"When you send againe I entreat you rather send but 30 Carpenters, husbandmen, gardiners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided; than 1,000 of such as wee have: for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before they can be made good for anything." (John Smith)
John Smith is one of the most common names in the English language and akin to the use of John Doe, but every Briton and American is familiar with the explorer and mercenary Captain John Smith, who helped found the first permanent English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, in 1607.
Jamestown is fondly remembered today for being the first permanent English settlement in the colonies, but it was not fondly remembered by those who lived and died there. The English quickly learned it would be difficult to establish a permanent settlement because of the poor weather, the swampy terrain, the hostile natives living nearby, and the general inexperience and ineptitude of the English settlers. Everyone nearly starved during their first winter, and more than half of the settlers died. By the end of the winter of 1609-1610, known as the "starving time", barely 10% of the settlers were still alive. Nevertheless, Jamestown is remembered today because the settlement did survive through the hardships and went on to serve as the capital of the English colony for much of the 17th century.
At the same time, one of the biggest reasons for its survival and fame today can be attributed to the local Native Americans, particularly Pocahontas, who has added both a human and romanticized, mythological element to Jamestown.
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors
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