The Jamestown settlement in the Colony of
Virginia was the first
permanent English settlement in the Americas. It was located on the
east bank of the Powhatan (James) River about 2.5 mi (4 km)
southwest of the center of modern Williamsburg.
William Kelso writes
that Jamestown "is where the
British Empire began". It was
established by the
Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May
4, 1607 (O.S.; May 14, 1607 N.S.), and was considered permanent
after brief abandonment in 1610. It followed several failed attempts,
including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital
of the colony of
Virginia for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.
The settlement was located within the country of Tsenacommacah, which
was ruled by the Powhatan Confederacy, and specifically in that of the
Paspahegh tribe. The natives initially welcomed and provided crucial
provisions and support for the colonists, who were not agriculturally
inclined. Relations soured fairly early on, however, leading to the
total annihilation of the
Paspahegh in warfare within three years.
Mortality was very high at Jamestown itself due to disease and
starvation, with over 80-percent of the colonists perishing in
1609–10 in what became known as the "Starving Time".
Virginia Company brought eight Polish  and German colonists
in 1608 in the Second Supply, some of whom built a small glass
Germans and a few others soon defected to the
Powhatans with weapons and supplies from the settlement.
The Second Supply also brought the first two European women to the
settlement. In 1619, the first documented Africans came to
Jamestown—about 50 men, women, and children aboard a Portuguese
slave ship that had been captured in the West Indies and brought to
the Jamestown region. They most likely worked in the tobacco fields as
indentured servants, but they became slaves as time went on. The
modern conception of slavery in the
United States was formalized in
1640 (the John Punch hearing) and was fully entrenched in
The London Company's second settlement in
Bermuda claims to be the
site of the oldest town in the English New World, as St. George's,
Bermuda was officially established in 1612 as New London, whereas
James Fort in
Virginia was not converted into James Towne until 1619,
and further did not survive to the present day. In 1676, Jamestown
was deliberately burned during Bacon's Rebellion, though it was
quickly rebuilt. In 1699, the capital was relocated from Jamestown to
what is today Williamsburg, Virginia, after which Jamestown ceased to
exist as a settlement, existing today only as an archaeological site.
Today, Jamestown is one of three locations comprising the Historic
Triangle of Colonial Virginia, along with Williamsburg and Yorktown,
with two primary heritage sites. Historic Jamestowne is the
archaeological site on
Jamestown Island and is a cooperative effort by
Jamestown National Historic Site (part of Colonial National Historical
Park) and Preservation Virginia. Jamestown Settlement, a living
history interpretive site, is operated by the Jamestown Yorktown
Foundation, a state agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
1.1 Arrival and beginning (1607–1609)
Starving Time and
Third Supply (1609–1610)
1.3 Rising fortunes (1610–1624)
1.4 Later years (1624–1699)
2 Aftermath and preservation
2.1 American Civil War
2.2 Preservation and early archaeology
3 Present day
3.1 Historic Jamestowne
3.2 Jamestown Settlement
4.1 200th anniversary (1807)
4.2 250th anniversary (1857)
4.3 300th anniversary (1907): Jamestown Exposition
4.4 350th Anniversary (1957): Jamestown Festival
4.5 400th anniversary: Jamestown 2007
4.6 2019 Commemoration
5 In popular culture
7 Further reading
8 External links
Main article: History of Jamestown,
See also: European colonization of the Americas
Spain, Portugal, and France moved quickly to establish a presence in
the New World, while other European countries moved more slowly. The
English did not attempt to found colonies until many decades after the
explorations of John Cabot, and early efforts were failures—most
Roanoke Colony which vanished about 1590.
Arrival and beginning (1607–1609)
Map of Jamestown Island, showing the terrain and location of the
original 1607 fort. (Modern roads, causeway, and buildings not shown)
Late in 1606, English colonizers set sail with a charter from the
London Company to establish a colony in the New World. The fleet
consisted of the ships Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, all
under the leadership of Captain Christopher Newport. They made a
particularly long voyage of four months, including a stop in Canary
Islands and subsequently Puerto Rico, and finally departed for
the American mainland on April 10, 1607. The expedition made
landfall on April 26, 1607 at a place which they named Cape
Henry. Under orders to select a more secure location, they set about
exploring what is now
Hampton Roads and an outlet to the Chesapeake
Bay which they named the James River in honor of King James I of
Edward Maria Wingfield
Edward Maria Wingfield was elected president of
the governing council on April 25, 1607. On May 14, he
selected a piece of land on a large peninsula some 40 miles
(64 km) inland from the Atlantic Ocean as a prime location for a
fortified settlement. The river channel was a defensible strategic
point due to a curve in the river, and it was close to the land,
making it navigable and offering enough land for piers or wharves to
be built in the future. Perhaps the most favorable fact about the
location was that it was not inhabited by nearby
tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for
agriculture. The island was swampy and isolated, and it offered
limited space, was plagued by mosquitoes, and afforded only brackish
tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.
