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Colonial Settlement, 1600s-1763
Virginia's Early Relations with Native Americans
Powhatan's Daughter, Pocahontas, Taken Prisoner, 1612

The Virginia colony achieved a more prosperous footing once better relations with the local Indians were achieved. One aspect of those supposedly better relations was built on the kidnapping of Pocahontas, allegedly Powhatan's favorite daughter. According to the following document, what were the circumstances of Pocahontas's capture? What is Powhatan's response to this action? How might the Indians have perceived the kidnapping of Pocahontas and the English attacks on their villages?

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Since there was a ship fraughted with provision, and fortie men; and another since then with the like number and provision, to stay twelve moneths in the Countrie, with Captaine Argall, which was sent not long after. After hee had recreated and refreshed his Companie, hee was sent to the River Patawomeake, to trade for Corne, the Salvages about us having small quarter, but friends and foes as they found advantage and opportunitie: But to conclude our peace, thus it happened. Captaine Argall, having entred into a great acquaintance with Japazaws, an old friend of Captaine Smiths, and so to all our Nation, ever since hee discovered the Countrie: hard by him there was Pocahontas, whom Captaine Smiths Relations intituleth the Numparell of Virginia, and though she had beene many times a preserver of him and the whole Colonie, yet till this accident shee was never seene at James towne since his departure, being at Patawomeke, as it seemes, thinking her selfe unknowne, was easily by her friend Japazaws perswaded to goe abroad with him and his wife to see the ship, for Captaine Argall had promised him a Copper Kettle to bring her but to him, promising no way to hurt her, but keepe her till they could conclude a peace with her father; the Salvage for this Copper Kettle would have done any thing, it seemed by the Relation; for though she had seene and beene in many ships, yet hee caused his wife to faine how desirous she was to see one, and that hee offered to beat her for her importunitie, till she wept. But at last he told her, if Pocahontas would goe with her, hee was content: and thus they betraied the poore innocent Pocahontas aboord, where they were all kindly feasted in the Cabbin. Japazaws treading oft on the Captaines foot, to remember he had done his part, the Captaine when he saw his time, perswaded Pocahontas to the Gunroome, faining to have some conference with Japazaws, which was onely that she should not perceive hee was any way guiltie of her captivitie: so sending for her againe, hee told her before her friends, she must goe with him, and compound peace betwixt her Countrie and us, before she ever should see Powhatan, whereat the old Jew and his wife began to howle and crie as fast as Pocahontas, that upon the Captaines faire perswasions, by degrees pacifying her selfe, and Japazaws and his wife, with the Kettle and other toies, went merrily on shore, and shee to James towne. A messenger forthwith was sent to her father, that his daughter Pocahontas he loved so dearely, he must ransome with our men, swords, peeces, tooles, &c. hee trecherously had stolne.

This unwelcome newes much troubled Powhatan, because bee loved both his daughter and our commodities well, yet it was three moneths after ere hee returned us any answer: then by the perswasion of the Councell, he returned seven of our men, with each of them an unserviceable Musket, and sent us word, that when wee would deliver his daughter, hee would make us satisfaction for all injuries done us, and give us five hundred bushels of Corne, and for ever be friends with us. That he sent, we received in part of payment, and returned him this answer: That his daughter should be well used, but we could not beleeve the rest of our armes were either lost or stolne from him, and therefore till hee sent them, we would keepe his daughter.

This answer, it seemed, much displeased him, for we heard no more from him a long time after, when with Captaine Argals ship, and some other vessels belonging to the Colonie, Sir Thomas Dale, with a hundred and fiftie men well appointed, went up into his owne River, to his chiefe habitation, with his daughter; with many scornfull bravado's they affronted us, proudly demanding why wee came thither; our reply was, Wee had brought his daughter, and to receive the ransome for her that was promised, or to have it perforce. They nothing dismayed thereat, told us, We were welcome if wee came to fight, for they were provided for us, but advised us, if wee loved our lives to retire; else they would use us as they had done Captaine Ratcliffe: We told them, wee would presently have a better answer; but we were no sooner within shot of the shore than they let flie their Arrowes among us in the ship.

Being thus justly provoked, wee presently manned our Boats, went on shore, burned all their houses, and spoiled all they had we could finde; and so the next day proceeded higher up the River, where they demanded why wee burnt their houses, and wee, why they shot at us: They replyed, it was some stragling Salvage, with many other excuses, they intended no hurt, but were our friends: We told them, wee came not to hurt them, but visit them as friends also. Upon this we concluded a peace, and forthwith they dispatched messengers to Powhatan, whose answer, they told us, wee must expect foure and twentie houres ere the messengers could returne: Then they told us, our men were runne away for feare we would hang them, yet Powhatans men were runne after them; as for our Swords and Peeces, they should be brought us the next day, which was only but to delay time; for the next day they came not. Then we went higher, to a house of Powhatans, called Matchot, where we saw about foure hundred men well appointed; here they dared us to come on shore, which wee did; no shew of feare they made at all, nor offered to resist our landing, but walking boldly up and downe amongst us, demanded to conferre with our Captaine, of his comming in that manner, and to have truce till they could but once more send to their King to know his pleasure, which if it were not agreeable to their expectation, then they would fight with us, and defend their owne as they could, which was but onely to deferre the time, to carrie away their provision; yet wee promised them truce till the next day at noone, and then if they would fight with us, they should know when we would begin by our Drums and Trumpets.


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