The settlers left behind suffered greatly from hunger and illnesses like typhoid and dysentery, caused from drinking contaminated water from the nearby swamp. Settlers also lived under constant threat of attack by members of local Algonquian tribes, most of which were organized into a kind of empire under Chief Powhatan. Firsthand accounts describe desperate people eating pets and shoe leather. Some Jamestown colonists even resorted to cannibalism. In the spring of , just as the remaining colonists were set to abandon Jamestown, two ships arrived bearing at least new settlers, a cache of supplies and the new English governor of the colony, Lord De La Warr.
The baptism of Pocahontas in Jamestown before her marriage to John Rolfe. They took a hard line with Powhatan and launched raids against Algonquian villages, killing residents and burning houses and crops. The English began to build other forts and settlements up and down the James River, and by the fall of had managed to harvest a decent crop of corn themselves. They had also learned other valuable techniques from the Algonquians, including how to insulate their dwellings against the weather using tree bark, and expanded Jamestown into a New Town to the east of the original fort.
A period of relative peace followed the marriage in April of the colonist and tobacco planter John Rolfe to Pocahontas , a daughter of Chief Powhatan who had been captured by the settlers and converted to Christianity. That same year, the first Africans around 50 men, women and children arrived in the English settlement; they had been on a Portuguese slave ship captured in the West Indies and brought to the Jamestown region.
They worked as indentured servants at first the race-based slavery system developed in North America in the s and were most likely put to work picking tobacco.
In March , the Powhatan made a major assault on English settlements in Virginia, killing some to residents a full one-quarter of the population. The attack hit the outposts of Jamestown the hardest, while the town itself received advance warning and was able to mount a defense. In an effort to take greater control of the situation, King James I dissolved the Virginia Company and made Virginia into an official crown colony, with Jamestown as its capital, in The New Town area of Jamestown continued to grow, and the original fort seems to have disappeared after the s.
Colonists, enraged at declining tobacco prices and higher taxes, sought a scapegoat in local tribes who still periodically sparred with settlers and lived on land they hoped to obtain for themselves. A July raid by the Doeg tribe sparked retaliation, and when Governor Berkeley set up a meeting between the two quarreling parties, several tribal chiefs were murdered. Berkeley refused, so Bacon raided and killed them on his own.
Bacon died of dysentery in October, and armed merchant ships from London, followed by forces sent by King Charles II, soon put down the resistance. In , the central statehouse in Jamestown burned down, and Middle Plantation, now known as Williamsburg, replaced it as the colonial capital the following year. While settlers continued to live and maintain farms there, Jamestown was all but abandoned. In the 20th century, preservationists undertook a major restoration of the area. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present.
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