Jamestown, located on Jamestown Island in the Virginia Colony, was founded on May 14, 1607. It is commonly regarded as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the United States, following several earlier failed attempts. It was founded by the Virginia Company, headquartered in London. Located in James City County when it was formed in 1634 as one of the original eight shires of Virginia, Jamestown was the capital of the Colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1698. At that time, the capital was relocated to Middle Plantation, about distant. (That small community, which had also become home to the new College of William and Mary in 1693, was renamed Williamsburg in 1699).
Jamestown is one of three locations comprising the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia: Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg. Jamestown offers two areas to visit. Historic Jamestowne, on Jamestown Island, is a cooperative effort by Jamestown National Historic Site, a part of Colonial National Historical Park, which is a unit of the National Park Service, and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. The other attraction is known as Jamestown Settlement, and located from the historic location of the colony. It is a Living History interpretive site operated by the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation in conjunction with the Commonwealth of Virginia and was established for the 350th anniversary celebrations of Jamestown in 1957.
Nearby, the Jamestown Ferry service provides a link across the navigable portion of the James River for vehicles and offers passengers a view of Jamestown Island from the river, which is perhaps not greatly different from what the first colonists saw 400 years earlier. Traveling East down the National Park Service's scenic Colonial Parkway visitors can tour Colonial Williamsburg operated by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, site of the second capitol of Virginia. Continuing another East down the Colonial Parkway brings visitors to Yorktown, with another two areas to visit. Yorktown Battlefield also a part of Colonial National Historical Park, is operated by the National Park Service and is the site of the actual Battle of Yorktown. Located approximately from the battlefield, the Yorktown Victory Center is another living history interpretive site operated by the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, various European countries competed to establish colonies in the portion of the "New World" we presently know as North America. One of the English attempts, a competitive effort by two proprietary arms of the Virginia Company, resulted in the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607.
For more information about other settlements in North America by England and other countries, both successful and failed, and maps showing lands originally considered to be part of "Virginia" by the English, see article Colony and Dominion of Virginia.
Jamestown (originally also called "James Towne" or "Jamestowne") is located on the James River in what is currently James City County in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The site is about 40 miles (62 km) inland from the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay and about 45 miles (70 km) downstream and southeast of the current state capital city of Richmond. Both the river and the settlement were named for King James I of England, who was on the throne at the time, granted the private proprietorship to the Virginia Company of London's enterprise.
The location at Jamestown Island was selected primarily because it offered a favorable strategic defensive position against other European forces which might approach by water. However, the colonists soon discovered that the swampy and isolated site was plagued by mosquitoes and tidal river water unsuitable for drinking, and offered limited opportunities for hunting and little space for farming. The area was also inhabited by Native Americans (American Indians).
Despite inspired leadership of John Smith, chaplain Robert Hunt and others, starvation, hostile relations with the Indians, and lack of profitable exports all threatened the survival of the Colony in the early years as the settlers and the Virginia Company of London each struggled. However, colonist John Rolfe introduced a strain of tobacco which was successfully exported in 1612, and the financial outlook for the colony became more favorable. Two years later, Rolfe married the young Indian woman Pocahontas, daughter of Wahunsunacock, Chief of the Powhatan Confederacy, and a period of relative peace with the Natives followed. In 1616, the Rolfes made a public relations trip to England, where Pocahontas was received as visiting royalty. Changes by the Virginia Company which became effective in 1619 attracted additional investments, also sowing the first seeds of democracy in the process with a locally-elected body which became the House of Burgesses, the first such representative legislative body in the New World. Throughout the 17th century, Jamestown was the capital of the Virginia Colony. Several times during emergencies, the seat of government for the colony was shifted temporarily to nearby Middle Plantation, a fortified location on the high ridge approximately equidistant from the James and York Rivers on the Virginia Peninsula. Shortly after the Colony was finally granted a long-desired Charter of Virginia, 1606 and established the new College of William and Mary at Middle Plantation, the capital of the Colony was permanently relocated nearby. In 1699, the new capital town was renamed Williamsburg, in honor of the current British king, William III.
After the capital was relocated, Jamestown began a gradual loss of prominence and eventually reverted to a few large farms. It again became a significant point for control of the James River during the American Civil War (1861–1865), and then slid back into seeming oblivion. Even the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 was held elsewhere, at a more accessible location at Sewell's Point, on Hampton Roads near Norfolk.
Beginning in 1893, of the Jamestown site were acquired by the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. A crucial sea wall was built in 1900 to protect the shoreline near the site of James Fort from further erosion. In the 1930s, the Colonial National Historical Park was established to protect and administer Jamestown, which was designated a National Historic Site. The U.S. National Park Service acquired the remaining of Jamestown Island through eminent domain in 1934.
