The Jamestown Colony of 1607



In Great Britain, the return of Bartholomew Gosnold, after his voyage to North America, and his account of the country he had visited, led to the formation of a company for the purpose of forming colonies on these new shores.

The Virginia Company, received the right to hold all the land from Cape Fear to the St. Croix River. This company comprised two divisions, the London Company, with control over the southern part of the territory, and the Plymouth Company, controlling the northern. Under the auspices of the London Company the first permanent English colony in America was founded. Three vessels, under Captain Christopher Newport, with about one hundred men, were sent out. They had been instructed to land on Roanoke Island, but were driven by a storm into Chesapeake Bay. The beauty of the situation attracted them, and they determined to settle there. Sailing up James River to a convenient spot, they landed on May 13, the place chosen for their settlement being named by them Jamestown.

The instructions for the colony had been placed by the king in a sealed box, on opening which it was found that seven men were appointed a governing council, among them Gosnold, Newport, and the celebrated Captain John Smith, who was a member of the expedition. Most of the colony were gentlemen, who hoped to find gold at once and make their fortune, and no attempt at agriculture was made. A terrible summer followed. The position chosen for security against the Indians proved unhealthy, and more than half the colony was swept away by a pestilence. Only the friendly aid of the Indians saved the rest from death by starvation. Meanwhile, Captain Smith was prevented from taking his place in the council by the action of his enemies, and was arrested on false accusations. For several months he lay under a cloud. But, boldly defying the malice of his enemies, he cleared himself of their charges and resumed his place in the council. By the autumn the sole control of the colony fell into the hands of Smith, the president finding the duty beyond his ability.





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