(burn this
date in your
• In the spring of 1606, a group of English
investors formed a joint stock company called
the London Company.
• A joint stock company is formed when people
invest money in a business hoping to make a
• The English investors hoped to make money by
trading with a new colony they planned to
establish in North America. They thought
there would be gold and silver here.
• Before the investors could start their
colony, they had to get a charter from
the king granting them permission to
colonize. King James I granted the
charter that allowed them to start
their colony-Virginia.
• The investors spent $10,000 each to
organize the expedition. They sent 3
ships with 140 men and 4 boys to North
America. The 4 month voyage was
difficult and claimed the lives of 40
King James I
• The colonists reached Virginia in April
1607. In order to find a decent place to
settle, they had to sail 60 miles up the
James River. Here they found a small
peninsula to settle on. They called their
settlement Jamestown (why?).
Location, Location, Location
• Unfortunately for the colonists, the area they
chose was horrible. It was swampy which caused
the drinking water to be impure. Swamps also
breed disease…
• Most of the men were well educated and had never
had to do hard work. They spent much of their
time looking for gold and silver instead of planting
crops. They chose to live in tents instead of
building houses. Because of these choices, the
men ate poorly and grew weak. Over ½ of them
died from malnutrition, malaria, pneumonia, and
dysentery. By January 1608, only 39 were still
• The London Company sent more settlers to
Jamestown in 1608.
• Captain John Smith became the leader of the
settlement. He implemented the “work or starve”
• Smith saved Jamestown. Unfortunately, he was
injured in a gunpowder explosion he caused and was
forced to return to England. When he did, he
told elaborate tales of his life and death
• He told a story of how he was once captured by
Indians and condemned to death. Just before
being killed, he was saved by Pocahontas, the
daughter of the man who was to kill him. He said
she laid her head down and begged her father to
spare his life…It was all a lie.
John Smith
Real Pocahontas
Disney Pocahontas
• Once John Smith had left Jamestown, the
settlers fell on hard times. Fire, drought,
Indian attacks, disease, and starvation took a
heavy toll. Hundreds died during the winter
of 1609-1610.
• This period became known as the “starving
time.” Settlers were forced to eat the dead
bodies (yuck)!
• Just as the remaining 60 settlers were about
to pack up and go back to England, ships with
supplies and more colonists arrived. Spirits
lifted and Jamestown grew stronger.
• The first profitable farm products were hogs
and Indian corn. Early industries included
glass blowing, iron smelting, and shipbuilding.
• In 1612, a settler named John Rolfe began
growing a new type of tobacco using seed
from the West Indies. The soil in Virginia
was perfect for this seed and smoking
became very popular not only in the colony,
but also in England.
• The colonists found growing this tobacco to
be very profitable, but very hard work. They
started using more indentured servants to
work the tobacco fields.
• In 1619, a Dutch ship arrived from Africa
with Africans on board. These Africans were
used to work the plantations as slaves.
• The population of Jamestown reached about
1000 in 1619. In that year, the London
Company sent a number of young women
(finally!) to the colony to become wives. They
hoped the men in Jamestown would marry and
settle permanently in Virginia.
• In that same year, the first representative
assembly was established. It was called the
Virginia House of Burgesses. The people of
Virginia could now elect representatives to
help make laws for the colony. This idea later
spread to all of the English colonies in