The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Pocahontas

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The American Cyclopædia
Pocahontas
Edition of 1879. See also Pocahontas on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

POCAHONTAS, an Indian woman of Virginia, daughter of the chief Powhatan, born about 1595, died in Gravesend, England, in March, 1617. She was remarkable for her friendship for the English colonists, a striking evidence of which is said to have been given when she was about 12 years old. Capt. John Smith was taken prisoner, and it was decided to put him to death. His head was laid upon a stone, and the savages were brandishing their clubs preparatory to dashing out his brains, when Pocahontas threw herself upon the captive's body, and her intercession with her father saved his life. Recent researches discredit this story. When Smith returned to Jamestown, he sent presents to Pocahontas and her father; and after this, according to Smith's narrative, Pocahontas “with her wild train visited Jamestown as freely as her father's habitation.” In 1609 she passed through the wood in the night to inform Smith of a plot formed by her father to destroy him. In 1612 she was living in the territory of the Indian chief Japazaws. Capt. Samuel Argall bribed Japazaws to betray her into his hands, and began to treat with Powhatan for her restitution, but they were unable to agree. While she was on shipboard an attachment sprang up between her and an Englishman named John Rolfe, and the consent of Sir Thomas Dale and of her father having been gained, they were married at Jamestown in April, 1613. A peace of many years' duration between the English and the Indians was the consequence of this union. Before her marriage she was baptized, receiving the name of Rebecca. In 1616 she accompanied Dale to England, where she was an object of great interest to all classes of people, and was presented at court. When Smith visited her in London, after saluting him she turned away her face and hid it in her hands, and remained in this position for two or three hours. She had been taught to believe that he was dead, and there is no doubt that her husband was a party to the deception, he probably thinking she would never marry him while Smith was living. Pocahontas prepared to leave England with regret, but she suddenly died as she was on the point of embarking. She left one son, Thomas Rolfe, who was educated by his uncle, a London merchant, and in after life went to Virginia, where he became a person of note and influence. The Bolling, Randolph, Fleming, and other families in that state are his descendants.