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  • 18

    The Real Deal: When White Men First Met Indians
    Reviews; Posted on: 2008-11-28 08:47:44 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation By David A. Price, Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. 300 pp.; $25.95

    The wisdom of John Smith’s firm approach to the Indians: These were not gentle children of nature yearning for Christianity. “The alternative to intimidation was not love and friendship,” he writes, “it was open war—which the English, in 1608, would have lost to the last man.”

    The English meant no provocation, but their very presence was a provocation. From time to time Indians found it useful to trade with the colony, or to enlist its help in quarrels with enemies, but their abiding attitude was hostility. Many men back in England—and many who came later to Virginia—continued to believe harmonious relations were possible with the “naturals,” but Smith soon understood uneasy toleration was the best the English could expect.

    John Smith continued to explore, getting as far as Delaware, and the future site of Washington, DC. However, by 1609 he had made so many enemies among the "gentlemen" that the company cashiered him and brought him back to England.

    He never returned to Virginia.

    By this time there were about 500 people in Jamestown, but the newcomers were still, as Mr. Price explains, “looking forward to lives of idle leisure supported by supplies from London, food from the natives, and gold from the ground.” This was because the Virginia Company strictly controlled all news about the colony, even censoring private letters, so as not to discourage potential investors and colonists with tales of torture and starvation. The deluded colonists were still not growing enough food to feed themselves.

    After Powhatan had met the incompetents who replaced Smith, he began attacking the colony again with surprise raids. His men massacred a party of English who went looking for food, and left their bodies for the others to find, with bread stuffed in their mouths.

    A ship that went out to trade with Powhatan came back empty, and with only 16 of the 50 men who had set out on the trip. The commander had not taken the usual precautions with the Indians, and got the usual treatment of slow dismemberment and burning. “And so for want of circumspection [he] miserably perished,” recorded one of his contemporaries.


    News Source: american renaissance

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