For the 350th anniversary in 1957, Jamestown itself was the site of renewed interest and a huge celebration. The National Park Service provided new access with the completion of the Colonial Parkway which led to Williamsburg, home of the restored capital of Colonial Williamsburg, and then on to Yorktown, the other two portions of Colonial Virginia's Historic Triangle. Major projects such as the Jamestown Festival Park were developed by non-profit, state and federal agencies. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and Prince Philip attended. The 1957 event was a great success. Tourism became continuous with attractions regularly updated and enhanced.
The two major attractions at Jamestown are separate, but complementary to each other. The state-sponsored Jamestown Settlement near the entrance to Jamestown Island includes a recreated English Fort and Native American Village, extensive indoor and outdoor displays, and features the three popular replica ships. On Jamestown Island itself, the National Park Service operates Historic Jamestowne. Over a million artifacts have been recovered by the Jamestown Rediscovery project with ongoing archaeological work, including a number of exciting recent discoveries.
Early in the 21st century, in preparation for the Jamestown 2007 event commemorating America's 400th Anniversary, new accommodations, transportation facilities and attractions were planned. The celebration began in the Spring of 2006 with the sailing of a new replica Godspeed to six major East Coast U.S. cities, where several hundred thousand people viewed it. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip joined America's festivities on an official state visit to Jamestown in May 2007.
Led by Captain Christopher Newport, they made landfall on April 26, 1607 and named the location Cape Henry, in honor of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James. Upon landing, Chaplain Robert Hunt offered a prayer and they set up a cross near the site of the current Cape Henry Memorial. This site came to be known as the "first landing." A party of the men explored the area and had a minor conflict with some Native Americans.
Therefore, the group re-boarded their three ships and proceeded into the Chesapeake Bay landing again at what is now called Old Point Comfort in the City of Hampton. In the following days, the ships ventured inland upstream along the James River seeking a suitable location for their settlement as defined in their orders. The James River and the initial settlement they sought to establish, (originally called "James His Towne") were named in honor of King James I.
The settlers came ashore, and quickly set about constructing their initial fort. Within a month, James Fort covered an acre on Jamestown Island, although it burned down the following year. The wooden palisaded walls formed a triangle around a storehouse, church, and a number of houses.
Although it is technically a peninsula when thus connected, functionally, in many ways, Jamestown throughout the past 400 years has been an island. Largely cut off from the mainland's typical game and wildlife by natural forces, the shallow harbor afforded the earliest settlers docking of their ships. This was its great attraction, one which came at the price of other far less favorable conditions.
The settlers who came over on the initial three ships were not well-equipped for the life they found in Jamestown. In addition to the "gentlemen", who were not accustomed to manual or skilled labor, they consisted mainly of English farmers and "Eight Dutchmen and Poles" hired in Royal Prussia. Many suffered from saltwater poisoning which led to infection, fevers and dysentery. As a result of these conditions, most of the early settlers died of disease and starvation.
Despite the immediate area of Jamestown being uninhabited, the settlers were attacked, less than a fortnight after their arrival on May 14, by Paspahegh Indians who succeeded in killing one of the settlers and wounding eleven more. By June 15, the settlers finished the initial triangle James Fort. A week later, Newport sailed back for London on the Susan Constant with a load of pyrite ("fools' gold") and other supposedly precious minerals, leaving the tiny Discovery behind for the use of the colonists. Newport returned twice from England with additional supplies in the following 18 months, leading what were termed the First and Second Supply missions.
Those named for the initial Council were (alphabetically):
The Council received additional members from the First and Second Supply missions brought by Captain Newport. These were:
Also notable among the first settlers was:
Chaplain Hunt gave the first prayer at Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, and held open-air services at Jamestown until shelter and a more appropriate church were built there.
Newport returned twice from England with additional supplies in the following 18 months, leading what was termed the First and Second Supply missions.
The "First Supply" arrived on January 2, 1608. Again, it contained insufficient provisions and 70 new colonists. Likewise, Newport's "Second Supply" brought 70 more settlers, including some craftsmen, but added little to the welfare of the colony.
Despite original intentions to grow food and trade with the Native Americans, the barely surviving colonists became dependent upon the supply missions.
William Volday/Wilhelm Waldi, a Swiss German mineral prospector, was also among those who arrived in 1608. His mission was seeking a silver reservoir that was believed to be within the proximity of Jamestown. Some of the settlers were artisans who built a glass furnace which became the first factory in America. Additional craftsmen produced soap, pitch, and wood building supplies. Among all of these were the first made-in-America products to be exported to Europe. However, despite all these efforts, profits from exports were not sufficient to meet the expenses and expectations of the investors back in England, and no silver or gold had been discovered, as earlier hoped.
It fell to the third president of the Council to deliver a reply. By this time, Wingfield and Ratcliffe had been replaced by John Smith. Ever bold, Smith delivered what must have been a wake-up call to the investors in London. In what has been termed "Smith's Rude Answer", he composed a letter, writing (in part):
Smith did begin his letter with something of an apology, saying "I humbly intreat your Pardons if I offend you with my rude Answer..." , although it should be noted that at the time, the word 'rude' was acknowledged to mean 'unfinished' or 'rural', in the same way modern English uses 'rustic'.
