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5.3.2 Two Tragical Events: 1. The Seafight of Capt. Anthony Chester, 1621 2. The Indian Massacre, 1622
Excerpt from The Voyage of Anthony Chester to Virginia, made in the year 1620; narrated by a distinguished passenger who participated in this expedition. Translated into Dutch and published by Peter Vander Aa, bookseller at Leyden, in 1707.
This primary source is a journal of an English settler named Anthony Chester, who wrote about Native and English attacks and interactions in Virginia in 1622. This diary entry is filled with details about members of the Powhatan Confederacy who staged surprise attacks at the English settlements surrounding Jamestown. Chester also wrote about how the English settlers sought revenge. Based on reading these details, how well do you think the Natives and English knew one another? How do you think they interacted with each other through both conflict and other ways of communication?
This primary source is a journal of an English settler named Anthony Chester, who wrote about Native and English attacks and interactions in Virginia in 1622. This diary entry is filled with details about members of the Powhatan Confederacy who staged surprise attacks at the English settlements surrounding Jamestown. Yet the diary entry includes words and phrases associated with religion, like “convert,” which may be new to your students. Chester also wrote about how the English settlers sought revenge. In order for your students to understand the textual complexity of this document, be sure to use the literacy strategy that helps students to break down the text.
Once they understand the literal facets of the text, ask students these historical questions: Based on reading these details, how well do you think the Natives and English knew one another? How do you think they interacted with each other through both conflict and other ways of communication? While this document most clearly highlights the way that conflict characterized the nature of the Powhatan and English settlers’ relationship, in order for the two sides to know how to stage attacks, they clearly had a close familiarity with each other’s culture and daily life.
"“At the time of this massacre a party of Indians embarked in four boats for Jamestown, with the intention of attacking and murdering the English in this town and the surrounding country, but the hellish plan was frustrated by the disclosure of the project by a converted Indian… on the night preceding the contemplated attack two Indians, brothers, who had embraced the Christian religion, one in the employ of a Mr. Perry, the other in the employ of a Mr. Pace, … discussed the plan of murdering their masters and by the doing assist and please their King Powhatan and thus also to aid the massacring party who were to arrive the following day by order of King Powhatan to murder all the settlers. Apparently the plan as discussed by the two brothers was agreed upon, but the Indian in the employ of Mr. Pace arose early in the morning while his brother was yet asleep and … disclosed to him (Mr. Pace) the entire murderous plan, for he regarded and loved Mr. Pace as a father while Mr. Pace loved his Indian as a son. Mr. Pace was not slow in heeding the warning, at once placing his residence in a state of defence; and hastily rowed in a canoe across the river to Jamestown to notify the Governor of the impending danger. Hardly had we completed our defensive preparations when the boats bearing the savages hove in sight, but as soon as we opened fire upon them with our muskets they retreated in a cowardly manner.
… the heart of this converted Indian to give us timely warning the lives of more than a thousand of our people, of whom I was one, were spared…
…the Indian escaped from his captors, and being unable to overtake him they shot him dead. This occurence enraged King Opechankenough so that they say he swore to revenge the death of this Indian upon the English…
When the occurrence of this massacre became known in the mother country, the English were ordered to take revenge by destroying with fire and sword everything of the Indians; consequently they set out for Pamunkey, destroyed both the houses and crops of the Indians, took Opechankenough prisoner and shot him on the very place where his house stood before it was burned down. On this spot the English then built a new town. By these means the Indians became very much subdued and lived in constant dread of the English..”