RCC Honors History Project

Instructions for the Virginia Colony (1606)

Posted by elsiegonzalez on September 29, 2009

This excerpt from the Instructions for the Virginia Colony talks a bit on how the colonist were to treat the natives, and supports, like in Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma, how the colonist were forbidden to give natives their weapons. (Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma: “…and eager to hide that he [John Smith] had promised to give weapons to savages, which he had been expressly forbidden to do…” pg. 58)

From Instructions for the Virginia Colony (1606):

“In all your passages you must have great care not to offend the naturals [natives], if you can eschew it; and imploy some few of your company to trade with them for corn and all other . . . victuals if you have any; and this you must do before that they perceive you mean to plant among them; for not being sure how your own seed corn will prosper the first year, to avoid the danger of famine, use and endeavour to store yourselves of the country corn.

Your discoverers that pass over land with hired guides, must look well to them that they slip not from them: and for more assurance, let them take a compass with them, and write down how far they go upon every point of the compass; for that country having no way nor path, if that your guides run from you in the great woods or desert, you shall hardly ever find a passage back.

And how weary soever your soldiers be, let them never trust the country people with the carriage of their weapons; for if they run from you with your shott, which they only fear, they will easily kill them all with their arrows. And whensoever any of yours shoots before them, be sure they may be chosen out of your best marksmen; for if they see your learners miss what they aim at, they will think the weapon not so terrible, and thereby will be bould to assault you.”

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