Monday, February 3, 2014

1607 - The Jamestown Colony

April 26, 1607 - 105 men having left London on December 20, 1606 aboard the Susan Constant, the Godspeed and the Discovery, three ships chartered by the Virginia Company of London, reach the coast of Virginia and cast anchor in a place they name Cape Henry in honor of the crown prince of England.

This expedition had been backed by a group of merchants and investors of London by virtue of a charter granted on April 10, 1606 by King James 1. Its main mission was to found a sustainable settlement on the North American coast with the aim to find the mythical passage towards Pacific Ocean and Asia.
The Susan-Constant, a 120-ton vessel captained by Christopher Newport, carried 71 passengers; the 40-ton Godspeed was captained by Bartholomew Gosnold and carried 52 passengers. Under captain John Ratcliffe, the Discovery,  a 16-ton flyboat , carried 21 persons.

According to the agreements, Edward Maria Wingfield, one of the leaders of the expedition, claims the new land on behalf of the crown of England and unseals the instructions of the Company previously kept secret.
He is elected first President of the council for one year. [05/14/1607]

The Royal Charter
On April 10, 1606, Sir Edward Wingfield, Sir Richard Hakluyt, Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers, representing the Virginia Company of London received from King James 1 a charter authorizing them to found a colony in Virginia. Among the four beneficiaries, Wingfield would be the only one to take part in the first trip across the ocean.

The king had entrusted the members of the Company with the right to risk their life but also to enjoy all freedom to secure the settlement of new colonies and plantations with the aim of enlarging the Kingdom of England.
He had set out the boundaries within which should live the colonists, between 34th and 38th parallels, an area equivalent to the coast of Virginia.
He also clarified  related activities and rights granted to them in particular with regard to the " lands, forests, soils, ports, rivers, mines, minerals, ponds, waters and fishing ".
The charter also included a religious mission. King James got along well to spread Christianity within these new British colonies by converting those who " lived in the darkness and the ignorance of the true knowledge and the work of God and to return to the human civilization the unfaithful and the savages who lived on these lands and to establish a peaceful government there".
The charter secured finally to all those who might be born in colonies the same rights as for English subjects in a way that they were protected or compensated in case of spoliation.

Edward Maria Wingfield (Stonely Priory (Huntingdons.) 1550 - 1631)

This soldier, become a member of the English Parliament in 1593, was somehow the first president elected by what would become the United States.
Captain John Smith stated in his memoirs that Wingfield had been from the years 1602-1603 one of the first investors to get really involved in the Virginia colonizing project. He was, as such, one of the four beneficiaries of the charter granted in 1606 to the Virginia Company of London and one of its most important backers. With the help of his cousin captain Bartholomew Gosnold, he recruited approximately 40 among the 105 men who made the first trip. Once in America, he was elected, by his peers, president of council on May 13, 1607. He chose the site of Jamestown to settle the new colony, considering that this island formed a strong defensive position, and oversaw the building of the fort which was completed on summer eve. [06/15/1607].

Problems did not yet delay piling up in the new colony. It was fast necessary to impose a food rationing and to build palisades because of the hostility of the Indians. The settlers started getting sick, developing fever and dysentery. Discontent grew over the weeks and Wingfield was quite naturally given responsibility for the situation. He was thus deposed by the Council and placed under arrest while waiting for his fate to be decided. Sent back to England on April 10, 1608 with the supply ship, he had to answer charges of atheism and Spanish sympathies. These ultimately proved unfounded and he was able to find his place within the Virginia Company where he remained until 1620.
He was given a key role in the first stage of the English settlement, being obvious that during the years 1605-1608, without his numerous contacts and his stubbornness, Virginia might as well been colonized by Spain or France.
Historians however blamed him for his aristocrat manners and his authoritarianism. Maybe he also suffered from the age difference ? He was 57 years old when he arrived in Virginia while the men who accompanied him were mostly under 30. He was more confronted with impetuous and juvenile tempers such as John Smith and George Percy and found soon ostracized, appearing as the perfect scapegoat. It did not mean that his early replacement would solve the serious difficulties facing the colony.

