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Lecture 4

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Michigan State University
HST 202

HST 202 Lecture Notes British North American Colonial Life Life in the Southern Colonies 1/23/13 WHO:  Powhatan: Algonquin speaking leader of a group of people in the present day northeast US and also the name for the group of people he led o Had power, politics, and culture o Located in northeastern US  “Coat Wearers”: Name the Native Americans used for the English WHERE:  Tsenacomoco: Powhatan land near present day Virginia where Englishmen landed in 1607 WHEN: 1607  This was NOT the first time Englishmen arrived! o 40 years earlier a native named Lewis had been captured and taken to England o He eventually came back to America and warned the other natives about the large population of “coat wearers” overseas o Encouraged natives to kill “coat wearers” which led the English to retaliate against ALL natives  Before 1607, “coat wearers” failed to maintain a colony o Lacked survival skills o Powhatan men were stolen in 1603 and died back in England WHAT:  Settlers in planned to stay and locate gold and silver though Powhatans were unsure of these intentions "Coat Wearers" Powhatans • Trying to find gold and • Unsure of Englishmen's silver intentions • Planned to stay • Thought English lacked • Mostly men because they survival skills to stay were the ones who built • Wondered who would do houses, worked the farms, "womens work" by and used violence building houses and • Hunting was illegal in farming England and considered • Thought English were "poaching" if you got awful hunters caught (only the rich did it as a sport) o What should Powhatan do?  If he killed them – more would come  If he did nothing – they may die off since they settled on bad land o Jamestown Island: Area claimed by Englishmen that was under Powhatan’s rule but full of swaps, mosquitoes, and undrinkable water  If he befriended them – they could be beneficial to trade with o HIS STRATEGY:  Conquer potential English allies  Matriarchal Society: Power passed through families based on women o Chief (werowance)  Younger brothers  Sister’s sons o Female chief (werowansqua) if no male heirs existed  Powhatans expanded their tribe through war and marriage (because it was a matriarchal society) but they could not conquer the Chesapeake  First move when the Englishmen came was to kill off the Chesapeake so the English would have no one to become allies with for survival!  Contain English and monopolize English trade to get weapons/metal goods  John Smith: “Coat wearer” captured by the natives and brought him to Powhatan so he could gain intelligence on them o Famous because he wrote about his journeys, though not always truthfully o FALSE STORY: Pocahontas, a beautiful Indian princess, falls in love with John Smith’s good looks and charm. The chief is going to execute him but Pocahontas throws her body over him to save him. The chief ends up liking him and takes him in as a son. o REAL STORY: Powhatan took John Smith as a prisoner to use as leverage. He saw through John’s lie that they were there fleeing the Spanish so he admitted that they were looking for the “other sea”. Powhatan offered for him to be allowed to stay if they paid them in guns and metal goods. He knew they were powerful weapons so he wanted to contain them. John Smith gives him cannons, a safer
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