Tuesday, October 19, 2010

John Smith's account details the first voyage of exploration to Virginia

About the tenth of September there was about 46. of our men dead, at which time Captaine Wingefield having ordred the affaires in such sort that he was generally hated of all, in which respect with one consent he was deposed from his presidencie, and Captaine Ratcliffe according to his course was elected.
Our provision now being within twentie dayes spent, the Indians brought us great store both of Corne and bread ready made: and also there came such aboundance of Fowles into the Rivers, as greatly refreshed our weake estates, where uppon many of our weake men were presently able to goe abroad.
As yet we had no houses to cover us, our tents were rotten and our Cabbins worse than nought: our best commodities was Yron which we made into little chissels.
As at this time were most of our chiefest men either sicke or discontented, the rest being in such dispaire, as they would rather starve and rot with idleness, then be persuaded to do any thing for their owne reliefe without constraint: our victualles being now within eighteene dayes spent, and the Indians trade decreasing, I was sent to the mouth of the river to Kegquohtan an Indian Towne, to trade for Corne, and try the river for Fish, but our fishing we could not effect by reason of the stormy weather. The Indians thinking us neare famished, with carelesse kindnes, offered us little pieces of bread and small handfulls of beanes or wheat, for a hatchet or a piece of copper: In like maner I entertained their kindnes, and in like scorne offered them like commodities, but the Children, or any that shewe extraordinary kundnes, I liberally confronted with free gifte such trifles as wel contented them.

In this short entry John Smith is explaining about how the men were struggling to survive and mentions at the beginning that many have already died. They have not built houses yet and are running out of food. Smith writes about how the men would rather starve then help themselves.
I picked this entry because of the month that John Smith is writing, he says "About the tenth of September..." It is not even the Winter yet, let alone the beginning of Autumn and they are already struggling. Smith then goes on is own to trade with the Indians.
The part I find revealing is how Smith calls them Indians, he doesn't refer to them as 'savages' or 'animals'. This, I think, shows that he is on good terms with them, and can communicate with them well.
This is show towards the end of the entry, after the Indians have prepared food for him to take, Smith in return 'entertained their kindnes'.

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