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Identifying the importance of the arrival of Africans and women to the Jamestown settlement.



  • Review the groups of people in Virginia during the early 1600s. Explain how having a government brought more order and permanence to the colony. The settlers were ready to establish families so that the colony could grow. Women were brought to the colony in 1620.

  • The following is the story about the Brideship: Arrival of women in 1620

  • Find a book about early Jamestown and read selections that explain how tobacco became a cash crop. Define cash crop. Talk about how agriculture became the primary source of wealth. Explain that tobacco was the most profitable product, because it was not available in England, and so the settlers traded it for supplies they needed.

  • Explain or continue reading excerpts of a selected book to discuss that the settlers needed to find an inexpensive source of labor to expand the tobacco economy. Use a world map to show students where this labor would come from and have them identify the continent of Africa. Explain that the Africans were brought against their will, first as indentured servants, to plant, raise, and harvest tobacco. As the economy grew, more Africans were needed for labor. Many Africans were apprehended against their will and brought to America as slaves. The dependence on slave labor in Virginia would last for many, many years.

  • Compare the experiences of different slaves by reading the stories contained in the following Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/tguide/1tgfocus.html. Ask students to chart ways slaves fought against slavery or how they survived slavery. Discuss the consequences.

  • Draw illustrations of the work, housing, dress, etc. of women from different backgrounds in the Jamestown colony, such as a planter's wife, African slave, and indentured servant.

  • Trace on a world map the routes of the women on the ships from England to the new colony of Virginia.

  • Trace on a world map the routes of slaves from Africa to Jamestown.

  • Complete a Venn diagram or chart comparing the impact of the arrival of the women and Africans on the Jamestown settlement.

  • Have the students summarize the information about the arrival of the first Africans to the Virginia Colony using the following Web site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p263.html.


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Updated on August 11, 2008.