Today in History
Four hundred thirteen years ago today the colony of Jamestown was established. My first ponderings regarding this historical day was not what happened on that day, or tell me all the details. Rather my first thought was, why was Jamestown significant? So significant that American school children learn about Jamestown in history class. Jamestown was significant because it was the first permanent English colony in America. The key word in that statement is permanent. Jamestown survived! It’s survival impacted the course of American history. Here are some facts about Jamestown that you may find interesting.
- The 110 original settlers were all men and boys. They came to the New World to make their fortunes and find gold.
- About 70 settlers died in the first six months at Jamestown (1607). That means around 70% of them died.
- Disease, starvation, poor water, and disputes with the Native Americans all contributed to the death toll.
- They buried the bodies of the dead in unmarked graves so that it would not be known how little man power they really had.
- Again in the winter of 1609 through the spring of 1610 over 75% of the colony died due to starvation. It was known as the Starving Time. Historians say some even resorted to cannibalism.
- John Smith helped save the colony from starvation. His policy was if you don’t work, you don’t eat.
- John Rolfe was responsible for planting and harvesting tobacco which became a cash crop that was sold to European countries. Tobacco was the gold they never found.
- The birth of American democracy began in Jamestown
Those are just a few interesting facts about Jamestown. But the most significant fact is; Jamestown survived against incredible odds.
Today, May 14, 2020, is another day in history. Someday children will read about and what happened during this time. The coronavirus will be a major topic of study along with the presidential election of 2020. The outcomes have yet to be determined and history is still in the making.
We must remember that history is not only made by the events that occur, but more importantly by how the people respond to those events.