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Port History


The Jamestown Docks that greeted many travelers and served as a launch site for commerce and trade are today the largest port complex in the United States, vital to international businesses which depend on Virginia's ports for world-wide access to the marketplace.

The Third Charter of the Virginia Companie, the Great Charter of 1618, not only increased the attractiveness and investment in Virginia, it also recognized a central element to continued business success, the election of a governing body. The General Assembly of 1619 became the first representative body in the New World. Virginia, named to honor Elizabeth I who lead the first attempts to found colonies in North America, grew to a civilized society, becoming a leader in colonial America.

The early growth of the Commonwealth was due to the cooperative effort of private and public servants, each investing their time to strengthen the outlook for Virginia's future. History records that the first years of the colony at Jamestown were a constant struggle for survival. The King issued a second charter, increasing the landholding of the Company to include most of present-day America, and new support poured in from investors. Soon commerce and trade began to flourish.

The Virginia Companie, first hope for "inward" land investment in the New World, soon discovered the vast potential of Virginia as an export market. Virginia's first major export left the colony in 1614, the year John Rolf exported Virginia tobacco back to England. In 1616, the colony shipped 2300 pounds of tobacco to England. Two short years later, the amount increased twentyfold. The Jamestown colony, under the direction of the Virginia Companie, grew to become a center of commerce and trade. The Virginia Companie's investment in Jamestown's first industry, a glassmaking facility, was the forerunner of our present manufacturing base that produces the latest in high technology equipment.

While the investors of the 16th and 17th centuries believed the potential for commercial success was great, all attempts to colonize America in the late 16th century had failed. On April 10, 1606, King James I chartered the Virginia Companie of London to settle North America, and colonists set sail aboard the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. On May 14, 1607, the party of pioneering settlers stepped ashore at what is now Jamestown, Virginia. By the King's ordinance, the Virginia Companie's profit-making venture was underway.

The United States of America stands as an example of the success of the free enterprise system. Industrial achievement and advancements have been the hallmark of our more than two hundred years of existence. And yet, even before America became recognized as a country, one place on the North American continent stood out as a center of trade and commerce. That place was Virginia.



Visit other related web sites

Colonial Williamsburg

Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation




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