Rise and Fall of the Jamestown Colony Essay

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Rise and Fall of the Jamestown Colony

The English settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, was founded on May 14, 1607 by Captain Christopher Newport and his fleet of a hundred or so Englishmen. During the next nine decades, this settlement would begin as "a verie fit place for the erecting of a great cittie(Tyler, 33)", and develop into "nothing but Abundance of Brick Rubbish, and three or four good inhabited houses(Miers, 107)." Two major factors led to the gradual decay and destruction of Jamestown: (1) The profit-before-survival attitude of the English settlers, and (2) the persistence of the Indians of the area to drive the English from their native lands.

On the 26th day of April, 1607, three small ships - Susan Constant,
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Once the English colonists decided on a site for their settlement they quickly set to work, as Thomas Abby tells us, "Now falleth every man to worke, the Councell contrive the Fort, the rest cut downe trees to make place to pitch their Tents; some provide clapboard to relade the ships, some make gardens, some nets, &c. The Salvages often visited us kindly(Tyler, 123)."

The "Salvages" Abby speaks of, were most likely members of one of the Algonquian tribes which occupied the country near Jamestown. These tribes inhabited the land in Virginia east of a line running from Washington, D.C., through Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, and then turning southeast along the Blackwater River and extending into coastal North Carolina as far as the Neuse River. They also inhabited the two counties Accomak and Northampton in the present Eastern Shore, Virginia. The Algonquians pushed down into Virginia from the north centuries before the coming of the English. Shortly before the English colony was established at Jamestown in 1607, chief Powhatan had brought under his control by conquest most of the Algonquian tribes in the tidewater country. This confederacy was held together by his despotic power. John Smith names twenty-eight tribes
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