Is Disney’s Pocahontas Historically Accurate? Hint: No

It probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that Disney might not be all that concerned with historical accuracy when it writes one or two of its most brilliant screenplays for animated movies. Pocahontas was a historical figure known for her connection to the settlers of Jamestown, Virginia. She was a Native American daughter of Powhatan and is believed to be responsible for saving John Smith in 1607. Who did she save Smith from, exactly? As the story goes, her own father tried to execute the man by clubbing him to death. Pocahontas perhaps prevented the bloody killing by resting her own head on his. Whether this is true or not is unknown.

Disney’s retelling of this historical tale is rife with inaccuracies. Here are a few of the most glaring mistakes.

We know that Pocahontas was dead before her 22nd birthday. When she met John Smith, she was only ten or eleven years old. When you’re writing a story for little kids (and their parents, and okay, we all love it), you can’t really rely on a narrative of an older man wooing an eleven-year-old. It doesn’t really work. Disney fudged the age a bit in order to make the story more relevant to the present era. In the film, she’s 18 years old. Oh, and another thing–historically, Pocahontas and John Smith weren’t even an item. Pushing people into romance is also a Disney thing.

We also know that the meeting between the two not-so-romantic fools wasn’t as spontaneous in reality as it was in the movie. When John Smith and company landed and populated Jamestown, it was only spring. Smith was then captured by the tribe in winter, so quite a bit of time had gone by in the interlude.

Leave it to Disney to kill off historical figures just to fit their narrative. In the movie, Pocahontas is told to wed the warrior Kocoum. She is defiant, and eventually, Kocoum is killed by one of the British colonizers. In reality, Pocahontas really did marry Kocoum not that long after John Smith got out of Virginia. We don’t know exactly how all that went down, but it’s entirely feasible that Pocahontas was in love with Kocoum. These weren’t arranged marriages: members of her Native American tribe were able to make their own choices when it came to marriage, and marriage as we know it was completely different for them.

The account of Pocahontas saving Smith comes from Smith himself, and that’s why it is sometimes regarded as truth. In the movie, the scene plays out similarly but for an altogether different reason. In the movie, Smith is to be executed because of Kocoum’s death. We know that Smith didn’t actually kill the man, and so some scholars debate whether or not Smith was ever in danger at all. The entire event could be somewhat lost in translation. It’s possible that Smith’s narrative either embellished, outright lied, or simply didn’t understand what may have simply been a ceremony intended to initiate him into the tribe. Either way, the movie didn’t get the reasoning behind the potential execution right at all.

‘Light Horse,’ The Confederacy and Antifa

The Civil War was fought 150 years ago. It is still a painful part of our history, and recent events have brought out the pain of a personal injury lawyer even more.

There is little doubt that some Americans are ashamed of that part of our history, as there were people who fought against the U.S. government in support of slavery; and in the Southern states, some of those prominent men have been honored with memorials and statues.

In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, a prominent statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was taken down, encouraged by “antifa” protestors who seemed to push for it as a middle finger to white-nationalist protestors that were in Charlottesville at the same time.

Antifa brought forward the visibility of General Lee and the Confederacy, bringing out more of the scars. And it also brings to mind the irony of Lee standing in front of men who fought against the federal government in an act of treason, in contradiction to a member of his own family who stood as a patriot in support of the United States.

General Robert E. Lee gained acclaim in U.S. history books for leading the Confederate Army against the Union during the bloody and tragic Civil War. But he was not the only military “hero” in his family. He was just the one who did not support the U.S.

Major General Henry Lee III was born in colonial Virginia and skipped a legal career when the Revolution broke out and became a major and led a dragoon unit, and and later a cavalry and light-infantry unit of the Continental Army. His unit became prominent in what is now called “guerrilla warfare” tactics, as light-infantry and cavalry was mobile and not weighed down by large cannon and heavy supply trains.

Lee’s Legion,” which was the name of the mixed unit he led, was very successful in guerrilla tactics, disrupting British supply lines, engaging British troops in several skirmishes that weakened numbers, confronting troop movements, and also doing scouting and reconnaissance work that helped the Continental Army strategize battles.

He gained much attention and respect from Continental Army commander Gen. George Washington for his leadership and skill on a horse. He had a noteworthy win in New Jersey, when a surprise attack captured 400 British soldiers with just one loss on his side. He quickly ascended to the post of major general in the Continental Army and left military service in 1782, just at the end of the war.

He gained the name “Light Horse” as a term of affection and respect, mainly for his horsemanship as well as his leadership of his troops under his command.

