“So it is, that some 10 years ago being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan their chief King, I received from this great Savage exceeding great courtesy, especially from his son Nantaquaus, the most manliest, comeliest, boldest spirit, I ever saw in a Savage, and his sister Pocahontas, the King’s most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of 12 or 13 years of age, whose compassionate pitiful heart, of my desperate estate, gave me much cause to respect her.” (John Smith, in a letter to Queen Anne, 1616)
A lot of time has been spent covering the lives of history’s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors’ American Legends series, listeners can get caught up on the lives of America’s most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute. And they can do so while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
The life of Pocahontas fulfills a specific role in American culture and history. Her short life came to symbolize the first encounters between English settlers and the local native tribes. The meaning of her name, “little plaything” or “little wanton”, suggests that she was destined to be bandied about by the powers in her life. The men of the time simply assumed a young Native American girl did not deserve or even want respect.