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Modern Voices
Thomas Davis on the reality in Jamestown
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Q: How harsh was reality in Jamestown?
Thomas Davis

A: If we look at the original Jamestown settlement, it's more than decimated. People are dying right and left. It's not an exaggeration that the Native Americans in the area come and save the colonists. Thanksgiving is a holiday that is not so much about getting fat as it is celebrating survival. So there's a very harsh reality, both in Virginia and in New England, with the Pilgrims and then the Puritans. New England winters are harsh, or can be very harsh. So the mere act of settlement is a feat that we sometimes don't have an appreciation of. Chopping down the trees, clearing land for farming is a task that takes a tremendous amount of labor, from getting the stones, boulders, rocks moved out. Anyone who's ever removed a stump, whether from a back yard or someplace else, should be able to understand the tremendous amount of physical labor that was involved. And further, there's the fact that you don't have those luxuries that you had earlier.
Thomas J. Davis
Professor of History
Arizona State University

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