Colonial Virginia Essay

In 1606, in search of wealth and treasure, hundreds of settlers emigrated to the Virginia colony. Virginia was drastically changed over the century of its establishment. The Virginians faced multiple challenges during the molding of this new colony. Their efforts changed the colony socially and economically over the course of the century. Some challenges that they had to face were not being killed by the Indians, having any sort of government because England was basically leaving them out on their own (benign neglect), and not dying of starvation, malnutrition, or famine.

Their efforts caused them to learn to defend themselves, grow food, hunt, and create their own local government, which all created a feeling of separation and independence from Great Britain. George Percy, in A Discourse on the Plantation of Virginia, addresses how the men were killed. He says that they were “destroyed by cruel diseases […] and by wars, and some departed suddenly. but for the most part they died of mere famine”. When the settlers arrived in Jamestown on May 24, 1607, there were many mosquitoes.

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The mosquitoes carried a disease called Malaria, this disease killed many of the first settlers. Percy also says that they died of wars. The Virginians were constantly at war with the Indians. Pohawtan, the leader of the Indians, even captured James Smith, which was the one in charge of the Virginia settlement. When the Virginians first settled, they were having trouble farming, hunting, etc. They were forced to eat things that they had never eaten before. Some men even went as extreme as eating their wives.

Virginia was a colony focused on plantation farming. With this, labor and more land is needed, so in 1619, 20 African slaves were sold at auction. From 1619-1700, the African slave population begins to grow and by 1700, 14% of the Virginia population is enslaved. The slaves were emigrated from Africa to the Americas on what is called a slave ship. The slaves were packed closely together to the point where there was no moving room for anyone. (Doc D. ) The ships had a terrible smell because of this.

Diseases and sicknesses were easily spread because of how close they were to one another. Often times, on the way over, man Africans would die on the slave ship. They died of malnutrition, starvation, diseases, and sicknesses. Followed by African slaves, the Virginia colony also had what was called an indentured slave. An indentured servant was a worker, typically a laborer, under contract to an employer for a fixed period of time, typically three to seven years, in exchange for their transportation, food, clothing, lodging and other necessities.

The indentured servants helped tend the land in the colony. Many immigrants arrived in Colonial America as indentured servants. Most were young men and women from Britain and Germany. The indentured servants were given a contract to sign. (Doc C. ) The contract was called an indenture. An indenture was a legal contract enforced by the courts that made the servant to work for their land.


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