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Settled in 1607 by the Virginia Company on an outlet of the Chesapeake Bay, Jamestown was the first successful British colony to be established in North America. Settlers who made the four (plus) month journey between Britain and North America expected to find gold in the New World, leaving them ill-prepared to face the harsh realities of living in the colony without the ability to farm or fend for themselves. The Jamestown Colony underwent significant struggles as it fought to stay running in its first ten years.
See the fact file below for more information on the Jamestown Colony or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Jamestown Colony worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Jamestown Colony was founded on the eastern banks of the James River.
- While its location was chosen for being highly defensible against potential attacks, Jamestown was settled in a poor location; the land was marshy and difficult to work on.
- The Jamestown Colony was established in the middle of Paspahegh (a tributary of the Powhatan tribe) territory, leading to conflict with Native Americans during the time.
- The first group of settlers arrived in Jamestown in May 1607.
- Having arrived at their destination so late into the summer, the colonists were unable to plant crops to support themselves in their first year. This caused many of the first colonists to starve.
- If starvation didn’t get to the Jamestown colonists, disease did. Because the colony was founded on a marsh, mosquitos carrying deadly diseases, like malaria, were rampant in their settlement, causing many colonists to get sick.
- By the winter of 1607, only 39 of the 100+ colonists to originally settle in Jamestown were left alive.
- The Virginia Company, still expecting to find gold in Jamestown, was disappointed with the lack of progress made by the colonists. They sent a list of outrageous demands with their first supply ship to the colonists, demanding the colonists pay for the expenses of their trip and supplies with gold and information.
- John Smith, an early leader of the colonists, stood up to the Virginia Company and its investors, insisting they needed additional supplies and skilled workmen for the colony.
- Between 1609 and 1610, the Jamestown Colony fell to chaos when John Smith was injured in a gunpowder explosion, leaving the colony to George Percy. Percy was unable to form stable relationships with the Native Americans, causing turmoil.
- In addition to Percy’s incompetence, several supply ships bound for Jamestown became lost or wrecked in a hurricane on their trip to the colony, leaving the colonists without necessary supplies. This became known as the “Starving Period,” killing over 100 colonists.
- During the Starving Period, many colonists began boiling shoe leather to eat it for food – some even resorted to cannibalism.
NATIVE AMERICAN RELATIONS
- The Jamestown colonists had a strained relationship with the local tribes, having encroached on the land of the Powhatan Confederacy.
- Members of the Native community attempted to move the Jamestown settlement off their land, but had little success.
- In 1607, the Powhatan Confederacy captured the colonial leader John Smith and threatened to kill him over the land dispute between the natives and the colonists. Having survived this encounter, Smith attributed his safe return to the colony to the Chief’s daughter, Matoaka (better known by her nickname – Pocahontas), who he stated saved him from execution.
- By 1610, the tensions between colonists and natives grew exponentially, initiating the Anglo-Powhatan War. The first part of the war would go on for 4 years.
- During the Powhatan Wars, the Powhatan’s beloved princess, Pocahontas, was captured by the British and held hostage. She was never allowed to see her family again and was forced to convert to Christianity.
- Pocahontas would later marry one of her captors, John Rolfe, bear him a son, and move back to England two years later only to die from illness.
- After the Anglo-Powhatan War, the Jamestown Colony would strike it rich by finding a cash crop they could grow for profit: tobacco.
- Having found a successful money-maker for the colony, the Virginia Company began advertising for people to move to the colony under the headright system, promising them 50 acres of land if they were to move to Jamestown to begin farming.
- Hundreds of people traveled to Jamestown as indentured servants, promising to work the land for a rich farmer for an agreed upon amount of years before earning their freedom to work independently.
- Jamestown would later set up the first representative government in the colonies – the House of Burgesses, in 1619, to set up a colonial economy and preserve peace between the colonists.
Jamestown Colony Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Jamestown Colony across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Jamestown Colony worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Jamestown which was the first successful British colony to be established in North America.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Jamestown Colony Facts
- Jamestown: The Not-Lost Colony
- Jamestown Cause and Effect
- Scrapbook Snapshot
- Wanted: Indentured Servants
- Pocahontas v. Disney’s Pocahontas
- Letter Home
- Wedding Bells
- Picture Notes
- Jamestown Colony: Fact or Fiction
- Love, or…. Essay
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Link will appear as Jamestown Colony Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, February 19, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
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