Samuel Gardner Drake.

The aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index online

. (page 61 of 131)
Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 61 of 131)
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should attempt to escape. At the town, they danced and sung about him, and
then put him into a large house, or wigwam. Here they kept him so well,
that he thought they were fatting him to kill and eat. They took him to a
sick man to cure him ; but he told them he could not, unless they would let
him go to Jamestown, and get something with which he could do it. This
they would not consent to.

The taking of Jamestown was now resolved upon, and they made great
preparations for it. To this end, they endeavored to get Smith's assistance,
by making large promises of land and women ; but he told them it could not
be done, and described to them the great difficulty of the undertaking in such
a manner that they were greatly terrified. With the idea of procuring some-
thing curious, Smith prevailed upon some of them to go to Jamestown ; which
journey they performed in the most severe frosty and snowy weather. By
this means, he gave the people there to understand what his situation was, and
what was intended against them, by sending a leaf from his pocket-book, with
a few words written upon it. He wrote, also, for a few articles to be sent,
which were duly brought by the messengers. Nothing had caused such
astonishment as their bringing the very articles Smith had promised them.
That he could talk to his friends, at so great a distance, was utterly incompre-
hensible to them.

Being obliged to give up the idea of destroying Jamestown, they amused
themselves by taking their captive from place to place, in great pomp and
triumph, and showing him to the different nations of the dominions of Pow-
hatan. They took him to Youghtannund, since called Pamunkey River, the
country over which Opekankanough was chief, whose principal residence
was where the town of Pamunkey since was ; thence to the Mattaponie*.
Piankatanks, the Nautaughtacunds, on Rappahanock, the Nominies, on the
Patovvmack River ; thence, in a circuitous course, through several other
nations, back again to the residence of Opekankanough. Here they practised
conjurations upon him for three successive days ; to ascertain, as they said,
whether he intended them good or evil. This proves they viewed him as a
kind of god. A bag of gunpowder having fallen into their hands they pre-
served it with great care, thinking it to be a grain, intending, in the spring, to
plant it, as they did corn. He was here again feasted,, and none could eat
until he had done.

Being now satisfied, having gone through all the mano2uvres and pranks
with him they could think of, they proceeded to Powhatan. " Here more than
200 of those grim courtiers stood wondering at him, as he had been a monster,

* Bancroft's Hist. U. States, i. 146.



tilJ Pow':>.alnn n;:,l his trayne had |)iit themselves in their greatest braveries.
He "was s at; ii lie lore a lire, upon a seat like a bedstrad, having on a robe ui
ra.-.-oon skins, " and all the tayles hanging by." On each side of him pat
yonnir woman ; and iij)on each side of the house two rows of men, and with
as mai;\ women behind them. These last had their heads and shoulder-.
painted ivd some of whose heads were adorned with white down ; and abou.
ihrir neeks white beads. On Smith's being brought into the pr

presence of

Puii'littlttn, all present joined in a great shout. "The queen of Apamatnrk w;:
appointed to bring him water to wasb his hands, and another brought him a
hunch of feathers, instead of a towel, to dry them." Then, having feasted him
airain, "after their best barbarous manner they could, a long consultation was
held, hut the conclusion was, two great stones were brought before Powhatan
then as many as could lay hands on him, dragged him to them and thereon
laid his head, and being ready, with their clubs, to beat out his brains, Pcca-
hontas, the king's dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his.
head in her armes, and laid her own upon his, to save him from death."

Powhatan was unable to resist the extraordinary solicitations and sympathetic
entreaties of his kind-hearted little daughter, and thus was saved the life of
Captain Smith ; a character, who, without this astonishing deliverance, was
sufficiently renowned for escapes and adventures.

The old sachem, having set the sentence of death aside, made up his mind
to employ Smith as an artisan : to make, for himself, robes, shoes, bows, arrows,
and pots ; and, for Pocahontas, bells, beads, and copper trinkets. Poivhatan's
son, named Nantaquaus, was very friendly to Smith, and rendered him many
important services, as well after as during his captivity.

