Speech by Powhatan
addressed to the early colonists of Virginia under Captain John Smith
... you are come to destroy my Countrie, so much affrighteth all my people, as they dare not visit you. What will it availe you to take that perforce, you may quietly have with love, or to destry them that provide you food? What can you get by war, when we can hide our provision and flie to the woodes, whereby you must famish, by wronging us your friends? And whie are you thus jealous of our loves, seeing us unarmed, and both doe, and are willing still to feed you with that you cannot get but by our labours?
Think you I am so simple not to knowe it is better to eate good meate, lie well, and sleepe quietly with my women and children, laugh, and be merrie with you, have copper, hatchets, or what I want being your friend; then bee forced to flie from al, to lie cold in the woods, feed upon acorns roots and such trash, and be so hunted by you that I can neither rest eat nor sleepe, but my tired men must watch, and if a twig but breake, everie one crie, there comes Captaine Smith: then must I flie I knowe not whether, and thus with miserable feare end my miserable life, leave my pleasures to such youths as you, which, through your rash unadvisednesse, may quicly as miserably ende, for want of that you never knowe how to find?
Let this therefore assure you of our loves, and everie yeare our friendly trade shall furnish you with corne; and also if you would come in friendly manner to see us, and not thus with you gunnes and swords, as to invade your foes.
From A Map of Virginia, by Captain John Smith, 1612
availe to benefit, to profit acorn nut of the oak perforce physical coercion trash woody or vegetable matter fallen or strewn on the ground famish to die for lack of food unadvisednesse done without due consideration hatchet small axe foe enemy
John Smith (up)born c. 1580, Willoughby, Lincolnshire - died June 1631, London
explorer and principal founder of the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Va.
1602 he served with the Austrian forces against the Turks; captured he escaped to Russia 1604 return to England 1607 arrival at Chesapeake Bay, disembarkment at what was to become Jamestown
he became the dominant leader, focussing particularly on the practical means of survival
Dec. 1607 captured by Indians of the Powhatan confederacy and taken to their great chief, Wahunsonacock, known as Powhatan
condemned to death and saved by the chief's 13-year-old daughter Pocahontas
thereafter initiation into the tribe
Jan. 1608 return to colony Sep. 1608 president of the colony Sep. 1609 return to England after having been seriously injured from a fire in his powder bag 1614 exploration and mapping of the coast of New England 1615 captured by pirates, escape three months later, return to England 1617 final colonizing attempt; failed because vessels were windbound for 3 months, so he never set sail
Powhatan (up)original name Wahunsonacock
born c. 1550 - died 1618
- Indian chief who formed and led the Powhatan confederacy (the confederacy consisted of at least 30 Algonkian-speaking tribes)
- supreme ruler of more than 8,000 Indians and nearly 200 villages
- the Powhatan confederacy helped to supply the colonists with food and supplies until English aggressions in 1609-10 led to four years of fighting, during which the confederacy lost much territory along the James River
- Peace between the two groups was established for a time by the marriage of Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas, to the colonist John Rolfe in 1614