What problems did the colonists face at Jamestown?

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The colonists at Jamestown, the second English colony in what would later become the United States, faced a slew of fatal problems. A prolonged drought that made growing food crops and finding fresh water difficult led to starvation and the drinking of contaminated water, which, along with the swampy area’s plentiful mosquitoes, contributed to the spread of deadly diseases. The settlers also faced conflict with the indigenous people, poor leadership in their own community, the extreme heat and cold of Virginia’s climate, and the fact that they were, overall, woefully unprepared to survive in such harsh conditions.

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mperrigin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The colonists arrived at Jamestown on May 13, 1607. At that time, historians estimate that over 14,000 Powhatan Indians lived in Virginia. One of the most apparent problems facing the colonists was communicating with the existing inhabitants. These early settlers also experienced major food shortages and poor medical care resulting in disease and illness. After 8 months only 34 of the original 104 were still alive. It is estimated that 1 out of every 6 settlers dies within the first year at the settlement.

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first settlers of Jamestown endured the problems of hostile Indians, starvation, and poor leadership and government. Jamestown was the second English Colony in the New World (Roanoke being the first) and the Indians attacked the settlers within 3 days of arrival in May of 1607. An uneasy truce kept warfare down to periodic guerilla raids on both sides, and by 1609 the settlers have supplies from England and corn from the Indians, with whom they began trade. But by winter, as Indians refuse to trade corn, the 500 settlers are starving, and provide the only examples of European cannibalism in Virginia. By spring, less than 100 are alive. Many Englishmen take refuge with the Indians, under their chief, Powhatan. By summer, the governor of Virginia, Lord De La Warr, attempts to negotiate for their return, but Powhatan replies with "noe other then prowde and disdayneful Answers." The governor raids Indian villages, kills the inhabitants, including the queen of one of the tribes, who was stabbed to death. Throwing her children into the James River, he begins "shoteinge owtt their Braynes in the water." Astonishingly, he also orders all Indian corn to be cut down in the field to induce starvation among them! By 1612, the governor orders Englishmen "...to be hanged Some burned Some to be broken upon wheles others to be staked and some to be shott to death," for leaving Jamestown and living among the Indians.

American Slavery, American Freedom, Morgan, 1975

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revolution | Student

The problems the colonists face at Jamestown was the widespread occurence of diseases, like thypoid and other deadly diseases. They are drinking contaminated water, and to not get starved to death, they had to eat animals, dead bodies, cats and other living things to survive. They also have harsh conditions like extreme winter conditions, and they have frequent conflicts with the hostile Indian tribes there. They also could not find any drinkable water, which led to the dying due to thrist.

sima2595 | Student

I think there were a lot fo probmlems like they didn;t know that the winters were so cold a nd the summers were so hot so many of them died from that but still the Jamestown lived. then they didn't have any food supplies also they didn't knoe how to gro vagtables or anything bassicly. Also because of the attack on 1622 from Native Americans but James town still survived and now made the whole America.

g123456789 | Student

They had no water no livestock and they died of dieases

Miracle_Elizabeth | Student

They didn't know how to plant food

bmarie1997 | Student

They didn't have running water like we do now adays. they had to boil their water and let it cool down so that they could drink it. Also they had attaks from nereby Indians. Their life wasn't as easy as they thought it was going to be. They thought that it was going to very easy life and that they would have money.