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The monarch gently raised his child,
SEQUEL OF THE HISTORY OF OPECHANCANOUGH-THE GREAT MASSACRE OF
1622-MASSACRE OF 1641-CAPTURE OF OPECHANCANOUGH BY THE ENGLISH
Captain Argall brought out from England, among other things, a variety of presents for Opechancanough, who seems now to have been, notwithstanding that Powhatan was still living, the chief object of the colony's apprehension and regard. He lamented, as the Indians did universally, the untimely fate of their favorite princess; but he also expressed himself satisfied with the care which had been taken of her son. Argall sent messengers to him immediately on his arrival at Jamestown; and the chieftain paid him a visit, and received his presents. Tomocomo, who returned with Argall, had conceived a dislike for Sir Thomas Dale, and he railed violently against him in particular, as he did against the English in general; but Opechancanough either was or affected to be convinced that his anger and his accusations were equally groundless. On the death of Powhatan, in 1618, both himself and his royal brother Opitchipan renewed the ancient league of the emperor with the English; under the protection of which, we are told, every man peaceably followed his building and planting, without any remarkable accidents or interruption.
A transaction, which occurred in 1616, furnishes the best comment we can give upon the character of Opechancanough. It appears, that President Ycardly at that time undertook to relieve the necessities of the colony by collecting tribute of the Chickahominies. But, for some reason or other, that warlike people refused to pay it; and even sent him an answer to his demand, which he construed into an affront. Ile therefore called upon them, soon after, with a company of one hundred soldiers, well armed. Some threatening and bravado ensued on both sides, and a regular battle was the speedy consequence. The Indians were defeated, and as Yeardly was returning to Jamestown
with his spoil, Opechancanough met him, and artfully effected an agreement with him, that he (Yeardly) would make no peace with the Chickahominies without his consent. He then went to that tribe, and pretended that he had, with great pains and solicitation, procured a peace for them. To requite this immense service, as it was now considered, they cheerfully proclaimed him king of their nation, and flocked from all quarters with presents of beads and copper. From this time he was content to be entitled ihe King of Chickahominy; and thus was subjected to him, with their own free consent, a brave and resolute people, who had successfully resisted, for many years, the power of every savage and civilised foe.
The English historians generally agree in representing Opechancanough as an inveterate enemy of the English from first to last. Such may have been the case; and he might have had what appeared to him reason and occasion enough for his hostility. The character of many of the colonists was but too well calculated to thwart the best intentions on the part of the government, however peaceable and just might be their theory of Indian intercourse. The discontent of Tomocomo might have its effect, too, and especially among the mass of his countrymen. The pledge of harmony which had existed in the person of Pocahontas was forgotten. But above all, Opechancanough was too shrewd a man not to perceive, in the alarming disproportion which was daily showing itself between the power of the English and the Indians of Virginia-independently of particular provocations—a sure indication of the necessity of a new system of defence.
Subsequent events confirm this conjecture. No better preparation for a war could have been made on the chieftain's part, than he effected in the submission of the Chickahominies. It is not unlikely that he himself instigated, through his satellites, the very insolence whereby they drew upon themselves that severe chastisement from the colony, which increased his own influence over them as much as it aggravated their hostility to the English. We find that, in 1618, they committed several outrages of a most flagrant character; and although Opechancanough, who was applied to for satisfaction, promised to send in the heads of the offenders, this was never done, and it may be questioned, whether he was not privy to, or perhaps the chief author and contriver of the whole affair. At all events, historians represent that his regal authority over the tribe was thereby s firmly riveted and established."
