Recently in America Category

Jamestown Massacre

Recently I had a discussion with several other Americans of various ethnicities about the treatment of the people that were living throughout North and South America during the time that the first American colonies were established.

I find that people are generally ignorant when it comes to the colonists of the Americas, North America in particular, as that is what I am most familiar with; English settlers to be more specific.

People are usually far more to one side than the other: Either they think that the settlers were terrible people and should not have been on the land in the first place, or they feel that the natives were insolent savages and nothing more. I fall somewhere in the middle, seeing obvious failings on both sides.

The people with whom I was having this discussion with all fell to the side of thinking that all settlers were terrible people, taking land that didn't belong to them, and that the natives were apparently perfect in everything that they did. No matter what, they felt that the Christian settlers were in the wrong.

Sadly most of them had no clue what actually happened during the first colonies and the Jamestown massacre until I either informed them or refreshed their foggy memories:

 

Jamestown Settlement

Jamestown was the earliest lasting English colony in the new world. It was founded by the Virginia Company of London on May 14th, 1607, which was chartered by James I a year earlier along with its sister company the Virginia Company of Plymouth.

Life in Jamestown was in no way easy. The land that was initially settled was less than ideal and the Powhatan Indians were on the attack almost immediately after the settlers made landfall. That is a fact: There is clear historical evidence that the Powhatan made the first move in attacking the English settlers just a week after they arrived.

Attacks from the Powhatan Indians were the least of the settlers' problems: They had far worse to deal with, namely what is known as the Starving Time during the winter of 1609-1610, when their supply convoy ran into a hurricane, crops failed, and trade was cut off by the Powhatan Indians.

The Starving Time ended with the deaths of the vast majority of settlers living in Jamestown and nearly brought the colony to an end. The cause is clearly convoluted, but there is no doubt that the Powhatan played their role in the deaths of a great many settlers that horrible winter.

Then in 1611 and 1612 John Rolfe planted and began exporting tobacco from the colony. This breakthrough in trade firmly established the colony and allowed it to thrive in comparison to the first few years of struggle.

Issues with the Powhatan Indians continued into the following years, as more and more land was used up the river to cultivate their new crop, thus growing the colony and using more of the land that was formerly occupied by the Powhatan.

 

Wahunsunacock, Chief Powhatan

After the succession and death of Wahunsunacock, the leader of the Powhatan Indians and a seemingly level-headed fellow compared to those that came after him, likely thanks to the marriage of his daughter Pocahontas to John Rolfe 1614; relations with the Powhatan once again became a major issue for the colonists to deal with.

Sometime after Wahunsunacock was succeeded his brother Opechancanough ended up with power over the Powhatan. Opechancanough was by all accounts an ignorant and hateful individual that showed extreme disdain and prejudice towards the settlers from the very beginnings of the colony.

The Powhatan's animosity and hatred towards the settlers came to a head with an attack that was planned and led by Opechancanough in 1622; this attack is known as the Jamestown massacre.

Even with much better relations between the settlers and the Powhatan in the years following the marriage between Pocahontas and John Rolfe, Opechancanough continued to carry his hatred for the settlers and the contempt that he must have felt for his previous failings against the settlers.

Plotting and planning to destroy the settlers for years, Opechancanough finally had his chance to launch his attack on every settlement along the James River.

The sneak attack that Opechancanough planned resulted in the deaths of approximately half of the settlers, huge amounts of destruction which lead to the complete abandonment of many of their settlements, as well as the enslavement of a great number of female settlers that were captured during the attack.

 

Opechancanough

After the attack by the Powhatan under the command and leadership of Opechancanough the colonists of course retaliated, which I believe to be a completely valid reaction to such a heinously planned and executed attack.

A couple of years after the Jamestown massacre the Virginia colony was turned into a royal, or crown colony; thus removing the Virginia Company of London from their previous involvement with the colony. This also gave the English much more power in the new world, which in turn helped lead to all future misdeeds towards innocent natives.

The decisions and actions of the Powhatan Indians, culminating with the Jamestown Massacre, without a doubt deserve much of the blame for the misdeeds directed towards those that were native to North America during the time of the first English colonies, to the end of them and into the creation of the United States of America.

