Why did the colonists of Jamestown die?

analytical Essay
1171 words
1171 words

A fleet of English ships arrived in the spring of 1607 at the Chesapeake Bay to start an English settlement in an effort to proselytize Christianity and find a trade route to China. These ships carried in excess of 100 passengers who had been granted King James I’s permission to go to the new world. This expedition was funded by a wealthy group of English Aristocrats hoping they could get a return on their investment. The men on the ships knew of the dangers they would experience whether it be the Spanish warships attacking or the Native Americans ambushing the colony. The colonists wanted to avoid a fate similar to that of Roanoke Island, the previous English settlement in the New World where all of the colonists mysterious disappeared. The Chesapeake area was heavily inhabited by over 15,000 Indians living near the James River. After their arrival the English settlers built a fort on an island they called James Island which would eventually become Jamestown. Originally, 110 settlers came to Jamestown but only 40 of them survived until the next year. A resupply ship arrived that prevented the colony from collapsing but hardship soon followed for the next two years when Captain John Smith, the leader of the colony was sent back to England. Following his departure, two-thirds of the colonist died during the winter. This did not hinder the rising popularity of Jamestown because an abundance of young English settlers kept coming. They were primarily poor and the new world was a way for them to work off their debt so they could begin a new life with their own piece of land. Those who did come with money hoped to become successful growing tobacco but the majority of those who came found no prosperity because around 80% of the people... ... middle of paper ... ...d in Jamestown kept them from reaching their goal of a better life. The environment was completely different from which they had come from in England. Jamestown’s environment was unexplored and unknown to the settlers. They did not know how to deal with such harsh conditions in the winter and that led to the deaths of many of the colonists. The amount of people who were designated to do physical work and provide for the colony was incredibly small so they could not provide for the colony. Not everyone was expected to work which meant some people were just a burden for others to look after; this lead to more deaths as well. The constant battles and ambushes by the Native Americans also led to the deaths of hundreds of colonists because the colonists had no way of defending themselves from the attacks or the various diseases they contracted from the contact with them.

In this essay, the author

  • Describes how a fleet of english ships arrived in the spring of 1607 at the chesapeake bay to start an english settlement in an effort to proselytize christianity.
  • Explains that the only people who knew about the land were the powhatan indians who had no contact with europeans prior to the settlement of jamestown.
  • Explains that the original settlers were 110 men who had to survive off each other's occupations and were expected to contribute something to the community.
  • Explains that francis west and his fleet of 36 men went to trade for corn with the patawomeke indians. the grain they got would have been a great help to the colonists but it wouldn't be enough for the winter.
  • Analyzes how the actions of francis west and his crew did not help strengthen english ties with the native americans.
  • Explains that jamestown was a place where many colonists wanted to reinvent their lives and escape the poverty in england. the environment was unexplored and unknown to the settlers.
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