Wahunsonacock [King Powhatan] td,ld
part of the Powhatan Confederacy  pages under the Native American topic  in the Virginia Chapter of Volume I: Our American Immigrants. The Powhatan Confederacy is relevant to the Jamestown History Pages  & specifically  the Piersey and Woodson family  studies within the Howard and Allied Lines , which, with the Swope and Allied Lines, forms the basis of the Two Volume  Within The Vines Historical Family Website.
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Chief Powhatan to Captain Smith:
"What will it availe you to take that by force you may quickly have by love, or to destroy them that provide you food. What can you get by warre, when we can hide our provisions and fly to the woods? whereby you must famish by wronging us your friends. And why are you thus jealous of our loves seeing us unarmed, and both doe, and are willing still to feede you, with that you cannot get but by our labours?  Thinke you I am so simple, not to know it is better to eate good meate, lye well, and sleepe quietly with my women and children, laugh and be merry with you, have copper, hatchets, or what I want  being your friend: then be forced to flie from all, to lie cold in the woods, feede upon Acornes, rootes, and such trash, and be so hunted by you, that I can neither rest, eate, nor sleepe; but my tyred men must watch, and if a twig but breake, every one cryeth there commeth Captaine Smith"  2
Page Table of Contents:
Info. on the context & source of the above print 

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[Wahunsonacock (King Powhatan)]
Subject Title Page and Table of Contents 
[The Powhatan Confederacy]
 Introduction to Topic

Wahunsonacock inherited 6 tribes from his father. At the time of English contact,  Wahunsonacock [Powhatan to the English]  and the Pamunkey tribe to which he belonged had consolidated about thirty tribes [including the six from his father] and 8,000 persons into  the Powhatan Confederacy , in an area of control that extended from Jamestown to the Potomac , making the whole stronger than the parts and  thus promoting  the general welfare of  the tribes involved. This Confederacy was not alone in the Virginia region, and was well acquainted with warfare, having several native enemies. One estimate is that 50,000 people lived in Virginia when the English arrived.  Already when the English arrived, Palisades surronded Powhatan towns  and the Powhatan had moved inland to protect themselves while they were constrained as well to the west. Initially, the Powhatan probably saw the English as adding further protection to their own people, but in short time became aware the English were in fact just a  better armed but dangerously needy new group amongst their older enemies, vying with the Powhatan Confederacy for control of the region and sometimes seeking to utilize the Powhatan enemies to advantage in their struggle to fully subjugate the Confederacy over which Powhatan reigned while Powhatan attempted to accomplish the reverse. 

Wahunsonacock  died the year before the arrival of our forebears to Jamestown, but his history is integral to study of the Jamestown colony to which our forebears arrived. His role and success as Chief was integral as well to the  reign of his succesor Openchancanough , who proved most influential on the lives of our first immigrants.

Description of Chief Powhatan by Smith:
"a tall well proportioned man, with a sower looke" 8  "He is of parsonage a tall well proportioned man... his head somwhat  gray.... His age neare 60; of a very able and hardybody to endure any labour. What he commandeth they dare not disobey in the least thing. It is strange to see with what great feare and adoration all these people  doe obay this Powhatan. For at his feet, they present whatsoever he  commandeth, and at the least frowne of his browe, their greatest spirits will tremble with feare: and no marvell, for he is very terrible and  tryannous in punishing such as offend him. '" 1

 Powhatan's Kingdom on Contact :

It was Wahunsonacock,  having inherited 6 tribes from his father, who brought  the Powhatan Confederacy more, holding sway over about 32 bands involving but not limited to  the Pamunkey [his own] , Rhappahanock, Mattaponi [or Mattapony],  Chickahominy, Nansemond, and Potomac [Patawomeked ] Indians by the time Jamestown was settled. Loosely called the Powhatan, these people  were known as the  Sachdagugh-roonnw by the Iroquois. Swanton lists the known subtribes in his work and gives their locale by present Virginia county.

