European Colonization of North America

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How did the first generation of settlers in the US survive?

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Life was very hard for the first English settlers. They weren't use to American soil and so were unable to grow crops. Inevitably, this lead to widespread starvation which decimated the early colonial population. The newcomers also had to deal with ice-cold winters for which they were singularly ill-prepared. To...

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Life was very hard for the first English settlers. They weren't use to American soil and so were unable to grow crops. Inevitably, this lead to widespread starvation which decimated the early colonial population. The newcomers also had to deal with ice-cold winters for which they were singularly ill-prepared. To make matters worse, deadly outbreaks of disease occurred with frightening regularity, leading to even more fatalities among the English settlers.

If you'd asked the first generation of settlers how they managed to survive such appalling privations, they would've said it was only through the grace of God. A more secular explanation would be that the assistance of Native-American tribes was key to their survival. In Jamestown, for example, while the English colonists were dropping like nine-pins due to death, disease, and starvation, the local Powhatan tribe was helping them as best they could by bringing food to them and showing them how to sow crops. The Powhatan also helped the settlers on a long-term basis by agreeing to trade food for certain goods that the English produced such as wool.

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