Bartholomew Gosnold (1572- August 22,1607)
Lawyer, explorer and occasionally privateer, he played a leading role in the foundation of the Virginia Company of London and the Jamestown colony.
He had in 1602 completed an expedition to the New England coast without succeeding in establishing there a sustainable colony. Back in London, he had some trouble with Sir Walter Raleigh about the rights on the sassafras roots he had brought back from America, what did not however prevent him to invest into a new company, once become famous to have been the first navigator to cross the North Atlantic without going through the Caribbean. The Earl of Southampton who did not back his first trip was this time ready to get involved in the operation, with the hope to gain a little fame and gold.
Gosnold spent four years to promote an ambitious project for Virginia. He received for it the support of his brother Anthony, his cousin Edward Maria Wingfield, his friend Gabriel Archer and a young fearless captain named John Smith. He already had the title of vice-admiral of the London fleet when he was given the command of the Godspeed, one of the three ships chartered by the Virginia Company of London. Arrived in Jamestown, he did not approve the chosen location but executed however the plans of the first fort. Gosnold died from dysentery on August 22, 1607, 4 months only after his arrival. [08/22/1607]

Christopher Newport (Limehouse, 1560- Banten (Java),1617) 
Sailor and English privateer. He is especially known to have captained the Susan Constant, one of the three ships carrying the first settlers to Jamestown in 1607.
During more than twenty years, Newport had served as privateer alongside Sir Francis Drake to chase the Spanish galleons sailing in the Caribbean. Plunder seized during his missions was shared by the merchants of London for whom he worked. Having taken part in the failure of the Spanish Armada, Newport resumed his privateering through the Atlantic Ocean and boarded in August, 1592 the Madre de Dios, a Portuguese ship loaded with five hundred tons of spices, silk, precious stones and other treasures, a booty considered as the most important of the century.
In 1605, he returned to England after another mission bringing back with him baby crocodiles and a wild bear intended for King James, fond of exotic animals.

It was as well his experience as his renown that allowed Christopher Newport being hired by the Virginia Company of London when was granted, in 1606,
the King's charter authorizing it to establish a colony in North America.

Appointed on this occasion Admiral of Virginia, he left London on December 20, 1606 aboard the Susan Constant and reached the southern end of Chesapeake Bay after 144 days at sea. Newport and the members of the expedition started exploring the coastal area before electing a first council whose primary duty was to set up a court aiming at judging John Smith, accused to have inspired a mutiny during the trip. This case had moreover been considered serious enough so that it was a moment intended to send him back to England for a standing trial.
Yet, it emerged from the instructions of the Virginia Company, that John Smith had to be especially appointed as one of the future members of the council planned to rule the colony. He was therefore acquitted. [06/10/1607].

Smith gave soon evidence that he maybe was strong-headed but at first a good topographer. The choice of the Virginia Company was actually rather wise and he was admitted to the council a few weeks later.
The first Council consisted of George Kendall, John Ratcliffe, John Martin, Bartholomew Gosnold and Christopher Newport.

April 26, 1607 - Coming back at night from their first exploration in Chesapeake Bay, George Percy and his companions are suddenly attacked by Indians who jump aboard while holding their bow between teeth. Gabriel Archer and a sailor are badly hurt before the English succeed in chasing them away by firing shots and force them to flee through the woods.
April 27, 1607 - George Percy and captain Newport leave for a new reconnaissance mission. They surprise Indians roasting oysters and cause them to flee.
They collected a portion of the cooked oysters and ate them with appetite.

April 28, 1607 - The colonists discover a small bay with shallow water that would constitute a good mooring place. They name it explicitly Point Comfort.

May 4,1607- While exploring the James River, the English meet for the first time people of the Paspahegh tribe, belonging to the Powhatan Confederacy. They are greeted by words of welcome from their leader Wowinchappuncke, without understanding them.

The Paspahegh formed a subtribe who lived on the James River banks, near the settlement area of the first colonists in Virginia. Recently belonging to the Powhatan Confederacy, they were among the first tribes to raise weapons against the English but couldn't resist the pressure of the newcomers. Their  weroance Wowinchappuncke being considered as a brave warrior, his death led to the dispersal of the Paspahegh within other Indian communities.[05/05/1607]

May 5, 1607 - the English are welcomed by the Paspaheghs in the village of Rapahanna.