There are strong indications that those in London comprehended and embraced Smith's message. Their Third Supply mission was by far the largest and best equipped. They even had a new purpose-built flagship constructed, the Sea Venture, placed in the most experienced of hands, Christopher Newport. With a fleet of no fewer than eight ships, the Third Supply, led by the Sea Venture, left Plymouth in June, 1609.
On the subject of the Virginia Company, it is notable that, throughout its existence, Sir Edwin Sandys, was a leading force. He, of course, also hoped for profits, but also his goals included a permanent colony which would enlarge English territory, relieve the nation's overpopulation, and expand the market for English goods. He is closely identified with a faction of the company led by Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. Although profits proved elusive for their investors, the visions for the Colony of Sir Edwin Sandys and the Earl of Southampton were eventually accomplished.
Smith was also seeking a supply of food for the colonists, and he successfully traded for food with the Native American Nansemonds, who were located along the Nansemond River in the modern-day City of Suffolk. However, when he later led another food-gathering expedition, this time up the Chickahominy River west of Jamestown, his men were set upon by Powhatan Indians. As his party was being slaughtered around him, Smith strapped his Indian guide in front of him as a shield and escaped with his life but was captured by Opechancanough, the Powhatan chief's half-brother. Smith gave him a compass which pleased the warrior and made him decide to let Smith live.
Smith was taken before Wahunsunacock, who was commonly referred to as Chief Powhatan, at the Powhatan Confederacy's seat of government at Werowocomoco on the York River. However, when the chief decided to execute him, this course of action was (as related by Smith) stopped by the pleas of Chief Powhatan's young daughter, Pocahontas, who was originally named Matoaka but whose nickname meant "Playful One."
After returning to his duties in Jamestown, Smith was wounded in an accident. He was walking with his gun in the river, and the powder was in a pouch on his belt. His powder bag exploded. In the fall of 1609, he was sent back to England for medical treatment.
While back in England, Smith wrote A True Relation and The Proceedings of the English Colony of Virginia about his experiences in Jamestown. These books, whose accuracy has been questioned by some historians due to some extent by Smith's boastful prose, were to generate public interest and new investment for the colony.
Although the life of Chief Powhatan's young daughter, Pocahontas, would be largely tied to the English after legend credits her with saving Smith's life after his capture by Opechancanough, her contacts with Smith himself were minimal. However, records indicate that she became something of an emissary to the colonists at Jamestown Island. During their first winter, following an almost complete destruction of their fort by a fire in January 1608, Pocahontas brought food and clothing to the colonists. She later negotiated with Smith for the release of Native Americans who had been captured by the colonists during a raid to gain English weaponry.
During the next several years, the relationship between the Native Americans and the colonists became more strained, never more so than during the period of poor crops for both the natives and colonists which became known as the Starving Time in late 1609 and early 1610. Chief Powhatan relocated his principal capital from Werowocomoco, which was relatively close to Jamestown along the north shore of the York River, to a point more inland and secure along the upper reaches of the Chickahominy River.
In March, 1613, Pocahontas was residing at Passapatanzy, a village of the Patawomecks, a Native American tribe which did some trading with Powhatans. They lived in present-day Stafford County on the Potomac River near Fredericksburg, about from Werowocomoco. She was kidnapped by English colonists, and transported about south to the English settlement at Henricus on the James River. There, Pocahontas converted to Christianity and took the name "Rebecca" under the tutelage of Reverend Alexander Whitaker who had arrived in Jamestown in 1611. She married prominent planter John Rolfe, who had lost his first wife and child in the journey from England several years earlier, which served to greatly improve relations between the Native Americans and the colonists for several years. However, when she and John Rolfe took their young son Thomas Rolfe on a public relations trip to England to help raise more investment money for the Virginia Company, she caught smallpox and died just as they were leaving to return to Virginia.
What became known as the "Starving Time" in the Virginia Colony occurred during the winter of 1609–10. Only 60 of 214 English colonists survived.
The colonists, the first group of whom had originally arrived at Jamestown on May 14, 1607, had never planned to grow all of their own food. Instead, their plans also depended upon trade with the local Native Americans to supply them with enough food between the arrival of periodic supply ships from England, upon which they also relied.
This period of extreme hardship for the colonists began in 1609 with a drought which caused their already limited farming activities to produce even fewer crops than usual. Then, there were problems with both of their other sources for food.
An unexpected delay occurred during the Virginia Company of London's Third Supply mission from England due to a major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. A large portion of the food and supplies had been aboard the new flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture which became shipwrecked at Bermuda and separated from the other ships, seven of which arrived at the colony with even more new colonists to feed, and few supplies, most of which had been aboard the larger flagship.
The impending hardship was further compounded by the loss of their most skillful leader in dealing with the Powhatan Confederacy in trading for food: Captain John Smith. He became injured in August of 1609 in a gunpowder accident, and was forced to return to England for medical attention in October 1609. After Smith left, Chief Powhatan severely curtailed trading with the colonists for food. Neither the missing Sea Venture nor any other supply ship arrived as winter set upon the inhabitants of the young colony in late 1609.
