- 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
The Americans ... revolted not to create but to maintain their freedom. American society had developed differently from that of the Old World. From the time of the first settlements in the seventeenth century, wrote Samuel Williams in 1794,
every thing tended to produce, and to establish the spirit of freedom. While the speculative philosophers of Europe were laboriously searching their minds in an effort to decide the first principles of liberty, the Americans had come to experience vividly that liberty in their everyday lives.