Tobacco and Pocahontas

The colonists had not succeeded in sending back the gold or other items that merchants who had sponsored the colony had expected. The economic health of the colony, however was saved by John Rolf. He arrived in 1609. In 1612, he successfully combined a locally grown tobacco plant, with a variety from the West Indies that was sweeter. The new combination was an instant success. In 1614, Rolf began shipping his tobacco to England. His first shipment was for 2,600 pounds. Within three years the shipments rose to 20,000 pounds. Settlers started growing tobacco in every corner.

Problems continued, however, with the Native Americans. In 1613, during a raid, a member of the colony captured Pocahontas- the favorite daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan. The colonists decided to hold her hostage to insure the Native Americans would not attack. Pocahontas turned out to be a willing captive and became friends with the colonists. John Rolf, who had lost his family on the passage over to Jamestown, fell in love with Pocahontas. Smith requested permission to marry her. Their wedding ended the hostilities between the colony and the Indians.