The Virginia Company of London was granted
the rights to settle
between 34 deg - 41 deg
In May, a settlement was made near the James River, which is an estuary (fresh water
meets salt water). This later became a problem brining disease to the settlement. They
called the settlement Jamestown in honor of their King. This was a tough place to
establish settlement and in the first 20 years, only 1 in 12 people survived.
The settlement reached 500 people, but famine reduced the settlement to 60. The time
was later known as the "Starving Time." The people who settled there were "adventure
seekers," they wanted wealth and they thought the New World had it all. They were wrong.
There were few farmers but they neglected their responsibilities of making food for the
colonists, and thats why they died and starved.
In 1610 reinforcements arrived and a trade began with the Indians, who were under the
leadership of Chief Powhatan. The Indians traded food and knowledge with the colonists,
who know knew how to farm and fend for themselves. A new man was brought with the
reinforcements by the name of Thomas Dale. He brought with him new laws called the
Dales Codes, which were harsh and brutal. His motto was pretty much "work or starve."
The company began producing tobacco and tobacco then began first cultivated. It was the
production of tobacco that saved the settlement.
Thomas Dale was removed from his status.
New laws were brought into action, "Free Laws," which included less brutality.
There was a need for reproduction for people to tend to the tobacco.
The Headright System was introduced by the Company of London so that a family settlement
would be reinforced. Under the Headright System (which is a grant of 50 acres of land), each
colonist received two Headrights, each new colonist would receive one, and anyone who
paid for a new person's passage would receive another Headright. Those who got Headrights were
enforced in having productive land and paid rent to the company for the land.
A representative assembly was made called the House of Burgesses. The Virginia Company of
London paid for the passage of 90 women to the settlement. The company wanted to transform the
settlement into a family based society. The company felt as though that cultivation of
tobacco was the only way the settlement would survive. Also, the first Africans arrive. 21
were deposited in Jamestown on Dutch ships, these men were to be slaves. But not in the sense
that we know of slaves today, these men had no master, they were slaves for a certain period
of time and then granted their freedom.
The company was still not making any money.
Relationship with Chief Powhatan broke down and a third of the settlement was massacred. There
was soon crop failure and death.
The company had its charter revoked and the British government took over the colony.