Many people have played their roles in the formation of the United States of America. Among the womenfolk the credit for being the first woman to have been associated with this role is Pocahontas.
Pocahontas means â€œThe Playful One:
Pocahontas was born on 1595 to a Native American chief named Powhatan in Virginia. At that time British were ruling this province. Her real name was Matoaka. As she was a playful child she was given the name of Pocahontas which means â€œthe playful oneâ€. She was one among 27 children to her father, but she was his favourite child.
The English founded the Jamestown colony in 1607. As a young girl Pocahontas used to play with the boys in the colony and had charmed the settlers by mingling with them freely. The relation between the settlers and Powhatan’s men were never smooth but it was her presence that helped to maintain peace in the area. It is reported that once she saved the life of English Captain John Smith from Powhatan’s men. In this way she was instrumental in saving the colony.
Relationship with the English;
Despite the above incident the relations between the English and the colonists in Virginia were tense. In 1613 she was taken prisoner by one English captain named Samuel Argall. She was taken as a hostage for bargaining the release of Englishmen captured by the Powhatan’s group. The Governor of Jamestown, Sir Thomas Dale treated her very decently and was impressed by her intelligence.
One John Rolfe, a gentleman at Jamestown fell in love with her at first sight and requested Sir Thomas Dale to let him marry her even though she had been already married to a native chief known as Kocoum. He placed a condition that she converts to Christianity. She agreed to it and she was baptized and given the name â€œRebeccaâ€. This bond brought eight years of peace to the Virginia colonists.
She visits England for the first time:
In 1616, the Virginia Company invited her to visit England. She was treated as a Princess and got to meet King James I and Queen Anne. In 1617 the entire party started their return trip to Virginia. She unfortunately could not make it as she died of a mystery illness and was buried in Gravesend Church in England. Her only son, Thomas stayed back in England and returned to Virginia after completing his studies.
Some other interesting facts about Pocahontas:
Her original name was Mataoka which also means Little Snow Feather. She was also known as Amonute.
It is not mentioned anywhere in history as to who her mother was. It is believed that she died during childbirth.
Pocahontas enjoyed playing with boys and had a tomboyish character.
She is well known for her peace-making abilities and had an ability of making friends soon as well.
She was known to be a compassionate person and she used to supply the Jamestown colonists with food and medicines in return for copper coins and other artefacts.
Even though she was kidnapped by an English captain, she managed to charm the English into treating her properly with dignity.
Her marriage to John Rolfe was the first interracial marriage in American history.
Her husband John Rolfe was a successful tobacco farmer, an occupation which their only son Thomas continued to pursue after his education in England.
It is believed that she had a daughter from her first marriage to a local chieftain Kocoum.
She died of a mysterious illness which she contacted on her trip to England. It may have been tuberculosis, pneumonia or small pox.
She is honoured with a life-size statue at St George’s Church in Gravesend, England.
This was the life story of Pocahontas who has the honour of being the first woman to have had a hand in the shaping of the United States.