Jamestown was the first successful British colony in America. Before Jamestown, people from Britain had tried to establish colonies in America but had failed due to the hard conditions. The people who established Jamestown also had to face severe difficulties but they somehow managed to survive.
The Virginia Company of London got permission from King James I of England for establishing a colony in America. After getting this permission, the company brought together 3 ships and a total of 144 men to sail on these ships.
The names of the ships were the Godspeed, the Discovery and the Susan Constant. This group set sail on December 20, 1606. After nearly four months traveling, the group of settlers reached modern-day area of Virginia on April 26, 1607.
When the group of settlers reached Virginia, they chose a spot and started constructing a colony. The colony needed houses for the settlers to live in and a fort in order to protect the colony from any attackers.
The colonists called this colony the ‘Jamestown’ in honour of King James I. It took them a while to build the houses and the fort. That was because the settlers were gentlemen, so they weren’t used to any hard work. They were also not used to harsh living conditions, so as their first year in Jamestown continued, many settlers died due to diseases, cold and hunger.
The famous Native American tribe of Powhatan lived near the Jamestown settlement. The tribe thought that the white settlers were trying to take over their land. Initially, the Powhatan helped the Jamestown colonists by offering them food and other things. But eventually they started distrusting the colonists and even attacked them. It wasn’t until Captain John Smith became the leader of Jamestown that the colonists’ relationships with Powhatan tribe improved.
Captain John Smith was a seaman and had trained as a soldier. So he knew how to work hard, how to take care of the colony and how to establish good relationships with Native Americans. In 1608, he was elected the President of the colony.
As President, he tried to go and talk to the Powhatan chief. But he was captured and was about to be beheaded when the chief’s daughter, Pocahontas, intervened and persuaded her father to let him go. From this point onwards, relationships between Jamestown colonists and Powhatan tribe improved significantly. In some cases, Pocahontas even brought food to colonists when they were starving and completely out of food.
The worst time for the Jamestown colony came in 1609. Earlier in 1609, Captain John Smith had been injured and went back to England. The colonists went back to how they were and their relationships worsened with the Powhatan tribe once again. Later in 1609, a severe and harsh winter came while colonists ran out of food.
Out of 500 colonists in Jamestown, only 60 survived that year. This was the worst year of Jamestown. But then in 1610, more men and supplies came from England and things improved. Despite all these problems, Jamestown continued to exist and eventually became the capital city of the large Virginia colony.