Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Presentations and Activities > Timeline
Timeline Home Page
Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Virginia's Early Relations with Native Americans
How the Massacre of 1622 Was Good for the Plantation

Edward Waterhouse reported to the Virginia Company at some length concerning the massacre of 1622. In that latter part of his relation, he argues that the massacre was actually a good thing for the colony. In the excerpt below, what primary reasons does Waterhouse give for claiming that the massacre was a blessing in disguise? What did the massacre change with respect to colonists' views of the Indians? How would William Barret, author of Converting Indians to Christianity, have reacted to Waterhouse's conclusions?

View the original document from the Thomas Jefferson Papers. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.

Thus have you seene the particulars of this massacre . . . wherein treachery and cruelty haue done their worst to vs, or rather to themselues; for whose vnderstanding is so shallow, as not to perceiue that this must needs bee for the good of the Plantation after, and the losse of this blood to make the body more healthfull, as by these reasons may be manifest.

First, because betraying of innocency neuer rests vnpunished . . .

Secondly, Because our hands which before were tied with gentlenesse and fair vsage, are now set at liberty by the treacherous violence of the Sausages, no vntying the knot, but cutting it: So that we, who hitherto haue had possession of no more ground then their waste, and our purchase at a valuable consideration to their owne contentment, gained; may now by right of Warre, and law of Nations, inuade their Country, and destroy them who sought to destroy vs; whereby wee shall enioy their cultiuated places . . . and possessing the fruits of others labours. Now their cleared grounds in all their villages (which are situate in the fruitfullest places of the land) shall be inhabited by vs, whereas heretofore the grubbing of woods was the greatest labour.

Thirdly, Because those commodities which the Indians enioyed as much or rather more than we, shall now also be entirely possessed by vs. The Deere and other beasts will be in safety, and infinitly increase . . . The like may be said of our owne Swine and Goats, whereof they haue vsed to kill eight in tenne more than the English haue done. . . .

Fourthly, Because the way of conquering them is much more easie then of ciuilizing them by faire meanes, for they are a rude, barbarous, and naked people, scattered in small companies, which are helps to Victorie, but hinderances to Ciuilitie: Besides that, a conquest may be of many, and at once; but ciuility is in particular, and slow, the effect of long time, and great industry. Moreouer, victorie of them may bee gained many waies; by force, by surprize, by famine in burning their Corne, by destroying and burning their Boats, Canoes, and Houses . . . By these and sundry other wayes, as by driuing them (when they flye) vpon their enemies, who are round about them, and by aimating and abetting their enemies against them, may their ruine and subiection be soone effected.

So the Spaniard made great vse for his owne turne of the quarrels and enmities that were amongst the Indians, as throughly vnderstanding and following that Maxime of the Politician, Diude & impera, Make diuisions and take Kingdomes . . . In Virginia the many diuers Princes and people there are at this day opposite in infinite factions one vnto another, and many of them beare a mortall hatred to these our barbarous Sauages, that haue beene likely as false and perfidious heretofore to them, as vnto vs of late. So as the quarrels, and the causes of them, and the different humours of these people being well vnderstood, it will be an easie matter to ouerthrow those that now are, or may bee our enemies hereafter, by ayding and setting on their enemies against them. . . .

Fiftly, Because the Indians, who before were vsed as friends, may now most iustly be compelled to seruitude and drudgery, and supply the roome of men that labour, whereby euen the meanest of the Plantation may imploy themselues more entirely in their Arts and Occupations which are more generous, whilest Sauages performe their inferiour workes of digging in mynes, and the like, of whom also some may be sent for the seruice of the Sommer Ilands.

Sixtly, This will for euer hereafter make vs more cautelous and circumspect, as neuer to bee deceiued more by any other treacheries, but will serue for a great instruction to all posteritie . . . Hee that trusts not is not deceiued: and make them know that kindnesses are misspent vpon rude natures, so long as they continue rude . . .

Lastly, We have this benefit more to our comfort, because all good men doe now take much more care of vs then before, since the fault is on their sides, not on ours, who haue vsed so fayre a cariage, euen to our owne destruction. Especially his Maiesties most gratious, tender and paternall care is manifest herein . . . As also his Royall fauor is amply extended in a large supply of men and other necessaries throughout the whole Kingdome, which are very shortly to bee sent to Virginia. . . .

. . . To conclude then, seeing that Virginia is most abundantly fruitfull, and that this Massacre must rather be beneficiall to the Plantation then impaire it, let all men take courage, and put to their helping hands, since now the time is most seasonable and aduantagious for the reaping of those benefits which the Plantation hath long promised: and for their owne good let them doe it speedily, that so by taking the prioritie of time, they may haue also the priorities of place, in choosing the best Seats of the Country, which now by vanquishing of the Indians, is like to offer a more ample and faire choice of fruitfull habitations, then hitherto our gentlenesse and faire comportment to the Sauages could attaine vnto. . . .

Lastly, it is to be wished, that euery good Patriot will take these things seriously into his thoughts, and consider how deeply the prosecution of this noble Enterprise concerneth the honor of his Maiestie and the whole Nation, the propagation of the Christian Religion, the enlargement, strength, and safety of his Maiesties Dominions, the rich augmenting of his Reuennues, and imploiment of his Subiects idle at home, the increase of men, Mariners and shipping, and the raising of such necessary commoditie, for the importation of which from forren Countries so great and incredible summes are continually issued and expended. Some may helpe with their purses, some with their persons, some with their fauour, some with their counsell.

top of page

View the original document from the Thomas Jefferson Papers. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.