It was thirteen years before the Pilgrims landed in what is now the state of Virginia. Some English men started a settlement near the mouth of the Virginia River. They were entirely bankrolled by the Virginia Company, which was based in London. That was in 1607 and this is the first recorded settlement in our country’s history.
Commissioned by King James the First, the ships called the Sister Constant, the Discovery and the Godspeed all set sail for the Americas in December of 1606 arriving here in late April. After approximately two weeks of exploration they settled in the area in Virginia. The captain on this voyage was Captain Christopher Newport.
The site of Jamestown was used because of the deep water it offered for shipping plus the fact that it offered a good defensive position should the need arise. The original colony was designed and set up with a governing body of seven individuals and one member serving as the president in charge of the settlement.
One of the main problems that the colony had was the nearly 14,000 Algonquin speaking Indian tribe led by Powhatan. Another huge issue that caused havoc with the new colony is that the majorities of the people located there were of upper class English upbringing and as such were not accustomed to hard manual labor.
The colony was made up of males from England until 1608 when the first English women were brought to the settlement. There continued to be more men than women for most of the ensuing 17th century.Also in 1608, Captain John Smith became the leader of the colony of Jamestown making him the fourth to hold that position. Under the reign of Smith was started a policy whereby if you did not choose to work you were not allowed to eat. This was known as the “No Work, No Food” policy.
Smith left for England in the fall of the year 1609 after being injured by some burning gunpowder. He was never to return again.
Aggression and conflict with the Indians increased after Smith’s departure and disease and starvation ran wild over the next few years. In 1610 the settlers were about to leave and return to England when a second wave of settlers and supplies arrived with a strong rule of government to make sure that things were done in the manner of the crown.
Tobacco was introduced as a crop in 1613 and this gave way to a massive growth in the territory. It was the year 1619 when the first African Americans arrived and were used as indentured servants and they were gradually replaced as slaves as the 17th century progressed.After a series of mishaps, the King of England put the Virginia Company to an end in 1624 and Jamestown became an official Royal Colony. Then in the year 1699 the center of government in Virginia moved to Williamsburg and by the mid 1700s the settlement of Jamestown was completely gone.