King James I of England granted the London Company a charter to settle the southern part of English North America. 144 men embarked on three ships to settle on the James River. The settlers endured many trials, but Jamestown became the first permanent English settlement in North America.
The British Monarchy did not have enough money to organize settlement activity in North America. Instead, they assigned that role to independent companies that raised money from merchants to accomplish this goal. King James gave the charter to settle the area around Virginia Company of London More on the Companies
On December 20, 1606 the settlers set sail to America to establish a new colony. In late April 1607, they arrived off the coast of Virginia. They sailed up the James River, 50 miles and established a new settlement which they called Jamestown. More on the Voyage
The settlers built a fortified settlement and planted crops. They established initial friendly relations with the Natve Americans. Soon, however, many of the colonists became sick from disease. The colonists did not plant enough crops and many of the colonists died of hunger over the first winter. More on Settlers
Captain John Smith took control of the colony, after the first disastrous winter. He immediately made changes that put all the men to work, and put the settlement on a good footing. Smith was captured by local native Americans, but was saved by Pocahontas, the favorite daughter of the Indian chief. Pocahontas helped establish good relations between the Natives and settlers More on Smith. Smith's Account
Smith was forced to return to England after being injured. The winter following his departure was the worst winter in the short history of the colony. It became known as "the starving time". Starving Time
The colony was saved and prospered due to the actions of John Rolfe. Rolfe instituted a new strain of tobacco that was soon exported by the colony in ever growing quantities. Rolfe also married Pocohontas, the daughter of the Indian chief, thus ensuring peace between the settlers and the Native Americans. More on Tobacco and Pocohontas