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The Powhatans and the English in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake

David J. Voelker
Series Editors: Joel M. Sipress and David J. Voelker

Publication Date - July 2019

ISBN: 9780190057053

132 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Encourage your students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past


Embracing an argument-based model for teaching history, the Debating American History series encourages students to participate in a contested, evidence-based discourse about the human past. Each book poses a question that historians debate--How democratic was the U.S. Constitution? or Why did civil war erupt in the United States in 1861?--and provides abundant primary sources so that students can make their own efforts at interpreting the evidence. They can then use that analysis to construct answers to the big question that frames the debate and argue in support of their position.

The Powhatans and the English in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake poses this big question: How were the English able to displace the thriving Powhatan people from their Chesapeake homelands in the seventeenth century?


  • Organized around a big question about which historians themselves disagree: How were the English able to displace the thriving Powhatan people from their Chesapeake homelands in the seventeenth century?
  • Exposes students to rival positions about which they must make informed judgments
  • Asks students to judge the relative merits of rival positions on the basis of historical evidence
  • Requires students to develop their own positions, for which they must argue on the basis of historical evidence
  • Offers an alternative to the "coverage model" that has dominated History classrooms since the late nineteenth century, and which has consistently fallen short of its own goals since its inception
  • Concise and flexible format allows for inclusion in a variety of classroom settings
  • Each title in the series is edited by Joel M. Sipress and David J. Voelker, award-winning teachers who have published and lectured extensively on reform in the teaching of History
  • The enhanced ebook offers short video clips, flashcards, animated maps, interactive timelines, and additional primary sources

About the Author(s)

David J. Voelker holds a PhD in US History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is an Associate Professor of Humanities and History at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he teaches early American and environmental history. He serves as coeditor of the Debating American History series with Joel M. Sipress.


"Overall, The Powhatans and the English in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake is a useful supplemental text to literary study of early America since its argument-based approach complements the methods of the undergraduate literature classroom." -- Rebecca M. Lush, Early American Literature

"The advantage that Debating American History has over other projects and texts currently available is that it brings a very clear and focused organization to the notion of classroom debate. The terms of each debate are clear. The books introduce students to historiography and primary sources. Most of all, the project re-envisions the way that US history should be taught. No other textbook or set of teaching materials does what these books do when taken together as the sum of their parts."--Ian Hartman, University of Alaska

"Debating American History repositions the discipline of history as one that is rooted in discovery, investigation, and interpretation."--Ingrid Dineen-Wimberly, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Debating American History is an excellent replacement for a 'big assignment' in a course. Offering a way to add discussion to a class, it is also a perfect 'active learning' assignment, in a convenient package."--Gene Rhea Tucker, Temple College

"The primary objective of my classroom is encouraging students to appreciate and participate in a scholarly conversation driven by conflicting evidence, subjective representations, and competing arguments. The debate presented here does an excellent job of modeling such an approach with its clear set of questions, carefully selected texts, and balanced attempts to represent numerous perspectives."--Melanie Benson Taylor, Dartmouth College

Table of Contents

    List of Figures
    About the Author
    I. The Big Question
    II. Timeline
    III. Historians' Conversations
    Position #1: The Overwhelming Advantages of the English
    Position #2: Strategic Mistakes of the Powhatans
    IV. Debating the Question
    Note on Spelling in Primary Sources
    A. Primary Sources
    Richard Hakluyt (the Younger), "Discourse on Western Planting" (1584)
    Artistic Depiction of a Native Village South of the Chesapeake Bay (1590)
    Captain Christopher Newport's Description of Virginia (1607)
    Powhatan's Mantle (c. 1600)
    Speech of Powhatan (1608), as Reported by John Smith (1624)
    English Accounts of Jamestown's "Starving Time" (1610)
    Virginia Company Instructions to Governor Thomas Gates (1609)
    Alexander Whitaker, Good News from Virginia (London, 1613)
    Edward Waterhouse, A Declaration of the State of the Colonie and Affaires in Virginia (1622)
    John Martin, "The Manner How to Bring the Indians into Subjection" (1622)
    Virginia's Governor and Council Threaten Revenge against Powhatans (1629)
    Treaty between Virginia Colony and the Powhatan Indians (1646)
    Nathaniel Bacon's Declaration in the Name of the People (1676)
    Treaty of Middle Plantation (1677)
    Robert Beverly's Estimate of Virginia's Native Population (c. 1705)
    Linwood "Little Bear" Custalow and Angela L. Daniel "Little Star," "The Colony Saved by the Powhatan" (2007)
    B. Case Study 1: Did Pocahontas Rescue John Smith from Execution?
    Accounts of John Smith's December 1607 Captivity (1607 & 1624)
    John Smith's Alleged 1616 Letter to Queen Anne regarding Pocahontas (1624)
    C. Case Study 2: What was the Strategy behind the 1622 Powhatan Surprise Attack?
    J. Frederick Fausz, "Opechancanough: Indian Resistance Leader" (1981)
    Frederic W. Gleach, "'The Great Massacre of 1622" (1997)
    V. Additional Resources

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