In 1782, he married his first wife Matilda, and the couple had four children. Lee went on to serve in Congress representing Virginia, and three terms as governor of the state. Matilda passed on in 1790, and Henry married again in 1795, with new wife Anne Carter having five children (the first child was lost early). One of those children was …

Robert E. Lee, future general of the Confederate Army.

From patriot to traitor. A sad trail for the Lee family.

Patrick Henry: Liberty Before Death

He never became president, never led an army and was actually one of the opponents of the burgeoning U.S. Constitution. He didn’t write any vital documents, only held major public office after the Revolution and wasn’t very well-heeled until after the U.S. became a nation. And yet, Patrick Henry wound up being one of the most influential Founding Fathers for the United States.

Patrick Henry was most known as one of the great orators in the American colonies, and was gifted with words – whether spoken or written – were valuable weapons in drumming up the anger and visceral emotion that carried the colonists through the war for independence from the mighty British Empire. Words are great in developing emotion, and Thomas Paine was known for his written words, and Patrick Henry had a famous speech that catalyzed the bubbling revolution.

Patrick Henry was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses through most of the lead-up to the Revolutionary War, so he was on the front lines of the various tyrannical encroachments of the Crown on the American colonies. Up until 1765, the British Empire had pretty much let the colonies run their own affairs with minimal interference, but at that time the Crown was looking to recoup some of the money that it had spent protecting the colonies during the French and Indian wars, which were fought a decade earlier.

The Stamp Act of 1765 was the start of the revolutionary fervor, as the Crown required every piece of paper in the colonies had to have a stamp on them and colonists were charged for each paper they used. Henry saw this usurpation of independence and became a vocal opponent of the Crown while serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses.  He advocated for the colony’s continued autonomy, and things finally came to a head in 1775.

Finally, Henry moved to approve resolutions that would develop a militia in Virginia to defend the colony from the British. This is where he stood up in the legislative body and gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech, which was advocating for independence for the colony and speaking out against the increasing tyrannical pressure of the Crown thousands of miles away.

The Revolution was not only fought on the battlefield, it was also fought politically, and Patrick Henry was one of the most vocal members of the Continental Congress supporting the revolution. He had other eloquent floor speeches, but the “Liberty or Death” speech was the rallying cry as a spoken inspiration, while Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet lit the fire with the written word.

After the Revolution, he served several terms as Governor of Virginia and was a key member of the Anti-Federalists when the U.S. Constitution was being debated through the colonies. Being an Anti-Federalist, he spoke out against centralized power in the proposed new federal government and protested the perceived erosion of state and individual rights in the document. His work helped lead to the adoption of the first 10 amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, which gave states and individuals specific liberties and removed federal government interference.

This became ironic, as he eventually flipped his allegiance when Federalist John Adams was elected president in 1797, and he supported his presidency, which included the notorious Alien and Sedition Acts, which imposed punishments for speaking out against the federal government.

Henry retired from public service in 1794 and passed away at Red Hill Plantation in 1799 at the age of 63.

George Rogers Clark: Riches To Rags

Every war has its share of forgotten heroes. Every single person who served as a representative of the United States in any conflict is a hero, and some of those who are forgotten are those who were survivors and did heroic deeds of leadership and sacrifice, and yet time and generations fade those memories.

George Rogers Clark is one of those unfortunately forgotten warriors. He is most known these days as the father of explorer William Clark (of Lewis & Clark fame), but there is more to him that has been revealed in recent years. He is actually one of the more important role players in the Revolutionary War, but was lost in a “wilderness” of the new country and thus perhaps didn’t get the due he deserved.

Clark was born in 1752 in what was known as Virginia, though he grew up and became a member of the militia in the area currently called Kentucky (not Nashville), and he wound up leading a small militia detachment in securing what was called “northwest territory” of the fledgling nation.

Clark became the highest ranking military officer in the “northwest territory,” which was basically the area known today as Illinois, Ohio and Indiana. He served with great valour, leading his ragtag band into his greatest accomplishment of capturing Fort Sackville from the British near Vincennes, Indiana, in the dead of winter 1779.

His work in the area contributed to that land being awarded to the United States upon the British surrender in the Treaty of Paris which was signed in 1783. Not only were the colonies free, but Clark’s military work and leadership gave the United States even more territory that would contribute to the further expansion and essentially took the British out of the United States as it’s known, leaving only French and Spanish territory.

