"The English had long dreamed of colonizing America, especially after Sir Francis Drake brought home Spanish treasure and dramatic tales from his raids in the Caribbean. Ambitions of finding gold and planting a New World colony seemed within reach when in 1606 Thomas Smythe extended overseas trade with the launch of the Virginia Company. But from the beginning the American enterprise was a disaster. Within two years warfare with Indians and dissent among the settlers threatened to destroy Smythe's Jamestown just as it had Raleigh's Roanoke a generation earlier.
"Jamestown -the first permanent English settlement in North America, after the disappearance of the Roanoke colony-is often given short shrift in histories of America. Founded thirteen years before the Mayflower landed, Jamestown occupies less space in our cultural memory than the Pilgrims of Plymouth.