" Two days after, Powhatan, having disguised himself in the most fearfullest
manner he could, caused Captain Smith to be brought forth to a great house in
the woods, and there, upon a mat by the fire, to be left alone. Not long after,
from behinde a mat that divided the house, was made the most dolefullest
uoyse he ever heard ; then Powhatan, more like a Devill than a man, with
some 200 more, as black as himselfe, came unto him, and told him, now they
were friends ; and presently he should go to Jamestowne, to send him two
great Dunnes, and a gryndestone, for which he would give him the country of
Capahowosick [Capaliowsick], and forever esteem him his sonne, Nantuquond,
So to Jamestowne, with 12 guides, Powhatan sent him. That night they
quartered in the woods, he still expecting, (as he had done all this long time of
his imprisonment,) every hour to be put to one death or another." Early the
next morning, they came to the fort at Jamestown. Here he treated hi.-
guides with riie greatest attention and kindness, and offered Rawhunt, in a
jesting manner, and for the sake of a little sport, a huge mill-stone, and two
demi-culverins, or nine pound cannons, to take to Powhatan, his master ; thus
fulfilling his engagement to send him a grindstone and two guns. This
Rawhunt was a sachem under Powhatan, and one of his most faithful captains.
and who, it seems, accompanied Smith in his return out of captivity.

" They found them somewhat too heavie, but when they did see him dis-
charge them, being loaded with stones, among the boughs of . great tiv c
loaded with isickles, the yce and branches came so tumbling down, that the
poore salvages ran away half dead with fear. But, at last, we regained some
conference with them, and gave them such toyes, and sent to Powhatan, his
women, and children, such presents, and gave them in general! full content."

Powhatan was now completely in the English interest, and almost every
other day sent his daughter, Pocahontas, with victuals, to Jamestown, of which
ney were greatly in need.. Smith had told Powhatan mat a great chief, which
\vas Captain Newport, would arrive from England about that time, which.
coming to pass as he had said, greatly increased his admiration of the wisdom
}f the English, and he was ready to do as they desired in every thing, and,
out for the vanity and ostentation of Newport, matters would have gone on
well, and trade flourished greatly to their advantage. But he lavished so many
presents upon Powhatan, that he was in no way inclined to trade, and soon

* This is Captain Smith's own account, which I shall follow minutely ; adding occasionally
from Stilk, to illustrate the geography of the country.


began to show his haughtiness, by demanding five times the value of an artioU .
or his contempt for what was offered.

By Newport's imprudence and folly, what had cost Smith so much toil ami
pains to achieve, was blown away by a single breath of vanity. Nevertheless,
his great mind, continually exercised in difficult matters, brought the subtle
chief again to his own terms. Himself, with Newport, and about 20 others,
went to Powhatan's residence to trade with him. " Wherein Powhatan carried
himself so proudly, yet discreetly, (in his salvage manner,) as made us all tu
admire his natural gifts." He pretended that it was far beneath his dignity to
trade as his men did. Thus his craft to obtain from Newport his goods for
whatever lie pleased to give in return. Smith saw through Powhatari's craft,
and told Newport how it would turn out, but being determined to show him-
self as dignified as the Indian chief, repented of his folly, like too many others,
when it was too late. Smith was the interpreter in the business, and Newport
the chief. Powhatan made a speech to him, when they were about to enter
upon trading. He said, "Captain Newport, it is not agreeable to my greatness,
in this peddling manner, to trade for trifles; and I esteem you also a great
\verowance. Therefore, lay me down all your commodities together ; what 1
like I will take, and in recompense give you what I think fitting their value."
Accordingly, Newport gave him all his goods, and received in return only
about three" bushels of corn ; whereas they expected to have obtained twenty
hogsheads. This transaction created some hard thoughts between Smith and

If it add to raise Powhatan in our admiration, it can detract nothing from
the character of Smith, to say, that he was as wily as the great Indian chief.
For, with a few blue beads, which he pretended that he had shown him only by
accident, and which he would hardly part with, as he pretended, because they
were of great price, and worn only by great kings, he completely got his end,
at this time, answered. Tantalization had the desired effect, and Powhatan was
so infatuated with the lure, that he was almost beside himself, and was ready
to give all he had to possess them. " So that, ere we departed," says my
relation, "for a pound or two of blew beades, he brought over my king for 2
or 300 bushells of come."