Some say the Powhatan were driven North to Virginia by the Spanish, where their chief, Powhatan's father, subjugated five other Virginia tribes.  Swanton does not mention this ,  and remarks  "The Powhatan were visited by some very early explorers, including probably the
Cabots in 1498. Their territory was well known to the Spaniards in the latter part of the sixteenth century and a Jesuit mission was established among them in 1570 though soon extinguished by the Indians. In 1607 the Virginia colony was  planted on James River
and from that time on relations between the Whites and Powhatans were of the most intimate character, friendly at first, but later
disturbed by the exactions of the newcomers."7.

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On toThe Arrival of The English to The Land of The Powhatan , and King Powhatans Reign post contact

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[Wahunsonacock (King Powhatan)]
Subject Title Page and Table of Contents 
[The Powhatan Confederacy ]

Post English Contact:
King Powhatan [Wahunsonacock] and The Jamestown Colony
The English were well aware of the adversity of settling on already peopled land. In the instruction to the Colonists prior to their departure in 1606, the London Company advised on the mode of settlement and choice of locale featuring natural protection and with comment on natives, stating  :
"they will grow discontented with your habitation, and be ready to guide and assist any nation that shall come to invade you; and if you neglect this, you neglect your safety." 9
The English  arrived to Jamestown in 1607 and very soon encountered the Powhatan Confederacy and their Chief Wahunsonacock, viewed as a King , and named Powhatan by the English, in a style not unlike "France wishes to speak with England" would be utilized by European royals of the time. Initially contact was peaceful; The Powhatan had native enemies, and perhaps initially considered these European newcomers added protection against them.   But  relations deteriorated and small scale raids against the English occured. Despite parlays and presents [ including an English bed] , and the exchange of European goods [including coveted tools ] for desperately needed [coveted and vital] food  in the early years of the colony, uneasy testing of each other's stregnth occured with the English ascertaining the Chief's power and possible enemies and weaknesses, and the Powhatan Confederacy conducting several small-scale raids against the new fort.
"On June 15, 1607, Powhatan...issued an order to cease the raiding of the English. Peace reigned for a short period with Powhatan and his brothers occasionally sending gifts of venison to Jamestown. In September, the summer's first corn ripened enough to eat and some neighboring chiefdoms contributed to the colony's  supplies.  January 2, 1608... a fire destroyed all ...supplies and the remaining corn. This left the English without food again. Powhatan stepped in  and supplied the English with provisions at regular intervals.......[In the sping of 1608]  Chief Powhatan lost patience with the English when they began drilling their men outside  the fort at Jamestown, appearing to prepare an attack......Powhatan allowed his subjects to start harassing the English and stealing tools from the fort. The English took hostages in exchange for the stolen tools. The Paspaheghs, one of the local Powhatan tribes,captured a couple of Englishmen to exchange for the Powhatan hostages....By the time the colony was two years old, the major Powhatan settlements had been seized. The Powhatans were so  fixed on retribution, that the colonists were safe only when inside the fort."4
In 1608 Powhatan's half brother, Openchancanough [the King's later and second succesor - a far more militant adversary]  captured Captain John Smith and brought him back to Powhatan's main village. The story of Smith's salvation from death sentence  through the intervention of Pocahontas falling over his body in protection is felt perhaps to have been contrived by Smith as it  mimicked his other stories of salvation by beautiful women in other parts of the world and was not mentioned in Smith's " A True Relation " of 1608 when it was most pertinent,  This story was first told  in his "General Historie"  of 1616.3 Some historians state that this experience was part of a native ritual of subjugation experienced by all tribes brought under Powhatan sway;  Whether Smith understood this and later turned the experience to fair advantage is not known. It does not seem unlikely that Chief Powhatan, with his history of succesful subjugation and consolidation of alliances,  would have chosen not to perform a ritual of subjugation on the captive leader of the English to cement this experience in the minds of his people and to establish the relationship he desired with the English themselves.
During The Starving Time of 1609-10, which threatened the Powhatans as much as the colonists,  the Powhatans remained eerily elusive, hoping their own people would survive, and Jamestown colony would just starve to death,  which was very nearly the case. Boats barely existed and trade, even if it could be had, was not accesable. Early in this worst of its history, the English sold all their tools to neighboring tribes, who after getting the tools wouldn't provide food. When the English tried to leave the fort to hunt or gather, they were ambushed. 4

The English became aware the Powhatan intended to starve them out; In fact,  both the Powhatan and English were threatened with starvation. "In September 1609, Captain John Ratcliffe was invited to Orapax, Powhatan's new capital. When he sailed up the Pamunkey River to trade there, a fight broke out between the colonists and the Powhatans. All of the English were killed, including Ratcliffe, who was tortured by the women of the tribe."4 The effect of the following winter's hunger is hideously described in contemporaneous accounts of the Starving time of  winter 1609/10.