There was a prominent rivalry between Paspahegh Wowinchappuncke and the weroance of Rapahanna. This one didn't like that much the reception given to the new settlers the day before and was eager to invite them in his turn. He appeared  in ceremonial dress in order to impress them. His body was entirely painted in red and his face in blue. He wore a bead necklace and earrings which could be of copper or gold. On his head, he wore a crown of red deer hair, on the side a copper plate and two long feathers looking like horns in sign of his status. [18/05/1607]

May 8, 1607 - The settlers continue to explore the river and reach the Apamatica country. The Natives prove warlike and try to keep them away by pointing their bows and arrows. Their chief speaks by making gestures asking the English to leave. These answer by peace signs and the Indians let them land.
They had gone up the James River hoping to find a passage to the Pacific but a series of waterfalls soon prevented them to go further.

May 12, 1607 - The settlers stop in a place they name "Archer's Hope ".

"...We found a place we called Archer's Hope which needed little development to defend us against a possible enemy. The soil was good and rich in fruit with a quality wood; it also grew quantity of vines climbing up to the top of the trees; we saw many squirrels, rabbits, black birds with purple wings and various other games and birds in rich colors of blue, yellow, green,  or red; we found turkeys nests and many eggs. If there had not been a mooring problem for the boat, we would have settled there all the colony... " (George Percy, 1606/1607)

We do not know if the name Archer's Hope referred to a  location desired by the captain or to an old English word meaning small bay or small creek. It hinted in any case at Gabriel Archer, a prominent member of the expedition. Archer's Hope was mentioned twelve years later in the deed of transfer " to the First Planters " as the ninth batch of 100 acres granted to John Johnson against an annual 2-schilling rent. The plantation was identified by the French cartographers during their landing on the banks of the James River to join the armies of Rochambeau, Lafayette and Washington.

May 14, 1607Appointed the day before president of the Council, Captain Edward Maria Wingfield chooses to settle the colony on the island of Jamestown, considering that its position fits with the criteria dictated by the Virginia Company. It has the advantage of being uninhabited and is located more than 100 miles from the sea, which protects it against any possible attack by French or Spanish ships.

After exploring several places along the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, fearing pirates and Spaniards, the settlers had decided to go upriver. The Jamestown site was chosen due to the depth of its waters allowing to anchor boats nearby.
It became however quickly obvious that the Indians sulked the island due to its particularly hostile environment. Game was there insignificant. Mosquitoes infested the place and water stagnated. Mostly used to English weather, the men were not adapted to such harsh conditions and they began to starve and die of dysentery. Attacks led by the Indians made on the other hand victims before the settlers had time to finish the building of the fort.  [09/12/1607]

May 18, 1607 - Paspahegh "weroance Wowichappuncke  marches into Jamestown, accompanied with a hundred armed men. He offers a deer to the newcomers and suggests to give them "as much land as they desire" when a violent tiff breaks out suddenly about the attempted robbery of an English hatchet. This incident angers the Indian leader who decides to leave hastily the settlement.[27/05/1607]

May 19, 1607 - While he has left exploring the nearby woods with 3 settlers, George Percy discovers a Paspahegh village. He is welcomed there and even offered tobacco before seeing a man leaving hastily in bushes. Thinking that he runs to warn his leader, Percy and his group return quickly to Jamestown.

May 20, 1607 - About 40 Paspahegh bring a deer to the settlement to feast with the English. They take advantage of it to show their talent in the bow.

It was difficult for the settlers to know what were the Indians' intentions. They seemingly wanted to set with them good relationship and had understood by bringing them food that they were in distress but tensions were high and it was increasingly obvious that inappropriate behavior towards them could be confrontational. By showing their weapons, the Paspaheghs meant that they knew how to use them.

Going upriver, George Percy and his men were much surprised to see at a place named Port Cotage a fair-haired 10-year old boy having white skin, characters quite exceptional among all the Indians. 