Shortly after that, Clark was removed from his leadership position in the northwest militia because of accusations of being drunk on duty. He fought by demanding a formal investigation into the charges, but no inquiry ever came and he was forced to resign in disgrace. He returned to private life in Kentucky after the Revolutionary War ended, and he was part of a commission that allotted land parcels to those in his militia and fought for him in the 1778 and 1779 campaigns, settling the area across the Ohio River from Louisville.

This was something that Clark took seriously, as he and his man fought for the colonies with no pay, and ultimately they never got paid for their military work and sacrifice on behalf of the Revolutionaries.

After that, Clark was helpful in reaching treaties with regional tribes as part of a commission that negotiated peaceful living along the Wabash River. However, he eventually returned to military life when the treaties weren’t being honored, and he led a detachment in Kentucky on a retaliation march through several Indian villages to protect the settlers in the region.

However, several of the militia members questioned his authority and ended up pulling off a mutiny. He then had to abort the mission and he went back to Vincennes to protect the area with a garrison before heading back to Kentucky.

At this point, Clark fell into rags as a campaign was undertaken to destroy his reputation as a leader and as a military man, which did succeed to a certain extent. He wrote a memoir about his Fort Sackville campaign to buttress his image, but ultimately he fell into disgrace and wound up trying to regain his fortune by working with Spaniards to help settle areas in Louisiana and elsewhere. He then had several attempts to settle Americans in Spanish territory, but he was rebuffed each time by President George Washington, starting in 1793.

He was finally given his due for his service to Virginia with a sword and half-pay annually, but it was in 1812, 25 years after his service and three years after a debilitating stroke and amputation of a leg that left him as an invalid. He died of a stroke in February 1818 at the age of 65. But his legacy was the establishment of American territory outside the 13 original colonies, which helped lay the groundwork for Manifest Destiny.

Who Was Captain John Smith?

Many people who have had a passing interest of U.S. history know about Jamestown, Va., as the first European settlement on the American mainland starting in 1607. Due to religious persecution in the British homeland, these settlers decided to take their chances in a new world and try to live the life they wanted for themselves and their brethren.

For those who generally have thought that any town, village or city should have its own mayor, one could say that Captain John Smith was the “mayor” of this pioneering settlement, the first permanent English settlement in North America.

Smith had several roles – explorer, soldier and author. His life is colorful, but he is most known for his work in the Jamestown settlement. But how did he get there in the first place?

Smith did not want to be a farmer like his father, so when his father died, 16-year-old John saw that as an opportunity to leave for France to become a sailor, but he instead found himself on the battlefield, fighting for the French in its battles with the Spanish.

After returning to England, he was drawn to help the Christians in the Holy Roman Empire (the Byzantine Empire) against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire starting in 1600. After detouring to serve on a pirate ship, Smith finally got to the fight and  earned several awards for bravery while fighting in Slovenia, Transylvania (now Romania) and Hungary, and he was most proud of his promotion to “captain,” which he kept the rest of his life.

After being captured by the Turks and forced into slavery, Smith escaped when he subdued his master, finding his way back to England in 1604 (at age 24). There, he befriended a Captain Gosnold, who was looking to develop an English colony in Virginia. Impressed by Smith’s military service, Gosnold invited Smith on one of the three ships that contained more than 100 settlers which set sail for America in December 1606.

Smith was named to the initial seven-member council that ran Jamestown in the early months, but with in-fighting and the death of Captain Gosnold, the village suffered – not to mention shortage of food, a brutal winter and disease which killed off two-thirds of the original settlement group.

After about a year, and an encounter with Pocahontas and her father Chief Powhatan, Smith was soon named president of the settlement and head of the council. This is when communal living ended, as Smith instilled a rule that “he who does not work, shall not eat” in order to improve food production, and build work ethic in the village which drove up production of products to be sold back to England, development of new crops and construction and rebuilding of the fort that they had lived in prior to a fire.

Smith managed the village until 1609 when he was injured in a gunpowder incident and was sent back to England. He wanted to return to America, either at Jamestown or another settlement, but heturned away until he took a voyage of his own in 1615 to map out the northern part of Virginia which he called New England.  He was passed over by Miles Standish for the role of military advisor for the Plymouth settlement, but those Pilgrims did utilize Smith’s maps of the area to establish its foundation for success in what would soon be called Massachusetts.

He wrote books about his various adventures, and died in London in 1631.

Popular Religions In Colonial Virginia

Religion was an important part of living in a colony and shaped how settlers led their lives on a day-to-day basis. It was something that was passed on from their time in Great Britain.

Anglican

Christianity was the primary religion in Colonial Virginia, and the emphasis was towards the Anglican Sect. This was the churn settlers had to follow as it was back home in Great Britain.

