The Jamestown settlement in the Colony of Virginia was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. It was located on the east bank of the James (Powhatan) River about 2.5 mi (4 km) southwest of the center of modern Williamsburg. William Kelso writes that Jamestown "is where the British Empire began". It was established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 4, 1607 O.S.;(May 14, 1607 N.S.), and was considered permanent after brief abandonment in 1610. It followed several failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke, established in 1585 on Roanoke Island. Jamestown served as the capital of the colony of Virginia for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.
The settlement was located within the country of Tsenacommacah, which was ruled by the Powhatan Confederacy, and specifically in that of the Paspahegh tribe. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial provisions and support for the colonists, who were not agriculturally inclined. Relations soured fairly early on, however, leading to the total annihilation of the Paspahegh in warfare within three years. Mortality was very high at Jamestown itself due to disease and starvation, with over 80 percent of the colonists perishing in 1609–10 in what became known as the "Starving Time".
The Virginia Company brought eight Polish and German colonists in 1608 in the Second Supply, some of whom built a small glass factory—although the Germans and a few others soon defected to the Powhatans with weapons and supplies from the settlement. The Second Supply also brought the first two European women to the settlement. In 1619, the first documented Africans came to Jamestown—about 50 men, women, and children aboard a Portuguese slave ship that had been captured in the West Indies and brought to the Jamestown region. They most likely worked in the tobacco fields as indentured servants. The modern conception of slavery in the United States was formalized in 1640 (the John Punch hearing) and was fully entrenched in Virginia by 1660.
The London Company's second settlement in Bermuda claims to be the site of the oldest town in the English New World, as St. George's, Bermuda was officially established in 1612 as New London, whereas James Fort in Virginia was not converted into James Towne until 1619, and further did not survive to the present day. In 1676, Jamestown was deliberately burned during Bacon's Rebellion, though it was quickly rebuilt. In 1699, the capital was relocated from Jamestown to what is today Williamsburg, Virginia, after which Jamestown ceased to exist as a settlement, existing today only as an archaeological site.
Today, Jamestown is one of three locations composing the Historic Triangle of Colonial Virginia, along with Williamsburg and Yorktown, with two primary heritage sites. Historic Jamestowne is the archaeological site on Jamestown Island and is a cooperative effort by Jamestown National Historic Site (part of Colonial National Historical Park) and Preservation Virginia. Jamestown Settlement, a living history interpretive site, is operated by the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation, a state agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Fort (1607); Town (1619)
Location in eastern Virginia
Location in Virginia
Jamestown (the United States)
|Present country||United States|
|Historic Country||Kingdom of England|
|Colony||Colony of Virginia|
|Established||May 14, 1607|
|Abandoned||briefly in 1610; again after 1699|
|Founded by||Virginia Company of London|
|Named for||James VI and I|
Spain, Portugal, and France moved quickly to establish a presence in the New World, while other European countries moved more slowly. The English did not attempt to found colonies until many decades after the explorations of John Cabot, and early efforts were failures—most notably the Roanoke Colony which vanished about 1590.
Late in 1606, English colonizers set sail with a charter from the London Company to establish a colony in the New World. The fleet consisted of the ships Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, all under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport. They made a particularly long voyage of four months, including a stop in the Canary Islands and subsequently Puerto Rico, and finally departed for the American mainland on April 10, 1607. The expedition made landfall on April 26, 1607 at a place which they named Cape Henry. Under orders to select a more secure location, they set about exploring what is now Hampton Roads and an outlet to the Chesapeake Bay which they named the James River in honor of King James I of England. Captain Edward Maria Wingfield was elected president of the governing council on April 25, 1607. On May 14, he selected a piece of land on a large peninsula some 40 miles (64 km) inland from the Atlantic Ocean as a prime location for a fortified settlement. The river channel was a defensible strategic point due to a curve in the river, and it was close to the land, making it navigable and offering enough land for piers or wharves to be built in the future. Perhaps the most favorable fact about the location was that it was uninhabited because the leaders of the nearby indigenous nations considered the site too poor and remote for agriculture. The island was swampy and isolated, and it offered limited space, was plagued by mosquitoes, and afforded only brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.
