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Cynthia M. Gonzalez American History Period 1 Mr. Fernandez 9/15/07
Who was Pocahontas? She was the daughter of one of the many wives of Powhata, an Indian chief of the Algonquian Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia. And Pocahontas was an Indian princess. Pocahontas was born most likely in what’s now called Wicomico, Gloucester, Virginia, at the time of 1595, her birth name was Matoaka, but she is better known as Pocahontas which means “Little Wanton’ playful young girl. Pocahontas fist became familiarized with the English colonist who had settled in the Chesapeake Bay area in 1607. Pocahontas and her tribe had watched these settlers from a distance building Forts and searching for food. There is one settler who is very well known in the history of Pocahontas, his name was John Smith. It is said that John Smith and two English settlers were ambushed by a group of Indians. The Indians had killed the two settlers that were with John smith and they took John Smith to Chief Powhatan. He was held captive for two months until Powhatan decided to have the English settler clubbed to death as part of an Indian ritual. The plan was ruined when 11 year old Pocahontas throws herself between John Smiths attackers and places her head on top of his, causing her father to surrender. After this incident John Smith was on good terms with the Indians, and became good friends with Pocahontas. He had promised Powhatan several guns. He didn’t bring him guns but he had other people to send him goods instead.
Pocahontas would often go to Jamestown to send messages from her father or things to trade; while in Jamestown she would often visit John Smith. She had stopped the visits when John Smith was sent back to England in 1609 because of a gun powder accident he had. Later on in 1610, she had married an Indian tribesman named Kocoum and was unseen in the English village for a while. There was a resourceful man in Jamestown by the name of Captain Samuel Argall, when he had learned who Pocahontas was he had thought of a plan to kidnap her, he wanted to use her to get the white settlers that her father was holding prisoner. Samuel had lured Pocahontas to his ship and that’s where he had told her she wouldn’t be leaving the ship. Samuel sent word to Pohwatan that he would only return his daughter if he released the white men he was holding prisoner. Pohwatan only sent half the ransom asking that they treat her daughter well. She was held captive for a year, and went back to Jamestown with Captain Samuel Argall in April 1613. She soon had moved to the new settlement, Henrico, this settlement was under the leadership of Sir Thomas Dale. Later on, she started being educated on the Christian faith. She then converted Christian and got baptized with the name of Rebecca. Pocahontas met a successful tobacco planter named John Rolfe in July, 1613, a man she would soon marry. Pocahontas learned to enjoy her life and role in the settlement. Almost a year of being captive, Pocahontas was guarded by 150 English men and was brought to Pohwatas territory so she could get the rest of the ransom. The Indians had attacked the English men so the English men had attacked back burning many houses, attacking Indian villages, and killing Indian men. In April 5, 1614
Pocahontas married John Rolfe. Her father approved of this marriage, and this marriage also brought a little peace between the English and the Indians. Two years later They had a son together by the name of Thomas Rolfe. Sir Thomas Dale was going planning on going on an important voyage to London to seek financial support for the Virginia company, as a publicity stunt, Dale had brought a group of Algonquian Indians, which also included Pocahontas. So Pocahontas and her family accompanied her on this voyage. When Pocahontas came to London she was the center of attention. While in London she was presented to King James I as the Indian Princess. She also attended Banquets and dances that were given in her honor. She also had her portrait taken by Simon Van de Passé. She had received the royal honor by King James I. Soon enough Pocahontas had reunited with her old friend John Smith, who she thought was dead. Seven months later John Rolfe decided to go back to Virginia with the family. But sadly Pocahontas would not be returning home with then since she became very ill with either pneumonia or tuberculosis. Pretty soon She had died before the voyage in England March, 1617,she was 21 when she died. Her resting place was in a church in Gravesend. It is said that her tomb may still be there. Her husband had went back to Virginia and continued with his tobacco business where it had grown tremendously. Her son had stayed in England for schooling. At the time of Thomas Rolfe manhood he had went back to Virginia and became an important member of the Virginia community. Although Pocahontas life was short lived, it had made an impact on American history.
Woodward, Grace Steele, Pocahontas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969.
Neill, Rev. Edward D. Pocahontas and Her Companions. Albany: Joel Munsell, 1869.
Barbour, Philip L. Pocahontas and Her World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970.
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