The Jamestown settlers arrived in
Virginia during a severe drought,
according to a research study conducted by the Jamestown
Archaeological Assessment (JAA) team in the 1990s. The JAA analyzed
information from a study conducted in 1985 by David Stahle and others,
who obtained borings of 800 year-old baldcypress trees along the
Nottoway and Blackwater rivers. The lifespan of these trees is up to
1,000 years and their rings offer a good indication of an area’s
annual amount of rainfall. The borings revealed that the worst drought
in 700 years occurred between 1606 and 1612. This severe drought
affected the Jamestown colonists and Powhatan tribe’s ability to
produce food and obtain a safe supply of water.
Salt marshes along Jamestown Island. The ample wetlands on the island
proved to be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
The settlers also arrived too late in the year to get crops
planted. Many in the group were either gentlemen unused to work or
their manservants, both equally unaccustomed to the hard labor
demanded by the harsh task of carving out a viable colony. One of
these was Robert Hunt, a former vicar of Reculver, England who
celebrated the first known
Eucharist in the territory of the future
United States on June 21, 1607.
In a few months, 80% of the party were dead; some of the survivors
were deserting to the Indians whose land they had colonized.
Virginia Native Americans had established settlements long before the
English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 in the
region who were politically known as
Tsenacommacah and who spoke an
Algonquian language. They were the Powhatan Confederacy, ruled by
their paramount chief known as
Wahunsenacawh or "Chief Powhatan".
Wahunsenacawh initially sought to resettle the English colonists from
Jamestown, considered part of
Paspahegh territory, to another location
known as Capahosick where they would make metal tools for him as
members of his Confederacy, but this never transpired.
The first explorers had been welcomed by the Indians with dancing,
feasting, and tobacco ceremonies. Despite the hospitality of
Wahunsenacawh, the presence of the English settlers and perhaps a
further expedition up the James River by Captain Christopher Newport
provoked the Paspahegh, Weyanock, and other groups to mount a series
of attacks on the fort during period of violence lasting from May 27
to July 14, 1607.
Detail of the map made by Pedro de Zúñiga, depicting the fort in
Two-thirds of the settlers died before ships arrived in 1608 with
supplies and German, Polish, and Slovak craftsmen, who
helped to establish the first manufactories in the colony. As a
result, glassware became the foremost American products to be exported
to Europe at the time. Clapboard had already been sent back to England
beginning with the first returning ship.
Names of those on the Second Supply - Page 445 (or Page 72)"The
Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles", by
Capt. John Smith - 
The delivery of supplies in 1608 on the First and Second Supply
missions of Captain Newport had also added to the number of hungry
settlers. It seemed certain at that time that the colony at Jamestown
would meet the same fate as earlier English attempts to settle in
North America, specifically the
Roanoke Colony (Lost Colony) and the
Popham Colony, unless there was a major relief effort. The
arrived with the Second Supply and a few others defected to the
Powhatans, with weapons and equipment. The
Germans even planned
to join a rumored Spanish attack on the colony and urged the Powhatans
to join it. The Spanish were driven off by the timely arrival in
July 1609 of Captain
Samuel Argall in Mary and John, a larger ship
than the Spanish reconnaissance ship La Asunción de Cristo.
