How and why Jamestown was founded.

AMERICA. Why was it founded in the first place? What was so horrible about life in Europe that caused Europeans to migrate to a mysterious country they only heard about in stories?
As we all know from the Columbus Day poem we learned in elementary school, “In fourteen hundred ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue”, but was he looking for America? No. He was looking for a trade route to Asia because the Crusades caused Europeans to crave the luxuries only found in there, hence the name “Indians” he gave to the natives that he met there. There were also Spanish and Portuguese explorers who colonized South and Central America, but that isn’t very important because this is the story of the founding of (insert booming presenter voice here) THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, well at least that general area.
After 1550, there was a massive growth in population in England and the number of landless laborers rose. Many English people were being tempted to resettle in the Americas. Puritans weren’t enjoying their life in England either, because they weren’t allowed to practice their religion freely. They were opposed to the Church of England because they believed it was too close to Catholicism, thus, by the 1630’s they decided that moving to the Americas would allow them to flee religious persecution. The Separatists were even more opposed to the Anglicans’ belief system, but they first fled to Holland before reaching America.
In 1607, the first New England colony was founded by John Smith (yes, the one from the Pocahontas movie) who named it Jamestown, after King James I of course, who granted the London Company the charter that permitted them to establish the colony. Everything seemed to be going well, but only for a very short time. Soon, the swampy environment of Jamestown caused many to die from disease and several years of poor harvest created horrible food shortages. In addition, conflict with the Powhatan Confederacy (Native Americans) placed strain on the colony.
So, basically everything went downhill from there until Smith created a trade alliance with the Indians, keeping the colonists from starving. And then, Pocahontas (YAY!), if you didn’t know she was the daughter of the chief of the Powhatans, married John Rolfe, who was a very influential man on the Jamestown colony, which helped temporarily prevent conflict between the colonists and Native Americans.
Of course, peace wasn’t meant to be and the conflict between them began once again and lasted many years. It never really ended, only died down once the Colonists killed the majority of the Native Americans and forced them into reservations.
To summarize everything, America was formed by the English colonists who took over and claimed they had a right to all the land that was so obviously the land of the Native Americans.
YAY AMERICA.

 

 

Armstrong, Stephen. 5 Steps to a 5: AP U.S. History, 2012-2013. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. Print.

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One thought on “How and why Jamestown was founded.

  1. If relations between these “Indians” and the colonists were able to be kept relatively peaceful fairly easily at one point or another, and the trade between the two was beneficial to the colonists, why don’t you think they tried harder to maintain good relations with the Native Americans?

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