AP®︎/College US History
- Early English settlements - Jamestown
- Jamestown - John Smith and Pocahontas
- Jamestown - the impact of tobacco
- Jamestown - life and labor in the Chesapeake
- Jamestown - Bacon's Rebellion
- Puritan New England: Plymouth
- Puritan New England: Massachusetts Bay
- Society and religion in the New England colonies
- The Middle colonies
- The West Indies and the Southern colonies
- Regions of British colonies
Jamestown, the first English colony in North America, was established by the Virginia Company in 1607. The settlers, unprepared and seeking quick wealth, neglected farming and clashed with local Powhatan tribe. John Smith's leadership improved conditions, but survival rates remained low until the discovery of tobacco.
Want to join the conversation?
- At what point (In history, not the video) did the Spanish become a significant naval entity? Last we knew, the English where just preying off of what was portrayed as the "defenseless" Spaniards. It seemed like the Spanish where weak when in came to their navy, yet now they're causing the English grief. When did that start?(2 votes)
- Then, the Spanish navy was the strongest in the world. However, the British were attacking the cargo ships coming back from the New World. The Spanish navy wasn't big enough, I think, to have a whole fleet of battleships to protect the cargo ships.
It's like pirates attacking the British or Spanish merchant or cargo ships(actually is). The pirates are way less powerful than the navy itself, but much more powerful than a nearly defenseless cargo ship.(8 votes)
- Why didn’t the gentlemen grow their own food? Were they just very lazy?(4 votes)
- Well, the main reason why they went to Jamestown was to "get rich quick". The issue is that they didn't consider planting sustenance crops, they were looking for gold. And when they didn't find gold, and they didn't plant crops, they were in dire straits.(9 votes)
- you said that were no woman there1:56-2:00, yet you also said one man ate his wife5:22. so were the woman or not?(4 votes)
- Not when it was initially settled, but they came afterwards. There is a couple of years separating the two points in time where women could come and settle.(5 votes)
- Is pocahontas a native american? She doesn't look like one.(0 votes)
- Pocahontas was Native American. Daguerreotypes and other photography wouldn’t be invented until the 19th century, so there aren’t any photos of her. Internet searches for pictures of Pocahontas (both older and newer) disagree greatly on how she might’ve looked. The (romanticized) 1840 painting by John Chapman, the (European) painting shown in the video, prints made by artists while she was still alive, and the (inaccurate) Disney movie Pocahontas look quite different. Khan Academy probably chose this image since it easily shows a face if not her exact face, even though this image might not be entirely accurate.(11 votes)
- At4:00, the instructor mentions the mock execution ritual involving John Smith and Pocahontas. Where can I find more information or descriptions about this?(3 votes)
- The only source we really have of this are John Smith's writings of the encounter, so all the information would be based off of that one perspective. There has been some doubt as to whether Smith embellished things about the story, but there isn't a better primary source. You can find something more in-depth here, perhaps:
- Wait, wasn't John Smith the guy who went back to Europe to get supplies for the Roanoke?(2 votes)
- what ultimately enabled virginia to succeed and stabilize as an english colony?(2 votes)
- why did the english get a late start(2 votes)
- Their political economy was too involved with internal matters when the other empires got started expanding. When they had finally achieved the necessary "jumping off" prosperity, they were more than a hundred years behind Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.(2 votes)
- Why didn't they go home when they had no food?(1 vote)
- They didn't go home not only because they didn't have food for the journey but also because of their pride, they did not want go home empty handed.(4 votes)
- [Instructor] So after getting a very late start, the English finally started a New World colony on the coast of North America in 1607, and it was here at Jamestown. The English colonists at Jamestown could not have been less prepared to settle a New World. They came from the Virginia Company, which was a joint-stock company, or kind of like a modern-day corporation, which was trying to make wealth for its shareholders as quickly as possible. Now, if you think about people in this time period, they in England are taking a look over at Spain and seeing Spain bring ships full of gold and silver back to Europe from the New World, and they wanna get in on that action. And as far as they know, the whole New World is just piled up with silver and gold. So in the first months, they sent gentlemen, and the English definition of a gentleman here is someone who does not work with his hands, to try to find gold in Virginia. Now, spoiler alert, there is no gold in Virginia. But that whole first summer, when they were there, they could have been planting crops, they could have been fishing, I mean this is actually a pretty bountiful area when it comes to natural resources in plants and animals. But they were trying to find gold, they were trying to basically get rich quick, this was the scheme. But then winter rolled around. Those who hadn't already been killed by mosquito-borne illnesses, like malaria or yellow fever, were now subject to starvation. And there the story gets even more complicated, because the English settlers, who were all men, by the way, they were adventurers, they were not there to start families, start a long-term colony in the New World, they just wanted to find gold and get out. So as these English colonists are starving, they start to run afoul of local Native Americans. There were an Algonquian tribe living in the Virginia tidewater, who were under the rule of this man here. This is a drawing of him done by John Smith, who we'll talk about in a second. His name was Powhatan. His real name was Wahunsunacawh, but the English called him Powhatan, and the people that he ruled, the Powhatans. And as the English settlers realized that they had not put away enough for practically any stores to get them through the winter, they started raiding the food supplies of the Powhatans, which, of course, didn't make them very happy, they were also trying to survive the winter. Then the Powhatans kidnapped John Smith, and there's an engraving of him here. Uh, and they kinda tried to show him their power. So there's a legend that Powhatan was intending to execute John Smith. The daughter of Powhatan, Pocahontas also wasn't her real name, that was her nickname, it kinda meant little playful person. Her real name was Matoaka, but we know her today by her nickname, Pocahontas. And Pocahontas intervened and kept her father from executing John Smith, either out of the goodness of her heart or maybe because she had a crush on him. This is pretty much completely untrue. The Disney version of this story says that Pocahontas and John Smith go on to fall in love and get married. The fact of the matter was that Pocahontas was probably about 13 years old at the time. And she will go on to marry an Englishman, but not John Smith, John Rolfe, who is famous in another way, which we'll get to soon. It's also quite likely that Powhatan didn't actually intend to execute Smith. Instead, what he was doing was kind of a ritual of power and mercy, so he's doing kind of a mock execution, saying, "All right, I have the power to execute you." But then, Pocahontas, playing her ritual role, steps in to say, "No, have mercy." So he says, you know, "I could kill you "because I'm a strong leader, "but because I an also a merciful and just leader, "I will not." So after his kidnapping, John Smith really kinda steps up as the savior of Jamestown, which probably would have completely collapsed were it not for him. And in 1608, he takes over and says that, "He who shall not work shall not eat." So you gotta pull your weight if you're gonna get supported by the rest of the colonists. Nevertheless, the first years at Jamestown were pretty rough. In the winter of 1609 to 1610, which they called the starving time, the colonists were so hungry that they resorted to eating vermin, and they resorted to eating each other. One man actually killed and ate his wife in one of the few known examples of English cannibalism. So Jamestown was a pretty rough place to be. Only about 15% of the settlers who went to Jamestown actually survived. In fact, that following spring of 1610, they decided to give up and head back to England. They were met, just as they were leaving, by new supply ships that continued the Virginia experiment, which will become much more successful after the discovery of tobacco. We'll get to that in the next video.