Argall's voyage also prevented the Spanish from gaining knowledge of
the weakness of the colony. Don Pedro de Zúñiga, the Spanish
ambassador to England, was desperately seeking this (in addition to
spies) in order to get
Philip III of Spain
Philip III of Spain to authorise an attack on
The investors of the
Virginia Company of London expected to reap
rewards from their speculative investments. With the Second Supply,
they expressed their frustrations and made demands upon the leaders of
Jamestown in written form. They specifically demanded that the
colonists send commodities sufficient to pay the cost of the voyage, a
lump of gold, assurance that they had found the South Sea, and one
member of the lost Roanoke Colony. It fell to the third president of
the Council Captain John Smith to deliver a bold and much-needed
wake-up call in response to the investors in London, demanding
practical laborers and craftsmen who could help make the colony more
Starving Time and
Third Supply (1609–1610)
Starving Time and Third Supply
After Smith was forced to return to England due to an explosion which
gave him deep burn wounds during a trading expedition, the colony
was led by George Percy, who proved incompetent in negotiating with
the native tribes. There are indications that those in London
comprehended and embraced Smith's message. The
Third Supply mission of
1609 was to be by far the largest and best equipped. They also had a
new purpose-built flagship, Sea Venture, constructed, and placed in
the most experienced of hands, Christopher Newport.
Mass grave at Jamestown discovered by archaeologists, beneath the
foundations of one of the later capitol buildings
On June 2, 1609,
Sea Venture set sail from
Plymouth as the flagship of
a seven-ship fleet (towing two additional pinnaces) destined for
Virginia as part of the Third Supply, carrying 214
settlers. On July 24, the fleet ran into a strong storm, likely a
hurricane, and the ships were separated. Although some of the ships
did make it to Jamestown, the leaders, and most of the supplies had
been aboard Sea Venture, which fought the storm for three days before
Admiral of the Company, Sir George Somers, deliberately drove her onto
the reefs of
Bermuda to prevent her foundering. This allowed all
aboard to be landed safely.
The survivors (including Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Gates, Captain
Christopher Newport, Sylvester Jordain, Stephen Hopkins, later of
Mayflower, and secretary William Strachey) were stranded on Bermuda
for approximately nine months. During that time, they built two new
ships, the pinnaces Deliverance and Patience. The original plan was to
build only one vessel, Deliverance, but it soon became evident that
she would not be large enough to carry the settlers and all of the
food (salted pork) that was being sourced on the islands.
Third Supply was stranded in Bermuda, the colony at
Jamestown was in even worse shape. In the "Starving Time" of
1609–1610, the Jamestown settlers faced rampant starvation for want
of additional provisions. During this time, lack of food drove people
to eat snakes and even boil the leather from shoes for sustenance.
Only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived. There
is scientific evidence that the settlers at Jamestown had turned to
cannibalism during the starving time.
The ships from
Bermuda arrived in Jamestown on 23 May
1610. Many of the surviving colonists were near death, and
Jamestown was judged to be unviable. Everyone was boarded onto
Deliverance and Patience, which set sail for England. However, on
June 10, 1610, the timely arrival of another relief fleet,
bearing Governor Baron De La Warr (who would eventually give his name
to the colony of Delaware), which met the two ships as they descended
the James River, granted Jamestown a reprieve. The Colonists called
this The Day of Providence. The fleet brought not only supplies, but
also additional settlers. All the settlers returned to the colony,
though there was still a critical shortage of food.
Relations between the colonists and the Powhatans quickly deteriorated
after De La Warr's arrival, eventually leading to conflict. The
Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until
Samuel Argall captured Wahunsenacawh's
daughter Matoaka, better known by her nickname Pocahontas, after which
the chief accepted a treaty of peace.
Rising fortunes (1610–1624)
Due to the aristocratic backgrounds of many of the new colonists, a
historic drought and the communal nature of their work load, progress
through the first few years was inconsistent at best. By 1613, six
years after Jamestown's founding, the organizers and shareholders of
Virginia Company were desperate to increase the efficiency and
profitability of the struggling colony. Without stockholder consent
the Governor, Sir Thomas Dale, assigned 3-acre (12,000 m2) plots
to its "ancient planters" and smaller plots to the "settlement's"
later arrivals. Measurable economic progress was made, and the
settlers began expanding their planting to land belonging to local
native tribes. That this turnaround coincided with the end of a
drought that had begun the year before the English settlers' arrival
probably indicates multiple factors were involved besides the
Among the colonists who survived the
Third Supply was John Rolfe, who
carried with him a cache of untested new tobacco seeds from Bermuda,
which had grown wild there after being planted by shipwrecked
Spaniards years before. In 1614, Rolfe began to successfully
harvest tobacco. Prosperous and wealthy, he married Pocahontas,
daughter of Chief Powhatan, bringing several years of peace between
the English and natives. However, at the end of a public relations
trip to England,
Pocahontas became sick and died on March 21,
1617. The following year, her father also died. Powhatan's
brother, a fierce warrior named Opchanacanough, became head of the
Powhatan Confederacy. As the English continued to appropriate more
land for tobacco farming, relations with the natives worsened.
