Early Jamestown: Why Did So Many Colonists Die? In the May of 1607, a group of Englishmen set out on three ships up the mouth of the James River, which is in the current state of Virginia, in search for land, and gold; they would soon use this land as a money making town in which they would farm and trade. The people that funded most of these travelers trip were English investors that supported the idea. The land that they found would now be called Jamestown. Upon arrival, many of the citizens of the new-found colony died. About 60% of the colonist brought in 1607 had deceased.
This was all because of the environment, the diseases they were unprotected to, and the absence of rainfall. Most, if not all, travelers that were brought to ‘Early Jamestown’ were very inexperienced. These men seemed to think that they would easily find gold, and perfect cropping land and food handed to them on a silver platter. But as they got there, the environment wasn’t all that great. The rivers that were nearby the settlement had been invaded by the saltwater of the nearby ocean because of the tide. As stated in Document A, by a historian named Carville V.
Earle, “disease in the early years to Jamestown’s position at the salt-fresh water transition, where filth introduced into the river tended to fester rather than flush away. ” meaning that the waste of the people of Jamestown would just sit in the river, which would also create bacteria and diseases that would kill off some of the people that would drink the river water, and of the very few animals that lived in the area of Jamestown would die because of the same reasoning; That also leads into another reason of why the colonists died in Jamestown.
Then starting upon the travelers’ arrival, there was a drought that lasted all the way through 1612 according to Document B showing that this drought lasted up for about 5 whole years. Because of the large lack of rain, these colonists couldn’t grow the crop that they needed to survive, and the shortage of wildlife animals roaming around Jamestown wasn’t contributing to the issue. Then around the winter of 1609-1610 that is when Jamestown was put into “starving time” as the settlers called it.
This also didn’t help that the settlers couldn’t trade with the Englishmen meaning nobody living in the area of Jamestown could eat. And unfortunately the food they could eat wasn’t healthy and ended up giving a lot of them disease. After the settlers started to communicate with the Natives of the new Jamestown, none of them would have ever known that they had brought over diseases, that they were already immune to, and that they had exposed themselves to these deadly diseases such as malaria and even some sexually transmitted diseases.
Soon many people started to pass away that winter. About 70 people of the 110 colonist that they had brought over had already died by that December. Many of the inexperienced Englishmen had no idea what was to come of them in arriving in Jamestown but sadly, many of them perished due to the bad environment, the lack of rainfall, and the diseases that the settlers were exposed to. But even though this was not what the travelers expected, it did start a whole revolution to create America.