This Day in the Law
May 14

Jamestown, Virginia Becomes First Permanent Settlement (1607)

On May 14, 1607, over 100 settlers from England established the first permanent settlement of North America in Jamestown, Virginia.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, European countries were competing to establish colonies in North America. The English created the Virginia Company in an effort to establish the first permanent settlement in North America backed by King James I of England.

On this day, May 14, 1607, over 100 settlers arrived in North America after voyaging across the Atlantic Ocean. They landed in present day Virginia at the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay on the James River. The new colonists named their settlement Jamestown in honor of King James I of England, who was the King of England at that time.

The first few years were especially very rough on the settlers. They faced starvation, threats from Native American Indians, and no real way to raise money. A number of the settlers died, and the future of the colony looked grim.

However, under the leadership of John Smith, John Rolfe, and others, the settlers of Jamestown began to develop a successful tobacco trade, better living standards, and a peaceful relationship with the local Native American Indians. John Rolfe also married Pocahontas, the Native American Indian daughter of the local Powhatan Tribe, which helped in developing a peaceful relationship with the Native Americans.

In 1619, the settlers of Jamestown created the first representative legislative body in North America called the House of Burgesses. Jamestown lasted until 1699 when Virginia transferred its capital to Williamsburg.

All Americans trace their roots to Jamestown, Virginia as the birthplace of the United States. The original settlers faced fears, starvation, disease, and danger. But they fought their way to survival and established Jamestown as the first permanent settlement in what is now the United States of America.

Today, Jamestown, Yorktown, and Williamsburg – all cities in Virginia – represent "historic Virginia" and the birthplace of the United States. If you haven’t had the chance to visit this "Historic Triangle," we recommend that you do.