Jamestown: a History Of Starving Time

Categories: Jamestown

What caused the Starving Time in the Jamestown colony?

The Jamestown Colony was the first permanent colony established by the British in the New World. The first colonists of Jamestown arrived in Virginia with a charter from the Virginia Company of London; a joint-stock company in England who sought to gain profits. In reality, however, the Jamestown colony struggled through difficulties with Native Americans and chaos amongst themselves. Eventually, the colony fell into a period of inevitable turmoil known as the Starving Time.

The exact cause of the deaths of 440 colonists is yet to be uncovered, but substantial evidence provides an idea of what events lead to their deaths. Among the events that lead to the Starving Time are the colonists’ lack of planning before the establishment of Jamestown, the absence of John Smith’s leadership, and the attack of the Powhatans.

The first event that triggered the Starving Time was the colonists’ dependence on the Native Americans for food. Upon the colonists’ arrival in Virginia in 1607, all the men were on the brink of starvation because they did not plan for the worst.

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According to Document F, the Powhatans and other Native American tribes had to bring the colonists bread, corn, fish, and meat which saved them from starving to death. Since then on, the colonists relied on the Native Americans for food. Despite the hospitality that they were treated with, the English were quite unpredictable and violent. Eventually, the colonists’ behavior significantly influences their trading relations with the Powhatans.

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As a result of the colonists’ hostile behavior, the Chief Powhatan forbids his people to trade with them. At this point the colonists are already struggling with internal conflicts, but John Smith finally takes charge of the colony. In reference to Document G, regardless of the Chief Powhatan’s refusal to trade, Smith seeks his aid by asking to resume the trading. The Chief reconsiders the proposal by demanding the colonists’ weapons in return, but Smith refuses the stipulation. Nevertheless, they come to a final bargain. However, when John Smith leaves for England the Powhatans betray their agreement.

Finally, the Powhatans revolt by attacking the colonists. They laid siege on the Jamestown settlement. According to Joy Hakim’s “”The Starving Time”” in Making Thirteen Colonies”, the Powhatans didn’t let anyone in or out of the settlement. The men couldn’t hunt or fish. They were forced to eat their pigs and chickens from the stockades, and they didn’t share with one another. As said by William Kelso in Document I, the colonists did killed each other. Their selfishness lead to anger which may have led to homicide.

In conclusion, the events that led up to the Starving Time was a result of the colonists being unprepared to establish and maintain Jamestown. Their lack of planning beforehand forced them to rely on the Native Americans for sustenance. When their hostile behavior forces the Chief Powhatan to ban trading, John Smith was able to persuade him to reconsider. But when Smith leaves the settlement the Powhatans attack Jamestown and the colonists succumbed to starvation, selfishness, and homicide. In the end, only 60 of the 500 colonists survive.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Jamestown: a History Of Starving Time. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/jamestown-a-history-of-starving-time-essay

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