Pocahontas' role in the early stages of white settlement is highly ambiguous.
To the white settlers it seemed as if she supported them secretly by, for instance,
stealing away from her tribe with baskets full of food, but later critics are
convinced that she never undermined her father's authority but instead always
obediently acted according to his will. This means that Powhatan pursued a
double policy in order to keep the new settlers in check: he ensured their
survival but at the same time carefully avoided appearing too supportive.
The reason for such double facing remains unclear. Pocahontas, however, most surely
served as an instrument for both parties: For her father she worked as a mediator,
perhaps even as a spy. On the other hand, the white leaders, especially Sir Thomas Dale and Sir Thomas Gates,
The most promising groom was John Rolfe, who, having survived the Bermuda Shipwreck, brought with him some tobacco plants from the Bermudas to Jamestown and thereby laid the first major foundations of America's economy. Pocahontas spent much of her time with Rolfe and fell in love with him - her 'kidnapper'. This is why Theweleit refers to their relationship as one of the first examples of the Stockholm Syndrom. It has to be added that Pocahontas, though captive, enjoyed a fair amount of freedom and that she, in turn, taught Rolfe all he needed to know about growing tobacco. The prospect of marrying Pocahontas posed a moral dilemma for Rolfe because he felt he had to clarify his motivation. In a letter to Dale he asked for permission to marry the girl and stressed that he was not driven by carnal desire but by a genuine thrive to Christianize the red wild and to spread the Word of God. This letter is often viewed as a curiosity, but for Theweleit it clearly corresponds with Dale and Gate's concept of colonization.
Pocahontas and John Rolfe could have become the first couple of a newly emerging mixed population. Shortly before her wedding in 1614 she was baptized and given the Christian name Rebecca, not without motives, as Theweleit argues: In the Bible Rebecca is slightly colored and gives birth to twins, to two nations. In an attempt to unite the two peoples further and to secure his position Dale himself later wanted to marry another daughter of Powhatan, who did not give his consent. With Pocahontas' death in London in 1617, after she had campaigned for tobacco and exhibited herself as an integrated, educated exotic Princess, the vision of a mixed population vanished. Theweleit suggests that Pocahontas was possibly poisoned by opponents of this model. Even peaceful coexistence of the two peoples became impossible as a consequence of the massacre of 1622.
|Introduction||Chronological list of events||A Map of Virginia|
|Captain John Smith||Histo/myth-tory|
|Tobacco and the history of the USA||The Tempest-The Shakespeare Connection||Bibliography|