The Jamestown settlers arrived in Virginia during a severe drought, according to a research study conducted by the Jamestown Archaeological Assessment (JAA) team in the 1990s. The JAA analyzed information from a study conducted in 1985 by David Stahle and others, who obtained borings of 800 year-old baldcypress trees along the Nottoway and Blackwater rivers. The lifespan of these trees is up to 1,000 years and their rings offer a good indication of an area's annual amount of rainfall. The borings revealed that the worst drought in 700 years occurred between 1606 and 1612. This severe drought affected the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan tribe's ability to produce food and obtain a safe supply of water.
The settlers also arrived too late in the year to get crops planted. Many in the group were either gentlemen unused to work or their manservants, both equally unaccustomed to the hard labor demanded by the harsh task of carving out a viable colony. One of these was Robert Hunt, a former vicar of Reculver, England who celebrated the first known Eucharist in the territory of the future United States on June 21, 1607.
In a few months, 80% of the party were dead; some of the survivors were deserting to the Indians whose land they had colonized. Virginia Native Americans had established settlements long before the English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 in the region who were politically known as Tsenacommacah and who spoke an Algonquian language. They were the Powhatan Confederacy, ruled by their paramount chief known as Wahunsenacawh or "Chief Powhatan". Wahunsenacawh initially sought to resettle the English colonists from Jamestown, considered part of Paspahegh territory, to another location known as Capahosick where they would make metal tools for him as members of his Confederacy, but this never happened.
The first explorers had been welcomed by the Indians with dancing, feasting, and tobacco ceremonies. Despite the hospitality of Wahunsenacawh, the presence of the English settlers and perhaps a further expedition up the James River by Captain Christopher Newport provoked the Paspahegh, Weyanock, and other groups to mount a series of attacks on the fort during a period of violence lasting from May 27 to July 14, 1607.
Two-thirds of the settlers died before ships arrived in 1608 with supplies and German, Polish, and Slovak craftsmen, who helped to establish the first manufactories in the colony. As a result, glassware became the foremost American products to be exported to Europe at the time. Clapboard had already been sent back to England beginning with the first returning ship.
The delivery of supplies in 1608 on the First and Second Supply missions of Captain Newport had also added to the number of hungry settlers. It seemed certain at that time that the colony at Jamestown would meet the same fate as earlier English attempts to settle in North America, specifically the Roanoke Colony (Lost Colony) and the Popham Colony, unless there was a major relief effort. The Germans who arrived with the Second Supply and a few others defected to the Powhatans, with weapons and equipment. The Germans even planned to join a rumored Spanish attack on the colony and urged the Powhatans to join it. The Spanish were driven off by the timely arrival in July 1609 of Captain Samuel Argall in Mary and John, a larger ship than the Spanish reconnaissance ship La Asunción de Cristo. Argall's voyage also prevented the Spanish from gaining knowledge of the weakness of the colony. Don Pedro de Zúñiga, the Spanish ambassador to England, was desperately seeking this (in addition to spies) in order to get Philip III of Spain to authorise an attack on the colony.
The investors of the Virginia Company of London expected to reap rewards from their speculative investments. With the Second Supply, they expressed their frustrations and made demands upon the leaders of Jamestown in written form. They specifically demanded that the colonists send commodities sufficient to pay the cost of the voyage, a lump of gold, assurance that they had found the South Sea, and one member of the lost Roanoke Colony. It fell to the third president of the Council Captain John Smith to deliver a bold and much-needed wake-up call in response to the investors in London, demanding practical laborers and craftsmen who could help make the colony more self-sufficient.
After Smith was forced to return to England due to an explosion which gave him deep burn wounds during a trading expedition, the colony was led by George Percy, who proved incompetent in negotiating with the native tribes. There are indications that those in London comprehended and embraced Smith's message. The Third Supply mission of 1609 was to be by far the largest and best equipped. They also had a new purpose-built flagship, Sea Venture, constructed, and placed in the most experienced of hands, Christopher Newport.
