Jamestown is Founded

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1607 – Jamestown is Founded

Jamestown is Founded

While Spanish explorers tended toward exploration for resource exploitation, English explorers favored settlement. In 1607, an exploration funded by the London Company reached the eastern shores of modern-day Virginia. To honor the King of England, who had granted permission for the voyage, the exploration named the settlement Jamestown. This was the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Other explorations had set up colonies (most infamously, the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke), but all had failed for various reasons.

Life in Jamestown was difficult, and during the first year, many settlers died due to illness or starvation. The Jamestown colony would not have survived without the help of the Powhatan Indians who were native to the region. At first, native-colonist relations were cordial, but over time, it became clear that the settlers had expansion in mind, at which point relations began to deteriorate. During the winter of 1609-1610, the colony underwent a massive famine known as the “Starving Time” during which as many as 80 percent of the colonists died. Jamestown was also famous for another first: the first African slave in America was brought to Jamestown. Amid these events, Jamestown began a tradition of self-governance that would become the cornerstone of the American political system.

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