It was in 1624 when the word came down to legalize the importance of going to church and making sure it was maintained. The settlers had to make sure they were paying tax, and it was directed towards the upkeep of the church. This included those who were not from the sect.

Over time, a lot of attention was moved towards separating church and state.

The settlers wanted to maintain power over the church to make sure it was not centralized and controlling funds. They were able to do this with legal changes over time. In Corpus Christi Deo, Amen.

Protestant Sect

Colonial Virginia was not reserved to one sect, and it was home to many Protestants at the time.

It took over a hundred years for the sect to gain independence and make sure it was treated fairly. There was a political battle at the time to make sure it was turned into reality.

Native Americans and Africans

While the settlers were shaping religion in the land and Christianity remained the most popular, there were other religions on hand too. The Native Americans believed in their religious views and felt strongly about upholding them even as the settlers came to their land.

The same applied to the slaves that were being brought in from various African nations.

They were not looking to convert to Christianity and wanted to follow the religious practices they had followed back home in Africa.

It was around the 18th century when a lot of these individuals were converted to Christians. A lot of effort was made to ensure religious freedom was offered during this time, but most stated it was superficial and not applied. The settlers were still dismissive of those religions.

As the religions settled into place and the area developed, it became apparent the division between church and state was present. Most families were keeping their religious views private in the colony. Slaves felt it was appropriate to draw towards Christianity and they did in droves.

This led to how the colony shaped for the rest of the century.

Virginia: The State Of Many Nicknames

Depending on the topic you’re talking about or what time in history, there are many different nicknames that you might hear the state of Virginia go by. Presidential historians, of course, recognize Virginia as the State of Presidents since 9 different U.S. Presidents have all hailed from this state. Football fans might call it a Cavalier state or a Hokie state, but the truth is that the older nicknames from the state’s days as an actual English colony are far more historically interesting and impressive.

Several Different Names
The colony of Virginia went by several different nicknames or “official” names in the beginning. While most were simply a variation of the basic state name, there are some others that went a different direction based on the influences of history at that time.

In fact, there were four main names that the colony went by in the 1500’s and 1600’s prior to the century that led up to the American Revolution. “The Virginia Colony” was one of the names, giving a full reminder of the type of territory Virginia was with an emphasis on a lack of independence. Likewise “The Province of Virginia” basically serves the same territorial naming.

However, there were a couple other names that definitely stretch it out a little bit more such as:
– His Majesty’s Most Ancient Colloney (and yes that is the correct spelling that was used at the time)
– The Dominion & Colony of Virginia

These were certainly more formal names that push a lot more intent of formality across, but one that stuck out as a nickname above the rest came in the form of “Old Dominion.”

Old Dominion
The nickname for the colony of Virginia of “Old Dominion” actually was partially from a formal title that was given as a form of appreciation. During the English Civil War the colony of Virginia was stalwart in its position as being loyal, and because of their loyalty to the challenged monarchy, Charles II granted the colony of Virginia a title. That title, as you probably guessed, was “Old Dominion.”

Even today Virginia’s official nickname is the “Old Dominion State,” there is a major university named Old Dominion, and the University of Virginia’s mascot is a Cavalier – or a “Charles Supporter.” In other words, the very identity that resulted in the then colony and now state getting the title that would become their official nickname.

While Virginia is known by many nicknames, it’s hard to argue with Old Dominion as being the primary one of note.

Virginia Is A Commonwealths State

There are 4 of the states in the U.S. that consider themselves Commonwealths. The 4 states include Massachusetts, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (not Kansas City, Missouri). The designation Commonwealth has no constitutional impact but rather it emphasizes that these 4 states have a government that is based on a common consent of its residents.

This is in opposition to the Commonwealth that was legitimized by their previous Royal Colony status. This previous status came from the King of England. The word Commonwealth is an English term that signifies the common “welfare” or “wealth” of the public. Today, we find that most people do not perceive a distinction between Commonwealth or state.

A state, on the other hand, is a political association that has a specific dominion over a certain geographic area. This dominion will include a variety of institutions that have the authority to make rules and laws to govern the people of that geographic area. The status of a state may often depend on its being acknowledged by a group of other states.

The Commonwealth of Virginia goes back all the way to its independence from England. On June 29, 1776, Virginia established its first constitution and the new name the Commonwealth of Virginia. The origin of this Constitution and Commonwealth were mainly attributed to the British Parliaments continual effort to apply burdensome taxes following the Indian in French war.

