I have always seen Pocahontas as a lively, spirited and free girl with the kind of charisma you find in movie stars today. I, truly in my heart believe that she was genuinely enraptured by him; call it a little girl’s crush or puppy-love. She probably dreamed of kissing him, being held in his arms and smiled while thinking about tender moments stolen throughout the day. In reality, no one knows, and no one will ever know what really happened between them. I like to think that it was on the level of Romeo and Juliet, Bonny and Clyde, and Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley.
For more on the Pocahontas myth, see Pocahontas Bastardizes Real People.
Writerfella here --
Any debate should not be conducted by today's morals and mores, but at least in the light of the 'values' of the time. Then, one must try to ascertain how much of the historically regarded story is truth and how much is 'legendary.' If in fact, Powhatan's people genuinely offered the girl as 'test case' for how any of their people would be treated by the Europeans. History, as demonstrated by 'the Disney version,' tends to take the least difficult path to its conclusions. What writerfella sees is that the writers of history almost always take the path of least resistance. George Washington threw a dollar coin across the Potomac, Benjamin Franklin intercepted a lightning bolt and survived touching the charge produced with his own hand, and Paul Revere rode alone to warn that the British were coming. And the American superhero thus was born...
"George Washington threw a dollar coin across the Potomac"
I wonder, was it a Susan B. Anthony or a Sacagawea dollar he tossed? It would have been a more iconic moment had he thrown a quarter instead (his face is on it, you know).
We're getting off the subject here, but I think Washington would've had to have thrown a Spanish milled dollar. The Americans were still using British money and I don't think they issued their own dollars until later.
As this site reports, it's possible to throw a silver dollar across the river. People have proved it by duplicating Washington's alleged feat:
And as someone else noted:
Regarding the item on re-enacting George Washington's dollar toss, Neil Shafer writes: "Just a quick comment on throwing money across a river. Washington could possibly have done it way back when, but it would not be possible now ... because in those days a dollar went further!"
Does anyone have something to say about whether the Pocahontas/John Smith romance actually happened?
I'm not one of the "usual correspondants" who has. I've not studied the Pocohontas history (or legend) and have not seen either of the relatively recent films.
Hi Rob, I read the Pocahontas article in NativeVue and also your statements. The "young lady" makes a convincing argument.
I also think you need to consider the source here, the author is a very young idealistic girl and we all know how cruel little girls can be.
Learn to pick your battles.
Unlike Pocahontas, Misty Upham is an adult woman, not a young girl.
I've been writing about Pocahontas since at least 1995, when the Disney movie came out. Upham was a fairly young girl then. And I've probably written a hundred times more on stereotypes than she's written on Pocahontas. So it's more correct to say she's picked my battle than to say I've picked hers.
Do you agree with her that we should encourage the idea of 27-year-old men romancing 10-year-old girls? Are you in favor of child abuse or statutory rape? Because I'm not. As I wrote in "Marriage or Bust" for Disney's Women, I think it's bad for woman to make a fetish of romance.
Anyway, I'm awaiting the first shred of evidence that John Smith and Pocahontas had anything more than a platonic father-daughter relationship. The debate is far from over, so keep checking NativeVue.org and here for responses.
Hey Rob, don't be silly no one is in favor of child abuse or statutory rape. I believe Ms. Upham is talking about girlhood crushes. This is a quote from her article; "I, truly in my heart believe that she was genuinely enraptured by him; call it a little girl’s crush or puppy-love. She probably dreamed of kissing him, being held in his arms and smiled while thinking about tender moments stolen throughout the day. In reality, no one knows, and no one will ever know what really happened between them." And yes, she is a young adult woman probably in her early twenties. I hate admit this, but I have a grateful Dead tee shirt that is older than her.
As for your transparent statement "I think it's bad for woman to make a fetish of romance" it sounds like you may have "issues" with woman.
If Upham is as young as you think, I have a graduate school degree that's older than her. But she could be in her late 20s.
She also wrote, "I like to think that it was on the level of Romeo and Juliet, Bonny and Clyde, and Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley." That isn't a crush, it's a full-blown romance.
In any case, she's encouraging girls of Pocahontas's age to "love and lust for" men of Smith's age. If that sounds healthy to you, it doesn't to me.
My "issue" with women is that I've known too many who didn't feel complete unless they had a man. This hurt their ability to live a full life, in my opinion.
P.S. Why don't you tell us your first name so we can get to know you better, Anonymous?
