Why did Pocahontas travel to London, and what was her fate?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Most of what is known about Pocahontas comes from accounts by those who knew her or of her. These accounts are primarily those of English accounts or those of members of the English colonies in America. (Other information passed down through "the sacred oral tradition" by the Mattaponi tribe—published by Custalow and Daniel in 2007—provides a slightly different account.)

Pocahontas is described as a favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan… She was loved, esteemed, and allowed to participate in the life of her village. On the other hand, she was genuinely curious about the life of the English settlers. The bravery of Smith intrigued her, and she became fascinated with him. [S]he was captured by the English, Christianized, renamed, and married to Rolfe…

Pocahontas first met the English as a young child. It is not certain if she did, in fact, save John Smith's life, or if the historical meeting was one of the adoption of Smith into the Powhatan Chiefdom. Pocahontas was very much involved in the dealings between the English and her people.

When relations between the two groups began to deteriorate, Powhatan moved his family inland and his daughter had no dealings with the English for a long period.

Later, Pocahontas was kidnapped with the hope that her father would enter into negotiations to improve the relationship between the English and Powhatan, giving her captor (Captain Samuel Argall) an advantage in the proceedings. While in the care of the English, Pocahontas "...learned the English language, religion and customs." She also met John Rolfe, a widower. They fell in love, she converted to Christianity and they married.

Pocahontas' trip to England seems originally to have been a business strategy on the part of the Virginia Company of London, which had sponsored the settlement in Jamestown. They believed that Pocahontas, the wife of an Englishman and a Christian convert would attract more interest in Virginia and the company.

In 1617, as the Rolfe family prepared to return to Virginia, Pocahontas became ill and died. She was twenty-one, and is buried in England.

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