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The start of the European colonization of the Americas is typically dated to 1492 when a Spanish expedition headed by Christopher Columbus sailed to America to sell, buy, and trade rich spices and other goods. European conquest, exploration, and large-scale exploration and colonization soon followed.
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement, established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 14, 1607. 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, 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 on April 26, 1607 at a place they named Cape Henry. Under orders to select a more secure location, they set about exploring what is now Hampton Roads and an outlet into the Chesapeake Bay they named the James River in honor of their king, James I of England.
On May 14, 1607, Captain Edward Maria Wingfield selected Jamestown Island on the James River, some 40 miles 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. Perhaps the best thing about it, from an English point of view, was that it was not inhabited by nearby Virginia Indian tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for agriculture. However, the island was swampy, isolated, offered limited space and was plagued by mosquitoes and brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.

The Susan Constant, a replica of Christopher Newport's ship docked in the harbor.
The Jamestown Colony

Experience Jamestown History Here


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. One of these was Robert Hunt, a former vicar of Reculver, England, who "probably celebrated the first known service of holy communion in what is today the United States of America [at Jamestown, on June 21 1607]." 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.
Virginia Indians had already established settlements long before the English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 natives in the region, politically known as Tsenacommacah, who spoke an Algonquian language. They were the Powhatan Confederacy, ruled by their paramount chief known as Wahunsenacawh, or "Chief Powhatan". Wahunsenacawh initially sought to resettle the English colonists from Jamestown, considered part of Paspahegh territory, to another location known as Capahosick, where they would make metal tools for him as members of his Confederacy, but this never transpired.
The first explorers had been greeted by the natives with lavish feasts and supplies of maize, but as the English, lacking the inclination to grow their own food, became hungry and began to strong-arm more and more supplies from nearby villages, relations quickly deteriorated and eventually led to conflict. The resulting Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until Samuel Argall captured his daughter Matoaka, better known by her nickname Pocahontas, after which the chief accepted a treaty of peace.

Panel #2
The arrival of the Europeans
Early colony, Jamestown
(1607)
E Pluribus Unum
"Out of Many, One"
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