Due to the high cost of the trans-atlantic voyage at this time, many
English settlers came to Jamestown as indentured servants: in exchange
for the passage, room, board, and the promise of land or money, these
immigrants would agree to work for three to seven years. Immigrants
from continental Europe, mainly Germans, were usually
redemptioners—they purchased some portion of their voyage on credit
and, upon arrival, borrowed or entered into a work contract to pay the
remainder of their voyage costs. Along with European indentured
servants, around 20 African slaves arrived in Jamestown in 1619. These
slaves were captives taken from a ship headed for Mexico. Though these
Africans started in Jamestown as slaves, some were able to obtain the
status of indentured servant later in life.
In 1619, the first representative assembly in America convened in the
Jamestown Church, "to establish one equal and uniform government over
all Virginia" which would provide "just laws for the happy guiding and
governing of the people there inhabiting." This became known as the
House of Burgesses
House of Burgesses (forerunner of the
Virginia General Assembly).
Initially, only men of English origin were permitted to vote. On June
30, 1619, in what was the first recorded strike in Colonial America,
the Polish artisans protested and refused to work if not allowed to
vote ("No Vote, No Work"). On July 21, 1619, the court
Slovaks equal voting rights. Afterwards, the
labor strike (the first "in American history") was ended and the
artisans resumed their work. Individual land ownership
was also instituted, and the colony was divided into four large
"boroughs" or "incorporations" called "citties" by the colonists.
Jamestown was located in James Cittie.
After several years of strained coexistence, Chief
Powhatan Confederacy attempted to eliminate the English colony
once and for all. On the morning of March 22, 1622, they attacked
outlying plantations and communities up and down the James River in
what became known as the Indian Massacre of 1622. More than 300
settlers were killed in the attack, about a third of the colony's
English-speaking population. Sir Thomas Dale's development at
Henricus, which was to feature a college to educate the natives, and
Wolstenholme Towne at Martin's Hundred, were both essentially wiped
out. Jamestown was spared only through a timely warning by a Virginia
Indian employee. There was not enough time to spread the word to the
Of the 6,000 people who came to the settlement between 1608 and 1624,
only 3,400 survived.
Later years (1624–1699)
In 1624, King James revoked the
Virginia Company's charter, and
Virginia became a royal colony. Despite the setbacks, the colony
continued to grow. Ten years later, in 1634, by order of King Charles
I, the colony was divided into the original eight shires of Virginia
(or counties), in a fashion similar to that practiced in England.
Jamestown was now located in James
City Shire, soon renamed the
"County of James City", better known in modern times as James City
County, Virginia, the nation's oldest county.
Another large-scale "Indian attack" occurred in 1644. In 1646,
Opchanacanough was captured and while in custody an English guard shot
him in the back—against orders—and killed him. Subsequently, the
Powhatan Confederacy began to decline. Opechancanough's successor
signed the first peace treaties between the Powhatan Indians and the
English. The treaties required the Powhatan to pay yearly tribute
payment to the English and confined them to reservations.
A generation later, during
Bacon's Rebellion in 1676, Jamestown was
burned, eventually to be rebuilt. During its recovery, the Virginia
legislature met first at Governor William Berkeley's nearby Green
Spring Plantation, and later at Middle Plantation, which had been
started in 1632 as a fortified community inland on the Virginia
Peninsula, about 8 miles (13 km) distant.
When the statehouse burned again in 1698, this time accidentally, the
legislature again temporarily relocated to Middle Plantation, and was
able to meet in the new facilities of the
College of William and Mary,
which had been established after receiving a royal charter in 1693.
Rather than rebuilding at Jamestown again, the capital of the colony
was moved permanently to Middle Plantation in 1699. The town was soon
renamed Williamsburg, to honor the reigning monarch, King William III.
A new Capitol building and "Governor's Palace" were erected there in
the following years. This was a revolutionary change.
