John Smith, Captain (1579 - 1631) MP

‹ Back to Smith surname

Is your surname Smith?

Research the Smith family

Capt. John Smith (Colonial Governor of Virginia)'s Geni Profile

Records for John Smith

45,720,943 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Share

Nicknames: "He Who Did Not"
Birthplace: Willoughby, Lincolnshire, England
Death: Died in London, England
Occupation: Ship captain
Managed by: Chris Wertley
Last Updated:
view all 31

Immediate Family

About John Smith, Captain

Regarding John Smith and Pocahontas' marriage:

This is only a rumor, but someone has done "genealogy" for this "couple." There is truth to John Smith's existence and that he did encounter Pocahontas. However, the Powhatan Nation denies a romantic relationship happened between them, that Pocahontas was a 10 (or 11) year old child when they met. She gave him food and helped some of his co-workers.

It was after Pocahontas had passed and her fame was both in the Americas and in England that John Smith had come forth with his story of a relationship between he and Pocahontas.

The genealogy on this site from a union between John SMITH and Pocahontas SUNACOCK, Powhatan Princess is unconfirmed and rumor.

--------------------

Captain John Smith (c. January 1580 – June 21, 1631) Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania. He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and his brief association with the Virginia Indian[1] girl Pocahontas during an altercation with the Powhatan Confederacy and her father, Chief Powhatan. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

His books and maps may have been as important as his deeds, as they encouraged more Englishmen and women to follow the trail he had blazed and to colonize the New World. He gave the name New England to that region, and encouraged people with the comment, "Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land...If he have nothing but his hands, he may...by industrie quickly grow rich."

John Smith was baptized on 6 January 1580 at Willoughby near Alford, Lincolnshire, where his parents rented a farm from Lord Willoughby. He claimed descendancy from the ancient Smith family of Cuerdle Lancashire and was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, from 1592–1595. After his father died, Smith left home at age 16 and set off to sea. He served as a mercenary in the army of King Henry IV of France against the Spaniards, fought for Dutch independence from the Spanish King Phillip II, then set off for the Mediterranean Sea. There he engaged in both trade and piracy, and later fought against the Ottoman Turks in the Long War. Smith was promoted to captain while fighting for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, in the campaign of Michael the Brave in 1600-1601. After the death of Michael the Brave, he fought for Radu Şerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă.

He is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads However, in 1602 he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tatars, captured and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: "we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market." Smith claimed his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to Crimea, from where he escaped from the Ottoman lands into Muscovy then on to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Smith then traveled through Europe and Northern Africa, returning to England during 1604.

In 1606 Smith became involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company of London, which had been granted a charter from King James I of England. The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, on December 20, 1606. His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.

John Smith was apparently a troublemaker on the voyage, and Cap. Christopher Newport (in charge of the three ships) had planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia. However, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened. They designated Smith to be one of the leaders of the new colony, forcing Newport to spare him.

The search for a suitable site ended on May 14, 1607, when Cap. Edward Maria Wingfield, president of the council, chose the Jamestown site as the location for the colony.

Captain John Smith's 1624 map of the Somers Isles (Bermuda), showing St. George's Town and related fortifications, including the Castle Islands Fortifications

John Smith taking the King of Pamunkey prisoner {1624 history} Pocahontas throws herself over Smith to save his life, 1870 depiction The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles, by Capt. John SmithHarsh weather, lack of water and attacks from Algonquian-speaking tribes almost destroyed the colony.

Encounter with Pocahontas' tribeIn December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the chief of the Powhatans at Werowocomoco, the main village of the Powhatan Confederacy. The village was on the north shore of the York River about 15 miles due north of Jamestown and 25 miles downstream from where the river forms from the Pamunkey River and the Mattaponi River at West Point, Virginia. Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this in part to the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who according to Smith, threw herself across his body: "at the minute of my execution, she hazarded [i.e. risked] 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 1860 Boston businessman and historian Charles Deane was the first scholar to question specific details of Smith's writings. Smith's version of events is the only source and skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is that, despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest-surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly 10 years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity. The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility that Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image. However, in a recent book, Professor J. A. Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experiences; hence there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.