An English boy was left with Powhatan, by Captain Newport, to learn the
language, manners, customs and geography of his country ; and, in return,
Powhatan gave him Namontack, one of his servants, of a shrewd and subtle
capacity, whom he afterwards carried to England. Powhatan became offended
with Captain Smith, when Newport left the country, in 1G08 ; at whose depart-
ure he sent him 20 turkeys, and demanded, in return, 20 swords, which were
granted. Shortly after, he sent the same number to Smith, expecting the like
return ; but, being disappointed, ordered his men to seize the English wher-
ever they could find them. This caused difficulty many of the English
being robbed of their swords, in the vicinity of their forts. They continued
their depredations until Smith surprised a number of them, from whom he
learned that Powhatan was endeavoring to get all the arms in his power, to be
able to massacre the English. When he found that his plot was discovered,
he sent Pocahontas, with presents, to excuse himself, and pretended that the
mischief was done by some of his ungovernable chiefs. He directed her to
endeavor to effect the release of his men that were prisoners, which Smith
consented to, wholly, as he pretended, on her account ; and thus peace was
restored, which had been continually interrupted for a considerable time before.

On the 10th of September, 1G08, Smith was elected governor of Virginia.
Newport, going often to England, had a large share in directing the affairs of
the colony, from his interest with the proprietors. He arrived about this time,
and, among other baubles, brought over a crown for Powhalan, with directions
for his coronation ; which had the ill effect to make him value himself more
than ever. Newport was instructed to discover the country of the Monacans,
a nation with whom Powhatan was at war, and whom they would assist him
against, if he would aid in the business. Captain Smith was sent to him to
invite him to Jamestown to receive presents, and to trade for corn. On arriv-
ing at Werowocomoco, and delivering his message to the old chief, he replied
* If your king have sent me presents, 1 also am a king, and this is my land.


Eight days I will stay to receive them. Your Hither [meaning ,Y< irjtort] is to
come to me, not I to him, nor yet to your fort neither will I bite at such n
bate. As for the Monacans, J can revenge my own injuries; and as for Jlt-
quanachiii-k, when; yon say your brother was slain, it is a contrary way from
those parts you suppose it ; but, for any salt, water beyond the mountains, the
relations you have had from my people are false.'' Some of the Indians had
made the English believe that the South Sea, now called the Pacific Ocean,
uas but a short distance back. To show Smith the absurdity of the story, he
drew a m,"p of the country, upon the ground. Smith returned as wise as he

A house was built for Poivliatan, about this time, by some Germans, who came
over with Newport. These men, thinking that the English could not suhsi-r
in the country, wantonly betrayed all the secrets of their condition to Powhtdan^
which was again the source of much trouble. They even urged him to put
all the English to death, agreeing to live with him, and assist him in the exe-
cution of the horrible project. Powhatnn was pleased at the proposition, and
thought, by their assistance, to effect what he had formerly hoped to do by
engaging Smith in such an enterprise. Their first object was to kill Captain
Smith; by which act, the chief obstacle to success would be removed ; am!,
accordingly, they took every means in their power to effect it.

In the first place, he invited him to come and trade for corn, hoping an
opportunity, in that business, would offer. That his design mighv not be mis-
trusted, Powhatan promised to load his ship with corn, if he would bring him
a grindstone, 50 swords, some muskets, a cock and a hen, and a quantity of
copper and beads. Smith went accordingly, but guarded, as though sure of
meeting an enemy.


In their way, the English stopped at Warrasqueake, and were informed,
by the sachem of that place, of Powliatarfs intentions. That sachem kindly
entertained them, and, when they departed, furnished them with guides. On
account of extreme bad weather, they were obliged to spend near a week at
Kicquotan. This obliged them to keep their Christmas among the Indians,
and, according to our authorities, a merry Christmas it was ; having been
" never more merry in their lives, lodged by better fires, or fed with greater
plenty of good bread, oysters, fish, flesh, and wild fowl."

Having arrived at Werowocomoco, after much hardship, they sent to Pow-
hatan for provisions, being in great want, not having taken but three or four
days' supply along with them. The old chief sent them immediately a supply
of bread, turkeys, and venison, and soon after made a feast for them, accord-
ing to custom.

