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NUMBER AND POWER OF THE ABORIGINES.
CHAP. of colonists in Virginia, the power of the natives was
a despised; their strongest weapons were such arrows 1622. as they could shape without the use of iron, such
hatchets as could be made from stone; and an English mastiff seemed to them a terrible adversary. Nor were their numbers considerable. Within sixty miles of Jamestown, it is computed, there were no more than five thousand souls, or about fifteen hundred warriors. The whole territory of the clans which listened to Powhatan as their leader or their conqueror, comprehended about eight thousand square miles, thirty tribes, and twenty-four hundred warriors; so that the Indian population amounted to about one inhabitant to a square mile.? The natives, naked and feeble compared with the Europeans, were no where concentrated in considerable villages, but dwelt dispersed in hamlets, with from forty to sixty in each company. Few places had more than two hundred; and many had less. It was also unusual for any large portion of these tribes to be assembled together. An idle tale of an ambuscade of three or four thousand is perhaps an error for three or four hundred; otherwise it is an extravagant fiction, wholly unworthy of belief.4 Smith once met a party, that seemed to amount to seven hundred ; and, so complete was the superiority conferred by the use of fire-arms, that with fifteen men he was able to withstand them all. The savages were therefore regarded with contempt or compassion. No uniform care had been taken to conciliate their
i Smith, ii. 68. Stith, 211. 1790. State of Virginia in 1622,
2 Smith, i. 129. Compare Jeffer- p. 19. Heyiin, b. iv. 96. son's Notes, Quære xi.; True Dec- 4 Smith, i. 177, abundantly relaration of Virginia, 10. “The ex- futed by what “Smith writ with tent of a hundred miles was scarce his own hand,” i. 129. Burk, i peopled with two thousand inhabit. 311, 312, condemned too hastily. ants."
5 Smith, i. 129. 3 Smith, ï. 66. Purchas, iv.
NUMBER AND POWER OF THE ABORIGINES.
good will; although their condition had been improved CHAP. by some of the arts of civilized life. The degree of their advancement may be judged by the intelligence 1622 of their chieftain. A house having been built for Opechancanough after the English fashion, he took such delight in the lock and key, that he would lock and unlock the door a hundred times a day, and thought the device incomparable. When Wyatt arrived, the natives expressed a fear lest his intentions should be hostile : he assured them of his wish to preserve inviolable peace; and the emigrants had no use for fire-arms except against a deer or a fowl. Confidence so far increased, that the old law, which made death the penalty for teaching the Indians to use a musket, was forgotten; and they were now employed as fowlers and huntsmen. The plantations of the English were widely extended, in unsuspecting confidence, along the James River and towards the Potomac, wherever rich grounds invited to the culture of tobacco;; nor were solitary places, remote from neighbors, avoided, since there would there be less competition for the ownership of the soil.
Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas, remained, after the marriage of his daughter, the firm friend of the English. He died in 1618; and his younger brother was now the heir to his influence. Should the native occupants of the soil consent to be driven from their ancient patrimony ? Should their feebleness submit patiently to contempt, injury, and the loss of their lands? The desire of self-preservation, the necessity of self-defence, seemed to demand an active resistance; to preserve their dwelling-places, the English
i Smith, ii. 68. Stith, 211. 2 Ibid. ii. 103. Beverley, 38.
A MASSACRE AND AN INDIAN WAR.
CHAP. must be exterminated; in open battle the Indians
m would be powerless; conscious of their weakness, they 1622. could not hope to accomplish their end except by a
preconcerted surprise. The crime was one of savage ferocity; but it was suggested by their situation. They were timorous and quick of apprehension, and consequently treacherous; for treachery and falsehood are the vices of cowardice. The attack was prepared with impenetrable secrecy. To the very last hour the Indians preserved the language of friendship: they borrowed the boats of the English to attend their own assemblies; on the very morning of the massacre, they were in the houses and at the tables of those whose death they were plotting. 66 Sooner,” said they,
6 shall the sky fall, than peace be violated on our Mar. part.” At length, on the twenty-second of March, at
mid-day, at one and the same instant of time, the Indians fell upon an unsuspecting population, which was scattered through distant villages, extending one hundred and forty miles, on both sides of the river. The onset was so sudden, that the blow was not discerned till it fell. None were spared : children and women, as well as men; the missionary, who had cherished the natives with untiring gentleness; the liberal benefactors, from whom they had received daily kindnesses,—all were murdered with indiscriminate barbarity, and every aggravation of cruelty. The savages fell upon the dead bodies, as if it had been possible to commit on them a fresh murder.
