In 1607, 144 English men and boys travelled to America and established a colony called Jamestown. Their motivations for leaving England were purely financial: they believed that America was rich in gold and they wanted to make money but, from its earliest days, the colony was plagued by problems.
To begin, the Jamestown colony was financed by investors from the Virginia Company of London who threatened to remove their financial support, should the colonists not find any gold. As a result, the colonists spent the majority of their time searching for gold instead of farming and maintaining a steady supply of food. When winter came, the colonists were completely unprepared. Hunger soon followed and the camp was further ravaged by malaria and a host of other infectious diseases - which historians now know were caused by the camp's unhealthy swamp location and a contaminated water supply.
When more colonists arrived in 1608, food supplies became even more scarce and existing diseases ravaged many of its newest ranks. By the end of the first year, only 38 of the original 144 colonists still survived.