we ought to have intermarried with them, which would have incorporated us with them effectually, and made of them staunch friends, and, which is of still more consequence, made many of them good Christians

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-11-18 21:42Z by Steven

Now, to answer your first query—whether by our breach of treaties we have not justly exasperated the bordering nations of Indians against us, and drawn upon ourselves the barbarous usage we meet with from them and the French? … I shall only hint at some things which we ought to have done, and which we did not do at our first settlement amongst them, and which we might have learnt long since from the practice of our enemies the French. I am persuaded we were not deficient in the observation of treaties, but as we got the land by concession, and not by conquest, we ought to have intermarried with them, which would have incorporated us with them effectually, and made of them staunch friends, and, which is of still more consequence, made many of them good Christians; but this our wise politicians at home [in England] put an effectual stop to at the beginning of our settlement here, for when they heard that Rolfe married Pocahontas, it was deliberated in Council, whether he had not committed high treason by doing so, that is, marrying an Indian Princess; and had some troubles not intervened which put a stop to the inquiry, the poor man might have been hanged up for doing the most just, the most natural, the most generous and politic action that ever was done this side of the water. This put an effectual stop to all intermarriages afterwards.

But here methinks I can hear you observe, What! Englishmen intermarry with Indians? But I can convince you that they are guilty of much more heinous practices, more unjustifiable in the sight of God and man … for many base wretches amongst us take up with negro women, by which means the country swarms with mulatto bastards, and these mulattoes, if but three generations removed from the black father or mother, may, by the indulgence of the laws of the country, intermarry with the white people, and actually do every day so marry. Now, if instead of this abominable practice which hath polluted the blood of many amongst us, we had taken Indian wives in the first place, it would have made them some compensation for their lands. They are a free people, and the offspring would not be born in a state of slavery. We should become rightful heirs to their lands, and should not have smutted our blood, for the Indian children when born are as white as Spanish or Portuguese, and were it not for the practice of going naked, in the summer and besmearing themselves with bears’ grease, etc., they would continue white; and had we thought fit to make them our wives, they would readily have complied with our fashion of wearing clothes all the year round; and by doing justice to these poor benighted heathen, we should have introduced Christianity amongst them. Your own reflections upon these hints will be a sufficient answer to your first query. I shall only add that General Johnson’s success was owing, under God, to his fidelity to the Indians, and his generous conduct to his Indian wife, by whom he hath several hopeful sons, who are all war-captains, the bulwarks with him of the five nations, and loyal subjects to their mother country.

The Reverend Peter Fontaine of Virginia, in a letter to his brother Moses
March 30, 1757

Robert S. Tilton, Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). 21-23.

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Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2013-11-18 21:28Z by Steven

Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative

Cambridge University Press
November 1994
276 pages
31 b/w illus
229 x 152 x 16 mm
Paperback ISBN: 9780521469593

Robert S. Tilton, Professor of English
University of Connecticut, Torrington

From the time of its first appearance, the story of Pocahontas has provided the terms of a flexible discourse that has been put to multiple, and at times contradictory, uses. Centering around her legendary rescue of John Smith from the brink of execution and her subsequent marriage to a white Jamestown colonist, the Pocahontas convention became a source of national debate over such broad issues as miscegenation, racial conflict, and colonial expansion. At the same time, Pocahontas became the most frequently and variously portrayed female figure in antebellum literature. Robert S. Tilton draws upon the rich tradition of Pocahontas material to examine why her half-historic, half-legendary narrative so engaged the imaginations of Americans from the earliest days of the colonies through the conclusion of the Civil War. Drawing upon a wide variety of primary materials, Tilton reflects on the ways in which the Pocahontas myth was exploded, exploited, and ultimately made to rationalise dangerous preconceptions about the native American tradition.

  • The only study to focus exclusively on the Pocahontas narrative during this period
  • Deals with crucial aspects of Indian/white relations, such as interracial marriages, and the place of the Indian in ‘Manifest Destiny’ ideology
  • Brings together a number of visual images not elsewhere presented together

Table of Contents

  • 1. Miscegenation and the Pocahontas narrative in colonial and federalist America
  • 2. The Pocahontas narrative in post-Revolution America
  • 3. The Pocahontas narrative in the era of the romantic Indian
  • 4. John Gadsby Chapman’s Baptism of Pocahontas
  • 5. The figure of Pocahontas in sectionalist propaganda
  • Index
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