The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

The Indians in Virginia

Captain John Smith

John Smith's interest in the Virginia Indians did not proceed from mere curiosity: during the early years of the Jamestown settlement, its survival depended upon preserving friendly relations with the neighboring savages. During his governorship, Smith conducted a forceful policy toward the Indians: he later boasted that he had compelled them to contribute to the food supply of Jamestown and he planned to reduce them to the position of agricultural laborers working for the benefit of the whites. Smith played a lone hand in a dangerous game and on several occasions he came close to losing his life. Nevertheless, as a result of his expeditions into the interior and along the shores of the Chesapeake he was easily the best-informed man in Virginia concerning the Indians' methods of waging war, their customs and their religious beliefs.

The land is not populous, for the men be few; the far greater number is of women and children. Within 60 miles of Jamestown there are about some 5000 people, but of able men fit for their wars scarcely 1500. To nourish so many together they have yet no means, because they make so small a benefit of their land, be it never so fertile.

6 or 700 have been the most hath been seen together, when they gathered themselves to have surprised Captain Smith at Pamaunke, he having but 15 to withstand the worst of their fury. As small as the proportion of ground that hath yet been discovered, is in comparison of that yet unknown. The people differ very much in stature, especially in language, as before is expressed.

Some being very great as the Sasquesahanocks, others very little as the Wighcocomocoes, but generally tall and straight, of a comely proportion, and of a colour brown when they are of any age, but they are born white. Their hair is generally black; but few have any beards. The men wear half their heads shaven, the other half long. For Barbers they use their women, who with 2 shells will grate away the hair of any

____________________
Travels and Works of Captain John Smith. Edited by Edward Arber.

-223-

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The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 15
  • Part I - Arrivals 41
  • The Plymouth Plantation 43
  • A Description of New England 66
  • The New English Canaan 76
  • Letters 77
  • The Crossing to Pennsylvania! 83
  • Part II - Daily Life 99
  • Pirates in Plymouth 101
  • Thomas Morton of Merrymount 103
  • The Merrymount Colony 108
  • Edifying Incidents 113
  • An Exemplary Christian 115
  • Inoculation for Smallpox 118
  • Courtship 132
  • Marriage 141
  • On Taking a Mistress 154
  • The Speech of Polly Baker 156
  • Riding through Virginia 159
  • Part III - God and the Devil 167
  • Religious Tolerance 169
  • In Defence of Intolerance 175
  • Witchcraft in Salem 179
  • Witchcraft in Salem 185
  • Witchcraft in Salem 190
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman 193
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God 207
  • Personal Narrative 212
  • Part IV - The Indians 221
  • The Indians in Virginia 223
  • Pocahontas 231
  • The Pequot War 239
  • The Pequot War 244
  • Indian Customs and Manners 248
  • Captured by Indians 257
  • Part V - The South 291
  • Virginia 293
  • History of the Dividing Line 310
  • Part VI - Literature 351
  • Anne Bradstreet 353
  • Michael Wigglesworth 357
  • Edward Taylor 367
  • Bacon's Epitaph 370
  • Ebenezer Cook 372
  • Benjamin Franklin 377
  • Part VII - Four Colonial Views 387
  • Itinerarium Dr. Alexander Hamilton 389
  • Autobiography 419
  • Journal 437
  • Letters from an American Farmer 479
  • Bibliography 499
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