HIS 2213 LU6 Were Pocahontas and John Smith Lovers?

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HiS 2213 Learning Unit Six Lecture

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  • Indians accepted European settlements so\nlong as these did not encroach upon their \ntowns and fields and hunting grounds. \nIndians found trade with Europeans \ndesirable and they valued the aid of white \nallies to settle old scores with rival tribes. \nIndians closer to European settlements \nbecame more powerful than their other \nNative-American neighbors. They traded for \nEuropean goods, built up a surplus and \nsold/traded these to other Indian tribes in the \ninterior who were ignorant of the actual prices.\n
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  • HIS 2213 LU6 Were Pocahontas and John Smith Lovers?

    1. 1. Learning Unit #06 Lecture“Were Pocahontas & John Smith Lovers?”
    2. 2. Part One:Jamestown 2
    3. 3. Jamestown ColonyCapt. John Smith was a soldier-of-fortune employed by the Virginia Co.,a private, for-profit, joint-stockcompany that had rights to settle landfrom NC to VT. People migrated toVA for diverse motives: – Younger aristocratic sons seeking fortunes – Surplus population evicted by landowners – Criminals who had no choice – Dissenters fearful about religion in EnglandThey arrived in May 1607--105 men,1/3 of them “gentlemen.” There was“gold fever” but no gold. Smith was adisciplinarian during rough times. He John Smith,also forged a valuable relationship Author of The Generalwith the local Indian leader, History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624)Powhatan, and his daughter,
    4. 4. The English hoped Jamestown would become a profitable trading post andperhaps a basefrom which toraid Spanishshipping. ManyIndians livedinside theEnglish fort.Spanish spiesreported 50Englishmencohabitatingwith Indianwomen. YetSmith andPocahontaswere likely notamong theseinterracialcouples. Whatexplains ourlongstanding fascination with this romance that likely never occurred? Whilewe ignore how common ‘out-of-wedlock’ interracial relationships were atJamestown!
    5. 5. “Before a fire upon a seatlike a bedstead, he satcovered with a great robe,made of raccoon skinsand all the tails hangingby. On either hand did sita young wench of 16 or 18years, and along on eachside of the house, tworows of men, and behindthem as many women,with all their heads andshoulders painted red,many of their headsbedecked with the whitedown of birds….” – JohnSmith describing his firstmeeting with Powhatan
    6. 6. General Pattern of Indian-White Relations in Early America• Indians accepted European settlements until these encroached on them & their resources.• Indians desired from Europeans: – Trade (guns, alcohol, cloth & especially metal items—knives, axes, iron and copper kettles, fish hooks, etc.). To Indians, trade created a spiritual bond between giver and receiver. – Military allies• Europeans wanted from Indians: – Food – Furs – Land (which Indians regarded as a living being, not something to be owned). – Converts for Christianity (not a priority for the Dutch)
    7. 7. Part Two:Pocahontas, John Smith, and John Rolfe 8
    8. 8. Were John Smith and Pocahontas lovers?At the time they met in 1607, JohnSmith was 28 and Pocahontas wasabout 12. Although this agedifference does not rule out aromantic involvement, the traditionthat theirs is a love story is a pop-culture invention and has little if anybasis in fact. Smith did not publishthe famous story of Pocahontassaving his life until 1624. Heprobably mistook the wholeepisode--if it happened--for an Actors Farrell & Kilcher as Smithadoption/initiation ritual, whereby & Pocahontas in the 2004 movie The New World, which took greathe was symbolically being made a pains to accurately portray the“son” of Powhatan and, therefore, details of Indian life but fictionalized much of thePocahontas’ “brother.” rest of the story.
    9. 9. Like the romance, the dramatic rescue at the heart of the story of Pocahontas & John Smith most likely never happened either.
    10. 10. Pocahontas’ Life after Smith & before Rolfe• In 1609, John Smith left Jamestown permanently after being badly burned by gunpowder; Pocahontas was told Smith had died.• Upon reaching puberty c. 1610, Pocahontas was married to a sub-chief’s son called Kocoum.• In 1613, Thomas Argyll, deputy gov. of Virginia, kidnapped Pocahontas & made her a hostage, insuring that her father would not risk an attack on the English settlement out of fear harm would come to his favorite daughter.• The fate of Kocoum is unclear, though Native American oral tradition maintains the English murdered him.