On June 2, 1609, Sea Venture set sail from Plymouth as the flagship of a seven-ship fleet (towing two additional pinnaces) destined for Jamestown, Virginia as part of the Third Supply, carrying 214 settlers. On July 24, the fleet ran into a strong storm, likely a hurricane, and the ships were separated. Although some of the ships did make it to Jamestown, the leaders, and most of the supplies had been aboard Sea Venture, which fought the storm for three days before Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers, deliberately drove it onto the reefs of Bermuda to prevent its foundering. This allowed all aboard to be landed safely.
The survivors (including Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Gates, Captain Christopher Newport, Sylvester Jordain, Stephen Hopkins, later of Mayflower, and secretary William Strachey) were stranded on Bermuda for approximately nine months. During that time, they built two new ships, the pinnaces Deliverance and Patience. The original plan was to build only one vessel, Deliverance, but it soon became evident that it would not be large enough to carry the settlers and all of the food (salted pork) that was being sourced on the islands.
While the Third Supply was stranded in Bermuda, the colony at Jamestown was in even worse shape. In the "Starving Time" of 1609–1610, the Jamestown settlers faced rampant starvation for want of additional provisions. During this time, lack of food drove people to eat snakes and even boil the leather from shoes for sustenance. Only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived. There is scientific evidence that the settlers at Jamestown had turned to cannibalism during the starving time.
The ships from Bermuda arrived in Jamestown on May 23, 1610. Many of the surviving colonists were near death, and Jamestown was judged to be unviable. Everyone was boarded onto Deliverance and Patience, which set sail for England. However, on June 10, 1610, the timely arrival of another relief fleet, bearing Governor Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (who would eventually give his name to the colony of Delaware), which met the two ships as they descended the James River, granted Jamestown a reprieve. The Colonists called this The Day of Providence. The fleet brought not only supplies, but also additional settlers. All the settlers returned to the colony, though there was still a critical shortage of food.
Relations between the colonists and the Powhatans quickly deteriorated after De La Warr's arrival, eventually leading to conflict. The Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until Samuel Argall captured Wahunsenacawh's daughter Matoaka, better known by her nickname Pocahontas, after which the chief accepted a treaty of peace.
Due to the aristocratic backgrounds of many of the new colonists, a historic drought and the communal nature of their work load, progress through the first few years was inconsistent at best. By 1613, six years after Jamestown's founding, the organizers and shareholders of the Virginia Company were desperate to increase the efficiency and profitability of the struggling colony. Without stockholder consent the Governor, Sir Thomas Dale, assigned 3-acre (12,000 m2) plots to its "ancient planters" and smaller plots to the settlement's later arrivals. Measurable economic progress was made, and the settlers began expanding their planting to land belonging to local native tribes. That this turnaround coincided with the end of a drought that had begun the year before the English settlers' arrival probably indicates multiple factors were involved besides the colonists' ineptitude.
Among the colonists who survived the Third Supply was John Rolfe, who carried with him a cache of untested new tobacco seeds from Bermuda, which had grown wild there after being planted by shipwrecked Spaniards years before. In 1614, Rolfe began to successfully harvest tobacco. Prosperous and wealthy, he married Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, bringing several years of peace between the English and natives. However, at the end of a public relations trip to England, Pocahontas became sick and died on March 21, 1617. The following year, her father also died. Powhatan's brother, a fierce warrior named Opchanacanough, became head of the Powhatan Confederacy. As the English continued to appropriate more land for tobacco farming, relations with the natives worsened.
Due to the high cost of the trans-atlantic voyage at this time, many English settlers came to Jamestown as indentured servants: in exchange for the passage, room, board, and the promise of land or money, these immigrants would agree to work for three to seven years. Immigrants from continental Europe, mainly Germans, were usually redemptioners—they purchased some portion of their voyage on credit and, upon arrival, borrowed or entered into a work contract to pay the remainder of their voyage costs. Along with European indentured servants, around 20 African slaves arrived in Jamestown in 1619. These slaves were captives taken from a ship headed for Mexico. Though these Africans started in Jamestown as slaves, some were able to obtain the status of indentured servant later in life.
