Pocahontas

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Pocahontas
Matoaka
BirthplaceWerowocomoco, Virginia
Known for Association with Jamestown colony, saving the life of John Smith, and as a Powhatan convert to Christianity

Pocahontas

(pōkəhŏn`təs), c.1595–1617, Native North American woman, daughter of Chief PowhatanPowhatan
, d. 1618, Native North American chief of the Powhatan tribe in Virginia, whose personal name was Wahunsonacock. He greatly extended the dominion of the Powhatan Confederacy and after the marriage (1614) of his daughter Pocahontas to John Rolfe kept peace with the
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. Pocahontas, meaning "playful one" (her real name was said to be Matoaka), used to visit the English in Virginia at Jamestown. According to the famous story, she saved the life of the captured Capt. John SmithSmith, John,
c.1580–1631, English colonist in America, b. Willoughby, Lincolnshire, England. A merchant's apprentice until his father's death in 1596, he thereafter lived an adventurous life, traveling, fighting in wars against the Turks in Transylvania and Hungary, and
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 just as he was about to have his head smashed at the direction of Powhatan. In 1613, Pocahontas was captured by Capt. Samuel Argall, taken to Jamestown, and held as a hostage for English prisoners then in the hands of her father. At Jamestown she was converted to Christianity and baptized as Rebecca. John RolfeRolfe, John
, 1585–1622, English colonist in Virginia. He reached the colony in May, 1610, and introduced (1612) the regular cultivation of tobacco, which became Virginia's staple.
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, a settler, gained the permission of Powhatan and the governor, Sir Thomas Dale, and married her in Apr., 1614. The union brought peace with the Native Americans for eight years. With her husband and several other Native Americans, Pocahontas went to England in 1616. There she was received as a princess and presented to the king and queen. She started back to America in 1617 but was taken ill and died at Gravesend, where she was buried. Pocahontas bore one son, Thomas Rolfe, who was educated in England, went (1640) to Virginia, and gained considerable wealth.

Bibliography

See P. L. Barbour, Pocahontas and Her World (1969); G. S. Woodward, Pocahontas (1969).

Pocahontas

natural beauty embodied in an Indian maiden. [Am. Hist.: EB, VIII: 57]

Pocahontas

original name Matoaka; married name Rebecca Rolfe. ?1595--1617, American Indian, who allegedly saved the colonist Captain John Smith from being killed