Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America

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Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America

Author: Giles Milton
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Copyright: 2000
Pages: 358
Cover Price: $ 24.00

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In April, 1586, Queen Elizabeth I acquired a new and exotic title. A tribe of Native Americans, "savages," had made her their weroanza-a word that meant "big chief." The news was received with great joy, both by the Queen and by her favorite, Sir Walter Ralegh. His first American expedition had brought back a captive, Manteo, whose tattoed face and otter-skin cloak had caused a sensation in Elizabethan London.

In 1587, Manteo was returned to his homeland as Lord and Governor, along with more than 100 English men, women and children.In 1590, a supply ship arrived at the colony to discover that the settlers had vanished. For almost twenty years the fate of Ralegh's colonists was to remain a mystery. When a new wave of settlers sailed to America to found Jamestown, their efforts to locate the lost colony were frustrated by the mighty chieftain, Powhatan, father of Pocahontas, who vowed to drive the English out of America. Only when it was too late did the settlers discover the incredible news that Ralegh's colonists had survived in the forests for almost two decades before being slaughtered in cold blood by Powhatan's henchmen.

While Sir Walter Ralegh's "savage" had played a pivotal role in establishing the first English settlement in America, he had also unwittingly contributed to one of the earliest chapters in the decimation of the Native American population.

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Background Information

Walter Raleigh was an early promoter of English colonization in Virginia but eventually encountered political problems in England was was beheaded. The first permanent English settlement in America was Jamestown in Virginia, first settled in 1607.