Jamestowne, James Towne
|Fort (1607); Town (1619)|
|Christopher Newport's ship docked in the harbor.|
|Present Country||United States of America|
|Historic Country||Kingdom of England|
|Colony||Colony of Virginia|
|Abandoned||briefly in 1610; again after 1699|
|Founded by||Virginia Company of London|
|Named for||James I of England|
Jamestown was a settlement in the Colony of Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas. Established by the Virginia Company of London as "James Fort" on May 24, 1607 (O.S., May 14, 1607 N.S.), and considered permanent after brief abandonment in 1610, it followed several earlier failed attempts, including the Lost Colony of Roanoke. Jamestown served as the capital of the colony for 83 years, from 1616 until 1699.
The settlement was located within the territory of a political entity known as Tsenacommacah, the state of the Powhatan Confederacy, with around 14,000 native inhabitants, and specifically was in part of the subdivision known as the Paspahegh tribe. The natives initially welcomed the colonists with dancing, feasting and tobacco ceremonies, and they provided crucial provisions and support for the survival of the colonists, who were not agriculturally inclined. Relations with the newcomers soured fairly early on, leading to the total annihilation of the Paspahegh in warfare within 3 years.
Within a year of Jamestown's founding, the Virginia Company brought Polish and Dutch colonists to help improve the settlement. In 1619, the first documented Africans were brought to Jamestown, though the modern conception of slavery in the future United States did not begin in Virginia until 1660. When the colony was subdivided into the original eight shires of Virginia in 1634, the town became located in the eponymous James City Shire.
The London Company's second settlement, Bermuda, claims to be the site of the oldest town in the English New World, as St. George's, Bermuda was officially established (as New London) in 1612, whereas James Fort, in Virginia, was not to be converted into James towne until 1619, and further did not survive into the present day. In 1699, the capital was relocated from Jamestown to what is today Williamsburg, 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, the archaeological site on Jamestown Island, is a cooperative effort by Jamestown National Historic Site (part of Colonial National Historical Park), and Preservation Virginia. The Jamestown Settlement, a living history interpretive site, is operated by the Jamestown Yorktown Foundation in conjunction with the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- 1 Settlement (1607–1705)
- 2 Aftermath and preservation
- 3 Today
- 4 Commemorations
- 5 Jamestown in film
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Although Spain and Portugal moved quickly to establish a presence in the New World, other European countries moved more slowly. Not until many decades after the explorations of John Cabot did the English attempt to found colonies. Early efforts were failures, most notably the Roanoke Colony, which vanished about 1590.
Arrival and early years (1607-1610)
Late in 1606, English entrepreneurs set sail with a charter from the Virginia Company of London to establish a colony in the New World. After a particularly long voyage of five months duration including a stop in Puerto Rico, they finally departed for the American mainland on April 10, 1607. The three ships, named Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, under Captain Christopher Newport, made landfall on April 26, 1607 at a place they named Cape Henry. Under orders to select a more secure location, they set about exploring what is now Hampton Roads and an outlet into the Chesapeake Bay they named the James River in honor of their king, James I of England.
On May 14, 1607, Captain Edward Maria Wingfield, elected president of the governing council on April 25, 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 Peninsula was surrounded by the York river in the north, the James river in the south and the Chesapeake bay in the east of the peninsula. The piece of land had deep water, making it a navigable and defensible strategic point. Perhaps the best thing about it, from an English point of view, was that it was not inhabited by nearby Virginia Indian tribes, who regarded the site as too poor and remote for agriculture. However, the island was swampy, isolated, offered limited space and was plagued by mosquitoes and brackish tidal river water unsuitable for drinking.
In addition to the malarial swamp the settlers arrived too late in the year to get crops planted. Many in the group were gentlemen unused to work, or their manservants, 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 "probably celebrated the first known service of holy communion in what is today the United States of America [at Jamestown, on June 21 1607]." In a few months, fifty-one of the party were dead; some of the survivors were deserting to the Indians whose land they had colonized. In the "starving time" of 1609–1610, the Jamestown settlers were in even worse straits. Only 61 of the 500 colonists survived the period. There is scientific evidence that the settlers at Jamestown had turned to cannibalism during the starving time.
