Roanoke Island was the first attempt at British colonization in 1585.  However, after initial success the Lost Colony of Roanoke mysteriously disappeared.  How did an entire colony disappear?  Where did all the settlers go?  Why did it happen?  To explore this mystery more and find out the answers to these questions click here.

The London Company placed colonists on the shore of Virginia in 1607.  The first year was devastating for the Jamestown colonists; only 32 colonists surviving the winter and only because Native Americans living in the area came to their aid with food.  Slowly, as they reached agreements with the local Native American tribes and they learned how to grow some of their own crops, the colony began to prosper.

Most of the original Jamestown settlers were after profit, mainly riches in the form of gold and other metals. 

John Smith eventually made contact with the local Native American chieftain Powhatan, who provided the colonists with much of their food in that first year. Captain Smith was eventually even appointed leader of the colony.

One of Powhatan's children, a daughter called Pocahontas, visited the colonists in the early years and brought them food and other provisions. Several years later, the colonists kidnapped Pocahontas, and she stayed with them in Jamestown. John Rolfe, who was the first of the colonists to farm tobacco eventually married her and took her to England. She died as they were preparing to return to Virginia.

Although the colonists were looking for gold, they found the only thing of value in Virginia were crops.  Anglican colonists farmed wheat, corn, and most importantly tobacco.


Sir Walter Raleigh was an Englishman who founded the Roanoke colony in 1584.  He settled the first colony.  Image 1
Captain John Smith was another Englishman.  He founded Jamestown in 1607, which was the first lasting colony in the New World. Image 2 and 3
John Rolfe was the first person to experiment with planting tobacco in 1609, which allowed the Jamestown colony to successfully trade. Image 4 and 5

Before watching this video, brainstorm a list of reasons settlers may have founded Virginia given your knowledge of the region.  To review the region click here.
After watching this video check your initial list.  According to the video what were the actual reasons for settlement?  What do you notice about settlers desires for profit from gold and silver?  How do you think natives responded to this type of action?  Do you think this behavior made the colony more or less successful?

The Jamestown Colony Layout

+ The Church

5. Bulwarks of Half-moon Shape

1. Market Place

6. Principal Entrance, or "South Gate

2. Storehouse and Court of Guard

7. Other Gates

3. Streets of "Settled" Houses (shown in rows)

8. Trench or Moat around Palisade

4. Palisades of Posts

This picture illustrates the fort at Jamestown and it's surrounding land.  Notice the triangular shape of the fort, the swamp to the North, and the James River to the West.

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