Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Death of Early Jamestown

By 1611, 80% of the settlers that had come to Early Jamestown had died. Jamestown is located in modern day Virginia. The area where the English settled was already inhabited by the Powhatan Indians. However, the Indians were not the ones the English were trying to protect themselves from it was the Spanish. They settled in the spot where Jamestown is because it was near water, fertile and has more protection from the Spanish. In Early Jamestown, which was from 1607 to 1611 many English colonists died because of environmental issues, poor relations with the Powhatan Indians and lack of settler skills.
The first reason why so many colonists died in Early Jamestown is because of environmental issues. The rivers and creeks became full of brackish water because as the water levels rose the salty water from the ocean entered the freshwater. (Document A) There were many deaths because diseases was more common with filth festering in the water instead of flushing away. It also wouldn't be healthy for the English because they may have used that water to drink or use for other resources and it was not completely fresh. Also there was little rainfall in the years of Early Jamestown making for bad growth and agriculture. (Document B) This lead to more deaths because with little rainfall the English would have a hard time growing crops for food. Little rainfall and brackish water are two main environmental issues that lead to great death in Early Jamestown.
Secondly, many Early Jamestown colonists died because they had poor relationships with the Indians.The English were able to get shiploads of grains from the Indians but in return they did terrible things to the Indians like cutting off their heads. (Document D) The English were making themselves enemies of the Indians. They had cut off their people’s heads and the Indians wouldn't just allow them to get away with that. They would look for revenge on the English. The English would not know that they have another group of people to watch out for they would not be expecting an attack from the Powhatan Indians. The Indians were capable and killed nearly half of the English men in battle. (Document E) This is leading to more deaths because people are now fighting and killing each other. The Indians and English are now at war and the English do not have much protection from the Powhatan because when they settled they were not planning on war with them. The English created a bad relationship with the Indians by bringing in violence which then lead to many of the English’s deaths.
The early settlers in Jamestown lacked skills which lead to their many deaths. Of the 110 original settlers in 1607, six were governors, forty-seven were gentlemen, twelve were laborers, four were carpenters, four were boyes, and twenty-eight had an unknown occupation. (Document C) The English had a very low variety of jobs. The jobs that were actually useful like surgeon and apothecaries only had a single person in the occupation. The useless jobs, which meant that the people did not work and get their hands dirty were taken up by the majority of the population. These jobs were like the gentlemen who had forty-seven people in the occupation. The majority of the population in Early Jamestown did nothing to contribute in a positive way to the settlement. This lead to many of their deaths because people would get sick and they would not be able to get cured because of the lack of a doctor. Also if they might not have enough for a job that gets them the resources they need to make a settlement. The English settlers didn't have many skills which lead to their many deaths.
There were many deaths of colonists from 1607 to 16011 because of environmental issues, poor relationships with Indians, and lack of settler skills. The ocean created brackish water in the freshwater rivers causing an unhealthy and filthy environment for the colonists. The English started a bad relationship with the Indians by stealing and killing their crops and people. The majority of the English settlers that came to Jamestown were gentlemen who did not work to help out the settlement. In order to have something new to succeed then you need to have a good relationship with the people it affects, adapt to the surrounding environment or how it may affect your goal and work hard. 

Document A - Dennis B. Blanton, “Jamestown’s Environment,” Center for Archaeological Research, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, 2000. 
Document B - “The Lost Colony and Jamestown Droughts,” Science, April 24, 1998.
Document C - John Smith, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, Book III, 1624. 
Document D - Ivor Noel Hume, The Virginia Adventure, Alfred A. Knopf, 1994. 
Document E - J. Frederick Fausz, “An Abundance of Blood Shed on Both Sides: England’s First Indian War, 1609-1614”, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, January 1990.

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