When the survivors of the shipwreck of the Third Supply mission's flagship Sea Venture finally arrived at Jamestown the following May 23 in two makeshift ships they had constructed while stranded on Bermuda for nine months, they found fewer than 100 colonists still alive, and many of those were sick. Worse yet, the Bermuda survivors had brought few supplies and only a small amount of food with them, expecting to find a thriving colony at Jamestown.
Thus, even with the arrival of the two small ships from Bermuda under Captain Christopher Newport, they were faced with abandoning Jamestown and returning to England. On June 7, 1610, both groups of survivors (from Jamestown and Bermuda) boarded ships, and they all set sail down the James River toward the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Shortly after they had abandoned Jamestown, they came upon a fleet of three supply ships arriving from England, commanded by a new governor, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. The two groups met on the James River on June 9, 1610 near Mulberry Island (adjacent to present-day Fort Eustis in Newport News).
With the new supply mission, Governor West, known in modern times as "Lord Delaware", brought additional colonists, a doctor, food, and much-needed supplies. He also was of a strong determination that Jamestown and the colony were not to be abandoned. He turned the departing ships around and brought the entire group back to Jamestown. This was certainly not a popular decision at the time with at least some of the group, but Lord Delaware was to prove a new kind of leader for Virginia.
Included in those returning to Jamestown was a colonist whose wife and child had died during the shipwreck of the Sea Venture and the time at Bermuda. A businessman, he had with him some seeds for a new strain of tobacco and also some untried marketing ideas. That colonist was John Rolfe. Despite his misfortune to that point, history records that he would change the future of the colony as much as Lord Delaware's timely arrival had.
The Sea Venture was the new flagship of the Virginia Company. Leaving England in 1609, and leading this Third Supply to Jamestown as "Vice Admiral" and commanding the Sea Venture, Christopher Newport was in charge of a nine-vessel fleet. Aboard the flagship Sea Venture was the Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers, Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Gates, William Strachey and other notable personages in the early history of English colonization in North America.
While at sea, the fleet encountered a strong storm , perhaps a hurricane, which lasted for three days. The Sea Venture and one other ship were separated from the seven other vessels of the fleet. The Sea Venture was deliberately driven onto the reefs of Bermuda to prevent her sinking. The 150 passengers and crew members were all landed safely but the ship was now permanently damaged.
The Sea Venture's longboat was fitted with a mast and sent to find Virginia but it and its crew were never seen again. The remaining survivors spent nine months on Bermuda building two smaller ships, the Deliverance and Patience from Bermuda cedar and materials salvaged from the Sea Venture.
Leaving two men at Bermuda to maintain England's claim to the archipelago, the remainder sailed to Jamestown, finally arriving on May 23, 1610. They found the Virginia Colony in ruins and practically abandoned. Of 500 settlers who had preceded them to Jamestown, they found fewer than 100 survivors, with many of those sick or dying. It was decided to abandon the colony and on June 7, everyone was placed aboard the ships to return to England.
On June 9, 1610, Lord De La Warr and his party arrived on the James River shortly after the Deliverance and Patience had abandoned Jamestown. Intercepting them about downstream from Jamestown near Mulberry Island, the new governor forced the remaining 90 settlers to return, thwarting their plans to abandon the colony. Deliverance and Patience turned back, and all the settlers were landed again at Jamestown.
Then, Sir George Somers returned to Bermuda with the Patience to obtain more food supplies, but he died on the island that summer. His nephew, Matthew Somers, Captain of the Patience, took the ship back to Lyme Regis, England instead of Virginia (leaving a third man behind). The Third Charter of the Virginia Company was then extended far enough across the Atlantic to include Bermuda in 1612. (Although a separate company, the Somers Isles Company, would be spun-off to administer Bermuda from 1615, the first two successful English colonies would retain close ties for many more generations, as was demonstrated when Virginian general George Washington called upon the people of Bermuda for aid during the American War of Independence). In 1613, Sir Thomas Dale founded the settlement of Bermuda Hundred on the James River, which, a year later, became the first incorporated town in Virginia.
Although most people "wouldn't touch" the crop, Rolfe was able to make his fortune farming it, successfully exporting beginning in 1612. Soon he was both a wealthy and prominent man. He married the young Native American woman Pocahontas on April 24, 1614. They lived first across the river from Jamestown, and later at his Varina Farms plantation near Henricus. Their son, Thomas Rolfe, was born in 1615.
He served as Governor for 3 months in 1611, and again for a two year period between 1614 and 1616. It was during his administration that the first code of laws of Virginia, nominally in force from 1611 to 1619, was effectively tested. This code, entitled "Articles, Lawes, and Orders Divine, Politique, and Martiall" (popularly known as Dale's Code), was notable for its pitiless severity, and seems to have been prepared in large part by Dale himself.
