Posted on Jan 22, 2014 - 01:40 PM Printer Friendly View
Virginia’s women are to have their own monument in Capitol Square in Richmond, and this is as it should be. Without one woman in particular, England’s first permanent colony in the New World might have failed.
Excuse us? Pocahontas didn’t make the final cut? It’s an outrage that Gloucester County’s own princess somehow did not measure up to join the 12 women who will be cited.
In 1607, the year Jamestown was established, its leader nearly perished at the hands of Powhatan’s people. John Smith had been captured in December of that year and taken to Werowocomoco (now known to the world as having been located on Purtan Bay in Gloucester). In 1616 Smith wrote that he had been placed for execution with his head on a stone and a war club poised to strike. In a letter to Queen Anne, he said, “... at the minute of my execution, she [Pocahontas] hazarded the beating out of her own brains to save mine; and not only that, but so prevailed with her father, that I was safely conducted to Jamestown.”
In spite of saving John Smith and probably the colony, Pocahontas has been omitted from the roster of notable women. This is wrong. Perhaps it will take another generation to change the lineup, but this mistake must be corrected.
On the other hand, the much-loved native daughter of Mathews County, Sally Tompkins, will be among the women honored.
This child of Poplar Grove dedicated her youth and energy to saving the lives of Confederate soldiers wounded in battle. CSA President Jefferson Davis ordered private hospitals closed because they proved ineffective and a drain on the treasury. Miss Tompkins’s Robertson Hospital, however, excelled in its success rate. Davis solved the dilemma by making her a captain in the Confederate Army, and she is known as the American first woman to receive a military commission.
The monument will be an oval garden filled with bronze statues of Virginia women who made significant contributions to the commonwealth during its 400-year history. It will be located on the west side of Capitol Square, between the bell tower and the General Assembly office building. A surrounding low-profile wall and seating area will have an area inscribed with the names of other notable Virginia women.
And we hope a bronze statue of Pocahontas will sit among them sooner, not later.