The Most Important Wedding In American History Was 400 Years Ago Today

That’s right. 400 years ago, April 5, 1614. Native American Indian Princess Pocahontas, daughter of the paramount Chief of the Powhatan confederacy, had recently been baptized and given an English name, Rebecca. Pocahontas or Rebecca married Jamestown, Virginia, colonist John Rolfe. They were married in Jamestown, Virginia, in the 1608 wooden church by the Anglican minister Reverend Richard Bucke who had left England for Virginia with John Rolfe on the Sea Venture in 1609. At the time of their marriage, Pocahontas was a 16 year old widow and John Rolfe a 28 year old widower. Pocahontas’ first husband, Kocoum, was killed by her kidnappers led by Captain Samuel Argall in April 1613. John Rolfe’s first wife Sara died shortly after arriving in Jamestown in May 1610.

This was the most important wedding in American history for several reasons. The English were losing the war with the Native Americans, and may have been killed or forced to leave America. The marriage of John Rolfe and Pocahontas led to a period of peace, suggested by Chief Powhatan, called the Peace of Pocahontas. During this peaceful time, the English were able to get enough settlers to Virginia to withstand later Indian attacks after the death of chief Powhatan. This assured the success of the Virginia colony in the years before the same Virginia Company later sent settlers to Massachusetts who landed at Plymouth.

The marriage of Pocahontas and John Rolfe was the first recorded interracial church marriage in what would become the United States. While common today, interracial church weddings were unheard of in America 400 years ago.

John Rolfe had been growing Caribbean tobacco for several years, and his tobacco crop would save the Jamestown colony financially. Yet he learned Native American methods of curing tobacco which improved the quality of the dried leaf and led to its financial success.

Without this wedding, the English may have been unsuccessful in their efforts to colonize America and it is quite possible the United States would not have been formed. So this was a very important wedding.

The wedding of John Rolfe and Pocahontas is being re-enacted today on the site of the Jamestown church where the actual ceremony took place 400 years ago.