Virginia Indians had already established settlements long before the English settlers arrived, and there were an estimated 14,000 natives in the region, politically known as Tsenacommacah, 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 greeted by the natives with lavish feasts and supplies of maize, but as the English, lacking the inclination to grow their own food, became hungry and began to strong-arm more and more supplies from nearby villages, relations quickly deteriorated and eventually led to conflict. The resulting 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.
Most of the colonists and their replacements died within the first five years. Two-thirds of the settlers died before arriving ships brought supplies and experts from Poland and Germany in the next year, 1608, who would help to establish the first manufactories in the colony. As a result, glassware became the "first" of these American products to be exported to Europe. Clapboard had already been sent back to England beginning with the first returning ship.
Despite the delivery of supplies in 1608 on the First and Second Supply missions of Captain Christopher Newport, which had also added to the number of hungry settlers, it seemed certain at that time that without a major relief effort, the colony at Jamestown would meet the same fate as two earlier failed English attempts to settle in North America, the Roanoke Colony (Lost Colony) and the Popham Colony.
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. In what has been termed "Smith's Rude Answer", he composed a letter, writing (in part):
"When you send againe I entreat you rather send but thirty Carpenters, husbandmen, gardiners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons and diggers up of trees, roots, well provided; than a thousand of such as wee have: for except wee be able both to lodge them and feed them, the most will consume with want of necessaries before they can be made good for anything."
The "Rude Answer" gets this appellation from Smith's opening words, where he showed the minimal deference to his superiors as required by standards of Early Modern English at that time: "I humbly intreat your Pardons if I offend you with my rude Answer..."
There are indications that those in London comprehended and embraced Smith's message. Their Third Supply mission of 1609 was to be by far the largest and best equipped. They also had a new purpose-built flagship, the Sea Venture, constructed, and placed in the most experienced of hands, Christopher Newport.
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. During what became known as the "Starving Time" in 1609–1610, over 80% of the colonists perished, and the island was briefly abandoned that spring. During these first years of the colony, many of the people lived in cavelike holes dug into the ground, and in the winter of 1609-1610, they were
- ″...driven through insufferable hunger to eat those things which nature most abhorred, the flesh and excrements of man as well of our own nation as of an Indian, digged by some out of his grave after he had laid buried there days and wholly devoured him; others, envying the better state of body of any whom hunger has not yet so much wasted as their own, lay wait and threatened to kill and eat them; one among them slew his wife as she slept in his bosom, cut her in pieces, salted her and fed upon her till he had clean devoured all parts saving her head...″
On June 2, 1609, the Sea Venture set sail from Plymouth as the flagship of a seven-ship fleet (towing two additional pinnaces) destined for Jamestown, Virginia as part of the Third Supply, carrying 500 to 600 people (it is unclear whether that number includes crew, or only 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 the 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 (subsequently the Somers Isles) 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 the 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, the 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. Some members of the expedition died in Bermuda before the Deliverance and the Patience set sail on 10 May 1610, including the wife and child of John Rolfe, who would found Virginia's tobacco industry and find a new wife in Chief Powhatan's daughter Matoaka (Pocahontas). Two men were left behind. The remainder arrived in Jamestown on 23 May 1610.
This was not the end of the survivors' ordeals, however. On reaching Jamestown, only 60 survivors were found of the 500 who had preceded them. Many of these survivors were themselves near death, and Jamestown was judged to be unviable. Everyone was boarded onto the 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 Warre (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 supplies, but also additional settlers. All the settlers were relanded at the colony, but there was still a critical shortage of food. Admiral Somers returned to Bermuda with the Patience to secure provisions, but died there in the summer of 1610. His nephew, Matthew Somers, the captain of the Patience, rather than returning food to Jamestown as instructed, sailed for England, arriving at Lyme Regis in November, 1610 to claim his inheritance (a third man remained in Bermuda, with the two previous holdouts, maintaining the company's occupation of the islands 'til the arrival of the Plough in 1612, and the founding of St. George's town).
Fortuitously, among the colonists inspired to remain 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.
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 the Virginia Company were desperate to increase the efficiency and profitability of the struggling colony. Without stockholder consent, Governor 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 colonists' ineptitude.
