May 22, 2022

See also Jamestown (St. Helena) Jamestown was a village on the James River in Virginia, about 70 miles southeast of Richmond. Both the river and the settlement in 1607 were named after King James I who had recently taken over the English throne. The settlement of Jamestown became the first permanent English colony in the New World to survive.

1607: First settlement

Jamestown was founded in 1607 by the London Virginia Company. Three ships, Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery, arrived in Jamestown on May 14 with 104 men and boys beginning the first permanent English settlement in North America. The settlers consisted mainly of English farmers and Polish forest workers who had been hired in Prussia. When they arrived, they opened secret orders from the Virginia Company, which nominated John Smith as one of the councilors. Smith had been arrested on the journey over by Admiral Christopher Newport for mutiny and was to be hanged, but was released after the orders were opened. Despite the fact that Jamestown Island is a marshy area, the men from the Virginia Company chose to settle there. They believed that they were then far enough inland to avoid contact and conflict with the Spanish fleet and at the same time that the river was deep enough for them to anchor their ships and have an easy and fast voyage if necessary. They had only been in Jamestown for less than two weeks when they were attacked by Paspahegh Indians on May 26. One of the settlers was killed in the attack, and eleven others were wounded. By June 15, the settlers completed a triangular fort in Jamestown and one week later Newport sailed back to London with Susan Constant, loaded with pyrite and earth. Edward Maria Wingfield was appointed the first president of the colony, and remained in that position until September. Then he was found guilty of slandering others, and was deposed. John Ratcliffe was elected to take over. One year later, John Smith was elected Ratcliffe's successor. He was then president until he was injured in 1609. Then Ratcliffe became president again. But soon after, he was captured by Chief Powhatan and tortured to death by women from the Powhatan tribe. The winter of 1609-10 was a time of famine in Jamestown. The settlers who came over on the first three ships were not so well equipped for the living conditions they found in Jamestown and many suffered from salt water poisoning. They got infections, fever and dysentery. Smith was injured when his gunpowder bag exploded and was sent back to England. There he wrote A True Relation about his experiences in Jamestown and The Proceedings of the English Colony of Virginia. The publication of this book led to a renewed interest in the colony. When the settlers were about to give up and began to make plans to give up Jamestown in 1610, a new governor, Lord de la Warr, arrived. He forced the remaining 90 settlers to stay. While president of the colony, Smith led a food-collecting expedition up the Chickahominy River. His men were attacked by Indians, and several were killed. Then Smith tied his Native American wizard in front of him to use him as a shield. Smith was nevertheless captured by Opchanacanough, the half-brother of Chief Powhatan. He gave the chief a new compass and it made the Indians decide to let Smith live. But when he was led before Chief Powhatan, the chief still decided to execute him. The execution was prevented by Powhatan's young daughter, Pocahontas, originally named Matoaka. Her nickname means "the playful". Although Pocahontas' life from now on was connected to the English after this first meeting, she had no relationship with Smith. During the winter of 1608, after Jamestown had burned down, Pocahonta brought food and clothing to the colonists. She later negotiated with Smith for the release of Indians who had been captured by the settlers during a raid to obtain English weapons. Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the name Rebekah in 1613. She had received her faith guidance from Pastor Alexander