Meanwhile, Powhatan pretended he had not sent for the English ; telling
them he had no corn, "and his people much less," * and, therefore, intimated
fhat he wished they would go off again. But Smith produced the messenger
that he had sent, and so confronted him ; Powhatan then laughed heartUy,
and thus it passed for a joke. He then asked for their commodities, " but he
liked nothing, except guns and swords, and valued a basket of corn higher
than a basket of copper ; saying, he could rate his corn, but not the copper."
Captain Smith then made a speech to him, in which he endeavored to work
upon his feelings and sense of honor; said he had sent his men to build him
a house while his own was neglected; that, because of his promising to sup-
lily him with corn, he had neglected to supply himself with provisions when
lie might have done it. Finally, Smith reproached him of divers negligences,
deceptions, and prevarications ; but the main cause of Powhatan's refusing
to trade seems to have been because the English did not bring the articles
te most wanted.

When Smith had done, Powhatan answered him as follows: "We have
but little corn, but what we can spare shall be brought two days hence. As
to your coming here, 1 have some doubt about the reason of it. I am told, by
my men, that you came, not to trade, but to invade my people, and to possess
my country. This makes me less ready to relieve you, and frightens my

* The reader may wonder how this could be, but il is so in the old history, by Stith, 86.


people from bringing in their corn. And, therefore, to relieve them of
fear, leave your arms aboard your boats, since they are needless here, when
>ve are all friends, and forever Powhatans."

In these, and other speeches of like amount, they spent the first day. " But
whilst they expected the coming in of the country, they wrangled Poivhatan
out of 80 bushels of corn, for a copper kettle ; which the president seeing
him much affect, [value,] he told him it was of much greater value ; yet, in
regard of his scarcity, he would accept that quantity at present ; provided he
should have as much more the next year, or the Manakin country," were thai
condition not complied with.

This transaction will equal any thing of the kind in the history of New
England, but we will leave the reader to make his own comment.

At the same time, Powhatan made another speech, in which were some
very singular passages, as reported by Smith. One was, that he had seen the
death of all his people three times ; and that none of those three generations
was then living, except himself. This was evidently only to make the Eng-
lish think him something more than human. The old chief then went on
and said,

" I am now grown old, and must soon die ; and the succession must de-
scend, in order, to my brothers, Opitchapan, Opekankanough, and Catataugh,*
and then to my two sisters, and their two daughters. I wish their experience
was equal to mine ; and that your love to us might not be less than ours to
vou. Why should you take bv force that from us which you can have bv

/ */ V .

love ? Why should you destroy us, who have provided you with food ?
What can you get by war ? We can hide our provisions, and fly into the
woods ; and then you must consequently famish by wronging your friends.
What is the cause of your jealousy? You see us unarmed, and willing to
supply your wants, if you will come in a friendly manner, and not with
swords and guns, as to invade an enemy. I am not so simple, as not to know
it is better to eat good meat, lie well, and sleep quietly with my women and
children ; to laugh and be merry with the English ; and, being their friend,
to have copper, hatchets, and whatever else I want, than to fly from all, to lie
cold in the woods, feed upon acorns, roots, and such trash, and to be so
hunted, that I cannot rest, eat, or sleep. In such circumstances, my men
must watch, and if a twig should but break, all would cry out, ' Here comes
Copt. Smith;' and so, in this miserable manner, to end my miserable life;
and, Capt. Smith, this might be soon your fate too, through your rashness and
unadvisedness. I, therefore, exhort you to peaceable councils ; and, above all,
I insist that the guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy and uneasiness,
be removed and sent away."