Since we know that Opechancanough was entirely behind the Jamestown Massacre, as well as many other hostilities between the settlers and the natives, we can and should thusly blame him for the actions of the settlers from then on.

The reaction after the Jamestown massacre by the settlers was due to the actions of Opechancanough and those that followed him. They carry the burden of any mistreatment that their people had to endure, as well as the burden of the suffering of many thousands of other natives in the future, thanks to the negativity that the Jamestown massacre allowed and provided to current and future colonists.

Swim Team USA - AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle

Last night the American swim team won the gold medal in the Men's 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay in a fantastic finish that completed without a doubt one of the greatest comebacks that I have ever personally witnessed in a sporting event.

The win was made even sweeter due to that fact that we beat the French team - who were amazing in their own right - after a member of the French team named Alain Bernard decided that it would be a good idea to make comments stating that he and his team would smash the team from the USA.

Swim Team USA was behind from the very beginning and for the majority of the match, with Australia's Eamon Sullivan breaking the world record to start his team off, while Team USA's Michael Phelps broke the American record in the opening leg as well.

The USA briefly took the lead after Phelps finished with the swimming of Garrett Weber-Gale, but gave it up during the third leg of the race as the French team was simply much too fast for American swimmer Cullen Jones.

 

Jason Lezak, Hero - AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle

That's when it happened: After Jones finished veteran American swimmer Jason Lezak dove into the pool when it looked like the French team had the gold medal all but locked going into the final leg with world-record-holding trash-talking Frenchman Alain Bernard as their anchor swimmer.

Even the American announcers seemed to think that there was little hope for Swim Team USA, hoping that team USA could hold on to the silver at least. Jason Lezak was simply too slow, too old to win, the amount of time that he had to make up was just too great they said, there was little confidence in Jason Lezak and little hope for Swim Team USA to bring the gold back home.

During the first 50 metres it didn't seem that Lezak was making up much ground on the speedy Bernard, but then in the last 50 metres it seemed like Lezak was unstoppable, overcoming a nearly full length deficit with his amazing 46.06 second final leg for a .08 second win over the French team.

 

Michael Phelps Cheering

It was truly great to watch. The entire American team was just fantastic and Jason Lezak is an absolute hero for his amazing anchor leg of the race. It easily ranks as one of the greatest performances that I have ever seen in any sport.

Five teams broke the previous world record, which was set by the USA earlier in the day: Sweden, Italy, Australia, France, and of course the gold medalist United States team. Every team that participated broke the previous Olympic record, which is another amazing statistic and shows the level of competition in the event.



Here's a link to the video from the event on the NBC Olympic website. You'll have to install Microsoft's Silverlight browser plugin if you use Firefox, but it's well worth it. The video is absolutely stunning:
http://www.nbcolympics.com/video/share.html?videoid=0811_HD_SWB_HL_L0194

A Homeless Person - Courtesy of Joshua Sherurcij



The number homeless people in the United States can vary greatly at any single point in time. The vast majority of homeless Americans are only homeless for a short period of time; and usually it is due to very specific circumstances, after a natural disaster for example, or a long period without work after a job loss, a death in the family, things like that.

Using the current flooding problems as a current example, there will be a short term influx of homeless people in the United States without a doubt, but the vast majority of those people will have a home again very soon.

The real issue is all of the people that are homeless and have been homeless for a very long time now. These people are not going to find a home any time soon. The majority of them suffer from mental health issues, often times very severe mental health issues, or they have substance abuse problems; and the help available to them is vastly inadequate for how extensive the issue is.

Another part of the equation that needs to be taken into account is the fact that the amount of homeless veterans is hugely out of balance with the percentage of American veterans as a whole of the population. It clearly shows that veterans are not receiving the level of treatment that they deserve here in the United States. Our veterans need and deserve proper care, no matter what their problem is.

I have currently estimated the amount of actual homeless people in the United States at over .0333% of the population, over one hundred thousand of our fellow Americans. As I said above, the number of homeless people in the United States varies greatly at any point in time; but what I am concerned with here are real homeless people that have very little chance of getting out of their homelessness.

Real homeless people are what we need to focus on. Over one hundred thousand Americans: Men, women and children, usually with extreme mental or substance abuse problems, problems that they have little hope in overcoming, problems that they have little support for.

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