Henry Brooks Adams, the pre-eminent Harvard historian of the second half of the 19th century, attempted to debunk Smith’s claims of heroism. He said that Smith’s recounting of the story of Pocahontas had been progressively embellished, made up of “falsehoods of an effrontery seldom equalled in modern times.” Although there is consensus among historians that Smith tended to exaggerate, his account does seem to be consistent with the basic facts of his life. Adams' attack on Smith, an attempt to deface one of the icons of Southern history, was motivated by political considerations in the wake of the Civil War. Adams had been influenced to write his fusillade against Smith by John G. Palfrey who was promoting New England colonization, as opposed to southern settlement, as the founding of America. The accuracy of Smith’s accounts has continued to be a subject of debate over the centuries.

Some experts have suggested that although Smith believed he had been rescued, he had in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe. In Love and Hate in Jamestown, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other Native American tribes in North America.

In True Travels (1630), Smith told a similar story of having been rescued by the intervention of a young girl after having been captured in 1602 by Turks in Hungary. Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling the story of Pocahontas.

Whatever really happened, the encounter initiated a friendly relationship between the natives and Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. As the colonists expanded further, some of the tribes felt that their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.

In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms, but Pocahontas came to the hut where the English were staying and warned them that Powhatan was planning to kill them. Due to this warning, the English stayed on their guard and the attack never came.

Also in 1608, Polish craftsmen were brought to the colony to help it develop. Smith wrote that two Poles rescued him when he was attacked by a native American.

Later, Smith left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly-needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles. In his absence, Smith left his friend Matthew Scrivener, a young gentleman adventurer from Sibton, Suffolk, who was related by marriage to the Wingfield family, as governor in his place. Scrivener was not to be a leader of the people. Smith was elected president of the local council in September 1608 and instituted a policy of discipline. He encouraged farming with an admonition taken from the New Testament (II Thessalonians 3:10): "He who does not work, will not eat."

The settlement grew under his leadership. During this period Smith took the chief of the neighbouring tribe hostage and, according to Smith, he did "take this murdering Opechancanough...by the long lock of his head; and with my pistol at his breast, I led him {out of his house} amongst his greatest forces, and before we parted made him [agree to] fill our bark with twenty tons of corn."[citation needed] A year later, full-scale war broke out between the Powhatans and the Virginia colonists. Smith was seriously injured by a gunpowder burn after a rogue spark landed in his powder keg. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609. He never returned to Virginia. He was succeeded as governor by an aristocratic adventurer, George Percy.

In 1614, Smith returned to the Americas in a voyage to the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts Bay. He named the region "New England".[20] He made two attempts in 1614 and 1615 to return to the same coast. First a storm dismasted his ship. In the second attempt, he was captured by French pirates off the Azores. Smith escaped after weeks of captivity and made his way back to England, where he published an account of his two voyages as A Description of New England. He never left England again. He died in the year 1631 in London at the age of 51.

He was buried in the church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the largest Parish Church in the City of London, where there is a handsome window designed by Francis Skeat and installed in 1968.

Many critics judge Captain John Smith’s character and credibility as an author based on a single event, the infamous scene where Pocahontas saved his life from the hand of Powhatan. Additional and likely more accurate judgments should rest upon his relationship with both the Indians and colonists of Jamestown. Smith earned his status as an American hero through his strong work ethic and compromise with the Indians, themes that reappear in his writings such as The Generall Historie of Virginia and The True Travels…of Captain John Smith. Most of the critical scepticism of Smith’s credibility is a result of the differences between his narratives. His earliest text is A True Relation of Virginia, which was submitted for publication in 1608, the year after Smith’s experiences in Jamestown. The second, The Generall Historie, was published in 1624, sixteen years later. Compared to The Generall Historie, many events, including the Pocahontas scene, are either left out or changed; this is likely to due to the fact that The Generall Historie was composed so much later, and Smith’s memories of the colony, the Indians, and their relations were faded. Accordingly, the publishing of letters, journals, and pamphlets from the colonists were regulated by the companies that sponsored the voyage in that they must go “directly to the company,” because no one was to “write any letter of anything that may discourage others.” Smith is now known to have violated this regulation by first publishing A True Relation as an unknown author.[22] Furthermore, the editor of The Generall Historie likely “cut out…references to the Indians’ hostility, to bickering among the leaders of Virginia Company, and to the early supposed mutiny of…Smith on the voyage to Virginia.”

The Pocahontas episode is subject to the most scrutiny by literary critics, for it does not even appear in A True Relation, but does so in The Generall Historie. According to Lemay, it is probable that “Smith was being ritualistically killed. Reborn, he was adopted into the tribe, with Pocahontas as his sponsor. But Smith, of course, did not realize the nature of the initiation ceremony.” Also important evidence to Smith’s credibility regarding the story is the fact that “no one in Smith’s day ever expressed doubt in [it], and many persons who must have known the truth…including John Rolfe [and] Pocahontas…were in London in 1616 when Smith publicized the story in a letter to the queen.”

