National Geographic : 2002 Jun
died, sickened, or reportedly went insane. Utterly spent and without food, the remaining colonists in 1610 boarded ships to abandon Jamestown. As they began to sail away, a supply ship arrived. The settlers returned to James town, and the colony endured to become Virginia's first capital. In this Kelso finds inspiration. "They ate snakes and rats, but they survived," he says. A former amateur football player and coach, Kelso effuses enthusiasm. Jamestown is his underdog team, his against-the odds winner. "It was an exper iment, it was trial and error," he says. "And finally they got it figured out: The land was the gold." To recruit more colonists, raise capital, and control the sale of the new cash crop, tobacco, the Virginia Company started issuing parcels of land to set tlers and to others who bought shares. As a further incentive to colonists, the company created the Virginia General Assembly in 1619. "They could own land and Twenty-flrst-century Americans encounter the skeleton of a forebear. Unearthed In James Fort, the young upper-class man bled to death in the 1600s after someone shot him in the lower right leg. A hunting accident? A murder? His death remains a mystery, but archaeology is revealing why so many others perished-and how the colony they founded ultimately survived. vote," Kelso says. "Here's pri vate enterprise and freedom" the seeds that would grow into the United States. For the Indi ans it would mean near extinc tion. For Africans shipped to tobacco plantations it would mean slavery. But for colonists willing to risk death on a fron tier, it would mean unheard of opportunity. 0 Want to learn more about Jamestown? Post a question for archaeologist William Kelso and watch for his weekly replies at nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0206.