Sunday, February 9, 2014

1613 - The Abduction of Pocahontas

March 27, 1613 - captains Adriaen Block and Hendrick Christiaensen leave Amsterdam for a new trade expedition bound for the Hudson River estuary, respectively aboard the Tiger and the Fortuyn, two ships chartered by the Van Tweenhuysen Company.

April 13, 1613 - Pocahontas is abducted as hostage and taken to Jamestown by captain Samuel Argall.

In Spring, Argall sailed up the Potomac River and seized Pocahontas, the daughter of the Indian leader who had proved herself sympathetic to the settlers. He took her hostage in Jamestown to obtain, in exchange, the release of eight English settlers held prisoners by his father, 
Chief Powhatan.
Iopassus and his wife exchanging Pocahontas for gifts
Pocahontas stayed at Passapatanzy, a Patawomek village on the Potomac River where she had been sent by his father, Chief Powhatan, keen to strenghten ties with the Patawomecks living in the northern part of his confederacy at a moment when the English colonists had obviously control over the James River. The Patawomecks had seldom been allied to Powhatan and the coming of Pocahontas aimed at a peace offering. The young Henry Spelman who acted as interpreter since a few years informed two English merchants come to barter of the presence of Pocahontas. Aware, Argall was able to convince the Patawomeck weroance Iopassus to hand Pocahontas over to him in exchange for an alliance with the English against the Powhatans. This one agreed and Argall attracted Pocahontas aboard his boat and made her captive. She was then brought to Jamestown.

Samuel Argall sent a message to Powhatan saying that he would return him his daughter only having got back the English prisoners he held, as well as weapons and all that had been stolen by the Indians. All things considered, Powhatan released the prisoners and sent a part of the ransom, asking his daughter to be treated well. Argall returned to Jamestown in April, 1613 with Pocahontas. She was afterward sent to the new village of Henricus and placed under the care of Sir Thomas Dale. It is there that began her introduction to the Christian Faith, and that she met, in July, 1613, a prosperous tobacco planter widower named John Rolfe. Pocahontas was allowed to enjoy a relative freedom in the village and began to play a role in the relations between the colony and the representatives of her people.
An oral tradition claims however that she was raped during her stay but it has been found no evidence that she suffered such an assault.
[Mars 1614]

Reverend Alexander Whitaker (1585 - c. 1617) took care of Pocahontas' religious training. Arrived at Jamestown in 1611, He had founded there the first Presbyterian church in America. The Indian princess was baptized and took the name of Rebecca.
Whitaker published the same year a  sermon entitled "Good news from Virginia"  in which he called for a greater support to the colony and described its climate and the indigenous people.

The Baptism of Pocahontas

April 21, 1613 - The supposed date of the " Two Row Wampum Treaty" (Gushwenta) sealing the friendship between the Mohawks representing the Five Nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) and the Dutch envoys.

According to the tradition, this one was signed at Taagonshi and materialized by a wampum (ceremonial belt) consisted of two rows of purple shells on a white shells background.
Both parallel purple rows symbolized the Dutch ships and the Indian canoes sailing down the Hudson River side by side while the white strips represented peace and friendship.
This agreement which was of use as a basis to all the treaties signed later between Iroquois and representatives of the American colonies, still stays valid today.
The proposed date is rightly very controversial. It takes far too early in the timeline, at a moment when the Dutch still arranged no administrative structure. Captain Adriaen Block had made a first reconnaissance trip two years earlier but he had not far enough ventured to meet the Mohawks who, anyway, did not still occupy the area. This one was inhabitated, indeed, by Mahicans, an Algonquian tribe with which the Dutch would have had at first rather to get on. Trade agreements with the Indians were on the whole logical but despite its symbolic strength, a treaty of friendship seemed at this time rather too early.
Actually, there was an alliance between the Dutch and the Mahicans but this one dates 1624. The first historic treaty with the Mohawks goes back up, as for it in 1643, even in 1645. The fact to put forward such an old date was certainly intended to thwart the demands of the French who could boast to have as early as 1624, a real agreement with the Iroquois and further question the rights claimed later by the English, as heirs of the Dutch.

Early June, 1613 - Samuel Argall heads North to investigate French colonies the existence of which had been reported.

Samuel Argall found the French at Saint Sauveur, near Penobscot (Maine), in July, before they had time to build a fort. They were led by captain Le Coq De La Saussaye who had received order to found a new settlement apart from Port Royal, in the grip of dissensions between the Jesuits. Argall had no evil to seize their ships including the 100-ton Jonas, taking advantage of the fact that most French colonists had left to work ashore. When Argall burst in with his company, some settlers surrendered but most managed to escape in the woods. Several were killed, including Gilbert Du Thet, a lay-brother. Argall allowed Le Coq to leave to France and returned to Jamestown with 14 prisoners, including two Jesuits.

After this first victory, The Virginia Council asked captain Argall to leave as quickly as possible aboard the Treasurer with both seized French vessels and go to destroy all other settlements in the North, up to 46 degree 1/2. Landing first at Saint Sauveur, Argall attacked the remnants of the De La Saussaye colony, brought down the cross set up by the Jesuits and replaced it by an other one with the name of the king of England. He sailed then to Sainte-Croix, where he made raze to the ground the remains of the former settlement and seized a heap of salt stored by French fishermen. He reached then Port Royal on the other side of the bay. The village was deserted, all its inhabitants having left for hunting. He took opportunity to loot it and sack buildings and crops.

