Literature Study GuidesPowhatans Speech To John Smith

Powhatan's Speech to John Smith | Study Guide


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Course Hero. "Powhatan's Speech to John Smith Study Guide." Course Hero. 22 Aug. 2018. Web. 9 Aug. 2020. <>.

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Course Hero. "Powhatan's Speech to John Smith Study Guide." August 22, 2018. Accessed August 9, 2020.


Course Hero, "Powhatan's Speech to John Smith Study Guide," August 22, 2018, accessed August 9, 2020,




Year Delivered

c. 1608


Primary Source



At a Glance

  • Powhatan's speech was part of a conversation between the tribal chief Powhatan (c. 1545–1618) and Captain John Smith (c. 1580–1631) regarding the escalating hostilities between the Powhatan people and the English settlers at Jamestown, Virginia.
  • Powhatan, whose actual name was Wahunsenacah or Wahunsenacawh, was the leader of 32 Native American groups united by a common language, Algonquian.
  • His words are filtered through Captain John Smith and may not be wholly accurate.
  • Founded on May 14, 1607, by the Virginia Company of London, Jamestown was the first permanent European settlement in what came to be called the New World. Jamestown residents survived their first years by trading their tools for food from the Powhatan people.
  • By 1609, when he delivered his speech, Powhatan must have realized that the colonists did not plan to leave. He advocated for peace in the speech. However, the speech failed to stave off the series of attacks known as the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609–14) between the settlers and the Native Americans.
  • Today the speech provides insight into early relations between European settlers and the indigenous peoples of the Americas.


This study guide for Powhatan's Powhatan's Speech to John Smith offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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