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Pocahontas Time Line

1595-1699  |  1700-1749  |  1750-1799  |  1800-1849  |  1850-1899

1595 - 1699 

1595 or 1596: Pocahontas likely born; exact date unknown

1607: Jamestown founded, May 13

1607: John Smith is captured by the Powhatans in December and returns to Jamestown early January 1608

1608: Smith's True Relation, containing the first mention of Pocahontas on the historical record, manuscript finished in June

1608: Smith is elected President of the Virginia council, September

1609: Injured in a gunpowder accident, Smith leaves Virginia for good, October

1612: William Symonds' The Proceedings of the English Colonie in Virginia (part 2 of Smith's Map of Virginia) mentions Pocahontas twice but contains several other episodes that Smith connects her to in his 1624 Generall Historie

1612: William Strachey's The Historie of Travaill into Virginia Britannia contains several biographical-type facts about Pocahontas

1613: Pocahontas is kidnapped by Captain Argall and held for ransom, arriving in Jamestown perhaps April 13

1613: The first of five letters spanning till1617 from John Chamberlain to Sir Dudley Carleton reporting news of Pocahontas in London

1613: The first of three editions of Samuel Purchas's important historical collection, Purchas his pilgrimage, which would contain evolving information on Pocahontas

1613: Pocahontas is baptized sometime this year or early 1614, taking the Christian name Rebecca

1614: John Rolfe writes to Governor Thomas Dale, asking permission to marry Pocahontas

1614: Pocahontas marries Rolfe, perhaps April 5

1615: Their son Thomas born

1615: Ralph Hamor's A True Discourse of the Present State of Virginia contains the full story of Pocahontas's kidnapping and attendant negotiations, as well as letters relating to her baptism and marriage

1616: Pocahontas visits England, arriving in June, is royally received, and has a reunion with Smith

1616: In his 1624 Generall Historie Smith includes a letter that he claims to have written to Queen Anne on Pocahontas's arrival, introducing Pocahontas with a record of her past and present aid and value to the colony

1616: Simon Van de Passe's "Matoaka als Rebecca," the only real-life likeness of Pocahontas

1617: On the return trip, Pocahontas dies at Gravesend, England, and is buried March 21 – son Thomas stays in England until early adulthood

1622: The so-called "massacre" in Virginia -- a widespread, concerted Indian attack -- wipes out 1/3 of the colonists

1622: Smith's New England Trials, containing the first published reference to Smith's rescue by Pocahontas

1623: Smith testifies before a royal commission investigating the Virginia Company, again suggesting a Pocahontas role in his escape from captivity

1624: Smith's The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles, which contains by far the widest range of references to Pocahontas, especially a detailed, dramatic description of her saving him from death (which was also included in the prospectus circulated to announce the book)

1625: Samuel Purchas's Purchas his pilgrims has a first-person view of Pocahontas as well as the culmination of his information about her

1630: Smith dies

1634: The De Bry America, a premier collection of travel narratives, features three episodes of the Pocahontas story

1671: John Ogilby's America reprints the rescue section from Smith's Generall Historie


1705: Robert Beverley's The History and Present State of Virginia, containing "the first important colonial attempt to reconstruct the Pocahontas narrative"

1747: William Stith's The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, for many years a major source of the Pocahontas narrative


1755: Edward Kimber's "A Short Account of the British Plantations in America," containing what may be the first expression of Pocahontas loving Smith

1775: The American Revolution begins, with nationhood comes the need for national heroes and national histories

1786: Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782 by the Marquis de Chastellux, called the "most important purveyor" of the Pocahontas narrative before John Davis

1787: "Anecdote of Pocahunta, a Savage Princess, and Captain Smith, an Englishman" may contain the first piece of dialogue by Pocahontas

1794: Jeremy Belknap's chapter on Smith in his American Biography series replaces Stith as the main historical account

1797: The "History of Pocahontas" in Noah Webster's An American Selection of Lessons in Reading and Speaking may be her first schoolbook appearance

1800 - 1849 

1800: With The Farmer of New-Jersey John Davis begins his cottage industry on Pocahontas that removes her story from the "exclusive preserve of historians and biographers"

1803: Mary Hays's Female Biography, perhaps the first of several books in the mid- to late 19th century in which Pocahontas is enshrined in a pantheon of model women

1803: William Wirt's The Letters of the British Spy, a mark of the beginning of Southern sectionalism, one of the earliest calls for public canonization of the "unfortunate princess"

1804: In The History of Virginia from its First Settlement to the Present Day, John Burk sees that a Smith/Pocahontas romance is the direction in which representation will go

1807: Bicentennial of the founding of Jamestown

1808: The first play in English about Pocahontas: James Nelson Barker's The Indian Princess; or, La Belle Sauvage

1809: Around the time of William Marcy's An Oration on the Three Hundred and Eighteenth Anniversary of the Discovery of America we start to see the beginning of Pocahontas references in regard to the "Indian problem" – the vexed question of whether we should work to civilize or remove them

1818: This year – such as in the Trenton Federalist's "Modern Pocahontas" -- we start to note references to "Pocahontas-like" activity

1819: First American edition of Smith's Generall Historie

1820: Slavery contexts for Pocahontas begin with William Hillhouse's Pocahontas; A Proclamation

1828: President Jackson stirs Indian Removal legislation

1830: George Washington Custis's Pocahontas; or, The Settlers of Virginia, A National Drama

1832: Noticeable, as the Indian is being "disappeared" in reality, are the emergence of volumes on Indian history and biography to make them appear in memory

1833: The first of several Pocahontas representations by William Gilmore Simms, perhaps the foremost ante-bellum Southern writer

1834: George S. Hillard's "The Life and Adventures of Captain John Smith" in Jared Sparks' The Library of American Biography, reprinted several times, the first major Smith biography after Belknap

1837: Robert Dale Owen's Pocahontas: A Historical Drama

1837: First editions of George Bancroft's History of the Colonization of the United States, "the" premier history of the 19th century and one whose changing text reflected the debunking controversy

1838: The Trail of Tears

1840: John Gadsby Chapman's The Baptism of Pocahontas painting in the United States Capitol rotunda

1840: George P. Morris's "The Chieftain's Daughter," perhaps the most reprinted poem about Pocahontas in the 19th century

1844: Charlotte Mary Sanford Barnes's The Forest Princess, or Two Centuries Ago

1847: Charles Campbell's Introduction to the History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia is another major history of the state

1850 - 1899 

1850: The first Native American to mention Pocahontas: George Copway's The Life, Letters and Speeches of Kah-ge-ga-gah-bowh or G. Copway, chief Ojibway Nation

1850s: Robert Matthew Sully paints Pocahontas

1852: Thomas Sully paints Pocahontas

1855: The humor and parody of John Brougham's, Po-ca-hon-tas: Or, the Gentle Savage

1857: The 250th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown

1858: Noted southern writer John Esten Cooke chips in his first of several references to Pocahontas

1858: John Gorham Palfrey's History of New England quietly kicks off the debunking controversy

1860: Charles Deane's edition of Wingfield escalates the debunking

1861: The Civil War

---- to be continued ----