Jamestown, Virginia, was the site of the an initial permanent English settlement in the Americas. The settlers decided a location close come the water, hope to establish a prospering community.

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The first joint-stock agency to start a lasting venture to the brand-new World was the Virginia agency of London. The investors had actually one score in mind: gold. They hoped to repeat the success of Spaniards who uncovered gold in south America.

In 1607, 144 English men and also boys developed the jamestown colony, named after King James I.

The homesteaders were told that if castle did not generate any type of wealth, financial assistance for their efforts would end. Numerous of the males spent their days vainly looking for gold.

As a consequence, the colonists spent little time farming. Food offers dwindled. Malaria and the harsh winter besieged the colonists, as well. After ~ the very first year, just 38 that the original 144 had survived.

First Virginia Charter

James, by the grace of God , etc.

Whereas ours loving and weldisposed topics ... And also divers rather of our loving subjects, have actually been humble sutors unto us that wee woulde vouchsafe depend them our licence to make habitacion, plantacion and to deduce a colonie the sondrie the our civilization into the parte that America frequently called Virginia, and also other parts and also territories in America one of two people appartaining unto us or which are not nowe actuallie own by anie Christian prince or people, scituate, lying and also being all along the sea coastes between fower and thirtie levels of northerly latitude indigenous the equinoctiall line and also five and also fortie degrees of the same latitude and also in the maine lande betweene the exact same fower and also thirtie and five and also fourtie degrees, and the ilandes thereunto adjacente or within one hundred mile of the coaste thereof;

And to the ende, and also for themore speedy accomplishemente that theire saide intended plantacion and also habitacion there, room desirous come devide themselves into two severall colonies and companies, the one consisting of certaine Knightes, gentlemen, marchanntes and other adventurers of our cittie that London, and also elsewhere, i m sorry are and from time to time shalbe joined unto them which doe desire to start theire plantacions and also habitacions in some fitt and conveniente place in between fower and thirtie and one and also fortie degrees of the stated latitude all alongest the coaste of Virginia and coastes that America aforesaid and also the various other consisting the sondrie Knightes, gentlemen, merchanntes, and other adventurers of ours citties the Bristoll and also Exeter, and of our towne that Plymouthe, and of other places which doe joine themselves depend that colonie i beg your pardon doe desire come beginn theire plantacions and also habitacions in some fitt and also convenient ar betweene eighte and thirtie degrees and five and fortie degrees of the saide latitude all alongst the saide coaste the Virginia and America as that coaste lieth;

Wee, greately commending and graciously agree of theire desire to the furtherance of soe noble a worke which may, through the providence of Almightie God, hereafter tende to the glorie the His magnificent Majestie in propagating that Christian faith to suche civilization as however live in darkenesse and miserable ignorance that the true knoweledge and worshippe the God and also may in tyme lug the infidels and also salvages living in those parts to humane civilitie and to a setled and also quiet govermente, doe through theise our lettres patents graciously accepte of and also agree come theire humble and well plan desires;

April 10, 1606

"Work or Starve"

The swarm may well have actually perished had it not been because that the management of man Smith. He enforced strict technique on the colonists. "Work or starve" was his motto, and also each colonist was compelled to spend 4 hours per day farming.


The twenty that April. Being at work, in hewing down Trees, and setup Corn, one alarum led to us v all speed to take it our arms, each expecting a brand-new assault that the Savages: yet understanding it a watercraft under sail, our doubts were presently satisfied v the happy sight of master Nelson, his plenty of perils of too much storms and also tempests, his delivery well as his company could testify, his care in sparing our provision to be well: but the providence thereof, as additionally of our stones, Hatchets and other tools (only our excepted) i m sorry of every the remainder was many necessary: which can inforce united state to thinke one of two people a seditious traitor to our action, or a most unconscionable deceiver of ours treasures.

– john Smith, "A True relationship of cases and crashes in Virginia" (1608)

illustration in The Generall Historie of Virginia, brand-new England, and the Summer Isles; v the names of the Adventurers, Planters, and also Governours from their an initial beginning, Ano: 1584, to this current 1624">
An early advocate of tough love, man Smith is remembered for his strict leadership and for conserving the settlement from starvation.

An inadvertently gunpowder burn forced Smith to return to England in 1609. ~ his departure, the swarm endured even more hardships. A new boatload the colonists and also supplies sank off the shore of Bermuda on its method to help the hungry settlement. The winter the 1609-10, known as the "starving time," may have been the worst of all.

Disease and hunger devastated Jamestown. 2 desperate homesteaders were tied come posts and left to starve as punishment because that raiding the colonies" stores. One colonist also took come cannibalism, eat his very own wife. The fate the the undertaking was precarious. However still much more colonists arrived, and their numbers contained women.

Pictured space the 3 ships that brought the original settlers to jamestown in 1607: the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery.

Despite the advent of tobacco cultivation, the colony was a failure as a jae won venture. The king declared the Virginia agency bankrupt in 1624.

About 200,000 pounds to be lost amongst the investors. The charter was thereby revoked, and also Virginia ended up being a imperial colony, the an initial in America come be rule by the Crown.

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Investments in irreversible settlements to be risky indeed. The merchants and also gentry paid through their pocketbooks. Many homesteaders paid with their lives. For every six colonists who ventured across the Atlantic, only one survived.