Friday, October 25, 2013

A Story Fit for Halloween

The butchered skull and bones of a young girl now prove what 17th century sources recorded: there was cannibalism at Jamestown.

Read for yourself:

The Indians hold the English surrounded...having killed the larger part of them...the survivors eat the dead....
--Alonso de Velasco to Philip III, June 14, 1610
            (The Spanish ambassador loved to gloat over English failures.}

So great was our famine, that a savage we slew, and buried, the poorer sort took him up again and ate him, and so did diverse one another boiled and stewed with roots and herbs. -
-John Smith, Generall Historie, 1624
            (Smith was not an eyewitness: he had left before the Starving Time.)

And now famine beginning to look ghastly and pale in every face, that nothing was spared to maintain life and to do those things which seems incredible, as to dig up dead corpses out of grave and eat them.
--George Percy, “A Trewe Relacyon,” 1624
            (Percy was there. He blamed Smith for the Starving Time.)

[We were] driven through unsufferable hunger unnaturally to eat those things which nature most abhorred: the flesh and excrements of of our own nation as [well as] of an Indian digged by some out of his grave after he had lain buried three days, and wholly devoured him. Others, envying the better state of body of any whom hunger had not yet so much wasted as their own, lay [in] wait and threatened to kill and eat them.
--“A Briefe Declaration...By the Ancient Planters now remaining alive in Virginia,” 1624.
            (These colonists blamed the Virginia Company’s mismanagement.)

Until now, many historians, believing that these people had their own axes to grind, had serious doubts that they were telling the truth.

Were some more truthful than others? 

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