WOMAN of ACTION – Pocahontas

 

WOMAN of ACTION

 

 

Pocahontas

Many different depictions of Pocahontas exist today. Pictured clockwise from top left: Mary Ellen Howe (1994), Robert Matthew Sully (1850s), Thomas Sully (1852), Jean Leon Ferris (c. 1921) courtesy of William E. Ryde and the Virginia Historical Society.

 

 

Pocahontas was born in Gloucester County, Virginia, in March 1595. Her real Native American name, given by her father, Chief Powhatan, was Matoaka. Her pet name was Pocahontas, meaning “my favorite daughter” and “frolicsome.”

 

 

In 1607, settlers came to the Chesapeake Bay area and a man named John Smith, the military leader of Jamestown, was taken prisoner by her people some years later. Pocahontas was the one who saved John Smith’s life, possibly having flung herself over him as he was about to be clubbed to death, but this has not been proven true. After saving him, she urged her Native American people that he be returned to Jamestown and her father, Chief Powhatan, honored her request.

From this point forward, Pocahontas began to visit Jamestown frequently, often bearing food for the hard-working settlers. It was her friendship that helped preserve the peace between the Native Americans and the settlers.

In 1609, John Smith returned to England and the friendship between the settlers and the Native Americans began to deteriorate. Then, in the spring of 1613, she was taken prisoner by Captain Samuel Argall, wanting to use her to create a permanent peace between the settlers and the Native Americans. She was not treated badly however and she was converted to Christianity and baptized as Lady Rebecca.

Once Chief Powhatan had paid the ransom for Pocahontas, Pocahontas was free to go back to her people. However, during her kidnapping, she had fallen in love with a settler named John Rolfe. Very soon after, Pocahontas and John Rolfe were married with the agreement of Chief Powhatan and Virginia’s governer, Sir Thomas Dale. In 1616, she and John Rolfe traveled to England and there, her image was worshipped throughout the country and she was even presented to King James I. But when she was planning to return to America, she came down with small pox and died in Gravesend, Kent, England, in March 1617.

 

 

 

A Celebration of Women

is honored to Celebrate the Life of this Powerful Woman.

 

 

Brava, Pocahontas!

 

 

Saving John Smith: http://www.williamsburgprivatetours.com/CAPTAIN%20JOHN%20SMITH.htm
Photo: http://www.scarborough.k12.me.us/wis/teachers/dtewhey/webquest/colonial/pocahontas.htm

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