Smith interpreted this speech to mean directly contrary to what it expressed,
and it rather confirmed, than lessened, his former suspicions. He, however,
made a speech to Powhatan, in his turn, in which he endeavored to convince
him that the English intended him no hurt ; urging, that, if they had, how
easily they might have effected it long before ; and that, as to their perishing
with want, he would have him to understand that the English had ways to.
supply themselves unknown to the Indians ; that as to his sending away the
arms, there was no reason in that, since the Indians were always allowed to
bring theirs to Jamestown, and to keep them in their hands. Seeing Smith's
inflexibility, and despairing of accomplishing his intended massacre, he spoke
asrain to Smith as follows :

"Capt. Smith, I never use any werowance so kindly as yourself; yet from
you I receive the least kindness of any. Capt. Newport gave me swords, cop-
per, clothes, or whatever else I desired, ever accepting what I offered him ;
and would send away his guns when requested. No one refuses to lie at my
feet, or do what I demand, but you only. Of you I can have nothing, but
what you value not ; and yet, you will have whatsoever you please. Capt.
Newport you call father, and so you call me; but I see, in spite of us both,
you will do what you will, and we must both study to humor and content you.
Hut if you intend so friendly, as you say, send away your arms ; for you see


Catanaugh. Stith,



my undesigning simplicity and friendship cause me thus nakedly to forget

Smith now was out of all patience, seeing Powhatan only trifled away the
time, that he might, by some means, accomplish his design. The boats of
the English were kept at a distance from the' shore, by reason of ice Smith,
therefore, resorted to deception ; he got the Indians to break the ice, that his
men might come in and take on board the corn they had bought, and, at the
same time, gave orders to them to seize Poichatan ; Smith, in the mean time.
was to amuse him with false promises. But Smith's talk was too full of
flattery not to be seen through by the sagacious Stichem ; and, before it was
too late, he conveyed himself, his women, children, and rflects, into tin-
woods; having succeeded in his deception better than Smith; for two or
three squaws amused him while Powhatan and the rest escaped. l/n willing.
however, to renounce his purpose, Powhatan sent Smith, soon after, a valuable
bracelet, as a present, by an old orator of his, who tried to excuse the conduct
of his sachem ; he said Powhatan ran off because he was afraid of the Eng-
lish arms, and said, if they could be laid aside, he would come with his peo-
ple, and bring corn in abundance. At length, finding all artifices vain, Pow-
hatan resolved to fall upon the English, in their cabins, on the following night.
But here, again, Pocahontas saved the life of Smith and his attendants. She
came alone, in a dismal night, through the woods, and informed Smith of her
father's design. For this most signal favor, he offered her such articles as he
thought Avould please her; but she would accept of nothing, and, with tears
standing in her eyes, said if her father should see her with any thing, he
would mistrust what she had done, and instant death would be her reward ;
and she retired by herself into the woods, as she came.

Powhatan was so exasperated at the failure of his plots, that he threatened
death to his men if they did not kill Smith by some means or other. Not
long after, a circumstance occurred, which gave him security the rest of his
administration. One of Powhatan's men, having, by some means, got a
quantity of powder, pretended that he could manage it like the English.
Several came about him, to witness his exploits with the strange commodity,
when, by some means, it took fire, " and blew him, with one or two more, to
death." This struck such a dread into the Indians, and so amazed and
frightened Powhatan, that his people came from all directions, and desired
peace ; * many of whom returned stolen articles that the English had never
before missed. Powhatan would now send to Jamestown such of his men
as had injured the English, that they might be dealt with as they deserved.
The same year, 1609, he sent them nearly half his crop of corn, knowing
them to be in great want.

Captain Smith, having, by accident, been shockingly burned by his powder-
bags taking fire, for want of surgical aid, was obliged to leave the country
and go to England, from whence he never returned. He published the
account of the first voyages to Virginia, and his own adventures, which is
almost the only authority for the early history of that country. He died in
London, in 1631 jf in the 52d year of his age.

The Dutchmen of whom we have spoken, and who had been so assiduous
to bring ruin upon the colony, came to a miserable end. One of them died
in wretchedness, and two others had their brains beat out by order of Powha-
tan, for their deception.

After Smith had left Virginia, the Indians were made to believe that he was
dead. Powhatan doubted the report, and, some time after, ordered one of his
counsellors, named Uttamatomakin, J or Tomocomo, whom he sent to England,
to find out, if possible, where he was. He instructed him, also, to note the
number of the people, to learn the state of the country, and, if he found Smith,
io make him show him the God of the English, and the king and queen.

Online LibrarySamuel Gardner DrakeThe aboriginal races of North America; comprising biographical sketches of eminent individuals, and an historical account of the different tribes, from the first discovery of the continent to the present period ... and a copious analytical index → online text (page 61 of 131)