Chesapeake Bay Labors in Colonial America

553 Words2 Pages

Looking at the early English colonies in the Chesapeake Bay region, it’s clear that the English had not learned any lessons from their experiences at Roanoke. Poor planning, a bad location, unrealistic expectations, flawed leadership, unsuccessful relations with the local Indians, and no hope of finding the mineral wealth the Spanish found in Mexico, all contributed to failure. The first colonists in the Chesapeake region were not only ignorant, lazy and unambitious, but their attempts were hampered before they had begun. However, a solution to these problems was found in a single plant: tobacco. Nevertheless, this cash crop ultimately created numerous problems for the colonists. The ignorance and indolent acts of the Chesapeake colonists to unsuccessfully restore the colony by themselves led to the demise of the colony as a whole especially regarding the planting of agricultural goods for food. With an eye toward finding precious metals, the Virginia Company, a joint stock company sent jewelers, goldsmiths, aristocrats, and the like, but not a single farmer. As the company had expected, the settlers spent their time searching for gold, and hoped to obtain all of their food by trading with the nearby Powhatan tribes. This made their settlement neither profitable nor socially stable, since individual colonists felt little attachment to their community but instead sought individual wealth. A lack of social bonds in the community was further exacerbated by the fact that all the initial colonists, and most of the later arrivals, were male. Without wives or children to protect, the colonists had little incentive to protect their settlement or work towards its long-term growth. The noblemen who made the journey to the Americas often came with their respective titles, but no wealth, because of the British custom of primogeniture. These second born sons intended to create their wealth through exploitation of the Native American population and the many indentured servants who came to work for them. However in the early colonial years, these nobles became great burdens on the society, due to their refusal and laziness to participate in the cultivation of the land. Instead of farming to produce food, these nobles came with the intention of feeding themselves by conquering nearby tribes and looting the precious stones, as the Spanish had previously done. “…the colonists were not growing enough to feed themselves and were still begging, bullying, and buying corn from the Indians whose land they scorched so deliberately”(Morgan 50).

Open Document