Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown was the first successful English settlement on the mainland of North America. Named for King James I of England, Jamestown was founded in the Colony of Virginia on May 14, 1607. In modern times, Jamestown Settlement is a name used by the Commonwealth of Virginia's portion of the historical sites and museums at Jamestown. It is adjacent and complementary to the Historic Jamestowne on Jamestown Island which is the actual historic site where the first settlers landed and lived that is run by the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia.

The original settlement
Although Spain and Portugal moved quickly to establish a presence in the New World, other European countries moved more slowly. Not until many decades after the explorations of John Cabot did the English attempt to found colonies. Early efforts were failures, most notably the Roanoke Colony, which vanished about 1590. Late in 1606, English entrepreneurs set sail with a charter from the Virginia Company of London to establish a colony in the New World. After a particularly long voyage of five months duration including stops in Puerto Rico from where they finally departed for the American mainland On April 10, 1607, the three ships, named Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, under Captain Christopher Newport, made landfall in May 1607 at a place they named Cape Henry. Under the first settlement orders to select a more secure location, they set about exploring what is now Hampton Roads and a Chesapeake Bay outlet they named the James River in honor of their king, James I of England. On April 26, 1607, Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, elected president of the governing council the day before, selected Jamestown Island on the James River, some 40 miles (67 kilometers) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, as a prime location for a fortified settlement. The island was surrounded by deep water, making it a navigable and defensible strategic point. However, the island was swampy, isolated, offered limited space and was plagued by mosquitoes and brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking. In addition to the malarial swamp the settlers arrived too late in the year to get crops planted. Many in the group were gentlemen unused to work, or their manservants, equally unaccustomed to the hard labor demanded by the harsh task of carving out a viable colony. In a few months, fifty-one of the party were dead; some of the survivors were deserting to the Indians whose land they had invaded. In the "starving time" of 1609”“1610,the Jamestown settlers were in even worse straits. Only 61 of the 500 colonists survived the period. Perhaps the best thing about it from an English point of view was that it was inhabited by nearby Virginia Indian tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for agriculture. While Indians had already established settlements long before the "settlers" arrived, there were an estimated 14,000 people in the surrounding Chesapeake area who spoke an Algonquian language sub-group. They came to be known as the Powhatan Confederacy, after the name the colonists called their powerful chief, Wahunsenacawh, and lived in several dozen self-governing communities. Wahunsenacawh initially welcomed the "settlers" and attempted to form an alliance with them to take over some of the surrounding communities which he did not yet control, and to obtain new supplies of metal tools and weapons. However, relations quickly deteriorated and led to conflict. The resulting war lasted until the English captured his daughter Matoaka, later nicknamed Pocahontas, after which the chief accepted a treaty of peace. Despite the inspired leadership of Captain John Smith early on, most of the colonists and their replacements died within the first five years. Two-thirds of the settlers died before arriving ships brought supplies and experts from Poland and Germany in the next year, 1608, who would help to establish the first factories in the colony. As a result, glassware became the "first" American product to be exported to Europe. After Smith was forced to return to England due to an explosion during a trading expedition the colony was led by George Percy, who proved incompetent in negotiating with the native tribes. During what became known as the " Starving Time" in 1609”“1610, over 80% of the colonists perished, and the island was briefly abandoned that spring. However, on June 10, 1610, retreating "settlers" were intercepted a few miles downriver by a supply mission from London headed by a new governor, Lord De La Warr, who brought much-needed supplies and additional "settlers". Lord De La Warr's ship was named The Deliverance. The "settlers" called this The Day of Providence, and the state of Delaware was eventually named after the timely governor. Fortuitously, among the colonists inspired to remain was John Rolfe, who carried with him a cache of untested new tobacco seeds from the Caribbean. (His first wife and their young son had already died in Bermuda, after being shipwrecked on the island during the