Chadwick Stokes: English Colonies of the New World

Despair. Despair. Sadness. Hunger. Such are the sentiments of the settlers who were in the middle of the “Starving Time” at Jamestowne during the winter of 1609-1610. This harsh winter left many of these settlers dead due to starvation and lack of drinking water. This particular episode from the humble beginnings of Jamestown, Virginia echoes many of the struggles endured by early settlers in the New World.

There are heroes in this story, in the form of John Rolfe & Pocahantas whose names alone are enshrined in American lore. John Rolfe will reach the island of Jamestown and with him, South American tobacco seeds that will transform the leadership of the colony from despair to economic power. Pocahontas plays an important role in an attempt to establish and maintain peaceful relations between her local Native American tribe and the New English who were seeking a new life for themselves on virgin soil.

Before John Role arrived in this southeast corner of Virginia, Captain John Smith had led the first group of settlers to settle here in the spring of 1607. His efforts to establish a colony for the Virginia Company of London s would prove fruitful. become the first permanent English colony in the New World. His leadership would have had to overcome various challenges in those early days, including ordering a work program that simply said, “Those who do not work, shall not eat.” He sought to maintain discipline in the new James Fort, in an effort not to make the colony suffer the fate of the Roanoke Colony some twenty years earlier.

Unlike the Plymouth Rock Colony which came into existence in 1620, this colony was to be an economic enterprise as evidenced by the establishment of a glass blowing operation. This operation used nearby sand to create a number of glassware, including somersaults and cups. If you visit historic Jamestowne today, you can even see this recreation of that operation, using the same tools and techniques from the 17th century.

In addition to becoming a permanent colony for the English, it would also host the first representative assembly in North America in 1619. This meeting brought together representatives from different parts of the colony with the aim of establishing a democratic government. This gathering of delegates will help shape the founding of our nation’s government in 1787 when we declare ourselves a republic with the people participating in the democratic process through elections.

The bravery and courage of these early settlers to seek life in a new land continued further north in 1620 when the Puritans escaped persecution by the Church of England.