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Jamestown Landing

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painting
Cape Henry Landing by Sidney King

In April of 1607, explorers from the Virginia Company arrived at the eastern coast of North America. They landed at Cape Henry in Chesapeake Bay, and traveled up the James River to Jamestown Island, where they decided to settle. The site was well-situated for defense - the isthmus was a narrow place which could be easily defended, and the fort was out of sight of ships coming into Chesapeake Bay.

George Percy, one of the planners, described landing in the paradise he first saw from the ship. There were "fair meadows and goodly tall trees, with such fresh waters running through the woods as I was almost ravished at the first sight thereof."

The Virginia Company financed the colony and had secured the settlers with promises of riches. Many were what John Smith called "gentlemen," who did not intend to work. They had been on the Atlantic for four months in small ships. After landing, the 104 settlers opened a sealed box that listed the names of the seven council members who were to govern the colony.

These leaders established the Virginia English Colony on the banks of the James River (60 miles from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay). John Smith, a 27 year old adventurer (former mercenary and pirate), found his name on that list.


Part of The Virginia English Colony at Jamestown exhibit

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