    11. 11. Wedding of Pocahontas and John RolfeGood will between settlers and Indians is on-again, off-again, and Pocahontas proves an effective go-between. She also brings food in dire times. She eventually is kidnapped by the English. Powhatan paid her ransom, but theEnglish tricked her into believing he balked at their demands. So she remained with the English, converted to Christianity, married John Rolfe (the tobacco innovator), and bore a son—all within the first year of her captivity.
    12. 12. What Were John Rolfe’s Motives for Marrying Pocahontas? In a famous letter to Rolfe strongly denies having carnal, lustful feelings John Rolfe & for Pocahontas, so much so that one suspects such Gov. Thomas Dale, desires were in fact on his mind. Pocahontas Rolfe states hisreasons for wanting tomarry Pocahontas: “… for the good of this plantation [Virginia Colony], for the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for my own salvation, and for the converting to thetrue knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, an unbelieving creature, namely Pocahontas.” While it was common for Englishmen in Virginia to engage in unofficial “Indian marriages,” even if they had English wives back home, the marriage of Rolfe & Pocahontas marked the first officially sanctioned union.
    13. 13. Rolfe’s Motives (cont’d)Peace between the Powhatans and English had largely beenachieved because the latter were holding Pocahontas hostage. Whatdid Rolfe mean when he said he wanted to marry Pocahontas “for thegood of this plantation (the Virginia Colony)?”– Native-American oral history maintains that one reason Rolfe married Pocahontas was to learn from her kinsmen how to cure tobacco, the crop that ultimately made the colony profitable.– Furthermore, there was a belief among the English (who did not fully understand Indian attitudes about land ‘ownership’) that they could legitimately claim land in the ‘New World’ by intermarrying with Native American women. This belief persisted long after the time of Rolfe & Pocahontas, as shown by this 1738 quotation from William Byrd: » “Besides, the poor Indians would have had less reason to complain that the English took away their land, if they had received it by way of portion with their daughters. Had such affinities been contracted in the beginning, how much bloodshed had been prevented, and how populous the country would have been, and consequently, how considerable? Nor would the shade of the skin have been any reproach at this day; for if a [black] Moor may be washed white in three Generations, Surely an Indian might have been blanched in two.”
    14. 14. In 1616, Pocahontas visits England where she is used as a living advertisement to promote colonization by the desperate Virginia Company. She saw John Smith, whom she believed dead, for thefirst time since his evacuation 8 years earlier for severe burns from a gunpowder accident. She died inEngland probably of smallpox in 1617. This image was used to promote her visit to England, and therefore it was publicity for the Virginia Company.
    15. 15. The Sedgeford portrait ofPocahontas (a.k.a. Rebecca Rolfe) Pocahontas has historically and her son Thomas Rolfe. been celebrated by white Americans because she exemplifies the "good Indian" or "noble savage”; she sacrificed herself and severed her ties to her own people in order that white/European settlement might succeed. Some Native Americans might view her legacy differently. Yet, among the present-day descendants of her own people, she is regarded as someone who was brainwashed by the English and submitted to her captors because she believed her compliance would ensure a fragile peace.
    16. 16. Tobacco boomedas more and more The JamestownEnglish settlers Massacre (1622)were attracted toVirginia. But thepopulationincrease coupledwith the landrequired for thenew cash crop putpressure on theIndians, whowere killed fortheir land. Afterthe deaths ofPocahontas &Powhatan, theirrelatives,Opechancanough& Nantequas, ledthe PowhatanIndians in anattack that killed almost 400 but failed to ruin the colony. For years to come, themassacre would be used by the English to justify their taking more land by force.

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