What did John Smith make the colonists do?

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John Smith a polarizing figure, but he is often given a lot of credit for the success of the Jamestown colony. In May of 1607, three ships with 105 men and boys sailed into the Chesapeake Bay. The ships then sailed up a river, and the men aboard decided to...

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John Smith a polarizing figure, but he is often given a lot of credit for the success of the Jamestown colony. In May of 1607, three ships with 105 men and boys sailed into the Chesapeake Bay. The ships then sailed up a river, and the men aboard decided to begin the colony on a peninsula. The spot was poorly chosen. The bugs were bad, the water was either bad or not easily accessible, and the land wasn't ideal for crops. By the end of the first year, about half of the colonists were dead or dying from starvation and disease. Part of the problem was that the colonists didn't prioritize the planting of food. They were more interested in searching for gold. John Smith was eventually made the leader of the colony, and he established the famous rule that stated if a colonist wanted to eat, then he had to work. Colonists then dedicated themselves to planting crops, building shelters, and creating fortifications against attack. While initially a good leader who that did improve their present situation, his rule didn't work out as a long term solution. By 1609, the colonists were once again starving and forced to eat mice, rats, dogs, etc.

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In May 1607, John Smith was among the group of 100 or so men who established the first permanent English colony at Jamestown in Virginia. As the colonists battled hunger and disease in their first year, Smith emerged as an able, decisive and highly-organised leader. As a result, he was elected the president of the Jamestown colony on September 10 1608 and he implemented a strict regime on the colonists to make them more prosperous. At its heart, Smith's regime operated on the principle of "he that will not work shall not eat." He had the colonists plants crops, repair buildings, dig a well and prepare products, like tar and soap ash, for shipment back to England. In times of food shortages, he made the colonists go and live with the local native tribe, led by Chief Powhatan, whom Smith knew would protect and feed them. 

He made the colonists work hard but the death toll soon decreased and the colony was able to survive and thrive. 

 

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