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APUSH- 8/29/07 August 29, 2007

Posted by Mr. Klopfenstein in advanced placement, Class Activities, history, United States history.

We discussed John Smith and the limitations of primary sources, and some of the issues and problems of Jamestown following its settlement in 1607.

Was John Smith telling the truth when he described his rescue by Pocahontas?  Why do you believe/ not believe his account?  What is “the truth”  anyway? Please comment.


1. Taylor Nichols - August 30, 2007

While it’s impossible to really know “the truth”, or at least impossible to know it from what we read in that article, I personally do not believe his account. The reason being that even if something similar to what he claimed happened, it’s probably less accurate because of the time in between the event and his account of the incident. He may not have even thought he was embellishing, I think people just remember things how they want to.

However not all of the reasons for why to disregard his statements and not believe them are very compelling. He didn’t include the story in the two writings he did before the General History one, but I don’t think that’s a reason to not believe his account. His two previous writings about Virginia didn’t contain many personal experiences and so he probably left the story out because it didn’t belong in those writings and didn’t fit. Additionally, the historian Henry Adams who claimed that Smith embellished many of his accounts may have had a bias as he was on the side of the North during the civil war and John Smith was a southern icon that he was accusing things of.

Despite Adam’s possible bias, other historians point to inaccuracies in other stories and accounts of Smith’s. His history of embellishment, coupled with the fact that rituals meant to fake an execution are known to have occurred and been practiced around that time and by the tribes he interacted with, is what in the end makes me think his account isn’t accurate. He probably didn’t fully grasp what was going on at the time, and then looking back on it years later remembered things how he wanted them to be remembered. In addition, since no other records exist that can confirm this story of Smith’s, a lot more weight can be given to these arguments.

All that being said, I still think that “the truth” is completely and 100% accurately portrayed in the1995 Disney movie “Pocahontas”. Without a doubt. All of that happened, every single scene, and every single peice of dialouge.

Grandmother Willow is real and I don’t care what you say. She doesn’t appreciate your doubts, skepticism, and downright refusal to acknowledge her existence.



2. Mr. Klopfenstein - August 30, 2007

Wow, do I feel silly for having denied the existence of Grandmother Willow!

3. Robert Kelly - August 30, 2007

I think that some parts of his tale are true, though somewhat exaggerated. His original tales left out much of what he apparently wrote in his Generall Historie of Virginia in later years of his life. Many influence’s also appear, like how his coincidental rescue was by a “princess” of a tribe, where in earlier tales of his life he was rescued by a Greek princess. Though yes facts do support some of what he apparently did in Central Europe in his earlier life, they just seem to coincidental to me to be exactly true. Same goes for his portrayal of his almost imminent “execution” ritual at the hands of Powhatan.

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