The First Successful English Colony of Jamestown

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This material provides knowledge about the first successful English colony of Jamestown. It tells about the condition of the place and situation, also discusses the goals, problems, and successes of Jamestown.
1. Name: _________________________________________ Date: _________________
The First Successful
English Colony of Jamestown
In 1606, England was ruled by King James
I. The English people did not choose him as
their leader because England was a monarchy
(a type of government with a king or queen,
where the ruler’s power is handed down to
During this time, King James I gave a
group of wealthy men, called the London
Company, permission to start a colony in North
America. The group sent 105 men to settle in
Virginia. They hoped a colony would make them
The settlers arrived in Virginia in May 1607, hoping to find gold. They chose
a place near a river, where the deep water allowed them to anchor their ships
close by. The site was upriver from Chesapeake Bay, but far enough from the
river that it would be difficult for Spanish ships to attack. Located on a peninsula,
the town was easy to defend by land. The group built a settlement surrounded by
the walls of a fort and named it Jamestown in honor of King James I.
Unfortunately, the settlers built Jamestown on a marsh. The water around
the town was dirty and salty and the land was bad for farming. Worse still,
mosquitoes in the marsh carried a deadly disease called malaria. By the end of
1607, disease and other challenges had killed many of the settlers.
In late 1607, some American Indians captured a Jamestown settler named
Captain John Smith. They took Smith to their chief, Powhatan (pronounced; pow-
uh-TAN). According to the story Smith later told, the chief was about to kill him
when Powhatan’s young daughter, Pocahontas, saved his life. Many historians
really think that Smith’s life was never in actual danger. After this incident,
Pocahontas visited Jamestown several times. She and her people brought food
to trade to the few surviving colonists.
In January 1608, more men arrived from England. Many had come only to
find gold, so there were not enough people growing the food needed to feed the
colony. In September, John Smith became the leader of the colony. He knew that
the settlement needed everyone’s help to survive. He said that any man who
would not work to maintain Jamestown would not eat. Smith’s leadership helped
save the colony.
2. In the summer of 1609, a new group of settlers arrived, including women
and children. The next month, Smith returned to England after having been badly
burned by an explosion of gunpowder. The colonists had lost a strong leader. To
make matters worse, Powhatan stopped trading with them. Local tribes attacked
the people they found outside the settlement. The winter of 1609–1610 was
known as the “Starving Time” because they couldn’t hunt and it was too cold to
harvest crops for food. Many settlers had to eat horses and dogs. Hundreds of
people died. Only about 60 settlers survived in Jamestown.
The Jamestown settlers never found gold. Therefore, they needed another
way to support their colony. Colonist John Rolfe learned how to grow a new kind
of tobacco. The settlers planted this cash crop. In 1614, they began to trade their
tobacco for money and supplies. People in England loved it. Tobacco became
Virginia’s “gold.” It wasn’t actually gold, but selling tobacco made the colony
Meanwhile, Powhatan’s people worried about so many settlers coming to
their land. In 1614, John Rolfe married Pocahontas. For a time, the colonists and
the American Indians were at peace. Pocahontas even went to England and met
King James. Before she could return, she got sick. In 1617, she died.
Meanwhile, Jamestown was growing and changing. In 1619, the men
elected representatives to make laws for the colony. This was the first
representative government in an American colony. The people choose their
leaders in this government. They called the governing body the House of
Burgesses. (Burgess is an English word for an elected representative.) Only
landowners could have this job, but now Virginia’s government was more
democratic than England’s.
When Powhatan
died, his brother became
chief, and the peace
between the American
Indians and the settlers
ended. In 1622, the new
chief and his men
attacked Jamestown and
killed 347 colonists. But
Jamestown survived to
become the first
successful English
settlement in North
3. Jamestown
• More!settlers!arrived,!including! • Land>owning%men%voted!(elected)!
! leaders!to!make!laws!for!the!colony.!!
• American!Indians!captured! ! !!!
Captain!John!Smith.!! • Smith%left!to!go!to!England.! • It!was!the!first!representative%
Pocahontas,!Chief!Powhatan’s! Natives!stopped!trading!and! government%in!an!American!colony!
daughter!saved!him.!! people!started!to!starve.!!It!was! (Democracy).!!
called!the!“Starving%Time”! !
because!hundreds!died.!!!!! • They!called!the!government!the!
Late 1607 1609-1610
! 1619
May1607 Sept. 1608 1614
• Settlers!(men!only)! • John%Smith%became% • John%Rolfe!knew!
arrived!in!Virginia! the%leader.%%He!said! how!to!grow!a!new!
that!any!man!who! • Peace!between!
looking!for!gold.!!! kind!of!tobacco.!!! colonists/natives!
would!not!work! !
! would!not!eat.!!He! ended!when!Chief!
• They!called!their! • Settlers!planted!the! Powhatan!died.!!
saved!the!colony.!!!! crop!and!it!became!a!
colony!Jamestown.!! !
cash%crop!that!they! • The!new!chief!and!
sold!for!money!and! men!attacked!and!
• The!colony!was!built! supplies.!!It!made!the!
January 1608 killed!347!colonists.!
on!a!marsh!with! colony!wealthy.!!
! !!!
mosquitos!that! !
• More!men!arrived!from! • They!colony!still!
carried!malaria!so!!at! • John%Rolfe%married%
England!looking!to!find! survived!and!
first!many%colonists% Pocahontas!and!the! became!the!first%
died.!! ! colony!was!peaceful! successful%English%
! • There!weren’t!enough! with!the!Natives!! settlement%in%
people!to!grow!food.!!! North%America.%!
4. Name:!___________________________________________________! ! Date:!________________________________!
Jamestown Colony
What year was Jamestown founded?
What was the name of the company, which sponsored Jamestown?
The Virginia Company of London
Who were the men who caused Jamestown to be successful?
John Smith and John Rolfe
John Smith saved the colony from starvation. He told colonists that they must
work in order to eat.
John Rolfe had the colony plant and harvest tobacco, which became a cash
crop and was sold to Europe.
What was the crop that was sold to Europe for Jamestown to make a profit
(make money)?
5. Goals, Problems, and Successes of
1. Find%a%route%to%Asia%!
2. Search%for%gold!
• Colony%was%built%on%a%marsh,%which%had%mosquitos%that%carried%malaria%and%
• The%colonists%didn’t%bring%many%farmers%and%so%they%couldn’t%eat%and%suffered%
• Nearby%Native%Americans%were%unfriendly%and%didn’t%help%them%
• Didn’t%find%any%gold.%%