May 13, 2007 / 5:59 PM / 12 years ago

FACTBOX-Jamestown, first English settlement in America

(Reuters) - Following are some facts about Jamestown, the first successful English settlement in the New World.

* Three ships bearing 400 settlers arrived at Jamestown Peninsula, in what is now the U.S. state of Virginia, on May 14, 1607.

* The area at the time was inhabited by Tsenacomoco Indians, who lived in villages of a few hundred people surrounded by cornfields and fallow land.

* With Indians farming the best land, the colonists moved into a marshy, mosquito-ridden site with no fresh water, naming their village after the English monarch, King James 1. Half of them died within four months, many from typhoid and dysentery. By January 1608, the colony had dwindled to 38 people.

* There were some new arrivals but the survivors were hit by a harsh winter in 1610. They might have returned home that year if not for the arrival of fresh supplies and more colonists.

* While native Virginians grew a little tobacco, the English preferred higher quality Caribbean tobacco. John Rolfe brought Caribbean tobacco seeds to Jamestown and began cultivating it there in 1612.

* Tensions persisted with the Indians, some of it over land that was being overcultivated, especially with tobacco. But in 1614 Rolfe married Pocahontas, the daughter of Tsenacomoco chief Powhatan, easing the situation. Jamestown remained the capital of Virginia throughout the 17th century but fell into decay when the capital was moved to Williamsburg in 1698.

Sources: Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, National Geographic.

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