What challenges did explorers and colonists face in what became North America from the 1580’s until the 1630’s? Look at geographical, political, economic, indigenous peoples, climate, diet, etc., anything that presented a challenge to survival and development during this period.
Hist-154-A: American History
April 7, 2014
When Europeans first came to the New World in the late 16th century they were entering new territory and had no idea what to expect. Their views on everything from geographic, politics, climate, to diet, etc. where about to change, and their need for survival would hopefully outweigh these challenges. Only small parts of this new world had ever been explored over the past century, and what information the new settlers had was lacking. The new settlers had assumed the climate would be like that of Europe in the New World and that the weather would be similar and their crops would grow like they did back home. But that was not the case, as they came to find out the summers were hot and the winters were harsh, and many of there crops did not grow. They also believed the New World to be largely uninhabited, as the Indians did not live like they did back home in permanent villages and towns, but rather off the land traveling, as they needed.
The first settlement was built by the English and consisted of 117 men, women, and children on Roanoke Island; which is off the coast of North Carolina. Within three years all of the colonists had disappeared leaving no trace of what happened to them. Analysis of tree rings has shown that Roanoke Island had the worst three-year drought in the past 800 years during the time they settled and disappeared. This is just one of the many challenges that colonists faced.
The next settlement the English, Jamestown was set up on the James River, which is now in Virginia. When they first settled Jamestown they ran into the Powhatan Indians, many of which were wary of the Europeans. Though some Indians welcomed them, others fired their bow and arrows at them and fled into the forest as soon as they heard gunshots from the Europeans. Realizing they were exposed, the set out to build a fort to protect from any future attacks, whether it be from Indians or the Spanish. So that is what they did, the built a fort to protect from any future attacks. Shortly after the fort finished, their Captain named Newport sailed back to England to return later.
Much like the previous settlement at Roanoke, Jamestown faced a sever drought that not only affected their ability to grow crops but also their drinking water. The lack of safe water to drink eventually led to typhoid fever and dysentery. On top of disease they were faced with salty water as the lack of flowing water in the James River caused salt from the ocean to flow up stream causing them to get salt poising killing many people.
Early European’s believed the New World’s climate to be the same of that in Europe...