For centuries the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists has been one of the great mysteries in the historical community. Within the span of three years, 120 colonists disappeared from an English colony on Roanoke Island, a small piece of land off the coast of North Carolina. The evidence left behind barely gives us a clue as to what could have happened to the entire colony. With the testimony of John White, the leader of the colony that left the settlement to get more supplies, and what little evidence there is, there have been many theories as to what actually caused the disappearance.
When trying to make a logical conclusion about the disappearance of the 120 inhabitants of the colony at Roanoke, there are many factors to consider. Examples include issues like betrayal, past voyages, alliances, and starvation. One must not only look at the facts but also at the opinions of the educated individuals who have studied this situation. Previous trips to the island must be thoroughly examined as well as what was occurring in England at the time. Interactions between the nearby Native American tribes and the colony may give us some insight as to where the colonists went while thoroughly examining the key people involved may help as well.
In the 16th century, the English who were not accustomed to being friendly with the Native Americans, living on the fruit of the land, or having to fight for their lives must have had an incredibly hard time staying alive at all. One can only deduce that after the first couple of weeks, the colonists of Roanoke sorely wanted to go back to their homeland. The knowledge that this would have been the first English colony in America leads the public to believe that something must have occurred to cause the disappearance.
One theory— that someone from England could have deliberately caused the voyage to end unsuccessfully from jealousy or misgivings— is entirely plausible. Another theory states that after exploring the island and becoming familiar with their surroundings, the leader of the colony would have wanted to ensure survival in any way possible. This would have meant talking to the Native American tribes and making an attempt to coexist with them. When the colony ran out of supplies with no certain way to survive, the colonists of Roanoke must have been willing to do almost anything to survive even if it meant living with neighboring tribes. The dispersion of the Roanoke colony into different Native American tribes led them to disappear without a trace.
In March of 1584, Queen Elizabeth I issued a royal contract that allowed one of her favorite people to “… discover, search, find out, and view such remote heathen and barbarous Lands, Countries, and territories… to have, hold, occupy, and enjoy…”(Carney). With permission from the queen, Sir Walter Raleigh funded and endorsed three separate voyages to Roanoke Island, in an effort to settle the first successful English colony in America. On July 13, two ships...