Introduction to the 1st Anglo Powhatan War
The experience of the Third Supply's flag ship in Bermuda where it had been shipwrecked  [overcome through the building of a new boat which subsequently limped into Jamestown]  is felt the basis of Shakespeare's final play "The Tempest" which work gives response to Bermuda as perceived by two of the shipwrecked:  Gon: ' Here is everything advantageous to life. Ant: 'True; save means to live' . Similar words no doubt were exchanged in Jamestown among the colonists of the Third supply and those of  the colony left to meet them. 

In May 1610 [ after the arrival of the survivors of  the Third Supply] .  the Jamestown colonists remained  without hope for survival and Gates decided to  evacuate the colony. Once they were on their way out to sea, they met the remainder of Lord de la Warr's lost fleete and were ordered to return to Jamestown. They had travelled only 10 miles and one day."4  The return  led to  the beginning of the First Anglo Powhatan War.

With the arrival of  Lord de la Warr's fleet and the return of the colonists to the fort,  " Powhatan continued to attack the fort and ambush stray colonists, de la Warr became aggressive and ordered Gates to punish the Kecoughtans for killing the settlers the year before. After Gates lured the Kecoughtans out of their town and  ambushed them, the surviving Kecoughtans fled and the land was claimed by the  English. On July 15, Lord de la Warr sent a message to Powhatan giving him a choice of peace or war. The choice of peace would require the return of any stolen goods and captives. Powhatan sent back a message to warn the English to either stay in the fort at  all times or to leave Virginia. Powhatan also demanded that if de la Warr wished to talk to  him again, he needed to send a coach and three horses. (Powhatan had learned that this   was the mode of transportation for great lords in England and felt he deserved the same  consideration.)"4

Greater detail on the experience and ultimate resolution of the 1st Anglo Powhatan War is discussed in detail at dedicated page: Military Actions, 1st War

Chief Powhatan page from   The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities , The Home of Jamestown Rediscovery webpages
2. Chief Powhatan to Captain Smith From History Matters
3. Powhatan Page of The Virtual Jamestown Website
4. Native Americans Post Contact from the Mariners Museum Webpages
  5.  Internet School Library Media Center, Monacan Indians page.
6.  From the Blue Ridge to The Chesapeake, A Brief History of Virginia's Indians, from The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club
7.  The Indian Tribes of North Americaby John R. Swanton  Virginia Tribes   Manahoac through Tutelo.
Presented by the website Searching for Saponi Town"
8. Powhatan Page of the Jamestown  Society's  Jamestown Pages.
9.Instructions for the Virginia Colony from the London Company (1606) presented in the American Studies portion of  the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Website.
"Cruelty to the Indians" is a depiction of the Spanish and Native Americans. Its image , although not involving the Powhatan, was felt worthy of inclusion on this page.
"017. (Print) De Bry, Theodore. 1594. Petri de Calyce: Grausamkeit gegen die Indianer. English title translation: Petri de Calyce: Cruelty to the Indians.
Image size 8 x 6 1/2 on a page of text 9 1/4 x 12 7/8. Black and white. Foxing in the margins. When he had come to Ameracapana, Petrus de Calyce, the commander of the soldiers, brought four thousand live Indians. He would have brought more had their numbers not been reduced through exhaustion, lack of food, and grief during their journey. The Indians had been worked to exhaustion and additionally burdened with the equipment and baggage of the Spaniards. Those who failed to keep pace were stabbed and killed. MB 75 (125-175). HP PASS." Image and Description from Heritage Map Museum's Auction Catalog September 2000

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Subject Title Page and Table of Contents  [The Powhatan Confederacy ]