Aftermath and preservation
1854 image of the ruins of Jamestown showing the tower of the old
Jamestown Church built in the 17th century
Due to the movement of the capital to Williamsburg, the old town of
Jamestown began to slowly disappear from view. Those who lived in the
general area attended services at Jamestown's church until the 1750s,
when it was abandoned. By the mid-18th century, the land was heavily
cultivated, primarily by the Travis and Ambler families.
During the American Revolutionary War, although the Battle of Green
Spring was fought nearby at the site of former Governor Berkeley's
plantation, Jamestown was apparently inconsequential. In 1831, David
Bullock purchased Jamestown from the Travis and Ambler families.
American Civil War
During the American Civil War, in 1861, Confederate William Allen, who
owned the Jamestown Island, occupied Jamestown with troops he raised
at his own expense with the intention of blockading the James River
and Richmond from the Union Navy. He was soon joined by Lieutenant
Catesby ap Roger Jones, who directed the building of batteries and
conducted ordnance and armor tests for the first Confederate ironclad
warship, CSS Virginia, which was under construction at the Gosport
Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth in late 1861 and early 1862.
Jamestown had a peak force of 1,200 men.
During the Peninsula Campaign, which began later that spring, Union
forces under General
George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan moved up the Peninsula from
Fort Monroe in an attempt to capture the Confederate capital of
Richmond. The Union forces captured Yorktown in April 1862, and
Battle of Williamsburg
Battle of Williamsburg was fought the following month. With
these developments, Jamestown and the lower James River were abandoned
by the Confederates. Some of the forces from Jamestown, and the
crew of Virginia, relocated to Drewry's Bluff, a fortified and
strategic position high above the river about 8 miles (13 km)
below Richmond. There, they successfully blocked the Union Navy from
reaching the Confederate capital.
Once in Federal hands, Jamestown became a meeting place for runaway
slaves, who burned the Ambler house, an eighteenth-century plantation
house, which along with the old church was one of the few remaining
signs of old Jamestown. When Allen sent men to assess the damage
in late 1862, they were killed by the former slaves. Following the
Confederate surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, the oath of allegiance
was administered to former Confederate soldiers at Jamestown.
Preservation and early archaeology
See also: Jamestown Rediscovery
Jamestown Church at the turn of the 20th century, prior to
the Tercentennial in 1907
In the years after the Civil War, Jamestown became quiet and peaceful
once again. In 1892, Jamestown was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Edward
Barney. The following year, the Barneys donated 22½ acres of land,
including the ruined church tower, to the Association for the
Virginia Antiquities (now known as Preservation
By this time, erosion from the river had eaten away the island's
western shore. Visitors began to conclude that the site of James Fort
lay completely underwater. With federal assistance, a sea wall was
constructed in 1900 to protect the area from further erosion. The
archaeological remains of the original 1607 fort, which had been
protected by the sea wall, were discovered in 1994.
In 1932, George Craghead Gregory of Richmond was credited with
discovering the foundation of the first brick statehouse (capitol)
building, circa 1646, at Jamestown on the land owned by Preservation
Virginia. Around 1936, Gregory, who was active with the Virginia
Historical Society, founded the
Jamestowne Society for descendants of
stockholders in the
Virginia Company of London and the descendants of
those who owned land or who had domiciles in Jamestown or on Jamestown
Island prior to 1700.
Colonial National Monument was authorized by the
U.S. Congress on July
3, 1930 and established on December 30, 1930. In 1934, the National
Park Service obtained the remaining 1,500 acre (6.1 km²) portion
Jamestown Island which had been under private ownership by the
Vermillion family. The
National Park Service
National Park Service partnered with
Virginia to preserve the area and present it to visitors
in an educational manner. On June 5, 1936, the national monument was
re-designated a national historical park, and became known as Colonial
National Historical Park.
From 1936 J.C. “Pinky” Harrington worked on the NPS's excavations
at Jamestown. In 1954
John L. Cotter took charge of field projects at
Jamestown, conducted with the site's 350th anniversary (1957) in mind.
Cotter worked with
Edward B. Jelks and Harrington to survey the area's
colonial sites. In 1957 Cotter and J. Paul Hudson co-authored New
Discoveries at Jamestown. Cotter contributed, along with Jelks, Georg
Neumann, and Johnny Hack, to the 1958 report Archaeological
Excavations at Jamestown.
