The history of interracial dating in america
But over the years, the legend of Pocahontas—and her marriage—has become more fiction than history. Can her marriage tell us anything about America today? Pocahontas never married John Smith, the colonist who invented the famous rescue story.
The actual man at the altar was a commoner, John Rolfe, who confessed his love for her in a pleading letter to colonial authorities.
Since her death in 1617, she’s been the inspiration for hundreds of paintings, poems, and plays, not to mention movies and marketing campaigns.
Her rescue of John Smith from execution has become a founding myth of American culture, retold by one generation after another.
Jamestown higher-ups blessed the nuptials, even though they viewed Indians with contempt.
They saw a big advantage in having an Indian princess (and any male offspring) on their side.
Like Squanto, who supposedly saved the Pilgrims from starvation, Pocahontas was romanticized as an Indian who gave a helping hand to whites.
At a time when one drop of African blood made one a slave or second-class citizen, a drop of Pocahontas’s blood was viewed as a source of high breeding, even aristocracy. Tilton has shown, America’s upper classes bragged of their descent from Pocahontas, and Confederates celebrated her as a progenitor of the South.
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Most Americans don’t know the time or place of the ceremony, but everyone knows the bride—Pocahontas, the famous Powhatan princess.In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriage, opening the way for a change in American demographics.
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