Last Updated on February 15, 2024.

The first English permanent settlement was Jamestown.

It was named after England’s King James I. Let’s look at some contributing factors that have led to establishing Jamestown.

1. What crop saved the Jamestown colony?

Question 1 of 2

2. What Indians lived near Jamestown?

Question 2 of 2


This lesson is provided by Onsego GED Prep.

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This lesson is a part of our GED Social Studies Guide

Video Transcription

The English wanted a colony in North America as they were looking to find silver and gold there.

In the year 1585, about one hundred English men came ashore at Roanoke Island, near what now is North Carolina.

Then, in 1587, several more settlers came over to Roanoke, and their leader, John White, went back to England to purchase supplies. When he got back to Roanoke, all colonists were gone, and no one has ever found them.

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The Jamestown Colony

English merchants had started the Virginia Company in 1606, and they were looking to set up a settlement in North America.

The English had given the company a charter to set up the colony, and the merchants were asking people to invest in their company. When the colonists would find treasure, people who had bought stock would be making money.

In the year 1607, over 100 men and boys sailed to what we know as Virginia, and they named their colony after King James I, so Jamestown. The early settlers started to look for gold, and they didn’t know anything about farming.

Jamestown was hot and damp, and insects were carrying diseases. The water there wasn’t any good for drinking, and the early settlers started to run out of food, so many died from disease and hunger. Then John Smith, their new leader, ordered the settlers to stop looking for silver and gold and start planting crops.

Life in Jamestown was hard, and in 1609, most of these early colonists died during the winter. This was referred to as the “starving time.”

In the year 1612, a settler by the name of John Rolfe discovered that tobacco was growing well in the Jamestown area, and soon, tobacco had become a cash crop.

The settlers were selling tobacco to England, and they bought back supplies and food from England. In 1619, the first Africans and women arrived in Jamestown.

Probably, the first Africans came as indentured servants, and Powhatan Indians were also living in the Jamestown area. The Powhatan Indians saw that the English settlers wanted their land, so they fought.

The two fighting sides made peace at the time that John Rolfe married Pocahontas, the Powhatan leader’s daughter, but the peace was short-lived. The English settlers were trying to take (steal) more land that was Powhatan territory, so they started to fight again. In the year 1646, the English settlers killed most of the Powhatan Indians and seized most of their land.