Unit 1 Colonial Era and American Beginnings

Unit 1
Colonial Era
and American
Chapter 2:
The American Colonies Emerge
English Settlement of Jamestown
► England
decided not to fund colonization of the
new lands like Spain had done.
► King James I, in 1606, granted a charter or official
permit for two joint-stock companies to colonize
the Americas, which allowed several investors to
pool their wealth in support of a colony that
would, hopefully, yield a profit.
► The Virginia companies of London and Plymouth
started organizing a colony and selling stock in
order to raise funds.
► The
Plymouth company disbanded, leaving
the Virginia company of London as the sole
► The Virginia company promised gold would
be found and each person who went to
colonize the land would get a share.
► The king of England would get 1/5 of all the
gold and silver.
In April of 1607 three ships
of the Virginia company
(Susan Constant, Discovery,
and Godspeed) sailed up the
James River and started a
settlement known as
John Smith was the leader of
the colony and he sensed
trouble from the start.
He noticed that everyone was
consumed with finding gold
and had no desire to farm or
even build permanent
► Many
colonists became ill from drinking
infected river water. And because there
were no crops, the colonists began to starve.
► By the winter of 1607 only 38 of the original
150 settlers were still alive.
► Many of the settlers had never done manual
labor and had refused to farm or help build
► John Smith finally set a law stating that, “he
that will not work shall not eat.”
Recent Discoveries at Jamestown
Excavation since 1994 has
uncovered hundreds of thousands
of artifacts dating to the first half of
the 17th century. Nearly half of the
objects date to the first years of
English settlement (1607-1610).
The site of James Fort was not
washed into the river as most
people believed for the past 200
years. We have uncovered over 250
feet of two palisade wall lines, the
east cannon projection (bulwark),
three filled in cellars, and a
building, all part of the triangular
James Fort. Also a palisade wall line
and a large building were found
attached to the main fort to the
A drawing of James Fort (c.1609) by
Pedro de Zuniga, a Spanish ambassador.
The sketch shows a flag-like projection
which is more probably an enclosed
garden. The three sides and circular
bastions at the corners are common to all
three descriptions of the early fort.
The local natives, the Powhatan Indians, were persuaded
to give the settlers food and support.
John Smith was burned in an accident and had to return to
England. The colonists now had no leader…
In 1609, 600 more settlers were sent to Jamestown. They
found the colony in disarray and being harassed by the
The Powhatan killed all the settler’s livestock and kept the
settlers from hunting for food.
By the spring of 1610 only 60 colonists survived.
Jamestown was saved when a new leader showed up. He
did not hesitate to flog or even hang colonists that did not
do their fair share of the work.
John Rolfe began to grow a new strain of tobacco, which
was soon in high demand in Europe.
Jamestown began growing tobacco or “brown gold” and
exported about 1.5 million pounds of it a year.
The farmers at Jamestown needed laborers to work the
tobacco fields and began to use the headright system.
The headright system promised 50 acres of land to anyone
who moved to Jamestown. They would also get an
additional 50 acres for each family member who came
Indentured servants also began to move to Jamestown.
Indentured servants received “free” passage to the
colonies in return for a set period of time that they had to
work off the debt. The servant usually worked for about 4
to 7 years as a type of slave until the debt was paid.
In 1619 a Dutch ship brought the first Africans to
Jamestown. They were originally treated as indentured
servants and were eventually given freedom and land.