Joined: Feb 15, 2003
From: San Diego, Ca.
|Posted: 2005-04-05 08:03 am  Permalink|
Born around 1595, Pocahontas was the daughter of the powerful Algonquin chief Powhatan who was chief of almost all the land that would become Virginia. Her birth name was Matoaka, Pocahontas being an Algonquin nickname, "Playful one," perfect for a frolicsome child.
The story of Pocahontas saving John Smith from death at her father's hand because she loved him is mostly apocryphal: she was only 12 years old at the time, hadn't entered puberty yet & spent her time running around naked with a shaved head (as little prepubescent Algonquin girls did in the 1600's). John Smith hadn't been in the are long & didn't speak the Algonquin language yet & probably didn't understand what exactly was happening, plus chief Powhatan was a master politician who wouldn't be above using John Smith's misinformation for his own gain. Modern scholars believe that John Smith's later accounts of his rescue by Pocahantas are truthfully what he thought was happening, but later romanticizing of the meeting have blown the story all out of proportion.
However it happened, after her meeting of John Smith in 1607 laid the groundwork for a friendly relationship, Pocahantas often came to Jamestown to play with the children, and on several occasions she brought food to the colonists & saved them from starving. Despite her attempts to keep good relations between Powhatan's people & the Jamestown colonists problems & fights still occured, and in 1612 Pocahantas was kidnaped by the colonists in an attempt to ransom the release of some of their own people who were being held by the indians. While in this captivity Pocahantas learnt better English & was baptized a christian by the Rev. Alexander Whitaker, the founder of the first Presbyterian Church in Virginia, and given the christian name Rebecca. She then married John Rolfe, the first tobacco farmer in Virginia (Powhatan never did release the captive colonists, but his daughter marrying one at least cooled the hostilities between them for a few years), on April 5th, 1614.
The Virginia colony's sponsors found it difficult to both lure new colonists to Jamestown and to find investors for such ventures and so caught on to Pocahontas as a marketing ploy to convince people back in Europe that the New World was tameable and safe. In 1616 she was brought to England to meet King James I and his court. There she was promoted as an "Indian princess," which created a sensation in England, becoming America's first international celebrity. The plan to win more backing for the Virginia colony and to gain royal favor was a great success. Rolfe was eager to return to Virginia to raise tobacco, but before leaving, Pocahontas became ill and died in Gravesend of smallpox. Her only child was Thomas Rolfe, born in Virginia before they left for England, through whom she has living descendants.
After her death Pocahantas' story became more & more of a legend, the "Love" between her & John Smith built up, the running battles between Powhatan's tribe & the colonists ignored, her marriage to John Rolfe explained away or ignored, her pictures were westernized & her indian features softened. By the 19th Century her story was being used as the basis for the Indian Schools where young indians were inculated with our culture and beaten if they attempted to keep their own culture & language.
Other Historical Highlights for Today are:
- 1621 - The Mayflower sets sail from Plymouth on a return trip to Great Britain.
- 1856 - Booker T. Washington, American Educator & author, is Born (d. 1915)
- 1900 - Spencer Tracy, actor, is Born (d. 1967)
- 1908 - Bette Davis, actress, is Born (d. 1989)
- 1916 - Gregory Peck, actor, is Born (d. 2003)
- 1917 - Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, is Born (d. 1994)
- 1922 - Gale Storm, singer/actress, TV's "My Little Margie," is Born
- 1950 - Agnetha Fältskog, leading voice of ABBA, is Born
- 1964 - General Douglas MacArthur, US Army, died (b. 1880)
- 1976 - Howard Hughes, aviation pioneer, film director, eccentric, died (b. 1905)
- 1997 - Allen Ginsberg, Beat poet, died (b. 1926)
- 1998 - In Japan, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge linking Shikoku with Honshu and costing cost about US$3.8 billion, opens to traffic, becoming the largest suspension bridge in the world, surpassing the Verranzano Narrows Bridge in NYC, linking Staten Island & Brooklyn.
Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Freelance, Ph.D., D.F.S
[ This Message was edited by: freddiefreelance on 2005-04-05 08:03 ]