Still, not only had the artful chieftain given no open cause of offence or evidence of hostility, but he absolutely succe
cceeded, as we have seen, in completely quieting the suspicions of the colonists. In 1620, indeed, we find it recorded in the journal of Mr. Rolfe, that “now Opechancanough will not come at vs, that causes vs suspect his former promises.” But this little, uneasiness was wholly done away, on the arrival of Sir Francis Wyatt, the successor of Yeardly, in 1621. That gentleman immediately sent messengers to Opechancanough and Opitchipan, who both expressed great satisfaction at the accession of the new president, and cheerfully renewed their former leagues with
the colony. The former also declared himself pleased with the idea of the English inhabiting the country. He proposed, by way of amal. gamating the two nations, that some of the white families should settle among his people, while some of his should settle at Jamestown. A former promise was confirmed, of sending a guide with the English to certain mines represented to be situated above the falls. Nay, so far was the deception carried, that “ Mr. Thorpe (the chief messenger) thought he perceived more motions of religion in Opechancanough than could easily be imagined in so great ignorance and blindness. He acknowledged his own religion not to be the right way, and desired to be instructed in the Christian faith. He confessed that God loved the English better, than them; and he thought the cause of God's anger was their custom of conjuring their children, and making them black boys."*
It must have been about this time that Opechancanough took the trouble to send some of his men to a sachem on the eastern shore, for a quantity of poison, peculiar to that region, and which he wished to use in his operations against the English. This may have been the true object of the embassy; and it may also have been but a cover for sounding the disposition of the eastern tribes towards the colony. Accordingly, it is recorded in the “ Observations of Master Iohn Pory, secretarie of Virginia, in his Travels,” that Namenacus, the sachem of Pawtuxent, made an application to the colony, in 1621, for the privi. lege of trading with them. The request was so far attended to, that
* Allusion seems to be made here to a custom which is sufficiently singular to deserve some description. Smith calls it a yearly sacrifice of children. A ceremony of the kind which was performed near Jamestown may best be described in his own words. “Fifteene of the properest young boyes, betwcene ten and fifteene years of age, they paynted white. Hlauing brought them forth, the people spent the forenoone in dauncing and singing about them with rattles. In the afternoone they put those children to the roote of a tree. By them all the men stood in a guard, each hauing a bastinado in his hand, made of reeds bound together. This made a lane betweene them all along, through which there were appointed fiue young men to fetch these children. So every one of the fiue went through the guard to fetch a childe, each after other by turnes, the guard fiercely beating them with their bastinadoes, and they patiently enduring and receiuing all, defending the children with their naked bodies from the vomerciful blowes, that pay them soundly, tho' the children escape. All this while, the women wecpe and cry out very passionately, prouiding mats, skinnes, mosse and dry wood, as things sitting their children's funerals. After the children were thus passed the guard, the guard tore downe the trees, branches and boughs, with such violence that they rent the body, and made wreaths for their heads, or bedecked their hayre with the leaues. What els was done with the children was not seene, but they were all cast on a heape in a valley as dead, where they made a great feast for all the company. The werowance being demanded the meaning of the sacrifice, answered, that the children were not all dead, but that the Okee or Divill did sucke the bloode from their left breast, who chanced to be his by lot, till they were dead; but the rest were kept in the wildernesse by the young men till nine months were expired, during which time they must not converse with any, and of these were made their Priests and Coniurers." Master Pory says, in his Observations, that the Accomacks were a civil and tractable people: “nor doe they vse that deuillish custome in making Black Boyes."
the English promised to visit him within six weeks. Now it seems that their commerce with the Indians at this period was mostly carried on by the aid of one Thomas Savage, an interpreter, and the same man whom Smith had left with Powhatan fourteen years before. The visit took place according to promise, and it was then ascertained that Opechancanough had employed one of his Indians to kill Savage. The pretence was, “ because he brought the trade from him to the easterne shore.” The truth probably was, that the chieftain was jealous of the English influence among the tribes of that region.
But the storm which had been gathering ever since the death of the emperor was at length ready to burst upon the devoted colony. Opechancanough had completed every preparation which the nature of things permitted on his part, and nothing remained but to strike the great blow which he intended should utterly extinguish the English settlements forever. The twenty-second day of March, 1622an era but too memorable in Virginian history-was selected for the time, and a certain hour agreed upon to ensure the simultaneous assault in every direction. The various tribes engaged in the conspiracy were drawn together, and stationed in the vicinity of the several places of massacre, with a celerity and precision unparalleled in the annals of the continent. Although some of the detachments had to march from great distances, and through a continued forest, guided only by the stars and moon, no single instance of disorder or mistake is known to have happened. One by one they followed each other in profound silence, treading as nearly as possible in each others steps, and adjusting the long grass and branches which they displaced. They halted at short distances from the settlements, and waited in deathlike stillness for the signal of attack.