In the present time, as part of the Colonial National Historical Park,
Jamestown Island area is home to two heritage tourism sites
related to the original fort and town. Nearby, the Jamestown-Scotland
Ferry service provides a link across the navigable portion of the
James River for vehicles and affords passengers a view of Jamestown
Island from the river.
Main article: Historic Jamestowne
Historic Jamestowne, located at the original site of Jamestown, is
administered by Preservation
Virginia and the National Park Service.
The central 22½ acres of land, where the archaeological remains of
the original James Fort were found, are owned by Preservation Virginia
(formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia
Antiquities); the remaining 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) are held by the
National Park Service
National Park Service and is part of the Colonial National Historical
The site gained renewed importance when in 1996 the Jamestown
Rediscovery project began excavations in search of the original James
Fort site, originally in preparation for the quadricentennial of
Jamestown's founding. The primary goal of the archaeological campaign
was to locate archaeological remains of "the first years of settlement
at Jamestown, especially of the earliest fortified town; [and the]
subsequent growth and development of the town".
Today, visitors to
Historic Jamestowne can view the site of the
original 1607 James Fort, the 17th-century church tower and the site
of the 17th-century town, as well as tour an archaeological museum
called the Archaearium and view many of the close to two million
artifacts found by Jamestown Rediscovery. They also may participate in
living history ranger tours and Archaeological tours given by the
Jamestown Rediscovery staff. Visitors can also often observe
archaeologists from the
Jamestown Rediscovery Project at work, as
archaeological work at the site continues. As of 2014[update], the
archaeological work and studies are ongoing. In addition to their
newsletter and website, new discoveries are frequently reported in the
local newspaper, the
Virginia Gazette based in nearby Williamsburg,
and by other news media, often worldwide.
Main article: Jamestown Settlement
Jamestown Settlement is a living-history park and museum located 1.25
miles (2.01 km) from the original location of the colony and
adjacent to Jamestown Island. Initially created for the celebration of
the 350th anniversary in 1957,
Jamestown Settlement is operated by the
Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, and largely sponsored by the
Commonwealth of Virginia. The museum complex features a reconstruction
of a Powhatan village, the James Fort as it was c. 1610–1614, and
seagoing replicas of the three ships that brought the first settlers,
Susan Constant, Godspeed, Discovery.
With the national independence of the
United States established by the
end of the 18th century, Jamestown came to be looked at as a starting
point. Its founding in 1607 has been regularly commemorated, with the
most notable events being held every fifty years.
200th anniversary (1807)
The bicentennial of Jamestown on May 13–14, 1807, was called the
Grand National Jubilee. Over 3,000 people attended the event, many
arriving on vessels which anchored in the river off the island.
May 13 was the opening day of the festival, which began with a
procession which marched to the graveyard of the old church, where the
attending bishop delivered the prayer. The procession then moved
to the Travis mansion, where the celebrants dined and danced in the
mansion that evening. Also during the festivities, students of the
College of William and Mary gave orations. An old barn on the island
was used as a temporary theater, where a company of players from
Norfolk performed. Attending were many dignitaries, politicians,
and historians. The celebration concluded on May 14 with a dinner and
toast at the
Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg.
250th anniversary (1857)
In 1857, the Jamestown society organized a celebration marking the
250th anniversary of Jamestown's founding. According to the
Richmond Enquirer, the site for the celebration was on 10 acres
(40,000 m2) on the spot where some of the colonists' houses were
originally built. However, it is also speculated that the
celebration was moved further east on the island closer to the Travis
grave site, in order to avoid damaging Major William Allen's corn
The attendance was estimated at between 6,000 and 8,000 people.
Sixteen large steam ships anchored offshore in the James River and
were gaily decorated with streamers. Former US President John
Tyler of nearby
Sherwood Forest Plantation
Sherwood Forest Plantation gave a 2½ hour speech, and
there were military displays, a grand ball and fireworks.
300th anniversary (1907): Jamestown Exposition
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Main article: Jamestown Exposition
The Jamestown Tercentenary Monument, erected on
Jamestown Island in
1907. It stands 103 feet (31 m) tall.
The 100th anniversary of the Surrender at Yorktown in 1781 had
generated a new interest in the historical significance of the
colonial sites of the Peninsula. Williamsburg, a sleepy but populated
town of shops and homes, was still celebrating Civil War events.