In 1619, the first representative assembly in America, the General Assembly, convened in the Jamestown Church, "to establish one equal and uniform government over all Virginia" which would provide "just laws for the happy guiding and governing of the people there inhabiting," Initially, only men of English origin were permitted to vote. On June 30, 1619, in what was the first recorded strike in Colonial America, the Polish artisans protested and refused to work if not allowed to vote ("No Vote, No Work"). On July 21, 1619, the court granted the Poles and Slovaks equal voting rights. Afterwards, the labor strike (the first "in American history") was ended and the artisans resumed their work. Individual land ownership was also instituted, and the colony was divided into four large "boroughs" or "incorporations" called "citties" by the colonists. Jamestown was located in James Cittie.
After several years of strained coexistence, Chief Opchanacanough and his Powhatan Confederacy attempted to eliminate the English colony once and for all. On the morning of March 22, 1622, they attacked outlying plantations and communities up and down the James River in what became known as the Indian Massacre of 1622. More than 300 settlers were killed in the attack, about a third of the colony's English-speaking population. Sir Thomas Dale's development at Henricus, which was to feature a college to educate the natives, and Wolstenholme Towne at Martin's Hundred, were both essentially wiped out. Jamestown was spared only through a timely warning by a Virginia Indian employee. There was not enough time to spread the word to the outposts.
Of the 6,000 people who came to the settlement between 1608 and 1624, only 3,400 survived.
In 1624, King James revoked the Virginia Company's charter, and Virginia became a royal colony. Despite the setbacks, the colony continued to grow. Ten years later, in 1634, by order of King Charles I, the colony was divided into the original eight shires of Virginia (or counties), in a fashion similar to that practiced in England. Jamestown was now located in James City Shire, soon renamed the "County of James City", better known in modern times as James City County, Virginia, the nation's oldest county.
Another large-scale "Indian attack" occurred in 1644. In 1646, Opchanacanough was captured and while in custody an English guard shot him in the back—against orders—and killed him. Subsequently, the Powhatan Confederacy began to decline. Opechancanough's successor signed the first peace treaties between the Powhatan Indians and the English. The treaties required the Powhatan to pay yearly tribute payment to the English and confined them to reservations.
A generation later, during Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, Jamestown was burned, eventually to be rebuilt. During its recovery, the Virginia legislature met first at Governor William Berkeley's nearby Green Spring Plantation, and later at Middle Plantation, which had been started in 1632 as a fortified community inland on the Virginia Peninsula, about 8 miles (13 km) distant.
When the statehouse burned again in 1698, this time accidentally, the legislature again temporarily relocated to Middle Plantation, and was able to meet in the new facilities of the College of William and Mary, which had been established after receiving a royal charter in 1693. Rather than rebuilding at Jamestown again, the capital of the colony was moved permanently to Middle Plantation in 1699. The town was soon renamed Williamsburg, to honor the reigning monarch, King William III. A new Capitol building and "Governor's Palace" were erected there in the following years. This was a revolutionary change.
Due to the movement of the capital to Williamsburg, the old town of Jamestown began to slowly disappear from view. Those who lived in the general area attended services at Jamestown's church until the 1750s, when it was abandoned. By the mid-18th century, the land was heavily cultivated, primarily by the Travis and Ambler families.
During the American Revolutionary War, although the Battle of Green Spring was fought nearby at the site of former Governor Berkeley's plantation, Jamestown was apparently inconsequential. In 1831, David Bullock purchased Jamestown from the Travis and Ambler families.
During the American Civil War, in 1861, Confederate William Allen, who owned the Jamestown Island, occupied Jamestown with troops he raised at his own expense with the intention of blockading the James River and Richmond from the Union Navy. He was soon joined by Lieutenant Catesby ap Roger Jones, who directed the building of batteries and conducted ordnance and armor tests for the first Confederate ironclad warship, CSS Virginia, which was under construction at the Gosport Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth in late 1861 and early 1862. Jamestown had a peak force of 1,200 men.