May 26, 1607 - 200 Indians belonging to the Paspahegh tribe and the Powhatan Confederacy attack the new Jamestown settlement. There are 4 dead whose Eustis Clovell and 11 wounded. Fearing renewed hostilities, President Wingfield decides to ration supplies.

The Indians used captain Newport's departure with half the settlers for an away mission to the Weyanocks and Appamattucks . Despite their numerical superiority, they were repulsed by the English shootings and lamented several victims.
Assaults were renewed during more than a week without succeeding to curb the building of the fort.

Powhatan (meaning "empire") was the name of a Native American tribe and a powerful Algonquian speaking confederacy which occupied Eastern Virginia when Europeans landed. At the end of the 16th century, a leader named Wahunsunacock (c. June 17, 1547 - 1618). founded a powerful empire called Tenakomaka including in particular Powhatans, Arrohatecks, Appamattucks, Paspaheghs, Pamunkeys, Mattaponis and Chiskiacks to which were added Kecoughtans from 1598. This one had to include about 20 000 people in 1607. The capital, Werowocomoco, in present-day Gloucester County, was about 15 miles north of Jamestown. Archaeological excavations had however failed to locate the place exactly.

When the first settlers came to Jamestown, their contentiousness and their ceaselessly increasing number on lands that they apropriated shamelessly, caused a series of conflicts which will last during the next 37 years. 
The English tried however to have relationship with
Captain Christopher Newport even crowned their leader in Werowocomoco during a ceremony and offered them many gifts including a scarlet cloak sent by King James in order to win their friendship, convinced that it would be essential for the survival of the small colony. This coronation had gone however bad when Powhatan refused to kneel down when receiving the crown, whereas the tribute that paid him the English could not mean for him to become a vassal of the king.

While he went in search of food together with two other settlers, captain John Smith was captured by Chief Powhatan's young brother Opechancanough. His men were killed but he was lucky enough to be saved by a young girl named Pocahontas, as he was going to be executed.

Weroance Wahunsunacock's opinion about these foreigners was on the other hand rather ambiguous. Following the example of the Spaniards come some 30 years earlier, he considered them as a threat while recognizing the value of their exchange products and thought that they could become allies against other tribes. Had not he already succeeded in exchanging a grindstone, swords, guns, cocks and hens, some copper and beads for food? Over the years, however, the Indians became gradually dependent on English people of the fact that they always needed more guns, ammunition, knives, tools, blankets etc. whereas the settlers began to grow their own crops.
They would soon take advantage of this turnaround to use the embargo as means of pressure.
After the death of Wahunsunacock in 1618, hostilities resumed under the leadership of Opechancanough, become the new "weroance". This one tried in vain to chase away the Europeans during two massacres committed in 1622 and in 1636. But these actions were followed by so severe retaliation that it led to the destruction of almost the whole Indian nation. The Powhatan Confederacy had virtually totally disappeared in 1646 and its last representatives had no other alternative than their assimilation by European or African populations.

Arrohateck - this tribe attached to the confederation lived in present-day Henrico County
Appamattucks - this tribe attached to the confederation lived on the banks of the Appomatox, a river to which they gave their name. They supplied 60 warriors to Powhatan.
Pamunkeys - this tribe mainly located along the Pamunkey River banks was a part of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Pamunkeys were semi-sedentary. They hunted, fished and farmed. As they did not know soil enrichment, they were obliged to move their villages every ten years and put new areas in cultivation. The soil was the tribe's property and the plots allocated were not transmitted to children. This conception was soon to be a cause of concern with English settlers.
The Pamunkeys had sapling framed "longhouses" covered by weaved paintings and barks, housing up to 20 persons.

The leader and his council were elected for four years. Chief Powhatan Wahunsunacock and his daughter Pocahontas were both of Pamunkey descent.
Mattaponis - this subtribe coming under the Powhatan Confederacy, lived upstream Charles River (today York River). It counted approximately 150 people among whom 40 warriors.

