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First Encounters Quotes

from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

"In 1585, before there was any permanent English settlement in Virginia, Richard Grenville landed there with seven ships. The Indians he met were hospitable, but when one of them stole a small silver cup, Grenville sacked and burned the whole Indian village." p. 12

"Even though Jamestown was set up inside of an Indian confederacy, its chief, Powhatan, did not attack the settlement. Many English ran off to join the Indians during the "starving time" just to be fed. When summer came, the Governor of the colony sent a message to Powhatan to return the runaways and according to the English account, he replied with "noe other tan prowde and disdaynefull Answers," some soldiers were sent out "to take Revendge", when they fell upon an Indian settlement, killed 15 or 16 Indians, burned the houses, cut down the corn . . ., took the queen of the tribe and her children into boats, then ended up throw the children overboard "and shoteinge owtt their Braynes in the water." The queen was later taken off and stabbed to death." p.12

"Twelve years later, the Indians, alarmed as the English settlements kept growing in numbers, apparently decided to try and wipe them out for good. They went on a rampage and massacred 347 men, women, and children. From then on it was total war." p.12

In 1607 Powhatan made a plea to John Smith: "I have seen two generations of my people die . . .I know the difference between peace and war better than any man in my country. I am now grown old, and must die soon; my authority must descend to my brothers, Opitchapan, Opechancanough and Catatough - then to my two sisters, and then to my two daughters. I wish them to know as much as I do, and that your love to them my be like mine to your. Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love? Why will you destroy us who supply you with food? What can you get by war? We can hide our provisions and run into the woods; then you will starve for wronging your friends. Why are you jealous of us? We are unarmed, and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner, and not so simple as not to know that it is much better to eat good meat, sleep comfortably, live quietly with my wives and children, laugh and be merry with the English, and trade for their copper and hatchets, than to run away from them, and to lie cold in the woods, feed on acorns, roots and such trash, and be so hunted that I can neither eat nor sleep. In these wars, my men must sit up watching, and if a twig break, they all cry out "Here comes Captain Smith!" So I must end my miserable life. Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all our jealousy, or you may all die in the same manner." p.13

"The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, created the excuse to take Indian land by declaring the area legally a "vacuum". The Indians, he said, had not "subdued" the land, and therefore had only a "natural" right to it, but not a "civil right". A "natural right" did not have legal standing." p.13

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