The following year, 1614, John 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. (Through their son, Thomas Rolfe, many of the First Families of Virginia trace both Virginia Indian and English roots.) However, at the end of a public relations trip to England, Pocahontas became sick and passed away on March 21, 1617. The following year, her father also died. As the English continued to appropriate more land for tobacco farming, relations with the natives worsened. Powhatan's brother, a fierce warrior named Opchanacanough, became head of the Powhatan Confederacy.
In 1619, the first representative assembly in America convened in a 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 (forerunner of the Virginia General Assembly, which last met in Jamestown in January, 2007). Individual land ownership was also instituted, and the colony was divided into four large "boroughs" or "incorporations" called "citties" (sic) by the colonists. Jamestown was located in James Cittie. Initially only men of English origin were permitted to vote. In what was the first recorded strike in Colonial America, the Polish artisans protested and refused to work if not allowed to vote. On July 12, the court granted the Poles equal voting rights.
After several years of strained coexistence, Chief Opchanacanough and his 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. The attack killed over 300 settlers, about a third of the English-speaking population.
This event is often incorrectly reported to have occurred on a Good Friday. Sir Thomas Dale's progressive 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 outposts. Of the 6,000 people who came to the settlement between 1608–1624, 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, and the Powhatan Confederacy began to decline. Opechancanough's successor then 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.
Aftermath and preservation
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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 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 force of 1,200 men, which was augmented in early 1862 by an artillery battalion.
During the Peninsula Campaign, which began later that spring, Union forces under General 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 the Battle of Williamsburg was fought the following month. With these developments, Jamestown and the lower James River were abandoned by the Confederates, and the Virginia was scuttled off Craney Island on Hampton Roads to avoid its capture after engaging the USS Monitor. Some of the forces from Jamestown, and the crew of the 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.
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 1639 church tower, to Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities).
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. (See Jamestown Rediscovery section below)
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.
Since its founding, the Society has helped with genealogical records and expanded into dozens of branches, called "Companies." (In the Jamestowne Society, "Companies" are similar to chapters in most lineage societies). Membership in Companies is elective, while membership in the national Society is acquired at the time a member joins. In 1958, the Jamestowne Society was formally organized as a non-profit corporation under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (1954, as amended). It frequently holds meetings and events.
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 of Jamestown Island which had been under private ownership by the Vermillion family. The National Park Service partnered with Preservation 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.
Since 1994, a major archaeological campaign at Jamestown known as the Jamestown Rediscovery project has been conducted, 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] the subsequent growth and development of the town".
Early on, the project discovered early colonial artifacts. This was something of a surprise to some historians as it had been widely thought that the original site had been entirely lost due to erosion by the James River. Many others suspected that at least portions of the fort site remained and subsequent excavations have shown that only one corner of the first triangular fort (which contained the original settlement) turned out to have been destroyed. The sea wall built in 1900 to limit the erosion turned out to be a rich investment in the past and the future.
Since it began, the extended archaeological campaign has made many more discoveries including retrieving hundreds of thousands of artifacts, a large fraction of them from the first few years of the settlement's history. In addition, it has uncovered much of the fort, the remains of several houses and wells, a palisade wall line attached to the fort and the graves of several of the early settlers.
In the present time, Jamestown is home to two heritage tourism sites related to the original fort and town: Historic Jamestowne and the Jamestown Settlement. 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.
Archeologists at Historic Jamestowne kicked off their 19th field season in 2012 on April 7.
Historic Jamestowne, located at the downtown original site of Jamestown in the Virginia Colony, is administered by Colonial Williamsburg and the National Park Service. The central 22½ acres of land, where the archaeological remains of the original James Fort are, were donated to Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) in 1893 and the remaining 1,500 acres (6.1 km2) were acquired by the National Park Service in 1934 and are now part of the Colonial National Historical Park.
The site gained renewed importance when in 1993 the Jamestown Rediscovery project of Preservation Virginia began excavations in search of the original James Fort site. Despite obstacles and naysayers, the archaeologists found what other historians had said was lost, the fort site and approaching two million 17th century artifacts.
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 hundreds of thousands of artifacts found by Jamestown Rediscovery. They also may participate in living history and ranger tours. Visitors can also often observe archaeologists from the Jamestown Rediscovery Project at work, as archaeological work at the site continues and is greatly expanding knowledge of what happened at Jamestown in its earliest days.
