Odds are that, if you are an American, you have an opinion about immigration. The issue of undocumented aliens coming to America is certainly not a new one. All throughout the history of this land, people who have come here illegally have been seen as being suspect and, often, treated as inferior and unwelcome. ￼ Germans, the Irish, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, Asians, and many other groups have all been shunned as being “different“ and, therefore, un-American.
It has been rare that someone from American History has welcomed foreigners and treated them with respect. Rebecca was one such person.
Rebecca was, by all accounts, a strange child from birth. She grew up gregarious and inquisitive in a period when women were encouraged to be neither. Hers was a family of privilege and power, her father holding a position of authority in her town. So to say that she was different than the other girls around her would be accurate. Perhaps that’s why she had such tolerance for other people who were labeled as being different since Rebecca was much the same herself.
There was one famous instance when she was in her teens when an illegal alien had been captured by some of the local men. Rebecca insisted that he be treated fairly. In fact, she brought him food and water during his incarceration, making sure that his needs were met. When some of the men in her town wanted to punish the immigrant man, Rebecca actually spoke up for him and even went to her dad and asked for mercy on the man’s behalf. Her father, touched by the compassion his daughter showed, granted the man leniency.
Yes, Rebecca’s attitude was rare in a period of great intolerance. Her era is much like ours, today, sadly. In a time when illegal immigrants are viewed with outright hatred in some quarters, we need more people like Rebecca who will speak for those who are different from us, speak for those who are coming to America to make a better lives for themselves and their families. After all, we are all immigrants, right?
The man Rebecca spoke up for was a man named John Smith. Captain John Smith, in fact. He was an Englishman, an Englishman in the early 1600s who came to America and settled, illegally, on land settled first by indigenous Americans.
Rebecca, you see, was this young woman’s Christian name. She is better known in history by one of her her native names: Pocahontas.