Virginia’s House of Burgesses opposed this taxation without representation. Two of the colonists who spearheaded this opposition was Richard Henry Lee and Patrick Henry. They along with other Virginians started to coordinate opposition actions in 1773. They were joined by other colonies in this opposition against taxes. The following year they sent a team of delegates to the Continental Congress but the results were nonproductive.

The Royal Governor dissolved the House Burgesses in 1774 but the revolutionary leaders continued using a form of government by means of the Virginia Conventions. A convention on May 15, 1776, made a declaration of Virginia’s independence from England. They then adopted Virginia’s declaration of rights from George Mason and this also included a new constitution.

After the House of Burgesses was dissolved a new House of Delegates was formed. The newly formed House of Delegates worked together with the Governors Council to make the Virginian General Assembly. This combination of government was founded in 1619 and is considered to be the oldest legislature in all of the Western Hemisphere.

Virginia: Home of More Presidents Than Any Other State

Virginia has been the home state to more U.S. Presidents than any other with a total of 9 holders of the highest executive office all coming from this Southern state. This shouldn’t necessarily be surprising as Virginia was one of the largest and most important of the original 13 colonies. However, not all the Presidents are equal in fame and renown. Let’s take a look at the most famous of the Virginia Presidents.

George Washington
It’s hard to get more famous than the first President of the United States. General George Washington not only led the colonies to victory, but he served two terms as the first President and willingly stepped down after two terms to start the important tradition of the peaceful transition of power. He is considered the father of the nation and one of the truly great Founding Fathers.

Thomas Jefferson
Many of the early Presidents hailed from Virginia and Thomas Jefferson is one of the most famous. Known as one of the major Founding Fathers he presided over the Louisiana Purchase to expand west and entailed many early laws and traditions that would become a crucial part of the nation’s history and governing tradition.

James Madison
The 4th President of the United States, Madison believed in many of the policies that Jefferson enacted and continued to push the U.S. forward. Not only did he push these policies and oversee the founding of a second national bank, but he kept the helm as the nation went to war with Britain again in what would become known as the War of 1812.

James Monroe
The last of the Founding Father Presidents, Monroe helped encourage early infrastructure growth through the collection of limited tolls (national taxation was not a viable tool back then). He oversaw the passage of the Missouri Compromise as well as weathered the young nation through its first economic depression, due in large part to wars in Europe.

Woodrow Wilson
The last of the Virginia Presidents, Wilson took the helm of the nation in the beginning of the 20th century and led the United States as they would eventually become involved in World War I. While he was a champion of the League of Nations, he wouldn’t be able to rally up the necessary support to make it pass.

3 Other Virginia Born Presidents

  • William Henry Harrison (Shortest Presidential term as he died after 30 days)
  • John Tyler
  • Zachary Taylor

Trade And Exports In Colonial Virginia

Colonial Virginia was an important part of Great Britain’s economic setup.

It was used as a way to invest money into new land and acquire resources that would be employed in the colony and back home in Great Britain. It was a win-win for the parties involved and a significant investment for the monarch at the time.

Colonial Virginia didn’t limit itself when it came to trade and exports as they spread their wings making sure all opportunities were managed and assessed including intellectual property.

Southern Colony

Colonial Virginia was located in the South making it unique compared to some of the other locations.

It had access to different resources that were worth investing into and brought back great returns. The colonies in the South included Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

Resources

As mentioned, the resources in this Southern colony were unique to it making the exports a dominant economic driver.

These resources included:

1) Cotton
2) Lumber
3) Tobacco
4) Indigo (Dye)
5) Farm Products
6) Fur
7) Rice

It was these resources that were used as the heart of the exports and remained in great demand. They were able to bring in a lot of funds with the help of these resources.

Slaves

It is important to remember, the driving force to accumulate and manage these resources were done on the slave plantations.

At the time, the colonies were working with slaves to drive up production and make more with increasing demand. It was a business decision at the time, and they were able to milk it.

Features of The South

What made exports from this region exquisite and unique?

It had to do with the lay of the land as that was what made it easier to grow resources such as rice, cotton, and lumber. They had access to fertile soil that was easier to manage and promoted growth. The weather was excellent, and that didn’t harm their exports either.

In general, Virginia was described as having good weather, fertile soil, swamps, long rivers, and hilly plains.

Route for Exports

Where were the exports going?

There was a “triangle” when it came to the trades, and all parties were receiving something out of the exchange.

The route included Africa, North America, and Europe.

Africa received textiles and goods, North America received slaves, and Europe received selected resources (sugar, tobacco). It was easy for all parties to benefit except for the slaves.