22 March

The Indian Massacre of 1622 took place in the English Colony of Virginia, in what now the United States, on this day in 1622.

Captain John Smith, though he had not been in Virginia since 1609 and was not a first-hand eyewitness, related in his History of Virginia that braves of the Powhatan Confederacy “came unarmed into our houses with deer, turkeys, fish, fruits, and other provisions to sell us”. The Powhatan grabbed any tools or weapons available and killed all English settlers they found, including men, women and children of all ages. Chief Opechancanough led a coordinated series of surprise attacks by the Powhatan Confederacy that killed 347 people, a quarter of the English population of Jamestown.

Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the site of the first successful English settlement in North America, and was then the capital of the Colony of Virginia. Its tobacco economy led to constant expansion and seizure of Powhatan lands, which ultimately provoked a violent reaction. Although Jamestown itself was spared due to a timely last-minute warning, the Powhatan also attacked and destroyed many smaller settlements along the James River. In addition to killing settlers, the Powhatan burned houses and crops. The English abandoned many of the smaller settlements after the attacks.