Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma

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Bob martin 9/20/12 Cruelty in the Commonwealth In the Disney film Pocahontas it is said that the English were improving the lives of the “savages”. This movie gives the impression that the English settlers of the New World were coming to Christianize and educate the Native Americans. However, in Camilia Townsend’s, “Pocahontas and the Powhtan Dilemma,” it is clear that this is not true. In the preface Townsend states, “The English wanted to be lords of the manor, and they wanted the Indians to be something akin to serfs(p. xi).” Through Townsend’s interpretation of the life of Pocahontas it is clear that the English intent for colonial America was not based on good will, but remorseless cruelty. In 1607, a boat from England arrived in the New World. This boat was full of men who hoped they could make a profit of the Americas. The English comforted their consciences on the belief that everything they did in the colonies was for the benefit of the natives. They believed that as Englishmen they had a right to claim the New World as theirs. The English believed that the Native Americans were not making the land yield enough fruit and this perceived shortcoming caused the natives to forfeit their right to the land. From this mindset the English decided that they would not make slaves of the Indians but give the Native Americans an “opportunity to work, to pay taxes to the commonweal, to become Christian, and to learn how to make the land more productive-so that they would ultimately be better off than they were before (p. 36).” Despite the “Christian- sentiments” of the colonists, cruelty in colonial America raged. After failing to cultivate the land properly, the English colonists were desperate for food. Although they could have traded with the natives for food, “President” John Smith decided that the colonists would go into the native villages and take the
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