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Sunday, December 08, 2013

The Other Compact : Chief Powhatan's

American colonialism alive and well

WORLD NEWS
By Dallas Darling
12/06/2013

"I have seen two generations of my people die," Chief Powhatan said, "I know the difference between peace and war better than any man in my country." He was addressing John Smith of the English colonies at Jamestown. Chief Powhatan then posed a disturbing question: "Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love?"(1)
 
 
Not far from the Pilgrim's future Plymouth colony and its legendary Mayflower Compact, another, perhaps even more, significant scene had occurred. On this occasion, though, high and lofty language, like "in the name of God" and "the loyal subjects of our dread SovereignLordKing James...of Great Britain,"(2) was missing.

Gone too were violent expressions, holy causes and crusades, that had caused mass carnage in the Middle East while devastating Europe. Instead of "Having undertaken, for the glory of God and the advancement of the ChristianFaith and honor or our king and country," Chief Powhatan asked "Why will you destroy us who supply you with food?"


Chief Powhatan continued: "We can hide our provisions and run into the woods; then you will starve for wronging your friends. Why are you jealous of us? We are unarmed, and willing to give you what you ask, if you come in a friendly manner,...it is much better to eat good meat, sleep comfortably, live quietly, laugh and be merry with the English..."
 
 
The Pilgrims on board the Mayflower, exclusively all males, then wrote: "...a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia...in the presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid."

 
Those refusing to sign the Mayflower Compact understood the Pilgrim's language of divine election, their concept of being chosen by God, and belonging to the only true church on Earth. They refused to submit to the belief of how an all-powerful God, before the creation of the world, had predestined some individuals to heaven and others to hell.
 
 
Before signing the Mayflower Compact, there was a near mutiny. Non-Pilgrims knew the "civil body politic" would be for and of and by the Pilgrims. They recognized how "just and equal laws" for "better ordering and the furtherance of the ends aforesaid" would favor God's elect, and that elite representatives would always decide "the general good."

 
 
Powhatan's Compact warned about being submissive and obedient to aggressive hierarchical powers, churches and states, and their divinely appointed kings and destructive leaders. Having been hunted by the English he pleads: "In these wars, my men must sit up watching, and if a twig breaks, they all cry out 'Here comes Captain Smith!'"

The Pilgrims ended their compact with, "...we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November in the year of the reign of our Sovereign King James of England...Anno Domini 1620." Chief Powhatan concluded by saying, "Take away your guns and swords, the cause of all your jealousy, or you may all die in the same manner."
 
 
The Powhatans were a confederacy. It was a decentralized form of government where democratic power and autonomy resided in local tribes, like the Potomac, Appamattuck, Pamunkey, Chickahominy, and the Powhatans. With the establishment of Jamestown and English encroachment, war soon broke out.(3)


By the 1650's, the Powhatan Confederacy was broken. Only a few scattered Powhatans were left eking out a marginal existence on a few remnants of their ancestral lands.(3) The Powhatans never acquired "total war" like the English. Nor did they adapt to the broken promises, the depth of vengeance and revenge, and the mass production of war.

After delivering his Powhatan Compact, Chief Powhatan died. He had always resisted attempts by the English colonists to make him a subject of King James I.

Dallas Darling (darling@wn.com)
 
Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-ZReading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some NationsAbove God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas' writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.

(1) See Mayflower Compact.

(2) Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York, New York: Harper Perennial Publishers, 1995., p. 13.

(3) Kessel, William B. and RobertWooster. Encyclopedia Of Native AmericanWars And Warfare. New York, New York: Facts On File, 2005., p. 252.

(4) Ibid., p. 251.




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