A short distance further up the James, in 1611, he began the construction of a progressive development at Henricus on and about what was later known as Farrars Island. Henricus was envisioned as possible replacement capital for Jamestown, and was to have the first college in Virginia. (The ill-fated Henricus was destroyed during the Indian Massacre of 1622, during which a third of the colonists were killed). In addition to creating the new settlement at Henricus, Dale also established the port town of Bermuda Hundred and "Bermuda Cittie" (sic). He began the excavation work at Dutch Gap, using methods he had learned while serving in Holland.
Once back in Virginia, Rolfe married Jane Pierce and continued to improve the quality of his tobacco with the result that by the time of his death in 1622, the Colony was thriving as a producer of tobacco.
Orphaned by the age of 8, young Thomas later returned to Virginia, and settled across the James River not far from his parents' farm at Varina, where he married Jane Poythress and they had one daughter, Jane Rolfe, who was born in 1650. Many of the First Families of Virginia trace their lineage through Thomas Rolfe to both Pocahontas and John Rolfe, joining English and Native American heritage.
An example was Martin's Hundred, located downstream from Jamestown on the north bank of the James River. It was sponsored by the Martin's Hundred Society, a group of investors in London. It was settled in 1618, and Wolstenholme Towne was its administrative center, named for Sir John Wolstenholme, one of the investors. In 1976, the long-lost site of Wolstenholme Towne at Martin's Hundred was discovered on the grounds of Carter's Grove Plantation near the Grove Community in southeastern James City County and has been the location of important archaeological work.
Bermuda Hundred (now in Chesterfield County) and Flowerdew Hundred (now in Prince George County) are other names which have survived over centuries. Others included Berkeley Hundred, Bermuda Nether Hundred, Bermuda Upper Hundred, Digges Hundred, West Hundred and Shirley Hundred (and, in Bermuda, Harrington Hundreds).
Including the creation of the "hundreds", the various incentives to investors in the Virginia Colony finally paid off by 1617. By this time, the colonists were exporting 50,000 pounds of tobacco to England a year and were beginning to generate enough profit to ensure the economic survival of the colony.
Virginia's population grew rapidly from 1618 until 1622, rising from a few hundred to nearly 1,400 people. Wheat was also grown in Virginia starting in 1618. The labor intensive tobacco plantations led to the importation of the colony's first black "indentured servants". In August 1619, 20 black men were purchased from a passing [Dutch] slave ship bound from Luanda, Angola, to Vera Cruz, Mexico. However, these may not have been the first; 32 Africans were noted five months earlier in a Virginia census of 1619.
On July 30, 1619, the House of Burgesses, the first legislature of elected representatives in America, met in the Jamestown Church. Their first law was to set a minimum price for the sale of tobacco and set forth plans for the creation of the first ironworks of the colony. This legislative group was the predecessor of the modern Virginia General Assembly.
As the English expanded out from Jamestown, encroachment of the new arrivals and their ever-growing numbers on what had been Indian lands resulted in conflicts with the Native Americans which became almost continuous for the next 37 years. Chief Wahunsunacock of the Powhatan Confederacy had been forced to move west from his original capital at Werowocomoco (only about from Jamestown) to Orapakes in 1609 for security reasons. However, Orapakes was just a temporary capital. It was in a swamp at the head of the Chickahominy River, near the modern-day interchange of Interstate 64 and Interstate 295. It was also too close to other hostile native groups, such as the Monacans.
Sometime between 1611 and 1614, he moved the capital of the Confederacy again, this time further north. Ultimately, Wahunsonacock settled at the headwaters of the Pamunkey River, on the north bank at Matchut. When Wahunsonacock moved to Matchut, his younger brother Opechancanough lived across the Pamunkey River at Youghtanund.
The relations with the Natives took a turn for the worse after the death of Pocahontas in England and the return of John Rolfe and other colonial leaders in May 1617. Disease, poor harvests and the growing demand for tobacco lands caused hostilities to escalate.
There is speculation, but no confirmation, that Opechancanough may be the same individual known as Don Luis, a supposed native-convert to Christianity who had been involved with the ill-fated Ajacan Mission of the Spanish missionaries about 50 years earlier.
Opechancanough was not interested in attempting peaceful coexistence with the English settlers. Instead, he was determined to eradicate the colonists from what he considered to be Indian lands.
However, Jamestown was spared from destruction due to a Native American boy named Chanco who, after learning of the planned attacks from his brother, gave warning to colonist Richard Pace with whom he lived. Pace, after securing himself and his neighbors on the south side of the James River, took a canoe across river to warn Jamestown which narrowly escaped destruction, although there was no time to warn the other settlements. Apparently, Opechancanough subsequently was unaware of Chanco's actions, as the young man continued to serve as his courier for some time after.
A letter by Richard Frethorne, written in 1623, reports, "we live in fear of the enemy every hour.
Anchored at its center by Middle Plantation on land patented by Dr. Potts, the palisade is partially described in the following extract from a letter written in 1634, from Jamestown, by Captain Thomas Yonge:
Furthermore, the forces of Royal Governor of Virginia William Berkeley captured the old warrior, variously thought to be between 90 and 100 years old. In October, while a prisoner, Opechancanough was killed by a soldier (shot in the back) assigned to guard him.
