The United States of America owes much of what it is today to a strip of land between the James and York Rivers as they flow into the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. This strip of land is where the first successful English colony was established in America, was one of the locations where the political foundations of the American Revolution were laid and where the final battle was fought that won America its independence.
In 1607 three English ships, the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, sailed into the Chesapeake Bay and 104 settlers set out to establish a settlement in North America. They named it Jamestown. Many of those first settlers died of disease and from Indian attacks but new arriving ships brought more settlers and by 1610 the colony was firmly established. An extended peace was established after the marriage of colonist John Rolfe to Pocahontas, the daughter of Powhatan the regional chief. During the 1620s, Jamestown expanded from the area near the original fort into a small town. It remained the capital of the Virginia colony until 1699 when the capital was moved eight miles northwest to the larger settlement of Williamsburg.
Thus began the successful English colonization of North America. Within less than another one hundred years, on that same strip of land General George Washington of the Continental Army would defeat the English army under the command of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. That victory established the security of America as a new nation.
Visiting this area of Virginia is as near as you can get to traveling back in time to explore the beginnings of our nation.
The Yorktown area features the Yorktown Battlefield National Park along with a truly impressive American Revolution Museum. On the property of the museum stands a reconstruction of a 1780’s period farm as it would have looked at the time of the battle along with a Continental Army encampment featuring live demonstrations.
Not far from Yorktown is the Jamestown Settlement site. It features a demonstration Powhatan tribal village developed from drawings of the historic period. An informative museum dedicated to the history surrounding the Jamestown settlement and the people that made it possible, along with a replica of the original Fort James. Tied up on the river next to the fort are reproductions of the boats Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery that carried the settlers to their new world. Also nearby is the archaeological site owned and managed through a private/public partnership between Preservation Virginia and the National Park Service to excavate and explore the site of the original fortified town.
Only a few miles away is Colonial Williamsburg, a living-history museum, restoration and development of a historic district on the site of the original Williamsburg, Virginia. Its 301-acre historic area includes several hundred restored and re-created buildings from the 18th century period, when the city was the capital of the colony of Virginia. Much of the site features people in period costumes working as they would have three hundred years ago.
Impressions of Colonial Williamsburg Virginia
If you really want to see where this nation was born come visit Tidewater Virginia.