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The general problem that the Jamestown settlement faced was that they were unable to feed and care for themselves. The other major problem was that they picked a bad place for their settlement.
The site that they chose was not very good. It was near to a swamp and the swamp was a good breeding place for disease. This was especially true because they used it as a sewer as well.
The settlers were also not very well suited for being settlers. They were not craftsmen and farmers. Instead, most of them were more upper class and were not used to doing the kind of work that would allow them to survive. This is why, for example, John Smith had to impose his famous rule where he said that only those who worked would get to eat.
Off the top of my head, good drinking water seems to have been a challange. Many of the earliest Jamestown colonists died and it is thought to have been from drinking the stagnant water in the James River on whose bank they built their settlement.
- The location for their settlement was selected poorly because they didn’t know how to cultivate the land and did not anticipate the extreme weather conditions they would face
- Early settlers faced extremely hostile encounters with the native population–these confrontations were often settled in bloody warfare where colonies stood to suffer many (of the few) influential men they had at their disposal
- New diseases spread rampant and weakened the colonies
- They endured strict (often misguided) discipline imposed by the crown through martial law (though it was necessary for the structural development of the colonies)
- Decisions made for the colonists by its motherland were often times more detrimental than helpful because of the incredible distance, lack of ability to communicate and entirely foreign nature of the new body of land in which they now had to govern upon
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