Chiskiaks - This tribe linked to the Powhatan Confederacy was located on the banks of the Charles River, its capital Kiskiak being barely 15 miles from Jamestown. It had however some autonomy and kept away from the first disputes between the English and the neighboring tribes.
Kecoughtan - this tribe dependent on the Powhatan Confederacy lived at the end of the Virginia peninsula. Its people were at first friendly to the English but refused to deliver their corn, what earned them being attacked by John Smith and a company. They were afterwards quickly absorbed by the colony. 
Other tribes were part of the Confederacy as the Youghtamunds who lived upstream the Pamunkeys and the Weyanocks who were settled along the James River upstream to Jamestown.
The south bank of the James River was the territory of the Nansemonds, an important tribe counting at least 1200 people, the Warascoyaks and the Quiyoughcohannocks.
The Nansemonds paid a tribute to Chief Powhatan but were relatively independent. Rather warlike even agressive, they were able tof raise a strength of 200 warriors. In comparison, the Warascoyacks and Quiyoughcohannocks were thought as peaceful tribes. Their "weroance" Tathcoope was none other than a son of Powhatan.
Further north were the Rappahannocks, settled on the river bank of the same name and the Doeg who occupied the west bank of the Potomac. They grew corn, beans and practiced picking.
Farming was reserved for women while men hunted, fished and collected shells. Fire was an important agricultural tool used to clear lands and prepare soil for planting. In a family, each one had his part during the great winter hunts. These took place far from villages to avoid depleting the stock of animals caught during other times of the year.
Hunting also supplied clothes, most in buckskin. Women and men wore belted loincloths which stopped at the knee. Leather leggins and moccasins were used for hiking in the forest. Fur coats allowed them to face the rigors of winter.
Men kept their hair only on the top of the head, sides being  shaved in order to facilitate bows handling or for religious reasons, whereas the women wore tattoos.

The English were long amazed at differences between children's education such as practiced the Indians compared to what was the rule in England. In both cases, boys and girls were certainly prepared to perform differentiated tasks but there were irreconcilable differences. Farming in particular or house buildings were for Native tribes exclusively reserved for women, the opposite of what was made in Europe. The boys education was as for it only turned to warfare and hunting. From a young age, they learned to develop their physical abilities and to use a bow. They had to prove themselves worth to fit into the men's group and were for that subjected to what they called Huskanaw, a ritual apparently so ruthless that John Smith was convinced of a practice where children were sacrificed. It was about a rite of passage during which the young man had to forget everything of his past to become a new man. Drinks with high hallucinogenic properties and demanding physical tests were supposed to enable this transformation. The success of this test allowed to get married and occupy his place among the leader's councilors.
Except Nansemonds, all the peoples in the area lacked significant military capacities. They had each only a few warriors and this weakness was one of the reasons why it was ultimately difficult for them to do without an alliance with the English. [12/10/1607]

May 28, 1607 - Christopher Newport and a party of 24 men return to the village of Mattica to visit the Appumatucks. They are welcomed with food and tobacco and get acquainted with the weroansqua Oppussoquionuske, the female chieftain.
Despite this reception, the Appumatuck warriors continued to harass sporadically the settlers in Jamestown with other Indians of the area until Powhatan orders a cease-fire.

June 10, 1607 - Placed under arrest since he was accused of trying to organize a mutiny during the trip, Captain John Smith is released and appointed council member.

John Smith (Willoughby (Lincolns.) June 6th, 1580 - June, 1631)
Soldier, sailor and writer, he was between 1607 in 1609 captain of the Virginia colony based at Jamestown.
After an adventurous youth where he fought in particular against the Turks, he responded to the colonizing call of the Virginia Company of London after it was granted a charter from King James 1.
His parents were farmers for Lord Willoughby in Lincolnshire. In the death of his father, the young John, then aged 16, left his family to go sailing. He served at first as mercenary against the Spaniards in the armies of the King of France Henri IV and enrolled in the independence of Holland. He then left fighting the Turks in the Mediterranean Sea and was just 20 when he entered the service of the Habsburgs in Hungary and Walachia. Wounded and taken prisoner, he was sold as slave. Sent to Crimea, he succeeded in escaping and returned in 1604 in England after a long trip through Russia, Poland and Central Europe.
Before his capture, Smith allegedly killed three Turkish commanders during three duels, what had earned him being knighted by Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Bàthory.
He was a member of the expedition that left England on December 20, 1606 and reached Virginia on May 13, 1607.
During the trip, John Smith was apparently considered as a strong troublemaker unappreciated by his companions. Captain Christopher Newport who commanded the expedition had even decided to make him execute for mutiny from his landing in Virginia. But when was opened the box containing the directives of the Virginia Company, hitherto kept secret, the name of John Smith appeared on the list of the members of the future Council placed under the presidency of Sir Edward Maria Wingfield. Newport had to spare him.

