Autism Education Project

Society Development in Jamestown

Jamestown was the first permanent colony in America. It was founded in 1607 in Virginia. This English colony was founded thirteen years prior to the landing of the pilgrims at Plymouth. The foundation of Jamestown has sparked a series of different cultural events that have shaped not just the nation, but the world. The government of these early people, as well as their aspirations, their beliefs, and their customs are all integrated into today’s American heritage.

The Virginia Company of London sponsored this colony. This group consisted of investors who wanted to profit from this venture. King James I chartered the voyage in 1606 and the company supported the goals of the English government to counter the expansion of other European countries abroad. The English government at the time was trying to counter those who were looking for a passage to Asia.

There were three ships that sailed, carrying 105 passengers in total, only one of whom died during the voyage. The first ship was the Susan Constant. The second ship was the Godspeed. The third ship was the Discovery. They all departed in December of 1606 and by April of 1607 they had reached the shores of Virginia. Captain Christopher Newport was in charge of the expedition. Once they landed it took two weeks of exploration before they found a good defensive position where the ships could be anchored. The passengers were allowed to go on shore the next day and started work on their settlement.

The original settlement had a governing body of seven councilmembers, one of whom filled the role of president. Once it was established, the colony faced many problems. The outpost was in the center of a chiefdom of fourteen thousand Indians who spoke Algonquian and were led by Powhatan. Relations with these people were tenuous at best, but some trading opportunities were established anyway. The climate was unfamiliar, the food was in short supply, and the water was brackish. This led to a great deal of prolonged death, drought, and disease for the colonists. Many of the colonists were from the upper class of England and as a result, they were insufficient laborers and did not know how to properly farm.

The following year the first two female settlers arrived and John Smith became the captain of the colony. The colony had a policy that only those who worked were given food and they still upheld leadership by the council. The settlement continued to thrive as part of the royal colony until 1699.