However, as the new century dawned, thoughts turned to the upcoming
300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. The Association for
the Preservation of
Virginia Antiquities (now known as Preservation
Virginia) started the movement in 1900 by calling for a celebration
honoring the establishment of the first permanent English colony in
New World at Jamestown to be held on the 300th anniversary in
As a celebration was planned, virtually no one thought that the actual
isolated and long-abandoned original site of Jamestown would be
suitable for a major event because
Jamestown Island had no facilities
for large crowds. The original fort housing the Jamestown settlers was
believed to have been long ago swallowed by the James River. The
general area in James
City County near Jamestown was also considered
unsuitable, as it was not very accessible in the day of rail travel
before automobiles were common.
As the tricentennial of the 1607 Founding of the Jamestown neared,
around 1904, despite an assumption in some quarters that Richmond
would be a logical location, leaders in Norfolk began a campaign to
have a celebration held there. The decision was made to locate the
international exposition on a mile-long frontage at Sewell's Point
near the mouth of Hampton Roads. This was about 30 miles (48 km)
downstream from Jamestown in a rural section of Norfolk County. It was
a site which could become accessible by both long-distance passenger
railroads and local streetcar service, with considerable frontage on
the harbor of Hampton Roads. This latter feature proved ideal for the
naval delegations which came from points all around the world.
Jamestown Exposition of 1907 was one of the many world's fairs and
expositions that were popular in the early part of the 20th century.
Held from April 26, 1907 to December 1, 1907, attendees included US
President Theodore Roosevelt,
Kaiser Wilhelm II
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, the Prince
of Sweden, Mark Twain, Henry H. Rogers, and dozens of other
dignitaries and famous persons. A major naval review featuring the
Great White Fleet
Great White Fleet was a key feature. U.S. Military
officials and leaders were impressed by the location, and the
Exposition site later formed the first portion of the large U.S. Naval
Station Norfolk in 1918 during World War I.
350th Anniversary (1957): Jamestown Festival
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her consort Prince Philip
inspect the replica of
Susan Constant at
Jamestown Festival Park
Jamestown Festival Park in
Virginia on October 16, 1957
With America's increased access to automobiles, and with improved
roads and transportation, it was feasible for the 350th anniversary
celebration to be held at Jamestown itself in 1957. Although erosion
had cut off the land bridge between
Jamestown Island and the mainland,
the isthmus was restored and new access provided by the completion of
the National Park Service's
Colonial Parkway which led to Williamsburg
and Yorktown, the other two portions of Colonial Virginia's Historic
Triangle. There were also improvements of state highways. The north
landing for the popular
Jamestown Ferry and a portion of State Route
31 were relocated.
Major projects such were developed by non-profit, state and federal
Jamestown Festival Park
Jamestown Festival Park was established by the Commonwealth
Virginia adjacent to the entrance to Jamestown Island. Full-sized
replicas of the three ships that brought the colonists, Susan
Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery were constructed at a shipyard in
Virginia and placed on display at a new dock at Jamestown,
where the largest, Susan Constant, could be boarded by visitors. On
Jamestown Island, the reconstructed Jamestown Glasshouse, the Memorial
Cross and the visitors center were completed and dedicated. A loop
road was built around the island.
Special events included army and navy reviews, air force fly-overs,
ship and aircraft christenings and even an outdoor drama at Cape
Henry, site of the first landing of the settlers. This celebration
continued from April 1 to November 30 with over a million
participants, including dignitaries and politicians such as the
British Ambassador and U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon. The
highlight for many of the nearly 25,000 at the Festival Park on
October 16, 1957 was the visit and speech of
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II of the
United Kingdom and her consort, Prince Philip. Queen Elizabeth II
loaned a copy of the
Magna Carta for the exhibition. It was her first
visit to the
United States since assuming the throne.
The 1957 Jamestown Festival was so successful that tourists still kept
coming long after the official event was completed. Jamestown became a
permanent attraction of the Historic Triangle, and has been visited by
families, school groups, tours, and thousands of other people
continuously ever since.
400th anniversary: Jamestown 2007
Main article: Jamestown 2007
Virginia State Quarter (Reverse)
Obverse of Jamestown 400th Anniversary silver dollar, the "Three Faces
of Diversity" of Jamestown
Obverse of the Jamestown 400th Anniversary gold five dollar coin
Coins released in commemoration of the 400th anniversary
Early in the 21st century, new accommodations, transportation
facilities and attractions were planned in preparation for the
quadricentennial of the founding of Jamestown. Numerous events were
promoted under the banner of
America's 400th Anniversary
America's 400th Anniversary and promoted
Jamestown 2007 Commission. The commemoration included 18 months
of statewide, national and international festivities and events, which
began in April 2006 with a tour of the new replica Godspeed.