More peaceful relations between the Natives and the colonists resulted. In 1646, the first Indian reservations in America would be established in King William County for the surviving Powhatans. (In modern times, the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes each maintain reservations there).
In 1634, the English Crown created eight shires (i.e. counties) in the colony of Virginia which had a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. James City Shire was established and included Jamestown. Around 1642-43, the name of the James City Shire was changed to James City County.
In the 1670s, the governor of Virginia was Sir William Berkeley, a scholar and playwright, serving his second term in that office. Berkeley, now in his seventies, had previously been governor in the 1640s and had experimented with new export crops at his Green Spring Plantation near Jamestown. In the mid 1670s, a young cousin through marriage, Nathaniel Bacon, Jr., arrived in Virginia sent by his father in the hope that he would "mature" under the tutelage of the governor. Although lazy, Bacon was intelligent and Berkeley provided him with a land grant and a seat on the Virginia Colony council. However, the two became at odds over relationships with the Native Americans, which were most strained at the outer frontier points of the colony.
In July 1675, Doeg Indians raided the plantation of Thomas Mathews in the northern portion of the colony along what became the Potomac River in order to gain payment for several items Mathews had obtained from the tribe. Several Doegs were killed in the raid and the colonists then raided the Susquehanaugs (a different tribe) in "retaliation" which led to large-scale Indian raids. Governor Berkeley tried to calm the situation but many of the colonists, particularly the frontiersmen, refused to listen to him and Bacon disregarded a direct order and captured some Appomattox Indians, who were located many miles south of the site of the initial incident, and almost certainly not involved.
Following the establishment of the Long Assembly in 1676, war was declared on "all hostile Indians" and trade with Indian tribes became regulated, often seen by the colonists to favor those friends of Berkeley. Bacon opposed Berkeley and led a group in opposition to the governor. Bacon and his troops set themselves up at Henrico until Berkeley arrived which sent Bacon and his men fleeing upon which Berkeley declared them in rebellion and offered a pardon to any who returned to Jamestown peaceably.
Bacon led numerous raids on Indians friendly to the colonists in an attempt to bring down Berkeley. The governor offered him amnesty but the House of Burgesses refused; insisting that Bacon must acknowledge his mistakes. At about the same time, Bacon was actually elected to the House of Burgesses and attended the June 1676 assembly where he was captured, forced to apologize and was then pardoned by Berkeley.
Bacon then demanded a military commission but Berkeley refused. Bacon and his supporters surrounded the statehouse and threatened to start shooting the Burgesses if Berkeley did not acknowledge Bacon as "General of all forces against the Indians". Berkeley eventually acceded, and then left Jamestown. He attempted a coup a month later but was unsuccessful. In September, however, Berkeley was successful and Bacon dug in for a siege which resulted in his burning Jamestown to the ground on September 19, 1676. Bacon died of the flux and lice on October 26, 1676 and his body is believed to have been burned.
Berkeley returned, and hanged William Drummond and the other major leaders of the rebellion (23 in total) at Middle Plantation. With Jamestown unusable due to the burning by Bacon, the Governor convened a session of the General Assembly at his Green Spring Plantation in February, 1677, and another was later held at Middle Plantation. However, upon leaning of his actions, King Charles II was reportedly displeased at the degree of retaliation and number of executions, and recalled Berkeley to England. He returned to London where he died in July, 1677.
Anthony Johnson was also a black man. He had been one of 20 black men brought to Jamestown in 1619 as indentured servants. By 1623, he had achieved his freedom and by 1651 was prosperous enough to import five "servants" of his own, for which he was granted as "headrights".
John Casor alleged that he had come to Virginia as an indentured servant, and attempted to transfer his obligation to a white farmer named Robert Parker. However, Anthony Johnson claimed that "hee had ye Negro for his life".
In the lawsuit of Johnson vs. Parker, the court in Northampton County ruled that "seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master....It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit." Casor was thus returned to Johnson. This was the first known judicial approval of life servitude in Virginia, except as punishment for a crime. Casor remained with Anthony Johnson and his wife for the rest of his life, moving with them to Maryland a short time later.
Even the offspring of slaves also were born into a lifetime of slavery, as in 1661, Virginia passed a law that made the status of the mother determine slave or free status of the child.
While meeting there, a group of five students from the College submitted a well-presented and logical proposal to the legislators outlining a plan and good reasons to move the capital permanently to Middle Plantation.
Despite the periodic need to relocate the legislature from Jamestown due to contingencies such as fires, (usually to Middle Plantation), throughout the seventeenth century, Virginians had been reluctant to permanently move the capital from its "ancient and accustomed place." After all, Jamestown had always been Virginia's capital. It had a state house (except when it periodically burned) and a church, and it offered easy access to ships that came up the James River bringing goods from England and taking on tobacco bound for market. However, Jamestown's status had been in some decline. In 1662, Jamestown's status as mandatory port of entry for Virginia had been ended.