I believe Ms. Upham is about 23 years old. Yes, she talks about Romeo, Juliette and Bonnie and Clyde in the same sentence. That should have been a tip off. Like I said before consider the source.
As you stated "Your "issue" with women is that I've known too many who didn't feel complete unless they had a man. This hurt their ability to live a full life, in my opinion" seems kind of one-dimensional, but then again in your profile you say one of your favorite movies is an Officer and a Gentleman, which by the way is a total chick flick, so I could be wrong.
How about my mention of Anne of Green Gables? I wouldn't be surprised if only one man in a million--literally--named that book as a favorite. The movie version is excellent too.
My views about women are deep and multifaceted, but a little difficult to discuss in the comments section of a blog. You can e-mail me if you want to know more about them.
For more of my book and movie preferences, see my MySpace profile.
I'm a historian in early American history, and would like to through in my two cents on the John Smith/Pocahontas myth, and clear the historic record.
Smith published three memoirs of his expedition in Jamestown. Two were published prior the death of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, one two years after the death of Rolfe and several years after the death of Pocahontas. The story of Pocahontas saving Smith only appears in this final publication-- there is no mention of it in the earlier two editions. All three memoirs recall the same period in history, as Smith remembered them.
Why did the story only appear after the death of Rolfe and Pocahontas?
After Pocahontas was brought to England by Rolfe (who, incidentally, agonized in letters over whether or not to marry the "savage," and ultimately did so a) to create a peace that would allow Jamestown to gain a foothold and b) after Pocahontas went through a Christian emersion course, was baptized, and changed her name to Rebecca) she became an instant celebrity. She was even brought to King James I so he could have a look-see at the "civilized" native. Images of Pocahontas were sold to the public, she became a super star (think Princess Diana of the 1600s). Seven months later, she died, making her legend even greater. John Smith was an attention hound of the highest order. It is more than reasonable to assume that after the death of Rolfe (the only other gentleman of Jamestown with enough noteriety to effectively contradict Smith's version of the events), Smith fabricated the story in order to grab some of the residual Pocahontas lime light.
While some native peoples did have adoption ceremonies that involved a faux execution, that was generally reserved for the women and children of "enemy" tribes that had been vanquished. The liklihood that Powhatan would have attempted to "adopt" Smith (who was so annoying that he arrived at Jamestown in chains, his fellow ship passengers being so fed up with him that they threw him in the brig- he was saved from an intended execution when the passengers unrolled the scroll appointing their governors and found Smith named among them).
Just wanted to put it out there-- keep up the great site!
Your comments explain why I labeled the original essay "Dreams of Historical Romance." ;-)
But a question: If Smith was only seeking glory and made up the "rescue," why pick that particular scenario? Saying Pocahontas rescued him puts him in a bad light. Why not say he rescued her, for instance, and make himself the hero?
Thats a really good question-- and one I can't answer, since Smith never copped to creating the story, let alone explained why he did. I think its possible that Smith, who did have interactions with the Powhatan people, would have been privy to the "adoption" ceremony. And I think too that the intent behind the fabrication was to hitch himself to Pocahontas' celebrity in England. What better way to do that then to imply she loved him so much she would risk her life to save him? That, and given the prevailing attitude of the times, it would be unlikely that Smith would want to be portrayed as saving a savage-- remember, of course, that the relationship between the locals and the settlers was tense at best-- Europeans wanted to justify the attack and extermination of natives, not portray them as equal human beings (think Pequot War). Smith being on the edge of death at the hands of crazed barbians, saved at the last minute because a poor primitive native woman was madly in love with him made a lovely story that satisfied Smith's desire for fame and forwarded the idea that natives were barbaric and primitive.
Of course, its just speculation-- There's no way to know for sure what the heck happened!
Oh, and after reading your comment to the other "anonymous" on this page, allow me to introduce myself! I'm Taby, nice to meet you :)
New anonymous person here...
to answer the question why did he choose that story?
Because, around that time a story became well known where a similar occurance took place in Florida to a spaniard. He copied the story, and slightly adjusted it to fit the circumstance and VOILA! smith and pocahontas make history.
Also, I don't ever see anyone question the fact that she died suddenly and mysteriously when she boarded a ship destined for home aka the americas.
Another note, after her original kidnapping at the hands of smith's cohabitators, it was written that she underwent "extraordinary courteous usage" ...is that old times language for "rape"?
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