The Argall fleet left Port Royal on November 13 and suffered almost immediately a storm. Argall came back in Virginia aboard the Treasurer after a short stop at the mouth of the Hudson River, the time for him to subdue the small Dutch colony. The smallest boat sailing with him disappeared without leaving a trace while the Jonas, commanded by lieutenant Turner, with the Jesuits on board, drifted meanwhile eastward. It made stopover in the Azores and managed to reach Pembroke, at the tip of Wales. The Jesuits were not welcome there but the mediation of the ambassador of France allowed them a safe passage to France.
[November, 1613]

May, 1613 - Dutch captain Adriaen Block enters the New York Bay. He then sails up the Mauritius River (today Hudson) to current Albany where he makes erect a fort called Fort Nassau. The disagreements are many with his second, occurring a mutiny. The arrival of another Dutch boat chartered by a rival company strengthens dissensions and Block is dropped by a part of his crew.

Adriaen Block (1567 - 1627)
Dutch skipper and fur trader. He explored the coast of current New Jersey and Massachusetts during four trips between 1611 and 1614, after Henry Hudson's expedition in 1609. He set up trade connections with the Natives for the first time in this area. The map drawn further to his 1614 journey makes mention of details of the American coast as well as the name of the New Netherlands. Block is mostly regarded as the first European to have visited the Long Island Sound, the Connecticut River and to have proven that Manhattan and Staten Island were actually islands.

After the first contacts between Hudson and the Indians of the area, the Dutch merchants of Amsterdam considered that the region could prove to be interesting for beaver pelts, the trade of which was in the time very lucrative.
In 1610, a boat from Monnickendam, captained by Symen Lambertz Mau, had sunk in the Hudson estuary; in May, 1611, Adriaen Block and Hendrick Christiaensen, backed by Arnout Vogels and a group of Lutheran merchants under the name of the Van Tweenhuysen Company, explored again the mouth of the Hudson River and brought back to Amsterdam furs and the son of an Indian leader. The 1613 expedition had been organized in a climate of distrust due to the trade war in which were engaged the Van Tweenhuysen Company and Hans Claesz about the beaver pelts.
No agreement having been able to be signed in Holland, the contention continued in America and ships chartered by both companies, on one side the Tiger commanded by Block and the Fortuyn captained by Hendrick Christiaensen and, on the other hand the Nachetagael of captain Mossel, indulged in a merciless struggle until a compromise finally provides a fair distribution of skins.
Months had passed and Block found himself in January, 1614 trapped on the North River (Hudson) by the first winter ices and forced to dealy his return.

Nassau: this small fort was built by captain Hendrick Christiaensen and his men on an island in the Hudson River called Castle Island, at some distance of the present-day city of Albany. Jacob Eelkens insured the command. It would perhaps have been built on the ruins of a French fort going back to 1540s. Located on a territory belonging to the Mahicans, it was used to garner the beavers skins provided by the Indians.
This fort proved to be subject to repeated floods was abandoned, for that reason, from 1617.
[January, 1614]

July 20, 1613 - captain Robert Adam arrives in London aboard the Elizabeth. Having left Virginia June 28, he brings with him letters from Thomas Dale and Samuel Argall, the first news coming from the colony since September 1612.
He also carries the first John Rolfe's tobacco crop.

Robert Adam made regular trips between England and Virginia and had a strong reputation. It was said that goods travelled with him safely, to the point that the Spanish officials entrusted him too the routing of their letters.

Thomas West, Baron De La Warr
1613 - King James 1 grants Sir Thomas West, Lord De La Warr, a 8000 acre-land located along Epps Island, not far from the capital of the Weyanocks.

Lord De La Warr gave it the name of West and Shirley Hundred, for his wife Lady Cessaeley Shirley whom he had married in 1596.
This plantation was to employ approximately 25 persons supervised by captain Maddeson. It was exclusively dedicated to tobacco raising.

November, 1613 - Back from his expedition against the French, captain Samuel Argall arrives at the mouth of the Hudson River where he requires the Dutch captain Hendrick Christiaensen to lower his flag and raise instead the English one.

1613 - In a report to the ambassador of Spain in London, Don DiƩgo de Molina, sent two years ago to spy the Jamestown colony, draws up of it a grim description.

".. And the forts they have are made of so little thick boards that a single kick would be enough to break them down, and when you get to the wall, it's as if the assailant got the same advantage as the defender because it is designed on both sides in the same way; it is a fortification without genius made by incompetent people. They are not either effective soldiers even if their leaders and their captains make much of what they served in Flanders and in Holland where some commanded companies and castles. The men are poorly trained and ill-prepared for military action. "
The report, dated 1613, describes clearly what he had seen when he had been sent by the Spanish authorities to spy the settlement. He had moreover been captured by the colonists and kept some time in custody. Molina concluded that a military action could easily allow to chase away the 150 settlers he had counted.

Pocahontas held hostage by Samuel Argall

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