voyage from England.) Due to the aristocratic backgrounds of many of the new colonists, a historic drought and the communal nature of their work load, progress through the first few years was inconsistent, at best. By 1613, six years after Jamestown's founding, the organizers and shareholders of the Virginia Land Company were desperate to increase the efficiency and profitability of the struggling colony. Without stockholder consent, Governor Dale assigned 3-acre (12,000 m 2) plots to its "ancient planters" and smaller plots to the "settlement's" later arrivals. Measurable economic progress was made, and the settlers began expanding their planting to land belonging to local native tribes. That this turnaround coincided with the end of a drought that had begun the year before the "settlers" arrival probably indicates multiple factors were involved besides the colonists' ineptitude. The following year, 1614, John Rolfe began to successfully harvest tobacco. Prosperous and wealthy, he married Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, bringing several years of peace between the "settlers" and natives. (Through their son, Thomas Rolfe, many of the First Families of Virginia trace both Virginia Indian and English roots.) However, at the end of a public relations trip to England, Pocahontas became sick and died in 1617. The following year, her father also died. As the "settlers" continued to leverage more land for tobacco farming, relations with the natives worsened. Powhatan's brother, a fierce warrior named Opchanacanough, became head of the Powhatan Confederacy. In 1619, the first representative assembly in America convened in a Jamestown church, "to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia" which would provide "just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting." This became known as the House of Burgesses (forerunner of the Virginia General Assembly, which last met in Jamestown in January, 2007). Individual land ownership was also instituted, and the colony was divided into four large "boroughs" or "incorporations" called "citties" (sic) by the colonists. Jamestown was located in James Cittie. Initially only men of English origin were permitted to vote. The Polish artisans protested and refused to work if not allowed to vote. On July 12, the court granted the Poles equal voting rights. After several years of strained coexistence, Chief Opchanacanough and his Powhatan Confederacy attempted to eliminate the English colony once and for all. On the morning of March 22, 1622, they attacked outlying plantations and communities up and down the James River in what became known as the Indian Massacre of 1622. The attack killed over 300 settlers, about a third of the English-speaking population. This event is often incorrectly reported to have occurred on a Good Friday. Sir Thomas Dale's progressive development at Henricus, which was to feature a college to educate the natives, and Wolstenholme Towne at Martin's Hundred, were both essentially wiped out. Jamestown was spared only through a timely warning by a Virginia Indian employee. There was not enough time to spread the word to the outposts. Despite such setbacks, the colony continued to grow. Of 6000 people that came to the settlement between 1608”“1624, only 3400 survived. In 1624, King James revoked the Virginia Company's charter, and Virginia became a royal colony. Ten years later, in 1634, by order of King Charles I, the colony was divided into the original eight shires of Virginia (or counties), in a fashion similar to that practiced in England. Jamestown was now located in James City Shire, soon renamed the "County of James City", better-known in modern times as James City County, Virginia, the nation's oldest county. Another large-scale "Indian attack" occurred in 1644. In 1646 Opchanacanough was captured and while in custody an English guard shot him in the back-against orders-and killed him, and the Powhatan Confederacy began to decline. Opechancanough's successor then signed the first peace treaties between the Powhatan Indians and the English. The treaties required the Powhatan to pay yearly tribute payment to the English and confined them to reservations. A generation later, during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, Jamestown was burned, eventually to be rebuilt. During its recovery, the Virginia legislature met first at Governor William Berkeley's nearby Green Spring Plantation, and later at Middle Plantation, which had been started in 1632 as a fortified community inland on the Virginia Peninsula. When the statehouse burned again in 1698, this time accidentally, the legislature again temporarily relocated to Middle Plantation, and was able to meet in the new facilities of the College of William and Mary, which had been established after receiving a royal charter in 1693. Rather than rebuilding at Jamestown again, the capital of the colony was moved permanently to Middle Plantation in 1699. The town was soon renamed Williamsburg, to honor the reigning monarch, King William III. A new Capitol building and "Governor's Palace" were erected there in the following years.

