Wednesday, February 5, 2014

1608 - John Smith and Pocahontas

January 2, 1608 - After being taken prisoner by Powhatan and sentenced to death before being surprisingly saved by the young Pocahontas, John Smith is back in Jamestown. He is accompanied by two Indians coming to retrieve guns that Smith promised them. He offers them two field culverins, each weighing 4000 lb that they prove unable to carry. As demonstration, he loads their barrel with stone and shoots to their amazement on a frosted tree.
Winter was so harsh that some settlers tried to seek refuge inside the Discovery before Smith directed the guns of the fort towards the ship, threatening to sink her.
Many questions on the conditions of his abduction by the Natives having remained pending, Smith was accused by Gabriel Archer of causing the death of his two companions. He was consequently dismissed from his duties as councilman, tried and condemned to hanging. He was already within an inch of the gallows when captain Newport arrived in Jamestown with supplies.

January 3, 1608 - Captain Christopher Newport arrives in Jamestown aboard the John & Francis with foods and 60 new settlers. He discovers that there are only 38 survivors and adjourns Smith's execution.

The expedition, called "The First Supply," commanded by Christopher Newport had left Falmouth November 2 on the John & Francis and the Phoenix but the two ships had been dispersed in the fog off Santo Domingo. Among the new settlers was Matthew Scrivener, appointed as councillor. No woman appeared however among the newcomers.
On Newport's arrival, the settlers, cooled and scrawny, had found refuge in the fort and did not dare come out for hunting or fishing by fear of the Paspaheghs. They drank a muddy and contaminated water which caused violent often fatal diarrheas.

January 7, 1608 - a fire destroys all the houses in the fort of Jamestown. Hope then turns to despair. The village is devastated by flames and devoid of clothing, the settlers find themselves unprotected as rages one of the coldest winters of the century. During January, Pocahontas and her friends make frequent visits to the colony and bring it food.

The arrival of new settlers was far to improve the living conditions of the colony. It was so cold that the James River had frozen and that for lack of livable housing, there was no other choice but to find shelter in the burnt ruins of the fort. The reserves brought by the Indians hardly allowed to secure the survival of the community whereas John Smith was, reportedly, especially concerned with the load of pyrite he planned to send to England.[02/1608]

February 1608 - First official meeting between the settlers and the Powhatan.

John Smith and Christopher Newport were in charge of dealing with the Natives. They went for the negotiations to Werowocomoco and acceded after several days of discussion to the Powhatan's proposal of swapping brass beads for food. They also exchanged men to serve as interpreters and facilitate the communications from both sides. The young Thomas Savage* left living with the Indians while Namontack was sent to Jamestown. Smith and Newport were then invited by the Mattaponi where they were presented a show simulating a battle and went finally to the Chiskiaks who reserved them however a rather reserved welcome.
* Aged 13, ensign Thomas Savage had arrived in Jamestown in January aboard the John & Francis. He will die in 1633.

Christopher Newport and John Smith did not share the same point of view on the way to conduct the trade activities of the colony. Newport would have wished a flow of constant exchanges with the Natives but Smith considered that the colony could secure in the long term its survival by dealing with them only when it turned out to be necessary.

February 5, 1608 - George Popham, the president of the colony founded by the Plymouth Company on the coast of Maine in August, 1607, dies at age 57. His second Raleigh Gilbert is appointed to succeed him.

The colony had suffered difficult winter, but despite his youth and lack of experience, Gilbert was able to master the situation and avoid the worst. Sir Ferdinando Gorges had presented him as an unruly, impetuous, little religious man but also as an even rash, free and foolhardy spirit. He turned out in fact the right man for the job and managed even to complete the construction of a pinnasse, named " Virginia of Sagadahoc ", intended to facilitate exploring the Kennebec River and so prove that colonies could be a shipyard for England, poor in forests. [08/1608]

April 20, 1608 - Captain Francis Nelson arrives at Jamestown aboard the Phoenix. He brings with him 40 new settlers.

May, 1608 - Acting as the emissary of her father Powhatan, Pocahontas negotiates with John Smith the release of 7 Indians captured during a raid to seize colonists weapons.
The climate was hardly serene between English and Indians. The Paspaheghs had been caught red-handed stealing but, meanwhile, their tribe retained two settlers who had ventured far from the fort. Their friends crept, at night, to the Paspahegh village and set fire to houses. The leader Wowinchopunk agreed to release his two prisoners but it was through the intercession of Pocahontas and the delivery of a good quantity of corn that all the Indians held in Jamestown were freed.
There followed one of the few peaceful periods between the settlers and the Natives. Pocahontas took the habit of going to Jamestown, bringing supplies and messages from Powhatan. She enjoyed, with other girls, making romp naked through the streets. In August however, she reached an age where the girls had to dress and began to wear a buckskin skirt.

