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Exploring Jamestown the Oldest English Settlement in the United States

Jamestown, Virginia – the first place that an English expedition created a permanent settlement in North America (and what would become the United States of America). The financial investment experiment was funded by King James, thus its name, and initially involved 3 ships and 104 men who chose the location in 1607. They picked the location (which really isn’t that great for food, or disease prevention) primarily because it was hidden from and defensible if the Spanish decided to take interest in their exploration of the Chesapeake Bay region.

The Spanish had a strong hold on La Florida by this time St. Augustine was settled over 50 years prior, and the Spanish were known to take out quite violently any attempts by others to settle the New World because it was a business threat to them. So thus the more fertile land, with less disease and more docile indigenous persons was left behind for the swampy malaria filled location that is the site of the original Jamestown settlement.

Things I learned touring the archaeological site and visitor’s center about Jamestown. First, it seemed that the British with their protestant form of Christianity really enjoyed their suffering. As the tale of their settlement at Jamestown is very much one of hardship and starvation. To the point that during the “starving times” there is archaeological evidence that they had to resort to cannibalism to survive.

Second thing I learned is that John Smith was a really special guy and that many many people claim Pocahontes as their ancestor (even though she only had one child, a son, and died at 22 years old in England as Rebecca Rolfe). I’m going to let the plaque by the statue of John Smith speak for him. And as far as Pocahontes is concerned her life was definitely not the Disney movie version.

Our journey to Jamestown involved going under sea and over land about an hour from our Airbnb to the Historical Triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. If you are planning a trip to this region please DO NOT think you can accomplish it all in one day. You need a day at least for each site and at least a couple breaks for snacks, lunch or some other type of provisions. The amount of gift shops alone will take you a quite a while to browse.

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