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Pocahontas

smith, virginia, john, rescue and story

PO'CAHON'TAS e.1595-1617 ) . A celebrated Indian 'Princess,' daughter of Powhatan She is first mentioned in the True Relation (1605) of Capt. John Smith (q.v.) as "a child of tonne yeares old. which not only for feature, countenance. and proportion much exceedeth any of the rest of his [1'owhatan's1 people. but for wit and spirits the nonpareil of his country." She seems to have formed an attachment for the whites—especially for Smith—and to have been a frequent visitor at Jamestown until Smith left in October, 1609, when her visits ceased. In April. 1612. while at the village of her uncle, the 'King of Potowomek,' she was lured aboard an English vessel by Captain Argall, and was taken to Jamestown as a hostage for the return of sev eral white prisoners and some stolen property. Here she was converted to Christianity and in April, 1613. was baptized and christened Rebee call. In April, 1614,, she was married to John Rolfe (q.v.). with whom, two years later, she went to England, where she was received with great enthusiasm, as the daughter of an Ameri can 'King.' Then it was that the celebrated story about her rescue of Captain Smith first ap peared. In a letter to the Queen ( 1616) Smith asserted that in 16(17, when he. a captive among the Indians, was about to have his brains knocked out against a large stone. Pocahontas had "haz arded the beating out of her ovine braines" to save his, and had on another oceasion warned the English of a threatened Indian attack, besides furnishing food to the famishing, colonists. It is for this rescue story, much elaborated and em bellished by Smith in his tIeneran Historie (162-1), that Pocahontas is chiefly remembered.

Until Charles Deane attacked it in 1859, it was seldom questioned, but, owing largely to his criti cisms, it soon became generally discredited. In recent years, however. there has been a tendency to retain it. Pocahontas died March 29. 11;17. at Gravesend. and was there buried, the following curious entry being made in the parish records: "1616 (1617), May 2 j. Rebecca Wrothe wyti of Thomas Wrothe, gent. a Virginia lady borne. here was buried in ye chauncell." Pocahontas and Rolfe had one son. Thomas. who, after living for many years in England, migrated to Virginia. From him many prominent Virginia families, in cluding the Bollings, the Hurrays, the Guys, the Whittles, the Robertsons, the Elhridges, and that branch of the Randolphs from which sprang John Randolph of Roanoke (q.v.). trace their descent. For arguments opposing the rescue story. consult Deane's edition of Smith's True Relation Neil's Virginia Company in London (1869). and Henry Adams's Chapters of Erie and Other Es says (New York. 1871) ; for arguments in its favor see: Artier, Smith's Works (1554) : Poin dexter, Capt. John Smith. and His Critics ( 15931 ; W. W. Henry, Proceedings of the Virginie His torical Society (I;±S2 ) ; and ,Tolin Fiske. We Virginia and Her Yrighbors (1897). Consult. also: Eggleston and Seelye, Pocahontas ( New York, 15i9); and Robertson and Brock, Poca hontas and Her Descendants (1887).