Famous Native Americans: Pocahontas Part 2
About the famous Native American Pocahontas her place in United States history and her biography.
POCAHONTAS (1595?-1617). Indian princess and British lady.
Rolfe was a kind but coldly pious widower, and the very idea of marriage to a heathen Indian was no simple matter for him and his conscience. In a lengthy letter asking Sir Thomas Dale, deputy governor of Virginia, to approve the marriage, Rolfe bared his soul and his trepidations. The union, he claimed, would be "for the good of the plantation, the honor of our country, for the glory of God, for mine own salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ an unbelieving creature, namely Pocahontas, to whom my heart and best thoughts are and have been a long time so entangled and enthralled in so intricate a labyrinth, that I was even awearied to unwind myself thereout ..." He acknowledged that his beloved was "one whose education hath been rude, her manners barbarous, her generation cursed, and so discrepant in all nutriture [background] from myself." Anticipating that "the vulgar sort" might mistake his love for mere sexual desire, Rolfe added that if this were the case, he "might satisfy such desire...with Christians more pleasing to the eye." It was not his wish, he said, "to gorge myself with incontinency" but, according to God's with, to convert the girl. The wordy harangue made its point. The wedding of John Rolfe and Pocahontas, now known by her Christian baptismal name of Rebecca, took place in April, 1614, with the blessing of not only the governor, but of Powhatan and his tribe, as well. It was probably more than coincidental that the period immediately following the marriage was one of unprecedented peace between the settlers and the Indians.
Two years later, Governor Dale took Mr. and Mrs. Rolfe and their infant son to England on a sort of promotional junket, to publicize the success of Jamestown. Pocahontas, "child of the forest," was suddenly thrust into London's high society. She attended a performance at the Globe Theatre of Shakespear's The tempest--just weeks after the death of its author. She was presented at the court of King James I to the King and his consort, Queen Anne. She was received and entertained royally by the bishop of London. She was visited by a drunken Ben Jonson, who seemed unimpressed at the time but referred to her 10 years later in one of his more forgettable plays. Wherever she went, she was as exotic a sensation as a visitor from a flying saucer would be today. Her conduct was irreproachable, and she is said to have conducted herself at all times like the daughter of a king.
It may have been culture shock or simply a virus, but in the epicenter of civilization, Pocahontas' health began to fail. She was relocated on an estate in the country, where she was visited by Capt. John Smith. That meeting has been the subject of endless speculation, but remains shrouded in Smith's ambiguous accounting of it. He left her feeling guilty for having betrayed their friendship and, perhaps, her love. They never met again.
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