- Despite John Smith’s heroic accounts, the 1607 English settlement at Jamestown (VA) was just hard and not at well planned. Food? Scarce for many reasons, but on starving, cannibalism became a option. (See The New York Times, 2-May-2013.) Not surprising really, since humans in extremity will resort to survival by any means. The same happened more recently in the 19th century during the Donner Party expedition.
More interesting is James Horn’s perspective in a followup NY Times Op-Ed article (4-May-2013), which suggests that while the English settlers feared cannibalism by the American Natives, in fact, they projected it, and ironically they themselves were forced to practice it.
Cannibalism Uncovered at Jamestown Settlement
[King] George was unswervingly loyal to people he trusted and ideas he believed to be true; and he behaved in ways that a modern psychologist might interpret as obsessive. As a young man he would, for example, eat virtually the same dinner every day of his adult life (bread, soup, beets or turnips, and mutton — varying only on Sundays, when he allowed himself roast beef). The regularity of his tastes bespoke a deeper hunger for order.