Lost Colony at Roanoke; Staking a
Claim in the Americas
England’s first attempt to claim part of North America
occurred in 1585, when SIR WALTER RALEIGH
established a small settlement on ROANOKE ISLAND
off the coast of modern-day NORTH CAROLINA.
Several years later, however, all traces of the colony
Despite ROANOKE’S failure, English merchants were
eager to gain a share of the riches to be found in the
Americas. In 1606, several English companies sent a
number of colonists to establish a settlement in North
The Settlement of Jamestown
In 1607, a group of English colonists established a
settlement called JAMESTOWN on the shores of the James
River in modern-day VIRGINIA.
Many colonists at JAMESTOWN were more interested in
searching for GOLD than in working and planting crops.
Nearly half of the colonists DIED.
The colonist JOHN SMITH took charge. He forced his
fellow colonists to work and obtained help from local
NATIVE AMERICANS. Conditions at JAMESTOWN soon
An injury forced SMITH to return home. Soon the colony
faced hardship again. Only 60 settlers survived the winter
The Growth of Jamestown
Jamestown recovered after more colonists arrived and the
colony began producing TOBACCO to sell to England.
In 1619, a Dutch ship brought the first AFRICANS to
Jamestown. They most likely worked as servants and later
became FREE CITIZENS.
With encouragement from England, more and more
women traveled to Jamestown. Soon, the colony became
home to many families and a GROWING POPULATION.
At first, Jamestown settlers and the Native Americans got
along. As the colonists began settling greater amounts of
land, however, the two groups began to CLASH.
The Beginning of Self-Government
While the LONDON COMPANY ultimately ruled
Jamestown, a form of REPRESENTATIVE
GOVERNMENT soon took shape in the colony.
Adult FREEMEN could elect REPRESENTATIVES to a
colonial assembly called the HOUSE OF BURGESSES.
This body could enact laws to govern the colony.
In 1624, KING JAMES I took over Jamestown and made
it a royal colony. However, he did not abolish the
HOUSE OF BURGESSES.