The Foundations Of English America

The United States has always been a country strongly influenced by English culture and heritage. While early exploration and colonization of the New World was dominated by Spain, with major outposts established in the Caribbean and Florida, England wanted a foothold in this New World. In April 1606 King James I of England chartered The Virginia Company of London, a commercial trading company, with the objective of establishing colonies on the eastern coast of North America. With that charter those English roots were planted in North America. On December 6, 1606, three ships; the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery set sail to America. In 1607, 104 English men and boys arrived in North America to start a settlement. On May 13 they selected a site at Jamestown, Virginia for their settlement, named after their King, James I. This settlement became the first permanent English settlement in North America.

The site for Jamestown was picked for several reasons, all of which met criteria established by the Virginia Company, who funded the settlement. The site was surrounded by water on three sides and was far inland; both meant it was easily defensible against possible attacks by local natives and the Spanish. The water was also deep enough to tie up their ships at the shoreline.

By June 15, the fort was done with a triangle shape and a bulwark at each corner, holding five pieces of artillery. The settlers were now protected against any attacks that might occur from the local Powhatan Indians and could hold off a Spanish attack from the water. Even though the settlers were concerned about the local natives, they understood that they were also dependent on them.

Over those first few years a majority of the original settlers would die from starvation and some by Indian attack, but the colony offered too much potential and by April 1645 the Jamestown colony had over 8,000 settlers.

The site is a National Park along with the battlefield at Yorktown and very near the restored colonial town of Williamsburg in Tidewater, Virginia.

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