During the Peninsula Campaign, which began later that spring, Union forces under General George B. McClellan moved up the Peninsula from Fort Monroe in an 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. Some of the forces from Jamestown, and the crew of Virginia, relocated to Drewry's Bluff, a fortified and strategic position high above the river about 8 miles (13 km) 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 house, which along with the old church was one of the few remaining signs of old Jamestown. When Allen sent men to assess the damage in late 1862, they were killed by the former slaves. Following the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the oath of allegiance was administered to former Confederate soldiers at Jamestown.
In the years after the Civil War, Jamestown became quiet and peaceful once again. In 1892, Jamestown was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Barney. The following year, the Barneys donated 22½ acres of land, including the ruined church tower, to the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now known as Preservation Virginia).
By this time, erosion from the river had eaten away the island's western shore. Visitors began to conclude that the site of James Fort lay completely underwater. With federal assistance, a sea wall was constructed in 1900 to protect the area from further erosion. The archaeological remains of the original 1607 fort, which had been protected by the sea wall, were not discovered until 1996.
In 1932, George Craghead Gregory of Richmond was credited with discovering the foundation of the first brick statehouse (capitol) building, circa 1646, at Jamestown on the land owned by Preservation Virginia. Around 1936, 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 1700.
Colonial National Monument was authorized by the U.S. Congress on July 3, 1930 and established on December 30, 1930. In 1934, the National Park Service obtained the remaining 1,500 acres (610 hectares) portion of Jamestown Island which had been under private ownership by the Vermillion family. The National Park Service partnered with Preservation Virginia to preserve the area and present it to visitors in an educational manner. On June 5, 1936, the national monument was re-designated a national historical park, and became known as Colonial National Historical Park.
From 1936 J.C. "Pinky" Harrington worked on the NPS's excavations at Jamestown. In 1954 John L. Cotter took charge of field projects at Jamestown, conducted with the site's 350th anniversary (1957) in mind. Cotter worked with Edward B. Jelks and Harrington to survey the area's colonial sites. In 1957 Cotter and J. Paul Hudson co-authored New Discoveries at Jamestown. Cotter contributed, along with Jelks, Georg Neumann, and Johnny Hack, to the 1958 report Archaeological Excavations at Jamestown.
In the present time, as part of the Colonial National Historical Park, the Jamestown Island area is home to two heritage tourism sites related to the original fort and town. Nearby, the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry service provides a link across the navigable portion of the James River for vehicles and affords passengers a view of Jamestown Island from the river.
Historic Jamestowne, located at the original site of Jamestown, is administered by Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service. The central 22½ acres of land, where the archaeological remains of the original James Fort were found, are owned by Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities); the remaining 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) are held by the National Park Service and is part of the Colonial National Historical Park.
The site gained renewed importance when in 1996 the Jamestown Rediscovery project began excavations in search of the original James Fort site, originally in preparation for the quadricentennial of Jamestown's founding. The primary goal of the archaeological campaign was to locate archaeological remains of "the first years of settlement at Jamestown, especially of the earliest fortified town; [and the] subsequent growth and development of the town".
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 close to two million artifacts found by Jamestown Rediscovery. They also may participate in living history ranger tours and Archaeological tours given by the Jamestown Rediscovery staff. Visitors can also often observe archaeologists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Project at work, as archaeological work at the site continues. As of 2014, the archaeological work and studies are ongoing. In addition to their newsletter and website, new discoveries are frequently reported in the local newspaper, the Virginia Gazette based in nearby Williamsburg, and by other news media, often worldwide.
Jamestown Settlement is a living-history park and museum located 1.25 miles (2.01 km) from the original location of the colony and adjacent to Jamestown Island. Initially created for the celebration of the 350th anniversary in 1957, Jamestown Settlement is operated by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and largely sponsored by the Commonwealth of Virginia. The museum complex features a reconstruction of a Powhatan village, the James Fort as it was c. 1610–1614, and seagoing replicas of the three ships that brought the first settlers, Susan Constant, Godspeed, Discovery.
With the national independence of the United States established by the end of the 18th century, Jamestown came to be looked at as a starting point. Its founding in 1607 has been regularly commemorated, with the most notable events being held every fifty years.
