Jamestown Colony Was Founded as an Entrepreneurial Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1158 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Native Americans

Jamestown colony was founded as an entrepreneurial enterprise, sponsored by the King of England in 1606. In search of gold as well as new water passages to the Orient, members of the English gentry established the Virginia Company and sent several hundred men from England to the New World. The Jamestown settlement became the first permanent English settlement in the New World, predating the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Furthermore, the Jamestown settlement embodied what would become the American spirit of business enterprise. The tobacco trade also led to the plantation culture that would characterize the American south and later lead to sectional conflicts between northern and southern colonies.

Although the Jamestown settlers "could not have been more ill-suited for the task" of settling a foreign land, the settlement thrived to become one of the birthplaces of America (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities). Part of the reason for the initial success of the colony was the "structured" leadership of Captain John Smith (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities). Yet as well-heeled businessmen from England, the colonists were ill-prepared to face the challenges posed by weather and aggressive natives.

The original set of settlers landed on the Jamestown Island on May 14, 1607. Hoping to evade Spanish ships, the settlers established the colony 60 miles inland from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, along the banks of the James River. The spot offered some safety from Spanish ships.

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However, Algonquin natives posed a bigger threat to the Jamestown settlers than they predicted. Frequent attacks caused the English settlers to construct a large wooden fort to surround their settlement, enclosing their church, homes, and storehouses within triangular walls (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities). The fort was completed in June of 1607.

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Disease and famine also plagued the early Jamestown settlers and threatened to obliterate it. In 1607 Captain Smith led an expedition up the Chickahominy in search of food. His troops were attacked and Smith was captured by natives in December of that year. Allegedly, showing Chief Powhattan's half brother Opechancanough his compass granted Smith and audience with the Algonquin chief. During that meeting, Smith met Pocahantas, who would become an instrumental figure in Jamestown history.

When Smith returned to the Jamestown settlement in January of 1607, dozens of men had perished from famine and disease. Smith was poorly received and accused of causing the demise of the colony. He was subsequently deposed and sentenced to death. However. A supply ship arrived from England and helped appease the desperate colonists.

Nevertheless, as many as 60 men died in the winter of 1609 and Smith initially received much of the blame. Known as the "starving times" the winter of 1609 scarred the settlement and threatened to annihilate it entirely. Settlers were desperate enough to turn to cannibalism to survive.

The settlers abandoned Jamestown in the early summer of 1610. Famine, fire, and a lack of faith in leadership had taken its toll. However, the leadership vacuum was soon filled by Lord De La Ware, who encouraged the settlers to reestablish the settlement in its original location in August of that year. 150 new settlers arrived on ship from England to help rebuild Jamestown.

The resettlement of Jamestown invigorated the colonists. John Rolfe set up a tobacco farm in 1612 to stimulate the economy. Rolfe's knowledge of tobacco led him to acquire seeds from Trinidad and Tobago to produce a superior product than what could be produced from local strains… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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