Among the discoveries, a grave site with indications of an important figure was located. The Jamestown Rediscovery staff, as well as physical anthropologists from the Smithsonian Institution theorize the remains to be that of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold though others have claimed it to be the remains of Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr. It had long been thought that Baron De La War, who died en route back to the colony from England on his second trip, had been buried elsewhere but some recent research concluded that his body was in fact brought to Jamestown for burial.
As of 2009[update], the archaeological work and studies are ongoing. New discoveries are frequently reported in the local newspaper, the Virginia Gazette based in nearby Williamsburg, and by other news media, often worldwide.
Jamestown Settlement is a living-history park 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.
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200th anniversary (1807)
The bicentennial of Jamestown on May 13–15, 1807 is said to have been a dignified celebration, commonly called the Grand National Jubilee. Over 3,000 people attended the event, many arriving on vessels which anchored in the river near 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 Bicentennial 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 fields.
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 gave a 2½ hour speech, and there were military displays, a grand ball and fireworks.
300th anniversary (1907): Jamestown Exposition
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 the New World at Jamestown to be held on the 300th anniversary in 1907.
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.
The 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 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 United States' 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
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 agencies. Jamestown Festival Park was established by the Commonwealth of Virginia adjacent to the entrance to Jamestown Island. Full-sized replicas of the three ships that brought the colonists, the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery were constructed at a shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia and placed on display at a new dock at Jamestown, where the largest, the 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 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
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 and promoted by the 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 of the United Kingdom and 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.
Jamestown in film
A highly fictionalized version of the Jamestown settlement is depicted in the animated Disney film Pocahontas (1995). Among other inaccuracies it is shown as being near mountains, when it was actually located on a coastal plain.
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 Henricus Historical 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.
- Previously also written variously as James Town, James Towne, Jamestowne, and James Cyty.
- "History of Jamestown". Apva.org. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
- George Percy, 1608, "Observations by George Percy"
- "The Royal African Company - Supplying Slaves to Jamestown". Historic Jamestowne. NPS.gov. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
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- John Marshall p.44
- John Marshall p.45
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- [dead link]
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- Jocelyn R. Wingfield, Virginia's True Founder: Edward Maria Wingfield and His Times (Booksurge, 2007) ISBN 1-4196-6032-2
- William M. Kelso, Jamestown, The Buried Truth (University of Virginia Press, 2006)
- William M. Kelso, Jamestown Rediscovery II (APVA, 1996)
- William M. Kelso, Nicholas M. Luccketti, Beverly A. Straube, Jamestown Rediscovery III (APVA, 1997)
- William M. Kelso, Nicholas M. Luccketti, Beverly A. Straube, Jamestown Rediscovery IV (APVA, 1998)
- William M. Kelso, Nicholas M. Luccketti, Beverly A. Straube, Jamestown Rediscovery V (APVA, 1999)
- William Kelso, Beverly Straube, Jamestown Rediscovery VI (APVA, 2000)
- James M. Lindgren, Preserving the Old Dominion: Historic Preservation and Virginia Traditionalism (Virginia, 1993)
- David A. Price, Love and Hate in Jamestown (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)
- Ernie Gross, "The American Years" (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999)
- James Horn, A Land as God Made It (Perseus Books, 2005) ISBN 0-465-03094-7
- Chesapeake, a novel (1978) by author James A. Michener
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jamestown, Virginia.|
- History Channel Web Site telling the story from the standpoint of the three major cultural nuclei.
- APVA web site for the Jamestown Rediscovery project
- Historic Jamestowne
- America's 400th Anniversary
- Jamestown 1607
- National Geographic Magazine Jamestown Interactive
- Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center
- Virtual Jamestown
- National Park Service: Jamestown National Historic Site
- New Discoveries at Jamestown by John L. Cotter and J. Paul Hudson, (1957) at Project Gutenberg
- First Landing State Park
- State Tourism Website – Virginia is for Lovers
- Jamestown Discovery Trail
- Time Team Special: Jamestown – America's Birthplace
- Jamestown Four-Hundred Years
- The Poles in Jamestown
- Following in Godspeeds Wake
- NBC News Interview with Dr. William Kelso
- Jamestown records on The UK National Archives' website.