The bicentennial of Jamestown on May 13–14, 1807, was called the Grand National Jubilee. Over 3,000 people attended the event, many arriving on vessels which anchored in the river off the island.
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. Also during the festivities, students of the College of William and Mary gave orations. An old barn on the island was used as a temporary theater, where a company of players from Norfolk performed. Attending were many dignitaries, politicians, and historians. The celebration concluded on May 14 with a dinner and toast at the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.
In 1857, the Jamestown society organized a celebration marking the 250th anniversary of Jamestown's founding. According to the Richmond Enquirer, the site for the celebration was on 10 acres (40,000 m2) on the spot where some of the colonists' houses were originally built. However, it is also speculated that the celebration was moved further east on the island closer to the Travis grave site, in order to avoid damaging Major William Allen's corn fields.
The attendance was estimated at between 6,000 and 8,000 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 2½ hour speech, and there were military displays, a grand ball and fireworks.
The 100th anniversary of the Surrender at Yorktown in 1781 had generated a new interest in the historical significance of the colonial sites of the Peninsula. Williamsburg, a sleepy but populated town of shops and homes, was still celebrating Civil War events. However, as the new century dawned, thoughts turned to the upcoming 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now known as Preservation Virginia) started the movement in 1900 by calling for a celebration honoring the establishment of the first permanent English colony in the New World at Jamestown to be held on the 300th anniversary in 1907.
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. 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 tricentennial 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 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 30 miles (48 km) 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. Held from April 26, 1907 to December 1, 1907, attendees included US President Theodore Roosevelt, Kaiser Wilhelm II 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 States' 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.
With America's increased access to automobiles, and with improved roads and transportation, it was feasible for the 350th anniversary celebration to be held at Jamestown itself in 1957. 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, Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery were constructed at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia and placed on display at a new dock at Jamestown, where the largest, 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 in the 21st century, new accommodations, transportation facilities and attractions were planned in preparation for the quadricentennial of the founding of Jamestown. Numerous events were promoted under the banner of America's 400th Anniversary and promoted by the Jamestown 2007 Commission. The commemoration included 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. On May 4, 2007, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip attended a ceremony commemorating the 400th anniversary of the settlement's arrivals, reprising the honor they paid in 1957.
In addition to the Virginia State Quarter, Jamestown was also the subject of two United States commemorative coins celebrating the 400th anniversary of its settlement. A silver dollar and a gold five dollar coin were issued in 2007.
In 2019 Jamestown, in cooperation with Williamsburg, will hold a commemoration that marks the 400th anniversary of three landmark events in American history: the first meeting of the General Assembly, the arrival of the first Africans to English North America, and the first Thanksgiving.
Bacon's Rebellion was an armed rebellion in 1676 by Virginia settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon against the rule of Governor William Berkeley. The colony's dismissive policy as it related to the political challenges of its western frontier, along with other challenges including leaving Bacon out of his inner circle, refusing to allow Bacon to be a part of his fur trade with Native Americans, and attacks by the Doeg people, helped to motivate a popular uprising against Berkeley, who had failed to address the demands of the colonists regarding their safety.
Thousands of Virginians from all classes and races rose up in arms against Berkeley, attacking Native Americans, chasing Berkeley from Jamestown, Virginia, and ultimately torching the capital. The rebellion was first suppressed by a few armed merchant ships from London whose captains sided with Berkeley and the loyalists. Government forces from England arrived soon after and spent several years defeating pockets of resistance and reforming the colonial government to be once more under direct royal control.It was the first rebellion in the American colonies in which discontented frontiersmen took part (a somewhat similar uprising in Maryland involving John Coode and Josias Fendall took place shortly afterwards). The alliance between European indentured servants and Africans (many enslaved until death or freed), united by their bond-servitude, disturbed the ruling class, who responded by hardening the racial caste of slavery in an attempt to divide the two races from subsequent united uprisings with the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705. While the farmers did not succeed in their initial goal of driving the Native Americans from Virginia, the rebellion did result in Berkeley being recalled to England.Captain John Smith and Pocahontas
Captain John Smith and Pocahontas is a 1953 American NR historical film directed by Lew Landers. The distributor was United Artists. It stars Anthony Dexter, Jody Lawrance and Alan Hale.While most scenes were filmed in Virginia, exteriors were shot around Bronson Canyon. It depicts the foundation of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia by English settlers and the relationship between John Smith and Pocahontas. She married John Rolfe in real life. It is also known by the alternative title Burning Arrows. Regarded as a B movie, the film has gained a cult following.Francis West
Francis West (28 October 1586 – February 1633/1634) was a Deputy Governor of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia.