Despite his youth, John Smith had a much better experience of travels to distant lands than most of the men who accompanied him. He had more an energetic constitution and his crofter origins gave him certain advantage compared with the present gentlemen whose essentially military role was not relevant for the development of the new colony.

June 15, 1607 - The settlers complete the building of the fort. The Powhatan leader decides, at the same moment, on a cease-fire, putting a definitive halt to attacks against the colony that last for more than two weeks.
George Percy writes " we had built and finished our fort which was trianglewise, having three bulwarks at every corner, like a half moon and four or five pieces of artillery mounted on them. We had made ourselves sufficienly strong for these savages. We had also sown of our corn on two mountains. "

George Percy (September 4, 1580-1632)
Explorer and English author, he was one of the first governors of Virginia.
Born in Ireland, he was the youngest son of Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland and Lady Catherine Neuville. He suffered from a general sickly constitution, probably subject to epileptic seizures or severe asthma.
Following his graduation from Oxford, he opted, in 1597, for the military career and left in the early 1600's fighting beside the Dutch in their war for independence against the Spaniards. He also served in Ireland.
He was part of the 105 would be-settlers who founded the Jamestown colony and drafted in this occasion a travelogue telling the struggle of the newcomers to survive in a particularly hostile environment, under the threat of disease and Powhatan Indians. Although Percy held a far higher social rank than all the settlers, he was, at first, not allowed to serve on the Virginia Council. He held nevertheless his place in the life of the colony by taking in particular part in a scouting mission to the James River falls, in May and June, 1607.
He sided with President Edward Maria Wingfield when he was deposed by John Ratcliffe, Gabriel Archer and John Smith. This attitude earned him playing only a secondary role in the next two years where he served under Smith's leadership. It is when the latter had to leave the colony in September, 1609 that Percy took the presidency. [09/10/1609]
His poor health prevented him however from filling completely his responsibility and he had to let his privileges to Ratcliffe, Archer and John Martin. It was during this period when the colonists starved further to the terrible winter 1609-1610. Percy achieved only few things during his presidency except the building of Algernon Fort at Point Comfort and he was relieved to give the government of the colony to Sir Thomas Gates in May 1610. [08/1607]

June 21, 1607 - Founding in Jamestown of the first episcopal Protestant church of America.

June 22, 1607 - Captain Christopher Newport sets sail to England aboard the Susan Constant. He transports a load of pyrite and other so-called precious stones.

August 19, 1607 - Foundation in Maine of the Popham Colony, also called Sagadahoc Colony (now Phippsburg). Having left Plymouth on June 1, 120 would-be settlers sent by the Plymouth Company, under the leadership of George Popham (1550-1608) and Raleigh Gilbert (1582-1634), land from the John & Mary and the Gift of God.

It was not the first European settlement on this coast. Three years earlier, the French had unsuccessfully tried to settle down not far away, on an island of the Saint Croix River.                                        
Located near the mouth of the Kennebec River, this English colony experienced ambitious early days with the building of a church, a fort (Fort St George) armed with nine cannons and with about fifty houses. Weather conditions being outstanding, most of the work undertaken was completed late October. The only problem was that in so short a time, the settlers had harvested nothing for winter and would have to deal with the Indian neighbors.

