POCAHONTAS (1595-1617)


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Pocahontas was born around 1595 to one of Powhatan's many wives (Powhatan was a powerful Indian chief).

As a child, in 1607, she played with the settlers' children in the streets of Jamestown. Pocahontas probably saw white men for the first time in May 1607 when Englishmen landed at Jamestown.
One day the Indians had a prisoner and were ready to kill him but Pocahontas saved him from death. This prisoner was captain John Smith. Since that day, Pocahontas and Smith became friends.

They had a special relationship. Beginning in early 1608 Pocahontas and a group of Indians brought food to the near-starving Jamestown settlers.
Pocahontas was a frequent visitor to Jamestown.

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Unfortunately, relations with the Powhatans got worse and she couldn't visit the settlers as often. In October 1609, John Smith was badly injured by a gunpowder explosion and was forced to return to England. When Pocahontas next came to visit the fort, she was told that her friend Smith was dead.

In 1610 she married an Indian called Kocoum but her relationship with the Englishmen continued. In 1613 she was kidnapped by an English soldier. He said she would be free if Powhatan returned the English prisoners and the arms Indians had stolen. Powhatan didn't accept all the conditions so Pocahontas wasn't set free.
In spite of being kidnapped by the English, she began her education in the Christian Faith, and on April 5, 1614, she married John Rolfe, a successful tobacco planter: the couple had a child, Thomas.

In the spring of 1616 the three Rolfes departed for England, where Pocahontas met King James I, the royal family, and the rest of the best of London society. Also in London at this time was Captain John Smith, the old friend she had not seen for eight years and whom she believed was dead.

In March 1617 Pocahontas and Rolfe wanted to return to the colony to establish a college to Christianize the Powhatan Indians, but she didn't survive the voyage home.

She was buried in a churchyard in Gravesend, England. She was 22 years old.

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Pocahontas played a significant role in American history. As a compassionate little girl she saw to it that the colonists received food from the Indians, so that Jamestown would not suffer the fate of the "Lost Colony" on Roanoke Island. She is said to have intervened to save the lives of individual colonists. In 1616 John Smith wrote that Pocahontas was "the instrument to pursurve this colonie from death, famine, and utter confusion." And Pocahontas not only served as a representative of the Virginia Indians, but also as a vital link between the native Americans and the Englishmen.