Indian Pricess Pocahontas
( Originally Published 1900 )
The James River carries a heavy commerce below Richmond, and the channel depths of the wayward and very crooked stream are maintained by an elaborate system of jetties, constructed by the Government. Both shores show the earthworks that are relics of the war, and Drewry's Bluff, with Fort Darling, the citadel of the Confederate defence of the river, is projected across the stream. Below is Dutch Gap, where the winding river, flowing in a level plain, makes a double reverse curve, going around a considerable surface without making much actual progress. Here is the Dutch Gap Canal, which General Butler cut through the narrowest part of the long neck of land, thus avoiding Confederate batteries and saving a detour of five and a half miles ; it is now used for navigation. Just below is the large plantation of Varina, where the Indian Princess Pocahontas lived after her marriage with the Englishman, John Rolfe. Its fine brick colonial mansion was the headquarters for the exchange of prisoners during the Civil War.
The brief career of Pocahontas is the great romance of the first settlement of Virginia. She was the daughter and favorite child of Powhatan, her name being taken from a running brook, and meaning the "bright streamlet between the hills." When the Indians captured Captain John Smith she was about twelve years of age. He made friends of the Indian children, and whittled playthings for them, so that Pocahontas became greatly interested in him, and the tale of her saving his life is so closely interwoven with the early history of the colony- that those who declare it apocryphal have not yet been able to obliterate it from our school-books. Smith being afterwards liberated, Pocahontas always had a longing for him, was the medium of getting the colonists food, warned them of plots, and took an interest in them even after Smith returned to England. The tale was then told her that Smith was dead. In 1614 Pocahontas, about nineteen years old, was kid-napped and taken to Jamestown, in order to carry out a plan of the Governor by which Powhatan, to save his daughter, would make friendship with the colony, and it resulted as intended. Pocahontas remained several weeks in the colony, made the acquaintance of the younger people, and fell in love with Master John Rolfe. Pocahontas returned to her father, who consented to the marriage; she was baptized at Jamestown as Lady Rebecca, and her uncle and two brothers afterwards attended the wedding, the uncle giving the Indian bride away in the little church at Jamestown, April 5, 1614. A peace of "several years' duration was the consequence of this union. Two years afterwards Pocahontas and her husband proceeded to England, where she was an object of the greatest interest to all classes of people, and was presented at Court, the Queen warmly receiving her. Captain Smith visited her in London, and after saluting him she turned away her face and hid it in her hands, thus continuing for over two hours. This was due to her surprise at seeing Smith, for there is no doubt her husband was a party to the deception, he probably thinking she would never marry him while Smith was living. The winter climate of England was too severe for her, and when about embarking to return to Virginia she suddenly died at Gravesend, in March, 1617, aged about twenty-two. She left one son, Thomas Rolfe, who was educated in London, and in after life went to Virginia, where he became a man of note and influence. From him are descended the famous children of Pocahontas—the " First Families of Virginia "—the Randolph, Bolling, Fleming and other families.