The students argued that the change to the high ground at Middle Plantation would escape the dreaded malaria and mosquitoes that had always plagued the swampy, low-lying Jamestown site. The students pointed out that, while not located immediately upon a river, Middle Plantation offered nearby access to not one, but two rivers, via two deep water (6-7' depth) creeks, Queen's Creek leading to the York River, and College Creek (formerly known as Archer's Hope) which led to the James River. Other advocates of the move included the Reverend Dr. James Blair and the Governor, Sir Francis Nicholson.
Several prominent individuals like John Page, Thomas Ludwell, Philip Ludwell, and Otho Thorpe had built fine brick homes and created a substantial town at Middle Plantation. And, there was of course, the new College of William and Mary with its fine new brick building. The proposal to move the capital of Virginia to higher ground (about 12 miles (20 km) away) at Middle Plantation was received favorably by the House of Burgesses. In 1699, the capital of the Virginia Colony was officially relocated there. Soon, the town was renamed Williamsburg, in honor of King William III. Thus, the first phase of Jamestown's history ended.
Students of the College of William and Mary gave orations. An old barn on the island was used as a temporary theater, with a company of players from Norfolk performed. Attending were many dignitaries, politicians, and historians.
May 13 was the opening day of the festival, which began with a procession which marched to the graveyard of the old church, where the attending bishop delivered the prayer. The procession then moved to the Travis mansion, where the celebrants dined and danced in the mansion that evening. The Bicentennial celebration concluded on May 14 with a dinner and toast at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.
In 1831, David Bullock purchased Jamestown from Travis and Ambler families.
The attendance was estimated at between 6 and 8 thousand people. Sixteen large steam ships anchored offshore in the James River and were gaily decorated with streamers. Former US President John Tyler of nearby Sherwood Forest Plantation gave a 2 1/2 hour speech, and there were military displays, a grand ball and fireworks.
During the Peninsula Campaign which began later that spring, Union forces under General George B. McClellan moved up the Peninsula from Fort Monroe to attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. The Union forces captured Yorktown in April 1862, and the Battle of Williamsburg was fought the following month. With these developments, Jamestown and the lower James River were abandoned by the Confederates, and the Virginia was blown up off Craney Island on Hampton Roads to avoid capture. Some of the forces from Jamestown and the crew of the Virginia shifted to Drewry's Bluff, a fortified and strategic position located high above the river about below Richmond. There, they successfully blocked the Union Navy from reaching the Confederate capital.
Once in Federal hands, Jamestown became a meeting place for runaway slaves who burned the Ambler house, an eighteenth century plantation which along with the old church were the few remaining signs of Jamestown. When Allen sent men to assess damage in late 1862, they were killed by the former slaves. Following the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the oath of allegiance was administered to former Confederate soldiers at Jamestown.
As a celebration was planned, virtually no one thought that the actual isolated and long-abandoned original site of Jamestown would be suitable for a major event because Jamestown Island had no facilities for large crowds. The original fort housing the Jamestown settlers was believed to have been long-ago swallowed by the James River.
Also, the general area in James City County near Jamestown was also considered unsuitable, as it was not very accessible in the day of rail travel before automobiles were common.
As the tercentennial of the 1607 Founding of the Jamestown neared, around 1904, despite an assumption in some quarters that Richmond would be a logical location, leaders in Norfolk, Virginia began a campaign to have a celebration held there. The decision was made to locate the international exposition on a mile-long frontage at Sewell's Point near the mouth of Hampton Roads. This was about downstream from Jamestown in a rural section of Norfolk County. It was a site which could become accessible by both long-distance passenger railroads and local streetcar service, with considerable frontage on the harbor of Hampton Roads. This latter feature proved ideal for the naval delegations which came from points all around the world.
The Jamestown Exposition of 1907 was one of the many world's fairs and expositions that were popular in the early part of the 20th century. It was from April 26, 1907 to December 1, 1907. Attendees included US President Theodore Roosevelt, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, the Prince of Sweden, Mark Twain, Henry H. Rogers, and dozens of other dignitaries and famous persons. A major naval review featuring the United State's Great White Fleet was a key feature. U.S. Military officials and leaders were impressed by the location, and the Exposition site later formed the first portion of the large U.S. Naval Station Norfolk in 1918 during World War I.
See also article Jamestown Exposition
About four years later, Gregory, who was active with the Virginia Historical Society, founded the Jamestowne Society for descendants of stockholders in the Virginia Company of London and the descendants of those who owned land or who had domiciles in Jamestown or on Jamestown Island prior to the year 1700. Since its founding, the Society has helped with genealogical records and expanded into dozens of branches, called "Companies." (In the Jamestowne Society, "Companies" are similar to chapters in most lineage societies). Membership in Companies is elective, while membership in the national Society is acquired at the time a member joins. In 1958, the Jamestowns Society was formally organized as a non-profit corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (1954, as amended). It frequently holds meetings and events.
