The English Colony of Virginia

The English Colony of Virginia began in Jamestown in 1607, with Captain John Smith elected leader in 1608. In its first years, the colony was plagued by swift-spreading diseases due to large amounts of standing water, as well as unskilled laborers who were used to having someone else do the dirty work. During the winter of 1609-1610, a period known as the Starving Time was responsible for the death of a large proportion of settlers; they had little supplies and few crops to support them. The popularity of tobacco led a large amount of new English settlers to the colony and led to profitable trade between the Jamestown and England. In 1619, 20 African indentured servants arrived and would result in Virginia becoming the first colony to legalize slavery in 1660. King James I wanted to exercise more control over the area, so Virginia was made a Royal Colony in 1624. After the English Civil Wars of the 1640s, many supporters of the King settled in Virginia, which led to some problems. The wealthier settlers pushed the poor people farther inland, where they were susceptible to Indian attacks and were underrepresented in the House of Burgesses. Nathaniel Bacon led a frustrated group of settlers in the burning of Jamestown to the ground, destroying the majority of the wealthy settlers’ homes. This event came to be known as Bacon’s Rebellion.


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Last updated: 01/08/2018
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