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What Caused The Failure of the Jamestown Colony in 1610?

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Josh Crampton

on 6 October 2014

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Transcript of What Caused The Failure of the Jamestown Colony in 1610?

What Caused The Failure of the Jamestown Colony in 1610?
This is what the original Jamestown colony looked like
Laziness of the Colonists cont.
Disease and Famine
Jane, a girl living in Jamestown whose skull was split in half.
Laziness of the Colonists
Another reason why Jamestown might have failed is because of the location. The settlers built near water for easy access to transport and for good defense from the Native Americans. However, it ended up being built on a marsh which hurt the colony more than it was helping it. The History Alive Text states, "The water around Jamestown was dirty and salty. The land was not good for farming". Also as previously stated, the location allowed malaria to spread easily around Jamestown due to the swamp being a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. . The water surrounding Jamestown was also undrinkable and probably contained little edible creatures. The colonists resorted to eating horses, dogs, and even people to survive.
After the native Americans stopped providing food and knowledge for the colonists, threats were exchanged between them and the once strong relationship became strained (Doc G). We believe that the colonists became angry at the Indians. The Indians knew what they were doing and helped the colonists receive food. Once the they stopped helping the colonists, the colonists could not support themselves and started hating the Indians. We do not believe it was the Indians fault that Jamestown failed. If the colonists were able to run Jamestown themselves, they would not have needed the help of the Indians.
The Native Americans
1."Jamestown cannibalism confirmed by skull from 'Jane'." Great Falls Tribune. http://archive.greatfallstribune.com/usatoday/article/2126421 (accessed October 6, 2014).

2."Jamestown cannibalism confirmed by skull from 'Jane'." Great Falls Tribune. http://archive.greatfallstribune.com/usatoday/article/2126421 (accessed October 6, 2014).
Jamestown was a colony founded in Virginia by a group of wealthy men in 1606. It was built near the coast of Virginia to allow for easy trade, access to food, and defense. However in 1609-1610 the colony failed and over 400 settlers died. The colony of Jamestown failed because of disease and famine, the location of the colony, and the laziness of the settlers.
Two of the major causes of the failure of Jamestown were disease and famine. Within eight months after the departure of Captain Smith, most of the settlers died from disease and by January of 1608, only 38 settlers remained (History Alive Text). The most likely cause of these deaths were malaria. Many mosquitoes carried this disease, and the colonists, living in a swamp, were very vulnerable to disease(HAT). The already malnourished settlers had very little chance of surviving malaria. During the winter of 1609-1610, Jamestown experienced a period of severe famine, known as the "Starving Time," in which many settlers had to eat horses and dogs to survive (HAT). We believe that many of the settlers were forced commit acts of cannibalism.
We believed that many of the settlers resorted to cannibalism in order to survive. As you can see, the skull on the right was split in half, most likely by a small ax or large knife. "Cut marks crisscrossing the skull and jaw of the girl indicate her flesh, tongue and brains were removed from the skull, Owsley said. Those were traditional cuts for animal butchery of the time" (1). Doug Owsley, an archeologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, added that the cuts were traditional for "all parts of the cuisine of the 17th century." (2)
To try and open the skull, the butcher first attempted to chop the forehead but failed. At the fifth attempt, he finally split the cranium open.

Disease and Famine led to Cannibalism
Location of Jamestown
Our last reason why we think the colony of Jamestown failed was because of the laziness of the workers. John Smith recorded "but the occasion our owne, for want of providence industrie and government"(Doc D). Smith was saying that it was the colonists' fault they failed because they didn't plan well, work hard, or have a good government. Smith also stated, "From their arrival in 1607, the settlers had always depended on the Indians of the region for food" (Doc G). The Indians helped the colonists survive because the colonists couldn't survive themselves.
If you look at the first supply of men to Jamestown, you can see that 28 of the men who came to Jamestown were classified as gentlemen (Doc J). These men relied on slaves to do work for them and were not used to doing hard labor. In the second supply of people, another 26 colonists were gentlemen (Doc J). The lack of suitable workers was a detriment to food and crop production and led to starvation among the settlers.
Violence between colonists and native Americans
We do not believe the violence of the Indians contributed to the failure of Jamestown. Captain Smith wrote "Although the countrie people be very barbarous; yet have they amongst them such government, as that their government, as the their Magistrates for good commading, and their people for du(e) subjection and obeying, excell many places that would be counted very civil" (Doc. A). Smith called the Natives savages yet stated that they had a good government and that the people were very civil. He called them barbarous because him and the other colonists just assumed they were barbarous and that any culture not of English descent was worthless.
Document C
This picture was engraved before the failure of Jamestown occurred. It shows the Indians using advanced technology to make this canoe. This document portrays the Indians as ambitious, smart, and creative. Because this happened before the failure of Jamestown, the colonists admired the Natives because after the event someone needed to be blamed for the failure so they used the Indians as scapegoats.
(Minervini Slides)
(Minervini Slides)
Josh Crampton
Aaron Marselli

The colony of Jamestown failed because of the laziness of the colonists, the location of Jamestown, and because of the disease and famine. The colonists relied too much on the Indians that when the Indians stopped supporting them, the colony failed.
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