially

During the first 2 years of its existence, Jamestown almost failed due to conflict with Native Americans, disease and famine. A new team of settlers arrived in 1610 bringing in supplies that saved the town. The first profitable export from Virginia was tobacco and a season of peace came after colonist John Rolfe married the daughter of Algonquian chief, Pocahontas.

 7.Expansion of Jamestown

Jamestown expanded in 1620s from the original James Fort to New Town in the east and was Virginia colony’s capital until 1699. Initially, the town consisted wooden fort triangle buildings, a weapons storehouse, several houses and a church.

 8.First General Assembly

The Virginia colony set up the first General Assembly in 1619 whose members were elected by male land owners in Virginia. This assembly became the model for other colonies later in modeling representative governments.  During the same year, the first group of Africans comprising 50 women, men and children set foot on Jamestown settlement from a Portuguese slave ship. They were put in tobacco farms where they picked tobacco.

 9.Rebellion by Natives

Following the death of Pocahontas and Powhatan, relations between colonists and local natives were strained. In 1622, the locals launched a major assault on settlers in Virginia and killed a quarter of their entire population. King James I, in a bid to control the situation, dissolved the Virginia Company and established Virginia as an official crown colony. Jamestown became the capital, locals launched another rebellion in 1644 but the colony got stronger. Natives were forced to get into a peace treaty ceding most land to colonists and pay annual tribute to colonial governor.

 10.A Colonial Historic Site

During the Civil War and the Revolutionary War, Jamestown Island was home to military posts. During the 20th century, a major restoration of the town was undertaken by preservationists. Part of the town is now administered by the National Park Service as a section of the Colonia National Historic Park.

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