That was to be given by their fellow-savages, who had chosen the same morning for visiting the different plantations, in considerable numbers, for the purpose of ascertaining their strength and precise situation, and at the same time preventing any suspicion of the general design. This, it should be observed, had recently become too habitual a practice with the Indians, to excite suspicion of itself. The savages were well known to be in no condition for a war, and had shown no disposition for one. The English, therefore, while they supplied them generally with whatever they asked for, upon fair terms, neglected to prepare themselves for defence. They were so secure, that a sword or a firelock was rarely to be met with in a private dwelling. Most of their plantations were seated in a scattered and straggling manner, as a water-privilege or a choice vein of rich land invited them; and indeed it was generally thought, we further from neighbors the better. The Indians were daily received into their houses, fed at their tables, and lodged in their bed-chambers; and boats were even lent them previous to the twenty-second, as they passed backwards and forwards for the very purpose of completing the plan of extirpation.
The hour being come, the savages, knowing exactly in what spot every Englishman was to be found, rose upon them at once. The work of death was commenced, and they spared neither sex nor age, man, woman nor child. Some entered the houses under the color of trade. Others drew the owners abroad upon various pretences; while the rest fell suddenly on such as were occupied in their several labors. So quick was the execution, that few perceived the weapon or blow which despatched them. And thus, in one hour and almost at the same instant, fell three hundred and forty-seven men, women and children; most of them by their own arms, and all (as Stith observes) by the hands of a naked and timid people, who durst not stand the presenting of a staff in the manner of a firelock, in the hands of a
Those who had sufficient warning to make resistance saved their lives. Nathaniel Causie, an old soldier of Captain Smith's, though cruelly wounded, cleaved down one of his assailants with an axe; upon which the whole party who had surrounded him fled, and he escaped. At another place, two men held possession of a house against sixty Indians. At Warrasqueake, a Mr. Baldwin, whose wife was so badly wounded that she lay for dead, by repeatedly discharging his musket drove off the enemy, and saved both her and himself. Ralph Hamer, the historian, defended himself in his house, successfully, with spades, axes and brickbats. One small family, living near Martin's Hundred, where as many as seventy-three of the English were slain, not only escaped the massacre, but never heard any thing of it until two or three days afterwards. Jamestown and some of the neighboring places were saved by the disclosure of a Christian Indian named Chanco, who was confidentially informed of the design by his brother, on the morning of the 22d.
Such was the evidence which Opechancanough gave of his deeprooted hatred of the English. And yet, such was his profound dissimulation, that so late as the middle of March, he treated a messenger sent to him from the president with the utmost civility, assuring him he held the peace so firm, that the sky would fall sooner than it should be violated on his part. Mr. Thorpe, an excellent man, who had taken a peculiar interest in Christianising the Indians, supposed that he had gained the especial favor of Opechancanough by building him a very neat house after the English fashion; in which he took such pleasure, as to lock and unlock his door a hundred times a day. He seemed also to be pleased with the discourse and company of Mr. Thorpe, and expressed a desire to requite some of his kindness. Nevertheless, the body of this unfortunate man was found among the slain. Only two days before the massacre, the Indians guided a party of the English throughat he woods, and sent home one who had lived among them to learn their language. On the very morning of the fatal day, as also the evening before, they came, as at other times, unarmed into the houses of the English, with deer, turkeys, fish, fruits and other things to sell; and in some places sat down to breakfast with the same persons whom they rose up to tomahawk.
The particular occasion-as the historians consider it—of the conspiracy, is too characteristic to be omitted. There was a noted Indian,