In January 2007, the
Virginia General Assembly held a session at
Jamestown. On May 4, 2007,
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Prince Philip attended a ceremony commemorating the 400th
anniversary of the settlement's arrivals, reprising the honor they
paid in 1957.
In addition to the
Virginia State Quarter, Jamestown was also the
subject of two
United States commemorative coins celebrating the 400th
anniversary of its settlement. A silver dollar and a gold five dollar
coin were issued in 2007.
In 2019 Jamestown, in cooperation with Williamsburg, will hold a
commemoration that marks the 400th anniversary of three landmark
events in American history: the first meeting of the
Virginia House of
Burgesses, the arrival of the first Africans to English North America,
and the first Thanksgiving.
In popular culture
A fictional romantic adventure set at Jamestown, To Have and to Hold,
was the bestselling novel in the
United States in 1900. The novel was
later adapted into two feature films, in 1916 and 1922.
A highly fictionalized version of the Jamestown settlement is depicted
in the animated Disney film
Pocahontas (1995) as well as its
Pocahontas II: Journey to a
New World (1998).
Among other inaccuracies it is shown as being near mountains, when it
was actually located on the Tidewater region.
A feature-length film, The
New World (2005), directed by Terrence
Malick, covers the story of Jamestown's colonization. Although the
historical details are accurate in most ways, the plot focuses on a
dramatized relationship between John Smith, played by Colin Farrell,
and Pocahontas, played by Q'orianka Kilcher. It also features John
Rolfe, played by Christian Bale. Many scenes were filmed on-location
along the James and Chickahominy Rivers and at
Park in Chesterfield County, Virginia.
Another feature-length film, First Landing: The Voyage from England to
Jamestown (2007), documents the 1607 landing of English colonists.
Sky 1 launched a new series based in Jamestown. The series,
named after its eponymous setting, revolves around the societal change
triggered by the arrival of women to the settlement to marry the male
citizens of the area, and is made by the producers of Downton
^ Previously also written variously as James Town, James Towne,
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^ John Marshall p. 45
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^ a b Holshouser, Joshua D.; Brylinsk-Padnbey, Lucyna; Kielbasa,
Katarzyna (July 2007). "Jamestown: The Birth of American Polonia
1608–2008 (The Role and Accomplishments of Polish Pioneers in the
Jamestown Colony)". Polish American Congress. Retrieved October 3,
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^ a b Horn, James (2006). A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the
Birth of America, New York: Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-03094-7. pp.
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could depend on the Germans, he could get what he wanted by treachery
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^ "first documented Africans in Jamestown". The History Channel.
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^ Blanton, Dennis B. "Drought as a Factor in the Jamestown Colony,
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This article incorporates public domain material from the
National Park Service
National Park Service document "Jamestown During the Civil War".
This article incorporates public domain material from the
National Park Service
National Park Service document "Chronology of Jamestown
Chesapeake, a novel (1978) by author James A. Michener
James M. Lindgren, Preserving the Old Dominion: Historic Preservation
Virginia Traditionalism (Virginia, 1993)
Ernie Gross, "The American Years" (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999)
David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)
James Horn, A Land as God Made It (Perseus Books, 2005)
William M. Kelso, Jamestown, The Buried Truth (University of Virginia
Jocelyn R. Wingfield, Virginia's True Founder: Edward Maria Wingfield
and His Times (Booksurge, 2007) ISBN 1-4196-6032-2
Christopher M. B. Allison, "Jamestown’s Relics: Sacred Presence in
the English New World." Essay. In Conversations: An Online Journal of
the Center for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jamestown, Virginia.
Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
about Jamestown, Virginia.
APVA web site for the
Jamestown Rediscovery project
Where are We Digging Now?
Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center
National Park Service: Jamestown National Historic Site
New Discoveries at Jamestown by
John L. Cotter and J. Paul Hudson,
(1957) at Project Gutenberg
Following in Godspeeds Wake
Jamestown records on The UK National Archives' website.
Archaeology of the
Municipalities and communities of James
City County, Virginia, United
County seat: Williamsburg