1614 Pocahontas marries John Rolfe Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Indian confederacy, marries English tobacco planter John Rolfe in Jamestown, Virginia. The marriage ensured peace between the Jamestown settlers and the Powhatan Indians for several years. In May 1607, about 100 English colonists settled along the James River in Virginia to found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America. The settlers fared badly because of famine, disease, and Indian attacks, but were aided by 27-year-old English adventurer John Smith, who directed survival efforts and mapped the area. While exploring the Chickahominy River in December 1607, Smith and two colonists were captured by Powhatan warriors. At the time, the Powhatan confederacy consisted of around 30 Tidewater-area tribes led by Chief Wahunsonacock, known as Chief Powhatan to the English. Smith’s companions were killed, but he was spared and released, (according to a 1624 account by Smith) because of the dramatic intercession of Pocahontas, Chief Powhatan’s 13-year-old daughter. Her real name was Matoaka, and Pocahontas was a pet name that has been translated variously as “playful one” and “my favorite daughter.” In 1608, Smith became president of the Jamestown colony, but the settlement continued to suffer. An accidental fire destroyed much of the town, and hunger, disease, and Indian attacks continued. During this time, Pocahontas often came to Jamestown as an emissary of her father, sometimes bearing gifts of food to help the hard-pressed settlers. She befriended the settlers and became acquainted with English ways. In 1609, Smith was injured from a fire in his gunpowder bag and was forced to return to England. After Smith’s departure, relations with the Powhatan deteriorated and many settlers died from famine and disease in the winter of 1609-10. Jamestown was about to be abandoned by its inhabitants when Baron De La Warr (also known as Delaware) arrived in June 1610 with new supplies and rebuilt the settlement–the Delaware River and the colony of Delaware were later named after him. John Rolfe also arrived in Jamestown in 1610 and two years later cultivated the first tobacco there, introducing a successful source of livelihood that would have far-reaching importance for Virginia. In the spring of 1613, English Captain Samuel Argall took Pocahontas hostage, hoping to use her to negotiate a permanent peace with her father. Brought to Jamestown, she was put under the custody of Sir Thomas Gates, the marshal of Virginia. Gates treated her as a guest rather than a prisoner and encouraged her to learn English customs. She converted to Christianity and was baptized Lady Rebecca. Powhatan eventually agreed to the terms for her release, but by then she had fallen in love with John Rolfe, who was about 10 years her senior. On April 5, 1614, Pocahontas and John Rolfe married with the blessing of Chief Powhatan and the governor of Virginia. Their marriage brought a peace between the English colonists and the Powhatans, and in 1615 Pocahontas gave birth to their first child, Thomas. In 1616, the couple sailed to England. The so-called Indian Princess proved popular with the English gentry, and she was presented at the court of King James I. In March 1617, Pocahontas and Rolfe prepared to sail back to Virginia. However, the day before they were to leave, Pocahontas died, probably of smallpox, and was buried at the parish church of St. George in Gravesend, England. John Rolfe returned to Virginia and was killed in an Indian massacre in 1622. After an education in England, their son Thomas Rolfe returned to Virginia and became a prominent citizen. John Smith returned to the New World in 1614 to explore the New England coast. On another voyage of exploration in 1614, he was captured by pirates but escaped after three months of captivity. He then returned to England, where he died in 1631. 1936 Tornadoes devastate Tupelo and Gainesville On this day in 1936, two small towns in Mississippi and Georgia are devastated by tornadoes, killing 200 people in one of the deadliest spates of tornadoes in United States history. A total of 466 people were killed over four days of nearly continuous twisters. Another 3,500 people were injured. The storms and accompanying tornadoes hit Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee on April 5. At about 8:30 a.m., the first twister touched down in Coffeeville, Mississippi, before moving northeast and devastating Tupelo, Mississippi. The Gum Pond area of Tupelo was worst hit. Homes along the pond were completely swept away. A majority of the bodies of the 216 people killed in Tupelo were found in the pond. One notable survivor of this deadly tornado was one-year-old Elvis Presley, who was born in Tupelo. The Tupelo twister was estimated to be an F5, the most destructive class of tornado, with winds in excess of 261 miles per hour. Some reports noted that the wind was so strong that it embedded pine needles into the trunks of trees that managed to stay standing. In Gainesville, Georgia, the following morning, three separate tornadoes continued the destruction. In the single worst tornado incident in the United States in the 20th century, 70 workers at the Cooper Pants factory were killed when the building collapsed on them. Twenty more people were killed in a department store collapse. Debris was piled high throughout Gainesville. Hospitals all over the Southeast were pressed into service to help survivors. Better weather forecasting and warning systems helped prevent tragedies of this scale in the years that followed. 1792 Washington exercises first presidential veto George Washington exercises the first presidential veto of a Congressional bill on this day in 1792. The bill introduced a new plan for dividing seats in the House of Representatives that would have increased the amount of seats for northern states. After consulting with his politically divided and contentious cabinet, Washington, who came from the southern state of Virginia, ultimately decided that the plan was unconstitutional because, in providing for additional representatives for some states, it would have introduced a number of representatives higher than that proscribed by the Constitution. After a discussion with the president, Jefferson wrote in a letter that votes for or against the bill were divided along perfectly geographical lines between the North and South. Jefferson observed that Washington feared that a veto would incorrectly portray him as biased toward the South. In the end, Jefferson was able to convince the president to veto the bill on the grounds that it was unconstitutional and introduced principles that were liable to be abused in the future. Jefferson suggested apportionment instead be derived from arithmetical operation, about which no two men can ever possibly differ.” Washington’s veto sent the bill back to Congress. Though representatives could have attempted to overrule the veto with a two-thirds vote, Congress instead threw out the original bill and instituted a new one that apportioned representatives at “the ratio of one for every thirty-three thousand persons in the respective States.” Washington exercised his veto power only one other time during his two terms in office. In February 1797, the former commanding general of the Continental Army vetoed an act that would have reduced the number of cavalry units in the army.