Horrors of History, Part Three – Evil and Strike Back
Don’t Turn Evil, Part Five – The Evil That Men Do
Copyright 2010 M.A. Golding
In 1622 the Virginia Company was accused of killing almost all ten thousand colonists who went to Virginia with incompetence, indifference, and evil.
The Virginia Company’s official response was that only six thousand people had gone to Virginia and most of the deaths were the fault of an unbelievably evil and tyrannical former governor. But obviously a governor could not kill eighty percent of the settlers who landed in a fifteen – year period if the Virginia Company directors did not keep him in power for years. The Virginia Company was abolished in 1624.
News of the Virginia massacre did not help Virginia’s reputation as a death trap for colonists. But proponents of English colonization publicized the brutal Powhatan massacre of hundreds of English people. They hoped to make prospective colonists forget that ten or twenty times as many English colonists were killed by English incompetence, callousness, and evil.
So the Powhatan, and all North American Indians or Native Americans, were described as being fiendishly cruel and evil.
In Julius Caesar , perhaps written in 1599, Shakespeare has Mark Anthony say that “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.” The evil that Opechancanough, his chiefs, and his warriors, did on March 22, 1622, has lived on after them for centuries.
Their evil inspired many English writers to slander North American Indians as they had never been slandered before. The new picture made most English speaking people think of Indians as evil fiends for centuries to come. And the vast majority of the colonists who poured into North America after 1622 were English speakers with negative attitudes toward Indians, or speakers of other languages who acquired negative views about Indians from their English-speaking neighbors.
And the North American Indians were described as hunter-gatherers who wandered from place to place through a trackless wilderness in search of food. This implied that they did not live in any specific places and thus did not have any claim to own land, nor did they have any governments worthy of being treated as equals by Europeans. And thus North America was a wilderness open for the taking.
Of course the Indian tribes in the East of North America were all farmers who lived in villages.
And some Indian governments acted very effectively and efficiently at times. For example, when Opechancanough‘s Powhatan government planned and carried out the evil surprise attack on March 22, 1622.
But for centuries most Europeans believed there were no Indian governments with legal rights.
Except most Europeans believed that Indian leaders who sold land to their own group of Europeans (and NOT to rival groups) for that instant (and ONLY that instant) were absolute rulers of totalitarian governments with power to speak for all possible claimants and give perfectly good land title to Europeans.
Don’t Turn Evil, Part Six – The English Strike Back
copyright 2010 M. A. Golding
The Virginia settlers fought back against the Powhatans to avenge the treacherous attack that killed a quarter of them.
Then, during a peace conference in May, 1623 they poisoned and killed over 200 Powhatans. The poison was prepared by Dr. John Potts, a future governor. The exact date is also “a date that deserves to live in infamy”, as a second “Night of the Long Knives”.
Many surviving Virginia colonists feared they would be killed in the next Powhatan attack. They fled in terror from the outer settlements to the inner settlements.
They sold their labor to the big plantation owners to survive. And they sold their abandoned lands to rich planters who hoped to be able to use it someday.
The colony sent expeditions to seize corn from some Powhatan villages each year. Thus the laborers did not have to grow corn for survival instead of valuable tobacco. The Virginia Colony exported more tobacco in 1622 than ever before, despite losing a quarter to a third of its population. The tobacco exports expanded all though the war.
If the Virginia planters actually did let their indentured servants starve each winter, the captured Powhatan corn may have kept the laborers alive over the winter for the first time, enabling the colony to grow faster.
The Powhatan villagers who lost their corn supplies faced starvation, unless other Powhatan villages shared their surplus corn with them.
If many Powhatans did starve, who would die first? The weak old people, too old to take part in the massacre of 1622, and the innocent children. But the strong young men and women, including all the evil participants in the Virginia Massacre, would probably survive.
Possibly the Powhatan warriors may have saved the lives of far more colonists than they killed, enabling their enemies, to increase rapidly. The colonists wanted revenge, but their way of war would kill the most harmless and the most innocent Powhatans first and leave the guiltiest alive. .
The Powhatans had an initial success that far surpasses Pearl Harbor as a treacherous sneak attack but failed to win. The English leaders did not lead their vengeful followers to kill those most guilty of the terrible massacre.
The Second Anglo-Powhatan War was a senseless waste of life, except that the tobacco planters rationally but evilly managed the war effort of the Virginia Colony to maximize their profits, not gain victory or minimize suffering and death.
More horror and suffering would come.
... you shiver inside.
New profile: Northerner
If this series gets to the holocaust I will be sure to point out how unnecessary it was, and thus it was gratuitous evil for the sake of doing evil. the holocaust was unnecessary even to achieve the goal of ridding the world of all Jews.
In the event that I get deleted, I leave the maintenance of my fanclub to Huhlo.