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Jamestown vs. Plymouth: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 6, 2023
Jamestown, in Virginia, was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas (1607), while Plymouth, in Massachusetts, was established by Pilgrims seeking religious freedom (1620).

Key Differences

Jamestown was established in 1607 by the Virginia Company of London as an economic venture. In contrast, Plymouth was founded in 1620 by a group of English Pilgrims fleeing religious persecution.
Located in Virginia, Jamestown faced many hardships, including diseases, conflicts with Native Americans, and issues of food scarcity. Conversely, Plymouth, situated in Massachusetts, also encountered challenges but benefited from friendly Native American relations, notably with the Wampanoag.
Jamestown became an economic hub, especially due to the introduction of tobacco cultivation, leading to its eventual success. Plymouth, on the other hand, was founded on communal and religious principles, which dictated much of its early governance.
The settlers of Jamestown were primarily adventurers and entrepreneurs looking for economic opportunities in the New World. In contrast, the settlers of Plymouth were families aiming to establish a community based on their religious beliefs.
Over time, Jamestown became part of the larger Virginia Colony, which played a significant role in the early history of the United States. Plymouth, though smaller in scale, had a profound influence on American culture, particularly regarding Thanksgiving and American democratic principles.

Comparison Chart

Foundation Year


Primary Purpose

Economic venture.
Religious freedom for Pilgrims.

Key Challenges

Diseases, native conflicts, food scarcity.
Harsh winters, initial food shortages.

Economic Focus

Tobacco cultivation.
Mixed farming and fishing.

Cultural Influence

Early economic and colonial growth in Virginia.
Thanksgiving tradition and communal governance principles.

Jamestown and Plymouth Definitions


A key location in early American colonial history.
Jamestown's settlers endured numerous trials in their quest for prosperity.


The landing site of the Mayflower ship.
Plymouth Rock is traditionally considered the Mayflower's landing spot.


The first permanent English settlement in the Americas.
Jamestown's establishment in 1607 marked a significant moment in American history.


A colony established by English Pilgrims in 1620.
Plymouth is often remembered for the Pilgrims' First Thanksgiving with the Wampanoag.


A colony located in what is now Virginia.
Jamestown faced many early challenges, including diseases and native confrontations.


A foundational point for many American democratic principles.
The Mayflower Compact, signed in Plymouth, laid the groundwork for American self-governance.


An economic venture by the Virginia Company of London.
Jamestown eventually thrived due to the profitability of tobacco.


A symbol of perseverance and community in early American history.
Plymouth's early settlers relied on communal efforts to survive their initial years.


A symbol of early British colonization in the New World.
Jamestown's legacy is evident in Virginia's rich history.


A location in Massachusetts symbolizing religious freedom.
Plymouth was founded by those seeking a place to freely practice their beliefs.


A former village on the James River in Virginia north of Norfolk; site of the first permanent English settlement in America in 1607


A town in Massachusetts founded by Pilgrims in 1620


When was Jamestown founded?

Jamestown was founded in 1607.

Why did the Pilgrims choose Plymouth for their settlement?

The Pilgrims chose Plymouth because it offered a suitable location for settlement and they were seeking religious freedom.

Which Native American tribe helped the Plymouth settlers?

The Wampanoag tribe helped the Plymouth settlers.

Who established Plymouth?

Plymouth was established by English Pilgrims in 1620.

What was the primary crop in Jamestown?

The primary crop in Jamestown was tobacco.

What is Plymouth Rock?

Plymouth Rock is the traditional landing site of the Mayflower Pilgrims.

How did Plymouth settlers survive their first winter?

Plymouth settlers relied on stored provisions, help from Native Americans, and communal efforts.

What document did Plymouth settlers draft for self-governance?

Plymouth settlers drafted the Mayflower Compact.

Did Plymouth and Jamestown settlers have the same religious beliefs?

No, Plymouth settlers were Pilgrims seeking religious freedom, while Jamestown was primarily an economic venture.

Which colony is associated with the story of John Smith and Pocahontas?

Jamestown is associated with the story of John Smith and Pocahontas.

What is the lasting significance of both colonies in American history?

Jamestown represents early British colonization and economic endeavors, while Plymouth symbolizes religious freedom and foundational democratic principles.

Where is Jamestown located today?

Jamestown is located in modern-day Virginia.

Which colony faced challenges due to tobacco cultivation?

Jamestown faced challenges and opportunities due to tobacco cultivation.

Did both colonies have democratic governance?

Plymouth had the Mayflower Compact, a form of democratic governance, while Jamestown had varied governance structures over time.

Was Jamestown the first English colony in the Americas?

Yes, Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in the Americas.

How did Jamestown settlers interact with local Native Americans?

Jamestown settlers had mixed interactions, including trade and conflicts, with local Native Americans.

What significant event is Plymouth notably remembered for?

Plymouth is notably remembered for the First Thanksgiving.

Which company sponsored Jamestown's establishment?

The Virginia Company of London sponsored Jamestown's establishment.

Why was tobacco important to Jamestown's success?

Tobacco became a lucrative cash crop, ensuring Jamestown's economic success.

Were both Jamestown and Plymouth successful immediately?

No, both colonies faced significant hardships before finding stability.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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