This extract from 24 May 1607 (Whitsunday) from Archer’s journal describes how the colonists erected a cross in the name of King James, then misled their Native American guide about its meaning. (CO1/1)
‘So upon one of the little iletts at the mouth of the falls he [Captain Newport] sett up a crosse with this inscription Jacobus Rex. 1607. and his owne name below: At the erecting thereof we prayed for our king and our owne prosperous succes in this his action, and proclaimed him king, with a greate showte. The king Pawatah [Powhatan] was now gone (and as we noted somewhat distasted with our importunity of proceeding up further) and all the savages likewise save Nauirans, who seeing us set up a crosse with such a shoute, began to admire; but our captayne told him that the two arms of the cross signified kyng Pawatah and himselfe, the fastening in the middle was their united league, and the shout and the reverence he did to Pawatah, which cheered Nauirans not a litle.’
‘So on one of the small islands at the mouth of the falls, he [Captain Newport] set up a cross with the inscription ‘Jacobus Rex. 1607’ and his own name below. Once it had been erected, we prayed for our king and our own prosperous success in this [venture done in his name], and proclaimed him king, with a great shout. The king Pawatah [Powhatan] was now gone (and, as we noted, somewhat displeased with our insistence on proceeding up further), as were all the savages, except for Nauirans, who seeing us set up a cross with such a shout, began to admire [pay attention]. But our captain told him that the two arms of the cross signified king Powhatan and himself, the fastening in the middle represented their alliance, and the shout and the reverence was done for Powhatan, which cheered Nauirans quite a bit.’
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4. This extract from 24 May 1607 (Whitsunday) from Archer’s journal describes how the colonists erected a cross in the name of King James, then misled their Native American guide about its meaning.
- Why did the British colonists raise the cross?
- Why is the cross inscribed with the names of King James and Captain Newport?
- In your own words, what were the colonists praying for?
- There is reference to two kings in this extract. Who are they? What may lead to conflict between them?
- Why do you think the colonists proclaimed King James I as ‘king’ here, close to their new settlement of Jamestown?
- Nauirans was a Native American Arrohattoc man who came with the British settlers as their guide. What do you think he starts to ‘admire’ or pay attention to when watching this scene?
- Why do you think the British settlers mislead Nauirans about the meaning behind the cross?
- The term ‘savages’ used to describe Native American Indians in this source is unacceptable today. What does use of this term suggest about the author’s attitude towards the Native Americans?