Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sidney E. King's Jamestown

I posted recently about Charles Wilson Peale. He painted portraits of lots of important early Americans, such as George Washington, John Adams, and Lewis and Clark. Today, travel even further back in time to learn about the first English successful English settlement in the New World, Jamestown.

The links on this page will take you to paintings by Sidney E. King. In the 1950s, King painted a series of pictures of early 1600s Jamestown. These paintings can help us to understand what Jamestown looked like, how the settlers lived, and what the settlers did.

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When the English settled Jamestown in 1607, it became the first lasting English settlement in the New World. The English had tried to build colonies in several other places but failed.

After five months at sea, three English ships, the Susan Constant, the Discovery, and the Godspeed, landed at Jamestown. Jamestown must have looked strange to the English settlers. The land was wild and Native Americans, who were very different than the English, lived in the area.

The settlers built homes at Jamestown and tried to get used to colonial life. It wasn’t easy. Most of the settlers did not have experience building houses or growing food. They also weren’t prepared for the cold Virginia winter. In 1607, 104 settlers arrived in Jamestown; by the end of the first winter, only 38 remained.

Ship-loads of settlers arrived in Jamestown, but they were no more prepared for life in the New World than the settlers who were already there. If the colonists didn’t have enough trouble, their relationship with the Natives Americans was only getting worse.

In 1610, another English ship arrived at Jamestown. It carried supplies that the colonists badly needed.

Many colonists died, but over time the settlement at Jamestown began to grow and the colonists began to plant on land that was being used by Native Americans. One of the crops that the settlers planted was tobacco (which is used to make cigarettes). The Native Americans were not happy that the settlers were taking over their land. This caused even more problems between the settlers and the Native Americans.

You may remember learning about Pocahontas. You probably learned that she saved Captain John Smith from her father. You may also have heard that she and John Smith got married. It’s possible that she saved him from her father, but she did not marry him. Pocahontas married a different colonist. His name was John Rolfe.

Pocahontas did help the colonists. It was because of Pocahontas that the Native Americans allowed the settlers to stay at Jamestown. After John Rolfe and Pocahontas got married, the colonists and the Native Americans enjoyed peace for awhile.

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