Chas Goldstein

General History of Virginia: What Happened Until the First Supply

My DH project was a timeline of Jamestown from its foundation to the first supply.  I was able to learn several bits of information about Jamestown and the perspective of its settlers, and from what I learned, I was able to come to some  conclusions, both new and old.

The timeline started with the settler ships landing in Chesepeake Bay. It continued with Jamestown being officially claimed and christened. The next event covered was the attack on the settlers, courtesy of the natives. Continuing on, James Fort was built in response to the native attacks. The major game-changer happened when Newport departed for to cash in on some mineral desposits he believed to contain Gold. The next event in the timeline was a period of exploration of the land. After that came the death of Gosnold. The next event on the timeline is the deposing of President Wingfield.  The last 3 events are Smith’s initial capture, his subsequent encounter with Powhatan, and his return to Jamestown.

Each event was viewed from a modern perspective alongside a contemporary perspective. Often this boiled down to one perspective being borne from taking the text at face value while the other looked into underlying reasons why this perspective was had, such as people’s persona feelings. Other times, the perspectives were made because of newer knowledge not available in the time the text was initially written, as well as some contradictions in the text with said newer knowledge.

The events chosen for the timeline were taken from the timeline on, as they – at the very least – had date ranges, whereas I couldn’t find any in the text itself.

Most events on the timeline were accompanied by hand-drawn pictures, specifically for the purpose of giving the timeline more substance and some originality.

I learned several small nuggets of information in the process of making this timeline, mainly through doing research.

The first major piece of information I acquired was that Smith was an unreliable narrator. Secondly, I learned that the Jamestown settlement had a serious food and water problem, as the water was both unclean and high in salt. Going off of that, I learned the available spots for the colonists to set up shop was undesirable to the Natives because of it. On an unrelated note, I learned that Jamestown was intended to be a trading post, or something of the sort. I was also able to spot numerous contradictions, one of which was: Smith had claimed Powhatan and his men were primed to eat him and that Pocahontas had saved his life. Yet the Natives had no history of making elaborate feasts for soon to be killed prisoners, and children weren’t allowed to participate in said feasts; they were often washing dishes and some such.

Given the knowledge I’ve accrued from the primary and secondary sources, I have been able to come to some conclusions, some of which are shared with others and others of which are my own.

Firstly, the deaths in Jamestown: Why did they happen? They likely occurred because of 2 major factors: conflict with the natives and the poor living conditions, which themselves led to such things as disease and famine.

Secondly, the Native attacks: I think these happened because of previous hostilities between Natives and Colonists. On that note, the general tensions between the colonists and the natives was due to the way the two parties perceived each other: the Natives probably saw Smith and his crew as people who wanted to benefit off of them in some unethical way, or as walking health hazards and thieves. Likewise, the Colonists likely viewed the Natives as inherently savage, as they are outright referred to as sa(l)vages in the primary text. That, and the colonists likely operated on a fight or flight response to the attacks and didn’t really think things through.

Now, Smith’s capture and his encounter with Powhatan. Powhatan, as stated by Charles C. Mann, didn’t see the colonists as a major threat given the poor condttion they were in. Powhatan himself was, as implied by Mann, interested in the foreign goods the Colonists had. Going off of that, I imagine Powhatan was either being genuinely nice to Smith and did just want to help him get hack on his feet, or he was just trying to curry favor for the goods. I highly doubt Smith was in any danger of being eaten.

Lastly, why did the settlers set Smith to be hung when he returned? While one would be led to believe it was because he got the men on the expedition killed, I’d say it was more than that people were angry at him for. One should take into perspective that people were dying left and right, whether it be by natives or just because they were starving, ill, and lacking in good water. I believe the colonists were angry at Smith for “causing” all of these problems.

In summary and conclusion, my DH project was a timeline of events in Jamestown from its foundation to the first supply. It came with pictures and two perspectives. I learned several small bits of information through this project, and I was able to draw conclusions with said info.


So I made a DH project, but how exactly did I make this project? First of all, what was the project about? The text I chose to base my DH project on was General History of Virginia: What Happened Until the First Supply.

My initial research question was: Why did the Jamestown settlement fail? What could have been done to prevent that?  I used’s interactive timeline maker. I decided that a timeline would be the best way to go about viewing events that possibly contributed to the failure of the settlement.

I took a multitude of steps in order to get the work done. Firstly, I read the skimmed the ttext to get an idea of what it was about. Next, I decided to make a timeline. After that, I clarified what the DH project goals were (looking at past events or texts from a modern perspective). Following that, I found a website to use for making an online interactive timeline. I then went on historic to find a timeline with bare minimum, date ranges, as the text itself didn’t have any dates or date ranges I could use. After that, I looked at Charles C. Mann’s text and an article online detailing notions of race in the 17th century to get some better insight on possible  underlying reasons for these events, as well as possible contradictions in the text. Then, I finally started to put the info into a timeline, writing from both perspectives along the way. I then drew some pictures, as I was done with the timeline surprisingly quickly and I wanted to add something to make it a little meatier in content. I added the pictures, and after that, capped things off by adding citations.

I ran into a couple challenges as I worked on this project. The first major challenge – and the most prominent – was my anxiety. My anxiety, in tandem with my perfectionism, led me to put the project off for a good while. I was able to work around that by getting feedback from my professor and some general pointers on how to go about the project. The first non-anxiety related challenge was finding a way to make an interactive timeline. Dr. Tippen pointed me towards timegraphics. The next major challenge was finding dates for the events, as again, the text didn’t have any. Thankfully I was able to find a timeline on with date ranges and actual dates. I also ran into some tech problems with the cursor on the timeline refusing to budge, but it resolved itself come the next day. The final issue I ran into was citations, but Dr. Tippen cleared things up for me and I was able to finish the project. The post-project challenges I ran into were the two reflections. Namely, that it’s kinda hard to write 750 words sometimes. I’m getting around this by simply adding as much text and detail as I can to the reflections, though.

I feel like my project was underwhelming, but that’s most likely because I got through the meat of it so quickly once I actually started working. There are a couple things I would do differently if I had more time and energy. Had I been clear on what to do from the get go and in general had been more proactive, I feel like I would have put more passion and effort into the timeline. I also feel like the contents weren’t really centered so much on the primary text, which is something I’m somewhat unhappy about. The timeline felt rather unoriginal (the events were straight ported from another timeline). I honestly wish the timeline would have taken longer because it felt rather anticlimactic to have it in a mostly finished state after so long.  I would have definitely put more time and eI imagine people could further explore the contradictions I’ve spotted and glean new information from that. For example, one could look into why the settlers didn’t bring food with them, or why Opechancanough didn’t straight up kill Smith along with his men. Powhatan’s motivation could also be explored, as I believed him to be genuine in his friendship attempts while Mann says Powhatan only befriended Smith because Smith and his crew were in such poor shape. There are so many questions raised from research that can be explored, with it seeming like research just opens up further questions.