West was the second son of Thomas West, 2nd Baron De La Warr (1556–1602) of Wherwell Abbey in Hampshire and his wife, Anne Knollys, and was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire on 28 October 1586.Francis Wyatt
Sir Francis Wyatt (1588–1644) was an English nobleman, knight, politician, and government official. He was the first English royal governor of Virginia. He sailed for America on August 1, 1621 on board the George. He became governor shortly after his arrival in October, taking with him the first written constitution for an English colony. Also sailing with him on this voyage was his second cousin Henry Fleete Sr., who helped found colonies in both Virginia and Maryland. In 1622 he rallied the defense of Jamestown which was attacked by Native Americans, during which the lives of some 400 settlers were lost and he then oversaw the contraction of the colony from scattered outposts into a defensive core.George Percy
The Honorable George Percy (4 September 1580 – in or after 1627) was an English explorer, author, and early Colonial Governor of Virginia.History of Jamestown, Virginia (1607–99)
Jamestown was the first settlement of the Virginia Colony, founded in 1607, and served as capital of Virginia until 1690, when the seat of government was moved to Williamsburg. This article covers the history of the fort and town at Jamestown proper, as well as colony-wide trends resulting from and affecting the town during the time period in which it was capital.Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia, created in 1957 as Jamestown Festival Park for the 350th anniversary celebration. Today it includes a recreation of the original James Fort (c. 1607 to 1614), a Powhatan Indian Village, indoor and outdoor displays, and replicas of the original settlers' ships the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery.It is located adjacent to the Colonial National Historical Park site, which includes Jamestown, the first successful English settlement on the mainland of North America, founded on May 14, 1607. It is also adjacent and complementary to Historic Jamestowne on Jamestown Island, run by the National Park Service and Preservation Virginia, being the archaeological site where the first settlers lived. The Colonial Parkway connects all of these sites.John Pott
John Potts (or Pott) was a physician and Colonial Governor of Virginia at the Jamestown settlement in the Virginia Colony in the early 17th century.John Ratcliffe (governor)
John Ratcliffe (1549 – December 1609) was captain of the Discovery, one of three ships that sailed from England on 19 December 1606 to Virginia to found a colony, arriving 26 April 1607. He later became the second president of the colony which later became Jamestown. He was killed by the Pamunkey Native Americans when he was going to trade with them in 1609.John Rolfe
John Rolfe (1585–1622) was one of the early English settlers of North America. He is credited with the first successful cultivation of tobacco as an export crop in the Colony of Virginia.Matthew Scrivener
Matthew Scrivener (1580 – January 7, 1609) was an English colonist in Virginia. He served briefly as acting governor of Jamestown, when he was succeeded by Captain John Smith. Scrivener drowned with eight other colonists, half of them members of the governing Council, including Bartholomew Gosnold's brother Anthony, while attempting to cross to nearby Hog Island in a storm in 1609.
