Jamestown Hangs In The Balance

Only by luck and happenstance did Britain’s first permanent settlement in the New World survive

Arriving at the English colony of Jamestown in late May 1610, Sir Thomas Gates was appalled by what he discovered. The fort’s palisades had been torn down, the church ruined, and empty houses “rent up and burnt.” Only 60 or so colonists remained alive of the more than 200 who had crowded into the fort the previous fall, and these were “Lamentable to behold.” Those able to raise themselves from their beds to meet Gates and his men “Looked Like Anatomies” [skeletons]. They cried out, “We are starved We are starved.” Yet Gates could do little to relieve them. Read more »

Finding The Real Jamestown

The archaeologist who discovered the real Jamestown debunks myths and answers long-puzzling mysteries about North America's first successful English colony

Forget much of what you know about the Jamestown colony. For the past 200 years, many archaeologists and historians believed that the James River had largely eroded any traces of the original settlement over the intervening four centuries. Our excavations, ongoing since 1994, have proved otherwise...Read more »

To Plan A Trip

 

The Jamestown-Yorktown foundation is planning a series of what it terms Signature Events, ranging from an African-American Conference in February 2007 to a World Forum on the Future of Democracy the following September, with participants from around the world. And, of course, many of the sites and exhibits are meant to be permanent (at least until the 500th anniversary). For more information, go to www.americas400thanniversary.com . Read more »

Four Centuries

How Jamestown Got Us Started

We’re not used to measuring history in great swaths of time in this country, where a hundred-year-old house is considered an ancient survivor. So it was with a sense of going back in time twice over that I read about Virginia’s Grand National Jubilee of 1807.Read more »

Roanoke Lost

Four hundred years ago the first English settlers reached America. What followed was a string of disasters ending with the complete disappearance of a colony.

Roanoke is a twice-lost colony. First its settlers disappeared—some 110 men, women, and children who vanished almost without a trace. Ever since, it has been neglected by history, and few Americans of today are aware that the English tried and failed to colonize this continent long before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth. Four hundred years ago, between 1584 and 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh and his associates made two attempts to establish a settlement on Roanoke Island, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. One colony returned to England; the other disappeared in America.Read more »

The Tempest

The storm that wrecked the Virginia-bound ship Sea Venture in 1609 inspired a play by Shakespeare— and the survivors’ tribulations may well have sown the first seeds of democracy in the New World

The story of the British ship Sea Venture is one of history’s most remarkable sagas, an almost unbelievable tale of shipwreck, endurance, and human resourcefulness. But it is more than that. The fate of the survivors of the Sea Venture reverberates in literature, in political theory—in the very founding of America. Read more »

Consider The Oyster

It saved the early Colonists from starvation, it has caused men to murder each other, it used to be our most democratic food—in short, an extraordinary bivalve

The oyster is an ancient species, and one that has evolved little over millions of years. It is found in the tidal waters of every continent but Antarctica, on the shores of every sea but the Caspian. It flourishes best in the bays and estuaries where salt- and fresh water mix and people build resorts. And despite the saying that it was a bold man who first ate one, the oyster has been consumed by humans since before the oldest certifiable man-made artifact. Read more »