May 20, 1608 - Christopher Newport leaves to England with Gabriel Archer. He brings back Edward Maria Wingfield, the removed president who must be tried in London for cause of atheism and due to his alleged sympathies with the Spaniards.

June 2, 1608 - Captain Francis Nelson sails back to England taking with him John Smith's manuscript entitled " True Relation of such occurences and accidents of noate as hath hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Collony which is now resident in the south part thereof". Captain John Martin is also aboard.
Captain Francis Nelson was considered as a good sailor, anxious to drive out his missions. He had suffered a storm during his trip but had refused to make the stopover that claimed the passengers to arrive to Jamestown within the deadlines. After a month spent in Virginia during which he had the opportunity to accompany Christopher Newport in an expedition up the James River, he left towards England with a full load of cedar wood.

June, 1608 - Back to London for trial, the removed President Edward Maria Wingfield organizes his defense by presenting "A Discourse of Virginia", in which he details what he achieved during his government at Jamestown by emphasizing the very hostile environment of the settlement and the warlike relations with Indians.
He responded to those who had accused him of starving the colony by explaining the necessity to protect the settlers against the repeated attacks of the Natives.

June 2, 1608 - John Smith sets sail with 14 men on the shallop of the colony to explore the Eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.

June 9-10, 1608 - John Smith keeps on exploring the Eastern shore, sailing up northward. He lands among the Nanticokes (Kuskarawaoks) who reserve him a good welcome and are eager to trade.

They showed good hagglers but Smith especially noticed that their furs were of better quality than those proposed by the tribes of the Bay. He concluded from it that these came from other regions.

June 14-16, 1608 - John Smith and his crew reach the upper end of Chesapeake Bay and enter a creek in shallow water they name Patapsco (today Baltimore). The bad weather and strong winds prevent them, however, from landing.

June 18-23, 1608 - John Smith explores the Potomac up to meet local tribes. Some as Patawomeks show themselves suspicious but others such as Nacotchants, Doags or Mayoanes prove very welcoming.

June 24 - July 3, 1608 - John Smith arrives at the foot of the Great Falls of the Potomac River and states that it is becoming impossible to the crew to go further with the boat.

The explorers were this time welcomed by the Patawomeks who accompanied them up to mines where was extracted a metal that Smith identified with some antimony, finding it without big interest.

July 17, 1608 - John Smith and his men are not far from the mouth of the Rapahannock River when they notice that fish abounds in the weeds.

The crew began to catch them and John Smith was trying to take one with the blade of his sword when he was violently injured to the wrist by a stingray causing a severe pain. He had his arm paralyzed during several hours but the suffering eventually vanished after the doctor Anthony Bagnall applied him a "precious oil".

Summer, 1608 - James fort is rebuilt and its defence systems strengthened.
Captain John Smith pursues his exploration of Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac in search of a passage westward.

July 22, 1608 - John Ratcliffe has to give up his duties as President of Jamestown in favor of Matthew Scrivener, a friend of John Smith.

Matthew Scrivener (? - 1609) - Presented with gentleman's title, he was the son of Ralph Scrivener, bailiff of the city of Ipswich and lawyer. Her sister was married to the cousin of Edward Maria Wingfield, first president of the Jamestown colony. He had arrived in Virginia in January, 1608 and had quickly sided with John Smith.
[10/09/1608] [09/1609]

 July 24, 1608 - after a 3 days halt in Jamestown, John Smith leaves again with his men to continue exploring Chesapeake Bay. He wants to head further north than previously to ensure the existence of the Passage.

July 30, 1608 - John Smith reaches the very northern end of Chesapeake Bay, to the limit of the Susquehannock territory. He finds on the other hand no track of a possible Northwest Passage.

August 13, 1608 - A True Relation, the manuscript brought back to England by Captain Francis Nelson is published in London. 

 In this work, John Smith described accuratly all the stages of his exploration of the territories around Jamestown. He had acted with topographer's thoroughness to locate all places mentioned with their geographical and ethnographic characteristics. All the Native American tribes encountered were presented with attention to detail both about their customs, military organization, education, lifestyle, clothes, food or beliefs.

August 17, 1608 - Despite the warning of Mosco, a Wighocomoco Indian with whom he befriended during his previous trip, John Smith decides to meet the Rappahanocks. These do not delay attacking, injuring even Anas Todkill before being dispersed.

