Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Jamestown Men

After several weeks of captivity Captain Smith bargained with the Indians to set him free, in exchange for a certain number of trinkets and one of the bright brass cannons they had seen at Jamestown. This settled, he wrote a letter to the colonists, telling them what trinkets they were to give the bearers, and warning them to be sure to shoot off the cannon in the Indians' presence, so that they should not dare carry it off.

Having finished his letter, Smith gave it to his captors, bidding them take it to Jamestown. He added that it would tell the English what they wanted, and that they would hear the big noise which came out of the bright log (cannon) they coveted. All this, of course, seemed very mysterious to people who did not know how to write, so they set out for Jamestown full of curiosity.

When they saw that the white men, after looking at the letter, gave them all the trinkets they had bargained for, they were amazed. Then they tried to lift the bright log, and were surprised at its weight. Motioning them aside, the colonists next shot off the cannon. The loud noise, and the fact that the cannon ball splintered a good-sized tree, filled the Indians with such terror that, as Smith had foreseen, they refused to touch it again. When they got back to their camp they let Captain Smith go, and he bade a friendly good-by to the red men, from whom he had learned all he could during his short sojourn, in their midst.

Free once more, Captain Smith used all his energies to get enough grain for his friends; but had it not been for the Indian girl Pocahontas the colonists would probably have starved to death. Several times, in the course of that first hard winter, she brought them game and corn, and, thanks to her pleading, her father Powhatan became quite friendly, and supplied their most pressing needs.

In 1608 more colonists came over to Jamestown in search of gold; but they, too, were gentlemen, and intended to remain only a short time. They unfortunately discovered some pyrites, and in spite of all Captain Smith could say, there was "no talk, no hope, no work, but dig gold, wash gold, refine gold, load gold." The result was that the vessel in which they had come was sent home laden with worthless dirt, instead of carrying a cargo of lumber, sassafras, or furs, which could have been sold in England for considerable money.

The only man who did not share this thirst for gold was Captain Smith. He continued his explorations, and made a complete map of Chesapeake Bay to send back to England. Then, the governor having sailed away with the fool's gold, and the others having proved bad managers, Smith was soon chosen to be head of the colony.

He began his work by making a few very strict rules, which all the colonists had to obey. The fine English gentlemen, who had spent their time playing bowls in the streets of Jamestown, priding themselves upon never having done any labor, were now told that if they would not work they should not eat.

To stop the constant swearing in which these men freely indulged, Captain Smith next ordered that a can full of cold water should be poured down any offender's sleeve. This soon put an end to profanity, and by the time a third set of colonists reached Jamestown it was quite an orderly community.

Crowning Powhatan


Two women came out with these last-mentioned settlers to make real homes in Jamestown, the first English city in what is now the United States. The same ship also brought over presents from King James to the Indian King Powhatan. These were a bed, basin and pitcher, a coat trimmed with gold lace, and a crown.

Powhatan was therefore solemnly invited to Jamestown, to receive these gifts and be crowned. The Indian chief was greatly pleased with his fine red coat. But no one could make him understand that he must kneel to receive his crown. Finally, in despair, the colonists standing on either side of him leaned so heavily upon his shoulders that they forced him to bend the knee before the governor, who quickly crowned him.

To the savages' great delight, drums were loudly beaten in honor of King Powhatan, but when the cannon was shot off, too, the newly crowned king of Virginia was so amazed that he almost fell over backward. When he had recovered from his fright Powhatan gave the governor his old moccasins, or shoes, and a tattered and dirty robe of raccoon skins, telling him to send them to King James in return for his gifts!