- NAME: Powhatan
- OCCUPATION: Folk Hero, Military Leader, Political Leader
- DEATH DATE: c. April 1618
- Did You Know?: As a member of a matrilineal society, Chief Powhatan inherited his position from his mother, not his father.
- PLACE OF DEATH: Virginia
- Full Name: Wahunsenacawh
- AKA: Wahunsunacock
- AKA: Chief Powhatan
- AKA: Powhatan
Best Known For
Chief Powhatan was father of Pocahontas and the ruler of the tribes that lived in the area where English colonists founded the Jamestown settlement in 1607.
Pocahontas - Mini Biography (2:14)
Pocahontas was suffering from tuberculosis in London when John Smith came to visit her for the last time. She was so moved that Smith had come to visit that she called him father.
Pocahontas was a Native American Princess, ambassador, and peacemaker to the first American settlers. She eventually was taken hostage by the British. She married John Rolfe and was renamed Rebecca.
When Pocahontas arrived in England with her husband and infant son, John Smith called her The Lady Rebecca and arranged for her to visit with Queen Anne.
Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, married English colonist John Rolfe. At the time of their marriage, it was considered outrageously scandalous.
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Instead of trading with them as promised, an attack followed and most of the group was killed. Powhatan then cut off trade with the colonists and ordered those who left the Jamestown fort to be attacked. The settlers had a difficult time until new supplies and leadership arrived in the summer of 1610. At this point, they began to strike out more forcefully against the tribes.
Pocahontas was captured by the colonists in 1613. Trying to secure her release,
Powhatan returned a few English to the fort, along with some of the guns that his people had taken. However, Powhatan did not meet all of the colonists' demands, so Pocahontas remained in captivity. She soon converted to Christianity and drew the interest of colonist John Rolfe. Powhatan consented to Pocahontas marrying Rolfe, which led to another period of calm between his tribes and the settlers.
The peace that came with Pocahontas's marriage lasted for the rest of Powhatan's life. After traveling to England with her husband, Pocahontas died there in 1617. Powhatan died soon after, in April 1618, in territory that is now part of Virginia. Powhatan was succeeded by his brother, Opitchapam, and then by another brother, Opechancanough. Under Opechancanough, war with the colonists would begin again.
Powhatan was an impressive ruler who had amassed a great deal of power and influence before the arrival of the Jamestown colonists upended his way of life. He ably countered their actions, but numbers and weaponry were not on Powhatan's side for long.
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