Founded by King James 1, the Plymouth Company (or Virginia Company of Plymouth) was a corporation aiming at setting up English settlements on the North American coast. It had received her charter in 1606 as well as the Virginia Company of London the twin sister of which it was somehow. The portion of its granted territory was included between 38th and 45th parallels, the part located South of the 41th parallel being common to both companies with however a few constraints.
The settlers intended to trade precious metals, spices and furs, and to show that the local forests could be of use to build English boats.
George Popham, the president of the colony, then aged 57, was the nephew of Lord John Popham, Minister of Justice of Queen Elizabeth and main backer of the expedition. Meanwhile, Raleigh Gibert was the son of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and the half-nephew of Sir Walter Raleigh, two precursors of the colonization of North America. Among other backers of the company was Sir Ferdinando Gorges, the commanding officer of Plymouth. By irony, Sir John Popham had to die on June 10, 1608, ten days after the sailing of the colonists to North Virginia.
A first attempt occurred the previous year but it had dramatically failed. The ship commanded by captain Henry Callons who carried a hundred persons had been captured by the Spaniards and all passengers sold as slaves.
George Popham had also brought with him two Indians captured by captain Weymouth and brought to England two years earlier. These were Skidwarres and Nahanada, two members of the Wawenoc tribe living near Pemaquid. He hoped to use them to make relationship easier with the neighboring American Natives but once landed, both captives did not delay disappearing.

August, 1607 - In Jamestown, weather conditions turn out more and more testing. The summer drought destroys plantations, sources are drying up. The men begin to get sick.
The daily food rations consist of wheat infested with maggots and a half-pint of hardly boiled water. Famine and disease cause the death of 13 men.

On August 6, John Asbie died from the dysentery; 9, George Flowre died from an oedema; 10, William Bruster died from an injury caused by the "Savages".
Virginia actually experienced in the early 17th century an unprecedented drought. This exceptional situation would contribute to increase tensions between the Indians of the area and the English settlers. Their arrival had to generate an imbalance in the crops and reserves management, giving rise among Powhatans to a real rejection problem. The constant needs for provisions of these unwanted  "newcomers", in a context of general shortage, was inevitably likely to generate a climate of mistrust and violence.

August 22, 1607 - The explorer Bartholomew Gosnold who had been a major promoter of the colonization of Virginia dies from dysentery in Jamestown.

September 10, 1607 - Accused to sow the discord within the colony, the blacksmith and former councilor George Kendall is locked up aboard the Discovery. They are this day only 46 surviving settlers.

September 12 1607 - Considered primarily responsible for the lack of food and the relentless attacks of the Indian tribes, Edward Maria Wingfield is arrested and dismissed of the presidency of Jamestown. John Ratcliffe is elected on his place.
Rather slim, the reasons to be upset less resulted of the harsh living conditions imposed by Wingfield to his men than difficult relationship with John Smith, rebel of the colony. Wingfield was dismissed from his post, accused of atheism and agreement with the Spanish enemy, two serious enough offences to send him to London to be tried. [04/10/1608]

Their living conditions remaining quite so insecure, the worried settlers did not delay turning around against new president John Ratcliffe, considering him unable to solve problems. Kendall, Smith and Percy decided then to send discreetly the blacksmith James Reed on the pinasse where Wingfield was kept, offering him being reinstated in his duties, but Ratcliffe was informed about this plan and Reed suffered a public punishment.

John Ratcliffe (died in September, 1609) 
He had captained the Discovery, one of the three ships having left England on December 19, 1606 to settle a colony in Virginia.
He belonged to the first 13-member-council responsible for leading Jamestown under President Edward Maria Wingfield. Strifes arisen in summer, due to stringent living conditions, caused early September, the arrest of George Kendall, blamed for feeding the discord, followed shortly after by Wingfield's dismissal. Ratcliffe was elected on his place but did not show a true competence.
He asked John Smith to have trade relationship with the Indians, what he apparently did remarkably well before to be captured in December by Powhatan and released a few weeks later thanks to the intercession of young Pocahontas, the daughter of the tribe's leader.
Ratcliffe was captured and tortured to death 2 years later by the Powhatans with 30 of his men while trying to deal the supply of reserves for winter. [07/22/1608]

December 5, 1607 - Both ships who had transported the settlers of the Popham Colony set sail to England leaving behind a group of 45 persons.

