Why Did So Many Colonist Die in Early Jamestown
At first, they had easy access to basics like clean water and simple fortifications that would protect them from native attacks. The journey was successful. In their first weeks of settling, they constructed a triangular fort and named the settlement Jamestown, saying that paying homage to King James I. Spirits was high. The colonists were keen on discovering riches, bringing Christianity to the Native Americans, and even opening up a lucrative trade route to China.This was never to be. A considerable number of the colonists died. Some of them succumbed to water-borne diseases while the tides, the natives, and the lack of food killed others. The biggest demise, however, remains to be contaminated water. Back then, the understanding of hygiene, disease, and contamination was a bit hazy. The colonists carried the popular notion that a river could wash away any waste since it is continuously flowing. They didn’t think twice before throwing waste into the river that also provided their drinking and cooking water. Many of them died because of this.Over time, the river became dirty and clogged—anyone drinking its water or using it to wash food before cooking would get sick. A number of the colonists died from a waterborne disease spread in this way. High tides would also push the river back on itself hence mixing up the contaminated water making everything worse. This meant that instead of their waste washing down into the ocean, it hand around colonists settlement, making everything murky and foul.In addition to this, the tides would push seawater into the river turning the otherwise freshwater brackish. Desperate for water in the small region and fearing attacks from native Americans, the colonists resorted to drinking the brackish water in Jamestown instead of venturing deeper into the jungle for fresh supplies. Saltwater isn’t good for the body. These tides also contributed to their death.Even though my research led me to conclude that most of the Jamestown residents died from using salty contaminated water, more still succumbed to lack of food brought by a drought that reigned from 1607 to 1611. A study of trees in the region shows that there wasn’t adequate rain in that period to support crops and animals during this period.Since these were the crucial first years after setting foot in the colony, the colonists couldn’t produce the food their new society needed to thrive. Jamestown was once again doomed by nature, and many died. The colonists could not get supplies from native Americans since they had sour relations with the natives’ thanks to how they first interacted with them. This fueled the demise of the town and its colonists in the period.Reports show that the colonists believed that it would take them a short period to tame the land and start producing their own food. No one thought they could have died of hunger. The colonists didn’t think that food and water would be a problem. They didn’t see the need to forge alliances with native people since they believed they could make themselves self-sufficient in the new land without the need for help from Americans. When things did not go their way, the remaining healthy people even resorted to cannibalism to escape starvation.While it is clear that disease, lack of fresh water, and drought played a significant role in the deaths at Jamestown, I am led to believe these problems were a manifestation of deeper-seated issues. These problems could have been solved through trade if the colonists had good diplomatic relations with the natives. They could have survived the illness if they had doctors to identify the root of the problem and treat the sick. Out of the 560 colonists, only 90 people lived to tell the story. They could have done better if they had better specific skills in diplomacy, farming, hygiene, and medicine to cure disease.