Early Jamestown

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Early Jamestown: Why Did So Many Colonists Die?
English royalty and noblemen were very optimistic after they heavily funded the Jamestown expedition with the belief that the settlement would be a strong foundation towards the goal of colonizing the fertile lands of the Eastern Americas. Accomplishing such a daunting task meant the country potentially could have an abundant population to spread Christianity towards, discover new riches as the Spanish previously had done, and maybe uncover the Northwest passage providing a direct route to the Indies. To the country’s dismay, however, the desperate attempt seemed to have posed multiple flaws as the colony struggled. Lack of experience and data about these foreign lands meant their attempt at building
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Primarily due to the location of the colony as well as the unfavorable coincidence of the long spanning drought occurring throughout the early stages of development, Jamestown colonists suffered a major problem concerning a lack of water and a famine resulting from the drought. One major problem with water was the possibility of having severe brackish water as the major supply of such a necessary liquid. High and low tides introduce a supply of salt from the Atlantic which can severely interfere with the fresh water supply from rivers feeding into the Chesapeake, with major complications resulting such as salt intrusions within aquifers. These major issues with the water can be demonstrated through the text, “Because the adjacent river and creeks became brackish as water levels rose, reliable sources of water would have been scarce in the seventeenth century,” (Blanton, “Jamestown’s Environment). Magnifying the major instigator of this water shortage, studies of the past regarding rainfall levels also lead to the belief that there was a drought spanning for almost 10 years with precipitation levels …show more content…
Addressing the paramount concern of disease, it has been concluded that this contamination is more likely to emerge due to Jamestown’s location near the salt-freshwater transition area. As clearly addressed by Blanton’s article, “Historian Carville V. Earle attributed ... disease in the early years to Jamestown’s position at the salt-freshwater transition, where filth tended to fester rather than flush away.” Heavy accumulation of waste resulted in many harmful gases or insects being introduced and spreading diseases to the colonists, who themselves lacked the supplies to handle a problem along these measures. This accounts for why so many an anticipated 180 colonists died from disease in the first four years according Fausz’s list on the sequence of mortality rates in Jamestown, as well as why the occurrence rates were so high. Continuing along the expanded effects of various calamities, Native American attacks from the relatively hostile Powhatan tribe had greatly dwindled the numbers of the colonists. Many factors account towards this abundance of attacks, ranging from the necessity of raids to increase supplies, the occupation of the Powhatan’s lands from the English, and the lack of defensive

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