By Jason Ripper
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Extra resources for American Stories: Living American History, Volume I, To 1877
Colonial societies and cultures developed based on a complex alchemy of factors: existing populations of Native Americans, geographical features, and the particular groups of colonists who moved into a region. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island: these were the original New England colonies, but of course their cultures did not literally stop at the map-edge between them and, for example, New York. People and people’s ideas were ﬂuid, in motion. By the 1700s, residents from the mid-Atlantic colonies (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware) and from the South (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia) stereotyped New Englanders as religiously crazed Yankees.
For three years, ﬁve-foot-four John Smith pushed the colonists to grow food, trade shrewdly for food, drill for combat, and act bold and brave enough to scare the local Indians into giving away more than they needed to in land and corn. There were literally thousands of warriors in the area beholden to the emperor Powhatan, and they easily could have overwhelmed the hundred-odd original colonists. Smith’s natural curiosity and bravery led him to explore, which in turn led him into Powhatan’s longhouse, bound as a captive.
The stockholders assumed the local Indians would be happy to trade once they realized the English were there for that one purpose alone. In the ﬁrst ten years of Jamestown history almost everyone died horribly. Between starving to death, having the skin scraped off their living bones by Powhatan warriors using oyster shells, getting impaled on rock-tipped arrows, and in return burning villages, shooting drowning children in the head with muskets, and living in mortal fear, the residents of Jamestown were not doing well.
American Stories: Living American History, Volume I, To 1877 by Jason Ripper
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