Saturday, 24 May 2014

Rough Men of the Original America

There is a brief little story which never gets brought up in high school history, or for that matter....even college history courses, over an incident in 1622 which lays out the behavior of Americans....way before 1776 or the Constitution.

You see....the development of America goes back to 1607 and Jamestown.  The Plymouth crowd and the Pilgrims?  Well....they would arrive fourteen years later.

Jamestown was the centerpoint of America, civilization, and survival, in this this era.  By 1622, there were roughly fifteen-hundred (1,500) people existing in the Jamestown region.  That includes men, women and children.

The neighboring Indian tribe....the Powhatens....had gone through a leadership change, and by 1622....they had decided that the Englanders were a problem and needed to be eliminated.  Toward early spring, an attack was mounted.  The Powhatens didn't need absolute extermination.....just a massive attack which would lead onto the normal expectations....namely, that the Englanders would grasp the threat and leave.

The results of the attack on this one day?  347 Dead.  Roughly one-quarter of the entire civilization that existed in the Jamestown area.....gone.

It was openly discussed in Indian circles for days after the attack that within two months (two moons), that all Englishmen would be gone.

Well....it's an interesting thing.  When word got back to England and you'd expect someone to get peppy....yank settlers back and rethink this whole new world concept as being unsafe.....it went exactly the opposite way.  They sent back a couple ships of troops and men....armed.

The hostility of the survivors of the attack?  That's an interesting thing too.  They openly went rogue, burning up Indian corn crops in the region, and attacking Indian villages within striking distance of Jamestown.  It took six months....but they more or less dragged the same attackers from March of that year.....into a suggested negotiation phase.

What can be said or suggested here....is that it's hard to imagine some settlers being easily agreeable to some form of negotiation with people who'd killed a quarter of their civilization just months before.  Well....they weren't that agreeable.

For the festive negotiation phase....English alcohol was to be brought in and laid out for the guests (the Indians).  There were good containers of booze, and there were poisonous containers of booze.  The Indians drunk the bad stuff, and around two hundred of their party in attendance....got fairly sick, and were easily killed by the Englishmen at the scene.

The expectation that the Englishmen would just roll over after the massive attack, and leave?  Well....they guessed wrong about this crowd.  The expectation that the same crowd would be stupid enough to negotiate in good faith with the attackers?  Well.....they guessed wrong about that too.  These guys who came early on into Jamestown....weren't the wussy type or likely to accept rough treatment.

"We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” is a quote that gets attributed back to George Orwell and Winston Churchill.  The quote fits for those Brits who came in the early 1600s, and stayed.  It says alot about the character of men who arrived and stayed.

No comments: