The Virginia Company recruited many specialists for their new colony on the banks of the James River. Some of these men were actively engaged in trying to get profitable commodities from Virginia’s resources. Others provided support services. They all hoped to make money quickly. There were refiners, goldsmiths, and jewelers to work precious metals. There were blacksmiths and gunsmiths to repair tools, weapons, and armor. Bricklayers were sent to build the furnaces needed by the various crafts. There were carpenters to construct the first buildings and defensive features of the fort. Coopers produced the barrels to ship the newfound commodities back to England. Even glassmakers from Germany were sent to see if there was a commercial profit to producing glass from Virginia’s wood and sand.
In modern times, historians have generally characterized the early colonists as lazy and incompetent, choosing to bowl in the streets rather than grow food or defend themselves. Early failures at Jamestown have been blamed on the overarching but fruitless search for gold and the large percentage of colonists who were gentlemen and unaccustomed to hard labor. Some of this is true, but the archaeological excavations at James Fort have uncovered the specialists’ many tools and the by-products of their work. This evidence shows that early Jamestown was a busy place full of colonists working at what they had been sent to do—make money for their investors back home in England.