In 1934, the National Park Service obtained the remaining 1500 acre (6.1 km²) portion of Jamestown Island which had been under private ownership by the Vermillion family. The National Park Service partnered with the APVA to preserve the area and present it to visitors in an educational manner.
Although erosion had cut off the land bridge between Jamestown Island and the mainland, the isthmus was restored and new access provided by the completion of the National Park Service's Colonial Parkway which led to Williamsburg and Yorktown, the other two portions of Colonial Virginia's Historic Triangle. There were also improvements of state highways. The north landing for the popular Jamestown Ferry and a portion of State Route 31 were relocated.
Major projects such were developed by non-profit, state and federal agencies. Jamestown Festival Park was established by the Commonwealth of Virginia adjacent to the entrance to Jamestown Island. Full-sized replicas of the three ships that brought the colonists, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery were constructed at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia and placed on display at a new dock at Jamestown, where the largest, the Susan Constant, could be boarded by visitors.
On Jamestown Island, the reconstructed Jamestown Glasshouse, the Memorial Cross and the visitors center were completed and dedicated. A loop road was built around the island.
Special events included army and navy reviews, air force fly-overs, ship and aircraft christenings and even an outdoor drama at Cape Henry, site of the first landing of the settlers. This celebration continued from April 1 to November 30 with over a million participants, including dignitaries and politicians such as the British Ambassador and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon.
The highlight for many of the nearly 25,000 at the Festival Park on October 16, 1957 was the visit and speech of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her consort, Prince Philip. Queen Elizabeth II loaned a copy of the Magna Carta for the exhibition. It was her first visit to the United States since assuming the throne.
The 1957 Jamestown Festival was so successful that tourists still kept coming long after the official event was completed. Jamestown became a permanent attraction of the Historic Triangle, and has been visited by families, school groups, tours, and thousands of other people continuously ever since.
Early on, the project discovered early colonial artifacts. This was something of a surprise to some historians as it had been widely thought that the original site had been entirely lost due to erosion by the James River. Many others suspected that at least portions of the fort site remained and subsequent excavations have shown that only one corner of the first triangular fort (which contained the original settlement) turned out to have been destroyed. The sea wall built in 1900 to limit the erosion turned out to be a rich investment in the past and the future.
Since it began, the extended archaeological campaign has made many more discoveries including retrieving hundreds of thousands of artifacts, a large fraction of them from the first few years of the settlement's history. In addition, it has uncovered much of the fort, the remains of several houses and wells, a palisade wall line attached to the fort and the graves of several of the early settlers.
Today, visitors to Historic Jamestowne can view the site of the original 1607 James Fort, the 17th century church tower and the site of the 17th century town, as well as tour an archaeological museum called the Archaearium and view many of the hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by Jamestown Rediscovery. They also may participate in living history and ranger tours.
Visitors can also often observe archaeologists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Project at work, as archaeological work at the site continues and is greatly expanding knowledge of what happened at Jamestown in its earliest days.
Among the discoveries, a grave site with indications of an important figure was located. Some theorize the remains to be that of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold though others have claimed it to be the remains of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. It had long been thought that Baron De La Warr, who died en route back to the colony from England on his second trip, had been buried elsewhere but some recent research concluded that his body was in fact brought to Jamestown for burial.
The archaeological work and studies are ongoing as of 2007, New discoveries are frequently reported in the local newspaper, the Virginia Gazette based in nearby Williamsburg, and by other news media, often worldwide.
Although the 1957 celebration is long past, many of the attractions adjacent to the APVA-NPS site were created as part of the what was known as Jamestown Festival Park, largely sponsored by the Commonwealth.
In 1987 John Otho Marsh, Jr., the Secretary of the Army of the United States of America planted an oak tree at Runnymede England commemorating and linking the bicentenary of the Constitution with the establishment of the Jamestown settlement.
A variety of events are being promoted under the banner of America's 400th Anniversary and promoted by the Jamestown 2007 Commission. America's 400th Anniversary is commemorating the quadricentennial of the founding of the Jamestown Settlement with 18 months of statewide, national and international festivities and events which began in April 2006 with a tour of the new replica Godspeed.
In January, 2007, the Virginia General Assembly held a session at Jamestown, where a speech was given by U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney, and Virginia's current Governor Tim Kaine delivered the "State of the Commonwealth" speech.
Some members of Native American tribes in Virginia have not attended the festivities, out of concern over what they perceive the settlement to represent for their people.
A feature length film, The New World, covers the story of Jamestown's colonization. Although historically accurate in many ways, the plot focuses on a dramatized relationship between John Smith, played by Colin Farrell, and Pocahontas. Released in January 2006, many scenes were filmed on-location nearby along the James and Chickahominy Rivers and at Henricus Historical Park in Chesterfield County, Virginia. However the film fails to mention the German, Dutch, Polish and Italian settlers along with the services of black slaves in Jamestown.
Another feature length film, "First Landing" documents the 1607 landing of English colonists.