navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Pocahontas 1596?–1617

Pocahontas was about ten years old when the English settled Jamestown in present-day Virginia in 1607. She was the daughter of the leader of the Powhatan Indians. Pocahontas was curious about the strangers who had landed on her shore. She made friends with some of them, including John Smith. In his writings, Smith spoke of Pocahontas's knowledge, friendliness, and courage.

Pocahontas tried to keep peace between the English and the Powhatan. She brought food and gifts to the settlers. She once persuaded them to free some Powhatan captives they were holding.

After John Smith returned to England, war broke out between the settlers and the Powhatan. The settlers captured Pocahontas and held her at Jamestown for a year. During that time, she married John Rolfe. The marriage brought about peace between the settlers and the Powhatan nation for a short time.

Comprehension Check

How did Pocahontas treat the Jamestown settlers when they first arrived?

Critical Thinking

In what ways did Pocahontas help both the settlers and the Powhatans?