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John Rolfe


Saving the life of Captain John Smith; creating a bond between the Powhatan Indians and the Jamestown colonists, enabling the colony to survive

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Pocahontas summary: Pocahontas, born Matoaka, was the daughter of a Powhatan Indian chief and was born around the year 1595 in Werowocomoco, Virginia. When English colonists settled in Jamestown in 1607, Pocahontas befriended them. She played with some of the children of the colonists, and the parents grew fond of her as well; on a whole, the situation between the Powhatans and the colonists was tenuous.

Tensions continued between the colonists and the Powhatan Indians. In 1608, the leader of the colony, Captain John Smith, was captured by Powhatan’s men. Smith claims that Pocahontas pleaded for them to spare Smith’s life and they did, and by doing so, she saved the colony of Jamestown. Despite this salvation of Smith, relations between other Englishmen and the Native Americans remained tense.

In 1613, Pocahontas was taken hostage by an English ship captain, Samuel Argall. Argall wished to exchange Pocahontas for several Englishmen who were being held by the Powhatans and for numerous supplies, including tools, that the Native Americans had stolen from them. Pocahontas was taken to Jamestown, where the governor, Sir Thomas Dale, impressed by her manners and her intelligence, treated her kindly. She was instructed in Christianity and baptized, given the Christian name Rebecca.

One of the colonists, John Rolfe, became enamored with Pocahontas and asked Sir Thomas Dale if he could marry her. Dale agreed, as did her father, and the two were married. The marriage between the two helped bring a period of peace between the colonists and the Natives. In 1616, Pocahontas was invited to England, where she met the King and Queen. During her visit, she contracted small pox. In 1617, while still in England, Pocahontas died from her illness.

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