In one hour three hundred and forty-seven persons were cut off. Yet the carnage was not universal; and Virginia was saved from so disastrous a grave."
1 On the massacre; A Declara- a Relation of the barbarous Mas. tion of the State of Virginia, with sacre, &c. &c. 1622. This is the groundwork of the narrative in Smith, ii. 65–76, and of Purchas, iv. 1788–1791. Stith, 208–213.
AN INDIAN WAR.
The night before the execution of the conspiracy, it CHAP. was revealed by a converted Indian to an Englishman whom he wished to rescue ; Jamestown and the near- 1622 est settlements were well prepared against an attack; and the savages, as timid as they were ferocious, fled with precipitation from the appearance of wakeful re sistance. Thus the larger part of the colony was saved. A year after the massacre, there still remained two thousand five hundred men; the total number of the emigrants had exceeded four thousand. The immediate consequences of this massacre were disastrous. Public works were abandoned ; 2 the culture of the fields was much restricted ; the settlements were reduced from eighty plantations to less than eight. Sickness prevailed among the dispirited colonists, who were now crowded into narrow quarters; some even returned to England. But plans of industry were eventually succeeded by schemes of revenge; and a war of extermination ensued. In England, the news, far from dispiriting the adventurers, awakened them to strong feelings of compassionate interest; the purchase of Virginia was endeared by the sacrifice of so much life; and the blood of the victims became the nurture of the plantation. New supplies and assistance were promptly despatched; even King James, for a moment, affected a sentiment of generosity, and, like the churl, gave from the tower of London presents of arms, which had been thrown by as good for nothing in Europe. They might be useful, thought the monarch, against the Indians! He
1 State of Virginia, in 1622, p. 18. Purchas, iv. 1792, says one thousand eight hundred survived; probably in
exact. Compare Holmes, i. 178, note.
2 Stith, 281, 219. 218.
3 Purchas, iv. 1792. Virginia's Verger, in Purchas, iv. 1816. Stith, 235.
AN INDIAN WAR.
CHAP. also made good promises, which were never fulfilled.'
The city of London contributed to repair the losses of 1622. the Virginians; and many private persons displayed
an honorable liberality. Smith volunteered his services to protect the planters, overawe the savages, and make discoveries; the company had no funds, and his proposition was never made a matter of public discussion or record; but some of the members, with ludicrous cupidity, proposed, he should have leave to go at his own expense, if he would grant the corporation one half of the pillage. There were in the colony much-loss and much sorrow, but never any serious apprehensions of discomfiture from the Indians. The midnight surprise, the ambuscade by day, might be feared; the Indians promptly fled on the least indications of watchfulness and resistance. There were not wanting men who now advocated an entire subjection of those whom lenity could not win; and the example of Spanish cruelties was cited with applause. Besides, a natural instinct had led the Indians to select for their villages the pleasantest places, along the purest streams, and near the soil that was most easily cultivated. Their rights of property were no longer much respected; their open fields and villages were now appropriated by the colonists, who could plead the laws of war in defence of their covetousness. Treachery also was employed. The tangled woods, the fastnesses of nature, were the bulwarks to which the savages retreated. Pursuit would have been vain ; they could not be destroyed except as they were lulled
into security, and induced to return to their old homes. 1623. In July of the following year, the inhabitants of the
1 Burk, i. 248, 249.
4 Stith, 233. Smith, ii. 71, 72.