Humanity's Evolution

A story of humanity's highs and lows, and what's its headed for it stays on its present course.

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5. April 26, 1607

The wooden ship landed. The passengers decided to name their landing place Cape Henry. The captain got everyone's attention and said he had orders to select a more secure location.

Cape Henry is the southern boundary of Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia. The crew and passengers began to explore what is now Hampton Roads. They chose a peninsula 40 miles inland, near the James River, named after their king. The settlement the English people built was called Jamestown, also named after their king. (He had a strong influence in English society.)

A defensible strategic point, due to a curve in the river the river channel was close to the land, thus making it navigable (and allowing for ships to dock near enough land for piers or wharves to be built). Perhaps the best thing about it, from an English point of view, was that it was not inhabited by nearby Virginia Indian tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for agriculture. However, the island was swampy, isolated, offered limited space and was plagued by mosquitoes and brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.

Besides the marshy landscape, the settlers arrived too late in the year to start farming. In addition, most of the men were unaccustomed to hard work, as were their menservants. Because of this, fifty-one of the party was dead in a few months. Some of the colonists were deserting to Native American villages, where they were grudgingly accepted.

Two-thirds of the settlers died before ships bearing German, Polish, Slovak craftsmen came, who helped build the first manufactories in Jamestown. As a result, glassware became the first American product shipped to Europe.

From 1609 to 1610 was the Starving Times; the leader who had brought prosperity to the colony had to return to England because of injuries. He was replaced by George Percy, who proved to incompetent as a leader.

A ship was sent bearing food and supplies to Jamestown, but was caught in a storm and was stranded on the island of Bermuda. It wasn't until May 23, 1610, that the ship made it to Jamestown.

From 1610 to 1699 the colony had great fortune, due to the aristocratic backgrounds of new colonists. John Rolfe, who came on the ship bringing supplies, made tobacco a cash crop, and Jamestown was America's first boom town.

In 1624, King James revoked the Virginia Company's charter to make to colony, and Jamestown became a royal colony, essentially an English city.

During the American Civil War, in 1861, Confederate William Allen used it as a campsite, although the town wasn't there anymore.

All the way back in 1607, when the ship docked, the passengers had no idea of the hardships they would face, or  what do with their fresh start in the New World.

But they would think of something.

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