The Importance and Significance of Jamestown as an American Colony

The settlement of Jamestown was established in the spring of 1607. The London company had launched a colonizing expedition to Virginia, after failed attempts before. Out of 144 men, only 104 had survived and they settled their colony on a peninsula that extended from the river they sailed in on. They had chosen the site poorly; the site was low and very humid in the summer, being prone to disease such as malaria. They had also settled in an area where there were strong Indian tribes, which would later create big conflicts. Disease was a huge problem in the beginning because of the lack of immunity. Malaria had killed some and weakened others. After arriving in Jamestown, the colonists spent most time and money into searching for gold. They spent less time and energy into thinking about food and agriculture, assuming that they could rely on the Natives for food. All these choices made it hard for the colonists to recover from their early mistakes, but soon, additional ships would arrive with more men and more supplies. Captain John Smith would also arrive and organize the colony so greatly, that it soon showed promise of survival.

The significance of the establishment of Jamestown was great. One of the main reasons why Jamestown was so significant was that it was the first successful English colony in the New World. Although the town had its many ups and downs, the colony did eventually succeed and brought in possibilities of bringing more people over to the New World. John Smith has helped out the community greatly by bringing a form of leadership by being council president. The colonists would soon discover tobacco, which would be the leading success in the area. Tobacco would soon determine the trade and wealth of the colony. Virginia also were one time under the leadership of harsh governors such as De La Warr. Although the workload was very strict, the colony survived and even started to expand. This eventually led to the House of Burgesses, which was the representative government. The success of this colony started to grow even more and provided experience for upcoming colonies, and enhanced trade and revenue.

Jamestown had grown and changed greatly through the early colonial years. To start, the colony had very few people, all of whom were men, and had a lot of struggles. They had started out very low and many were killed by disease or starvation. Once John Smith has helped them get going, more people had arrived and the colony had shown signs of survival. There were many changes related to the way they lived. The colonists had soon discovered tobacco, which helped them greatly with their economic success. They also had many changes within leadership and government. They had soon created the headright system which gave each settler 50 acres of their own land. They could also earn more land in a variety of ways. Many of the leaders established the rule of needing to work or you starve, to get more colonists to work hard and work for the survival of the colony. Not much has stayed the same in this town, besides the location, even after expanding out more. Overall, Jamestown and its settlers changed and adapted to the New World for the better.

At this time, the wealthy were the people who had profitable tobacco plantations. Only those that had land could vote, which left many indentured servants and the poorer people without representation. Nathaniel Bacon had recently arrived in Jamestown and was disgusted by Berkeley, the governor’s, choices of where and how to use their military services and trade relations. After getting refused by Berkeley by asking to use the militia to attack some Native Americans, Bacon got furious and created a militia of his own. They attacked the powerful Susquehannock tribe and killed many of the tribe that had helped them. As a response, Berkeley had declared Bacon and his men rebels. Bacon then traveled around Virgina, gathering more supporters and raiding and attacking many people. Then finally, in September, Bacon and his men burned Jamestown to the ground and drove the governor to exile. Bacon almost had command over Virgina, but suddenly died of dysentery. British troops soon take over once again, and defeated the rest of the rebels without a leader.

Bacon’s Rebellion was significant in many ways. This event showed how selfish the white men were during that time. They wanted more land and had to expand outward, not caring about the Natives that have lived there for many years. And in response, the Natives not liking the further movement of the whites westward. It also showed the difference between eastern and western land owners, and the wealthy and the poor. It revealed how money and land determines your place in society and in government. The main significance of this event is something that Bacon didn’t even aim to do. It revealed the ability of the colonists to rebel against the crown or leadership. This rebellion was one of the biggest and most powerful revolts against the authority, at that time, in the history of the colonies. This event would not be surpassed until a few years later, during a time called the Amercian Revolution. One of the biggest significance this event had, was that it pushed the colonies to a more harsh system of servants. Rather than using the white indentured servants, they would use slaves from Africa.

Bacon’s Rebellion caused many things that affected the future of the colonies forever. What this event caused relates to its significance greatly. The event was initially caused by Nathaniel Bacon getting upset about the way the governor run things. Bacon had tried to talk to the governor about needing more military to expand against the natives, but had gotten rejected. The rebellion started because of the hatred and annoyance Bacon had felt about him and he chose a more violent attack to protest. At the end, the rebellion caused more than it thought it would for the future of the colonies. After the rebellion had ended, many of the white elite in Virginia were scared of a similar revolt enlisted by the white indentured servants. This led them to rely more on the African slave trade to satisfy their need for labor. Then the white would be poor but it wouldnt let them side with the blacks, not giving them enough support to ever start another revolt. Ultimatley, Bacon’s rebellion had caused many things that impacted the future of the colonies, most importantly, increased the African slave trade which led to many more events.

The Battle of Fort Necessity occured on July 3rd, 1754, right after the Battle of Jumonville Glen. This battle was one of the early fights of the French and Indian War. George Washington was sent to monitor the French evacuation from the area. When they wouldnt leave, Washington led a sneak attack on the French. Knowing that the French would soon fight back and retaliate, Washington secured his camp at Great Meadows while awaiting for more men. Washington had his men build a small enclosure at Great Meadows that had a low trench and earth berm around it. He named the place Fort Necessity. It was a poor sight for this because it was subject to flooding and other limiting factors. The French and Indians had arrived on a very rainy day. Washington had planned to fight outside the fort, but the French and Indians surrounded the fort and shot from the woods. A few hours later, the trench was flooded and many of Washington’s men were wounded or killed. The French commander had then offered a truce and Washington signed a surrender without knowing that it said he had killed someone at the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

Although a smaller battle, the Battle of Fort Necessity was significant in a few ways. This battle was to be known as the only battle that Washington had surrendered to. This showed the colonists what kind of leader he actually was. He rarely gave up in these situations and fought through till a point that he couldn't anymore. At the end of the day, there was really no choice left than to surrender because of the amount of men he was losing and the clear fact that they were not going to win this battle. The battle had revealed each, the French and the colonists, commitment to war and having to fight for what they want. Both know exactly what they want and will fight if need be. This event also caused Washington to sign the surrender that also had said he confessed to assasignzating one of the important French people, which then led to even more problems after that. And lastly, the obvious fact that this was one of the few battles that initially started and caused the lead up into the official French and Indian War.

All in all, there is a lot of context behind this that led up to this event. One is that Britain and France have been fighting on and off for a long time before the French and Indian War. In the Middle Ages, the 100 years war was happening which started a lot of the initial conflicts between the two nations. For many years thereafter, both countries have been having conflicts or sometimes even becoming allies in some instances. Some context behind the conflict in the New World include how the English colonists wanted desperately to expand westward, but then would eventually clash with the French. Neither the French nor the colonies would give up the land that they both claimed would be theirs. This created all the conflicts in the New World about wanting control over more land. There was always the constant battle about who would be the best nation during that time, which was Britain but many wanted to change that. Getting control over more land means more money and more ways to expand your nation, which was what many nations wanted to do.  

07 April 2022
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