Relationship soon degraded between the leaders of the colony and the settlers themselves, quarrelsome and little brave. None of them was more prepared to face rigors of winter. Relationship with the nearby Wavenock tribe
were tinged with a same distrust and could any time turn into confrontation, what would not have failed to seed chaos. Despite their will to keep control over this land, the Wavenocks had tried to show hospitality towards the newcomers by inviting them to appear before their chief, Basheba, expecting from them some allegiance. These efforts seemed rather fruitless because of the tensions between the colonists. These would not need the Indians to tear to pieces. Buildings were there burnt and a powder barrel stored in the fort exploded incidentally, causing a true panic.[02/05/1608]

The Wavenocks, whose capital was Pemaquid, controlled the Abenaki federation which occupied in the early 17th century a vast area including Maine, a part of New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as some Canadian coastal sites. It was strong about 40 000 people among whom half approximately lived in Maine. The Abenaki maintained since almost a century trade relations with Europeans in particular the French based in the Saint Lawrence valley.

The coasts of Maine had been explored by Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, then by Samuel Champlain three years later. The opportunities had seemed there numerous and small seasonal posts already served there for fishing and fur trade when captain George Weymouth was sent to to conduct a topographic survey with the aim of founding a lasting settlement. It was however without bewaring the response of the French settlers who, not intending to compete for the control of the pelts trade, did not miss to urge the Indians to keep away from the English colonists.
The Abenaki would be struck by a terrible disease in 1617 during which about 80 % of the population had to die.

December 10, 1607 - John Smith is captured by the Powhatans.

While searching for food near the Chickahominy River, John Smith and the two men who accompanied him were attacked by the Indians.
The only survivor, Smith was captured by Opechancanough, the young brother of the Powhatan leader Wahunsunacock and dragged to him in the village of Werowocomoco, aout 15 miles North of Jamestown.

December 29, 1607 - John Smith is unexpectedly saved by Pocahontas.

Sentenced to death by the tribes of the confederacy, he was saved at the last moment by Pocahontas, one of the daughters of the Powhatan leader, then 11-year-old. She protected him with her body just as he was to be executed. Historians discussed afterward around this event that Smith made known only several years later, inaugurating in that way some controversy. He would have, according to a few historians, stretched the facts, embellished the incident, even built a legend to give more importance to Pocahontas during her coming in England. He always stated loud and clear that Pocahontas had saved his life but some contemporary accounts however cast doubt on his interpretations or omissions. Hero or storyteller, to each his own opinion.

Pocahontas (c.1595 - Gravesend, March 21, 1617) was a Native American of the Powhatan Confederacy. She was the daughter of Wahunsunacock, the original Pamunkey leader who ruled almost all the neighboring peoples in an area then called Tenakomakah.
Her real names were Matoaka, after her clan, and Amonute, Pocahontas being a childhood nickname relating to her mischievous nature (in Powhatan language, it means " little wanton ").
Her life was the source of many legends. As she never learned to write, all that is told on her was transmitted from generation to generation, so that her thoughts and real feelings remain largely unknown. We know only few things about her childhood. She was the daughter of one of the many wives of Chief Powhatan. According to tradition, her mother had been moved away from her after giving birth.
The records of the settlers indicate that Pocahontas maintained some friendship with captain John Smith and maybe saved him from death. The true nature of their relation is however debated because of the poor quality of archives and their rarity. Their relation was romanticized with important additions.

When the English settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607, Pocahontas was aged about 10 or 12 years. One of the newcomers, John Smith, was captured by a group of Powhatan hunters and brought to Werowocomoco, their main village. Smith tells that he had been laid down on a big stone where he was to be executed when Pocahontas threw herself on him to protect him. She convinced her father to grant him safe life and Smith was escorted to Jamestown.
Smith's version being the only source, its reliability was since questioning. One reason of this doubt is that despite publishing two books about Virginia, the narrative of Smith's rescue dates 1616, almost 10 years after it was supposed to take place, in a letter asking Queen Charlotte to treat Pocahontas with dignity. The elapsed time certainly allowed Smith to amplify or invent this event solely for the purpose of enhancing her image.
Some experts suggested that Smith had confused his release with an initiation symbolizing his death and rebirth as member of the tribe. It seems, however, that there was never any rite of this kind in other Native American peoples.

Anyway, a friendly relationship existed between John Smith and Pocahontas in Jamestown. The girl often came to visit the colony and made supply foods or clothes. [01/07/1608]

No comments:

Post a Comment