What were some of the hardships the initial colonists endured?

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pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The greatest hardship the earliest colonists faced was fear. They were outnumbered in a new land. Upon first arrival, the first colonists had to find sources of food and water. In the case of the Pilgrims, they found Native American caches of food. In the case of Jamestown, they found water, but they located their colony in a tidal swamp that was a breeding ground for mosquitoes. As a result, many of the original colonists of Jamestown died of mosquito-borne diseases, while many of the earliest settlers of Plymouth died from malnutrition and exposure to the elements.

There was also the hardship of ensuring proper governance. Jamestown looked to John Smith in order to build a stockade and plant valuable tobacco. The Pilgrims created the Mayflower Compact, the first attempt at self-governance in the Americas. Without proper governance, there would be no way to ensure law and order, and no colony would survive the stresses of being in a new land without some sort of security.

There was also worry about the Native Americans in the area. The Native Americans initially outnumbered all of the colonists. There were fears of these people. Initially the colonists got along and traded with the Native Americans; it was not until the colonies sought to expand and take more land that conflict occurred.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were many problems the initial colonists faced. One of the issues was knowing where to settle.  In Jamestown, they settled too close to the sea.  The land was marshy and full of mosquitoes.  Also, the people were not prepared for living in an undeveloped area.  Most had lived in towns so they had little knowledge about farming, fishing and hunting.  These were skills they needed to have, and not having these skills caused problems for them.  Manual labor was required, and some of the settlers weren't fond of doing manual labor.  This was especially true for the upper class people who came to Jamestown. In order to establish a settlement, it needed to be run or governed effectively. However, the leaders argued with each other, which made it hard to make decisions. Because of these issues, illness, famine, and a lack of law and order were issues the people faced. Because of a lack of food, some settlers stole food from the Native Americans. This created more problems as the Native Americans attacked the settlers. While moving to a new area would naturally present issues, some of these issues which the original settlers faced were created by their own doing.