Seeing the English boat approaching, the Rappahanocks had reminded that 5 years earlier, captain Samuel Mace, during a trip intended to find tracks of the Lost Roanoke Colony, had killed their chief and captured five of theirs to bring them to England, a reason to show their hostility towards the settlers.

August, 1608 - Raleigh Gilbert decides, for family reasons, to abandon the Popham Colony and repatriates with him 45 men whom he has led for one year.

Raleigh Gilbert left hurriedly after the announcement of the sudden death of his elder brother. He had to quickly assert his rights on the vast Compton family estate of which he became the only heir.
The Popham colony failed while summer had aroused real hopes. The settlement had even sent to England  the John and Mary loaded  with a plentiful cargo of greenbrier*, suggesting a promising future.
After this early start, the Plymouth Company stopped all its activities before the Council for New England created in 1620 brings it a second breath.
* common in this region,  greenbrier was appreciated in the form of decoction, as a general stimulant.

August 24, 1608 - John Smith manages to parley with the Rappahanocks. These changed attitude towards the settlers since they fought their traditional foes, the Mannahoacs. The Rappahanocks make even a sign in Smith's favor by promising him to plant some corn for the colony.

The Mannahoacs had attacked Smith and his men two days earlier but had one of them injured and taken in by the English. These had cared for him during the night and he had been able to join freely his tribe the day after, what the Natives were grateful.

September 10, 1608 - John Smith is elected president of the Colony in place of Matthew Scrivener, appointed to this responsibility hardly two months earlier. Jamestown does not have more than about fifty survivors on ninety five colonists listed in June.
This premature replacement let suppose that Scrivener did not have all the skills required to lead its task in well. [07/01/1609]

September 29, 1608 - Captain Christopher Newport arrives at Jamestown aboard the Mary & Margaret with 70 new colonists among whom the first two women, Mrs Forest and her maid Anne Buras. Francis West, the future governor of the colony is also part of the trip.

Mrs Forest accompanied her husband. The annals of Jamestown contain however no information about her. Anne Buras was a single woman. She was going to marry John Laydon, a carpenter of whom she would have 4 daughters. She was still alive in 1625. Among the newcomers were Captain Thomas Graves and 8 German and Polish craftsmen sent by the Virginia Company
Chief Powhatan was worried of seeing landing always more settlers especially while the last boat had arrived with no supplies. He did not feel able to feed these newcomers without compromising seriously the vital balance of his own people. He had to do everything not to provide crops knowing that winter would be fatal. 

Autumn, 1608 - the English settlers decide to negotiate the purchase of corn in anticipation of a possible starvation but face the unwillingness of the Indians.

These weren't too happy with a parody of crowning introduced by Chritopher Newport to recognize Chief Powhatan Wahunsunacock as a vassal of King James 1. The Paspaheghs and most of the other tribes living along the James River had moved or had hidden on the colonists arrival. They remained only few Indians who had already forfeited their crops under threat.
The settlers managed however to get corn from the Appomatucks in exchange for copper. Smith noted incidentally that the tribe included approximately 60 warriors and that their main village was led by weroance Coquonasum, a brother of Oppussoquionuske, the chieftain that he had already met during his captivity at Powhatan.

November, 1608 - celebration in Jamestown of the first wedding between John Laydon and Ann Buras. Their daughter Virginia Laydon, will be the first European child been born in Virginia.

December, 1608 - Christopher Newport leaves Jamestown to England together with John Ratcliffe. He brings back various samples of products made by the settlers (glass, resin, alkali, asphalt) and a detailed map of Chesapeake Bay drawn by John Smith. He also carries a loading of shingles on the place of the mica that he had previously brought back, thinking it was gold.
Newport was also carrying a message from John Smith to the attention of the shareholders of the Virginia Company in which he replied to their critics by emphasizing the skills shortage of the colonists, their laziness and the recurring difficulties in supply.
The owners of the Virginia Company had not effectively chosen the right men for a project of this kind. There were too many gentlemen and young people from the aristocracy who reckoned not having to work. A so little supportive behavior was unbearable in the eyes of those of humble condition who had been hired in this adventure for five years, generating hostility and violence.
The investors of the company had not sent farmers while they had thought to enlist the services of two goldsmiths to treat the promised gold. But gold, there was not. [24/07/1609]

December, 1608 - captain John Smith asks the king of the Warreskoyacks to provide him two guides to accompany Michael Sicklemore in search of the Roanoke colonists.

As the previous ones, this expedition did not allow to collect real clue.

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