Jamestown: Why Did so Many Colonists Die?

Topics: Colonialism, Water, Ocean Pages: 3 (726 words) Published: April 17, 2013
Justin Buettner

Early Jamestown: Why Did so Many Colonists Die?
Jamestown is most well known for being the oldest permanent English colony in America. Even though it was a thriving colony, it was not always this way. The Jamestown colony was extremely unsuccessful for several reasons, including their ignorance about colonization, lack of essential survival skills, and its constantly decaying relationship with the Natives.

Jamestown was the first permanent colony set up by the British, so, as imagined, they were not accustomed to the difficulties of colonization. The English settled near the ocean, which allowed for easy transportation but the fresh drinking water often was mixed with the salty ocean water, becoming unsafe for human consumption. According to document A, this brackish water, when ingested, would lead to dehydration. When dehydrated, the colonists would drink even more of the polluted water, leading to further dehydration and eventually diseases such as dysentery and giardia.

In Document C, it states that thirty-nine of the 104 original colonists were sailors. If the English were more experienced, they would have had people that were skilled in another trade instead of being solely a sailor. Once the boat arrived at North America, the sailors would be virtually useless. If the sailors had another talent, they would still be useful at the colony. This would have been a much more efficient way to start up Jamestown.

Another extremely foolish factor was that settlers would dump their waste into the river. Most rivers would not cause a problem, but since Jamestown was so close to the ocean, at high tide, the waste would be washed back in, causing extremely unclean drinking water, which led to disease.

The English colonists also lacked a lot of crucial survival skills, which attributed to the failure of the colony. There were far too many gentlemen on both the original voyage and the First Resupply. Gentlemen were wealthy...
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