Settling A New World Essay

1093 words - 4 pages

The very survival of the early settlers to the New World would depend much upon the generosity of the Native Americans. Had the natives not been so helpful and had instead violently resisted the newcomers, European settlers might not have been so eager to come settle this new land. Both Jamestown and Plymouth would depend upon the goodwill of the native people for their initial survival while establishing their settlements. The Indians not only introduced the area’s indigenous food sources but also their agriculture techniques to the settlers. The settlers would depend upon these for their survival in a new and unfamiliar land. Being able to provide their own food would be the first step in successfully establishing the new colonies, once the settlers were able to do this their numbers grew. With that growth in population came a desire for more settlement territory, it would be this desire for more land that would lead to unrest between the Native Americans and the settlers.
Upon their arrival to the New World in May 1607, the newcomers built a settlement and established it as Jamestown. Of the 104 settlers, many were “gentlemen” and ill suited for the tasks ahead. The area was swamp… warm, humid and riddled with mosquito infested malarial bogs of water and parasites carrying numerous other diseases. In their haste to find wealth and the Northwest Passage to Asia, the men neglected to plant crops to replenish their food supplies, which were dwindling rapidly. Within eight months of their arrival only thirty-eight colonists were still alive. A young captain, John Smith, would become the settlement’s new leader. He enforced a policy decreeing, “He that will not worke shall not eate.” Under his leadership the colony was revived but when injured by a gunpowder explosion in 1609 he was sent back to England. John Ratcliffe was elected to take his place and under his command the settlers would experience what would come to be known as “the starving times”. Come the end of winter only sixty survived and many of those only did so by consuming their dead neighbors.

Along with the difficult situation of food shortages, there were also skirmishes with the local Native Americans. Legend holds that in 1608 Captain John Smith’s life would be spared only due to the pleas from Indian leader Powhatan’s young daughter Pocahontas, who brought food and clothing to the colonists in the winter of 1608 after fire destroyed much of the settlement. She also negotiated with John Smith for the release of captured Indians. It was to be her marriage to colonist John Rolfe in 1614 that would bring about a temporary peace between the natives and colonists but it only lasted until her death in 1617. Powhatan died in 1618, and was succeeded by his brother Opechancanough who despised the settlers who were bringing disease and taking Indian lands. On March 22, 1622, Indians attacked the colonists killing 347 of them, one fourth of the colonist’s population. The colonists...

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