As rural outpost
Originally, the first people of Jamestown were reluctant to work, as they were used to sharing what little labor there was to be had back in England. This was until Captain John Smith ordered that if the people did not do their share of work, then they would not get their food (for that day at least). Early on in Jamestown's history, there was no known method of purifying the river water they drank, and many settlers unwittingly died from resulting diseases. By the early 18th century, Jamestown was in decline, eventually reverting to a few scattered farms, the period of occupied settlement essentially over. During the American Revolution, a military post was set up on the island to exchange American and British soldiers. During the American Civil War, Confederate soldiers created a fort near the town church in 1861, but it later fell to Union troops.

As historical site
Late in the 19th century, Jamestown became the focus of renewed historical interest and efforts at preservation. In 1893, a portion of the island was donated to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) for that purpose. A seawall was constructed, which preserved the site where the remains of the original "James Fort" were to be discovered by archaeologists of the Jamestown Rediscovery project beginning in 1994, a century later. In 1907, the Jamestown Exposition to celebrate the "settlement's" 300th anniversary was held at a more convenient location at Sewell's Point, near Norfolk. By the 1930s, all of the island was under protective ownership, and the Colonial National Historical Park was created by the National Park Service. In 1957, the Jamestown Festival, a celebration of its 350th anniversary, was held at the original site (and nearby). The renovated "settlement" now linked by the bucolic Colonial Parkway with the other two points of Virginia's Historic Triangle, Colonial Williamsburg, and Yorktown, the festival was a great success. Tourism became continuous after 1957. Jamestown is also known as the city of lost dreams/hope. It is referred to as this because of the Pocahontas and John Smith bond. This bond may have disappeared because John Smith left, although there is much controversy over this subject.

In the 21st century
The name "Jamestown Settlement" currently is used to describe the Commonwealth of Virginia's state-sponsored attraction, which began in 1957 as Jamestown Festival Park, created for the 350th anniversary of the original "settlement". The actual location of the 1607 fort was thought to be underwater, lost due to erosion, until it was rediscovered through archaeology in 1994 on nearby Jamestown Island. State officials built the new attraction on land close to the location of the actual fort site. It includes a recreated English Fort and Powhatan Indian Village, extensive indoor and outdoor displays, and features three popular replicas of the original settler's ships. It was greatly expanded early in the 21st century. On Jamestown Island itself, the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia, formerly the APVA, operate Historic Jamestowne . Through archaeological efforts, sections of the original palisade line, over a million artifacts, more than 3 wells, and 10 structures have been discovered. Over a million artifacts have been recovered by the Jamestown Rediscovery project with ongoing archaeological work, including a number of exciting recent discoveries. The site was visited by several diplomats, including American President George W. Bush and Elizabeth II, Queen of England, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown in 2007. The Nathalie P. and Alan M. Voorhees Archaearium museum onsite opened just prior to the 400th anniversary and displays objects that belonged to Jamestown colonists 400 years ago, unearthed from the long lost James Fort site in a 7,500 sq. foot gallery space integrating both life and death experiences of the colonists and they landscape they experienced. Additional archaeological materials from James Fort are featured in the Smithsonian Institution's limited exhibition, Written In Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake from February 7, 2009 to January 6, 2013 at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Early in the 21st century, in preparation for the upcoming Jamestown 2007 event commemorating America's 400th Anniversary, new accommodations, transportation facilities and attractions were planned. The celebration began in the Spring of 2006 with the sailing of a new replica. Jamestown is also the subject of two United States commemorative coins celebrating the 400th anniversary of its settlement. A silver dollar and a gold five dollar coin were issued in 2007. Surcharges from the sale of the coin were donated to Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Secretary of the Interior and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities to support programs that promote the understanding of the legacies of Jamestown.

In film
  • Jamestown is portrayed in the Walt Disney production of Pocahontas , the story of a young woman who meets captain John Smith when colonists come to Indian land, in search of gold. She is said to have prevented the execution of captain John Smith in 1607.
  • A feature length film, The New World, was released in 2005; it covers the story of Jamestown's colonization. Although historically accurate in many ways, the plot focuses on a dramatized relationship between John Smith, played by Colin Farrell, and Pocahontas ( Q'Orianka Kilcher). Many scenes were filmed on location nearby the James and Chickahominy Rivers and at Henricus Historical Park in Chesterfield County, Virginia.


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