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What were the major achievements of the early Jamestown settlers?

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There are several key successes and failures that the Jamestown colony experienced. One major success was the colonists’ ability to adapt to the land in the way of growing crops. The original purpose of this venture was to find gold, and when that did not happen, Jamestown had to adjust. With a positive relationship with local natives, the colonists were able to learn how to grow tobacco. This provided the necessary economy to support the young colony.

Another key success was that, as the colony grew, a representative government was formed. This became the first form of representative government in America. The House of Burgesses was created to serve as the government for this new colony.

The notable failures of Jamestown usually deal with death and destruction. One cause of this was that the settlement location itself was a poor decision, as the settlement was built on inadequate soil and in marshy conditions. Malaria and other diseases were widespread. The most notorious failure was the "Starving Time," when the local Powhatans ceased trading with the colonists. During the winter of 1609 and 1610, nearly everyone starved. Only sixty colonists survived.

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The early colony of Jamestown, Virginia was not immediately successful. The location chosen for the colony was a swamp, plagued by mosquitoes, with undrinkable water and land not particularly suited for agriculture. Even worse, many of the original colonists lacked practical skills in farming and survival. Two-thirds of the initial settlers died. The colony never really thrived and it was only after it was relocated to Williamsburg that it really could be said to succeed.

Although the colony itself was a failure, the areas in which it could be considered successful were those in which it helped the English determine what was needed to colonize Virginia. James Rolfe's success in raising tobacco became a future mainstay of the southern economy and also created a valuable export. 

The manufacturer of glassware by immigrants from eastern Europe also was a success, and created another viable export. Government by representative assembly was also pioneered in Jamestown and was a successful model for future political organization in the United States. 

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