Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Pocahontas on US Stamp

My heart skipped a beat when I found that amongst my Dad's old stamp collection is the 1907 5c stamp depicting the Native American Princess Pocahontas, issued to commemmorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia by British settlers.

 This stamp, but in "outstanding condition", was recently sold at auction for $9,500 (approximately £6,100). As always in these things, condition is all and my inherited stamp is in used condition, with a fairly heavy postmark, so probably not worth a great deal.  However, it prompted me to find out more about Pocahontas, who was a young girl - her age is said to have been anywhere between 11 and 16 according to different accounts, at the time of the arrival of the British ship carrying colonists to Jamestown in 1607 on the ship,  captained by John Smith.
Pocahontas was the daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan of the Powhatan tribe. The Indians were hostile to the British party and the chief threatened to kill John Smith, but his daughter Pocahontas rushed to his aid begging her father not to kill him and  shielding the Englishman, thus saving his life. There were attempts made to make peace between the Indians and the settlers.  Pocahontas fell in love with one of the Englishmen , John Rolfe, and they were given permission to marry in 1614. This was said to be the first "mixed race" marriage in the USA.
They returned to England and settled in Gravesend, Kent and had a child. Pocahontas, who took the name of Rebecca Rolfe,  died there and was buried in St George's churchyard.The church was destroyed in a fire, so it is not known exactly where here remains lie but there is a statue to Pocahontas  nearby.

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