"Seeing that we are not borne for our selves, but each helpe other, and our abilities are much alike at the houre of our birth, and the minute of our death: seeing our good deeds, or our badde, by faith in christ merits, is all we have to carrie our soules to heaven or hell: seeing honor is our lives ambition; and our ambition after death, to have an honorable memory of our life: and seeing noe meanes we would bee abated of the dignities and glories of our predecessors; let us imitate their virtues to be worthily their successors"-John Smith A Description of New England
Out of the 105 settlers who had first arrived, only 60 settlers survived this first winter, most dying of starvation and exposure to the elements. The settler’s luck changed, however, when John Smith, the captain of the enterprise, went to the Indians looking for help. These Indians, known as the Powatans, did not take kindly to the entrance of a white man into their territory, and their chief, sentenced John Smith to death. The chief Powatan was about to kill him, when Pocahontas, his daughter, saved his life by placing her head over his. This act served as a sort of treaty between the to groups, resulting in a turning point for the settlers of Jamestown. For the first time since they had arrived, Jamestown was beginning to look less like a dream, and more like a reality, as the Indians exchanged their vast knowledge of survival for the metal tools the settlers provided.
Jamestown wouldn’t begin to truly thrive until the arrival of one particular settler, who carried with him the one thing that would truly alter the course of history: tobacco. This settler, John Rolfe, came to Jamestown with a different aspiration from the other settlers. Instead of hungering for gold and other riches, John Rolfe came with a plan to set up trade routes between Virginia and Britain, using tobacco as the main American export. This created a totally new era for America, as more and more people from Britain soon came to Jamestown in order to cash in on the insatiable British demand for tobacco. Soon plantations began to spring up throughout the Chesapeake Bay colonies, taking advantage of the mineral rich soil of the area. Soon the settlers ran into another problem; who would work these plantations? There were simply too little people in the colonies to keep up with the demand. The answer seemed to come by a form of slavery known as an indentured servant. Poor Europeans who could not find a job in Europe would be paid to come over to America, and in return they would work as a slave until they were able to work off their debt. This proved to be a productive way to get cheap labor, until the settles came up with another, more permanent solution; slaves. Slaves manifested the ideal worker during these times. They could be bought, would be able to work for many years for their master, and would make more slaves to work the plantations. Slaves were most commonly taken from the Caribbean as well as Africa, particularly the island of Barbados. Virginia was no longer the measly starved community of the past, but an up and coming trading capital of the new world.
As more and more tobacco plantations rose, it became more and more apart that the Powatan’s welcome was wearing thin. The short lasting treaty between the Indians and the settlers would soon be broken in an inconceivable turn of events; The Indian war of 1622. The Indians, who had been pushed back form their home lands in order for space to be built for plantations, soon realized that the settlers were here to stay… and wouldn’t leave until every last bit of land was taken for their disposal. The Indians, lead by Opechancanough, Chief Powatan’s brother, trying to find a way to fight back, decided there was only one thing to do. Posing as a trading party, the powatans entered Jamestown with deer, berries and pelts, were let in past Jamestown’s gates. As soon as they were inside, they grabbed anything they could use as a weapon and went on a mass killing spree, killing men, women and children, nearly two thirds of the population. These acts of defiance left the settlers stunned, and led to a disarray of raids and attacks from both Indians and the settlers alike, causing further strife in the with the colony.
Virginia, now declared by king James I a royal colony, was a prime economic state of Britain, and heavily watched and fondled over as a result, a fact that would soon lead to the American Revolution. Even in it’s earliest stages, Virginia was slowly weaning away from the towering control of the British Empire. An example of this was Bacons rebellion. This conflict, started in 1676, came as a result of a lack of freedom of government imposed by governor of Virginia, William Berkeley. The poor farmers, (yeomen), sick of facing constant raids from the Powatans, wanted an attack be staged on the Indians, an attack that was not supported by William Berkeley. When Nathaniel Bacon, a fellow yeoman was denied acceptance into the House of Burgesses, the people took this as a blatant disregard for their needs, and decided to take maters into their own hands. Soon they began attacked Indian villages without the government’s consent. The original rebellion was eventually repressed by a group of British merchant vessels, but squirmiest still raged on throughout Virginia for many years after.
This evolution of Virginia is what would eventually lead to one of the biggest triumphs of all time, the American Revolution. It is seeing this history that truly shows us how such a revolution could have been conceived, as well as what led to such an explosive downfall of British control during this time.