Scrivener was the son of barrister and city bailiff Ralph Scrivener of Ipswich and of Belstead, in Suffolk, England. His mother was Mary Dowsing Smith. (A year after Matthew's death by drowning, his brother John Scrivener purchased Sibton Abbey in Suffolk, where Scrivener family descendants still reside today.) Matthew Scrivener's sister was married to the cousin of the first President of Jamestown, Edward Maria Wingfield.Scrivener, listed as "Matthew Scrivener, gentleman" in early Virginia records, was a supporter and friend of Captain John Smith. Scrivener arrived on the first supply ship after the colony had been established. Apparently he was supplanted as governor by his friend Smith, due to his young age and lack of administrative skills. At the time of his death at the age of 28, Matthew Scrivener was the first secretary for the Colony of Jamestown.Nathaniel Bacon (Virginia)
Nathaniel Bacon (January 2, 1647 – October 26, 1676) was a colonist of the Virginia Colony, famous as the instigator of Bacon's Rebellion of 1676, which collapsed when Bacon himself died from dysentery.Peter Beverley
Peter Beverley (1668–1728) was a Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Treasurer of Virginia. He was born in Jamestown.Pocahontas
Pocahontas (UK: , US: ; born Matoaka, known as Amonute, c. 1596 – March 1617) was a Native American woman notable for her association with the colonial settlement at Jamestown, Virginia. Pocahontas was the daughter of Powhatan, the paramount chief of a network of tributary tribal nations in the Tsenacommacah, encompassing the Tidewater region of Virginia. In a well-known historical anecdote, she saved the life of a captive of the Native Americans, the Englishman John Smith, in 1607 by placing her head upon Smith's when her father raised his war club to execute Smith. Many historians doubt the veracity of this story.Pocahontas was captured and held for ransom by the English during Anglo-Indian hostilities in 1613. During her captivity, she converted to Christianity and took the name Rebecca. When the opportunity arose for her to return to her people, she chose to remain with the English. In April 1614, at the age of 17, she married tobacco planter John Rolfe, and in January 1615, she bore their son, Thomas Rolfe.In 1616, the Rolfes travelled to London. Pocahontas was presented to English society as an example of the "civilized savage" in hopes of stimulating investment in the Jamestown settlement. She became something of a celebrity, was elegantly fêted, and attended a masque at Whitehall Palace. In 1617, the Rolfes set sail for Virginia, but Pocahontas died at Gravesend of unknown causes, aged 20 or 21. She was buried in St George's Church, Gravesend in England, but her grave's exact location is unknown, as the church has been rebuilt.Numerous places, landmarks, and products in the United States have been named after Pocahontas. Her story has been romanticized over the years, and she is a subject of art, literature, and film. Many famous people have claimed to be among her descendants through her son, including members of the First Families of Virginia, First Lady Edith Wilson, American Western actor Glenn Strange, Las Vegas performer Wayne Newton, and astronomer Percival Lowell.Robert Hunt (chaplain)
Robert Hunt (c. 1568x1570 – 1608), a vicar in the Church of England, was chaplain of the expedition that founded the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607.Stephen Hopkins (Mayflower passenger)
Stephen Hopkins (1581 – June or July 1644) was a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, one of 41 signatories of the Mayflower Compact, and an assistant to the governor of Plymouth Colony through 1636. He worked as a tanner and merchant and was recruited by the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London to provide the governance for the colony and to assist with the colony's ventures. He was the only Mayflower passenger with prior New World experience, having been shipwrecked in Bermuda in 1609 and arriving at Jamestown, Virginia in May 1610. Hopkins left Jamestown in 1614 and returned to England.Thomas Gates (governor)
Sir Thomas Gates (fl. 1585–1622), was the governor of Jamestown, in the English colony of Virginia (now the Commonwealth of Virginia, part of the United States of America). His predecessor, George Percy, through inept leadership, was responsible for the lives lost during the period called the Starving Time. The English-born Gates arrived to find a few surviving starving colonists commanded by Percy, and assumed command. Gates ruled with deputy governor Sir Thomas Dale. Their controlled, strict methods helped the early colonies survive. Sir Thomas was knighted in 1596 by Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex for gallantry at the Capture of Cadiz. His knighthood was later royally confirmed by Queen Elizabeth I.Walter Chiles
Lieutenant Colonel Walter Chiles (died 1653) was a Virginia politician and merchant. He moved to Virginia around 1638, and served as a burgess off and on from 1642 to 1653, representing Charles City County and later James City County. He also served on the Governor's council in 1651, but was removed the following year because of his involvement in illegal trading with the Netherlands. He was elected Speaker of the Virginia House of Burgesses at the July 1653 session, but the governor forced his resignation the following day.Walter Chiles's son, Walter Chiles II, married Mary Page, daughter of Col. John Page, a merchant and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Municipalities and communities of James City County, Virginia, United States