Colonial Jamestown – the very first English settlement in what was to become the United States of America. Jamestown was established in the Colony of Virginia, one of the thirteen colonies that are represented by the thirteen stripes present on the flag of the United States. Jamestown became a permanent settlement in the year 1610, after a brief abandonment. And from 1616 to the year of 1699 Jamestown served as Virginia’s capital.
The history of Jamestown can be traced back to the year of 1606. At this time, entrepreneurs from England, representing the London Company, set sail to the New World with the mission of establishing a colony there. This fleet consisted of three ships under the leadership of one Captain Christopher Newport, and in May of 1607, the 104 men and boys who successfully made it to the location chose it for their settlement. They called this new settlement “Jamestown”, named after the English king, James I. A few short months later, the fort was completed and Captain Newport set sail back to England for more supplies.
Shortly after Captain Newport’s departure, the settlers of Jamestown began to succumb to disease. One reason for the deaths of many was the drinking water, which was less than suitable for ingestion. Food was also becoming hard to come by. Fortunately, the Native Americans who had settled in the area long before the English newcomers brought gifts of food. Indeed, had this aid not come to the settlers when it did the settlement would have most likely failed.
By 1610, those who had survived what was known as the “Starving Time” and new settlers arriving at the area permanently established Jamestown as a settlement. And soon, it was not just a settlement but a venture that had become profitable. Tobacco became the cash crop that the English settlers had long awaited. Finally, the investment made was paying off.
Throughout these early years, peace between the Native Americans and the settlers of Jamestown soured. Many attacks ensued, and when the Native Americans hoped their attacks would lead the settlers away, they were often met with deadly retaliation. Eventually, treaties were signed by the Native Americans which made them subjects of the English.
in 1698, fire struck Jamestown, destroying several buildings, including the prison. While some records were saved, the capital was moved and Jamestown ceased to be a town. Today, it is a historic site that has been preserved due to its importance in American history as the first permanent settlement in the country.