CHESTERTOWN — James Rice, a historian of early America who carefully considers the connections between nature and culture, is the new Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.
Working from an office in the circa-1746 Custom House on the Chester River, and living in a 1730s house in Chestertown’s historic district, Rice will be in an ideal locale to continue his research and writing on the Colonial-era Chesapeake region. During his yearlong fellowship, he will work on completing a narrative account of the Powhatan Uprising of 1622.
On Thursday, Sept. 4, Rice will give a presentation at Washington College titled “At a Given Signal: The Powhatan ‘Uprising’ of 1622.” Co-sponsored by the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the lecture, followed by a book signing, will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. The program is free and open to the public.
The 1622 Powhatan Uprising — also known as the “Massacre of 1622” or the “Great Assault” — may have killed as many as a third of Virginia’s settlers, and modern archaeologists have unearthed grisly evidence of that slaughter. It failed to destroy the Jamestown colony, however, and in fact provoked a far more aggressive English policy toward the Native Americans.
In his talk, Rice will show how the key to understanding the uprising and its long-term historical significance lies in the complex relationships between the Powhatan chiefdom and the Chesapeake’s many other Native American nations.
A professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, Rice is the author of “Nature and History in the Potomac Country: From Hunter-Gatherers to the Age of Jefferson” and “Tales from a Revolution: Bacon’s Rebellion and the Transformation of Early America.”
In addition to his project on the Powhatan Uprising, he is currently working on an environmental history of Native Americans in North America from the last ice age to the present day.
Rice has been a scholar in residence at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and a Carson Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich.
As part of his Washington College residency, he will teach a spring-semester course titled “Native America, Modern America.”