Smith focuses heavily on American Indians in all of his works concerning the New World. Smith’s relationship with the Powhatan Indians is the sole factor that saved the Jamestown colony from sharing the fate of the Roanoke colony. His relations with the Indians were very wise in that:

He was friendly toward them, but never let them forget the might of English weapons… Realizing that the very existence of the colony depended on peace, he never thought of trying to exterminate the natives. Only after his departure were there bitter wars and massacres, the natural results of a more hostile policy. In his writings, Smith reveals the attitudes behind his actions.

However, in The Generall Historie, Smith implies that the Virginia colonists resented the Indians and the two peoples had mostly hostile feelings towards each other. He compares Chief Powhatan to the devil, and refers to the Indians as “barbarians.” Numerous times, he mentions sending spies to discover the Chief’s intent and declining Powhatan’s request to relinquish their arms. He also stresses the many experiences where the Indians threatened and attempted to kill him. However, Lemay contests Smith’s depiction of the relations between colonists and Indians: “[He] was not only fair, he was surprisingly kind and humanitarian. He treated the Indians as he treated whites…tortured [none], executed none, and saved Indians when others wanted to slay them.” Smith’s own past as a commoner allowed him to sympathize with the Indians, and he believed that the Indians were not inferior to the whites but just “at a different stage of civilization.” The respect between Smith and the Powhatan earned him the title of a werowance, “a chieftain among the whites.” The relationship between Smith and Chief Powhatan is further evidence of the understanding between these two cultures. In The Generall Historie, Smith addresses a number of letters exchanged between him and Powhatan that reflect the respect that existed between them: “Half a dozen years after Smith had left Virginia—and after the whites had repeatedly assured Powhatan that Smith was dead—[the] leader instructed his advisor… [and] Pocahontas to look for Smith in England;” judging from his directions, the Chief seems to have been deeply affected by the Smith’s rumored death. This is another indication of the positive relationship held between colonists and Indians: if their associations were as Smith depicted them in The Generall Historie, Powhatan would not have been much concerned about his absence or death.

Concerning his relationship with the colonists, Smith is considered by historical and literary critics to be an arrogant braggart. On numerous accounts, he outwardly expressed the colonists were worthless; most of them were gentlemen who felt no need to do physical labor. As a method of survival, Smith blatantly rejected the social order that existed in England, which obviously angered the gentlemen of the colony. Smith became regularly frustrated with the amount of delegation[clarification needed] that the colonists went through before a decision could be made. Smith’s disgust with the “gentlemen” of Jamestown was clear: he makes several references to them as “useless parasites,” for their ignorance in the laborious tasks that are required for beginning a colony. His frustration with them did not end at their inability to work, but also extended to the social order that they believe they were entitled to. The colonists, accustomed to the social order of England, rejected the social construct that Smith created in Jamestown. They perceived Smith’s establishment of this new structure as a challenge to their “deserved” respect. Smith mentions several times in his works that having actual workers would have been better than what the Virginia Company sent over: “twentie good workmen had been better than all them all.”[33] In Smith’s hopes to better colonize the Americas, he urges to the Massachusetts Bay Company not to make the same mistake that the Virginia Company made: “…nor such multitude of Officers, neither masters, gentlemen, gentlewomen and children as you have men to work, which idle chares you will fine very troublesome, and the effects dangerous, and one hundred good labourers better than a thousand such Gallants as we were sent me that could do nothing.”

In reality, Smith was discontent with only a few colonists who acted this way: he “claimed the early colonists were heroes. His primary purpose in writing The Generall Historie…was to eternalize ‘the memory of those that effected’ the settlement of Virginia.” In Smith’s publication, A Description of New England (1616), he goes so far as to compare the colonists to Adam and Eve; just as Adam and Eve spread productivity throughout the world, the colonists created life in the Virginia colony. Smith essentially sympathized with gentlemen; he knew it was not their fault they were useless and that this trait was merely a product of the imposed standards of English society. He recognized that “they were imprisoned by their own self-imposed limitations. What they could and could not do was decided by their awareness of traditional roles and by the shame that they would feel if others saw them engaged in physical work.” Lemay speculates that as a result of Smith’s strict rules and the emigration to America, these men could shed these roles and create new lives for themselves in which they could celebrate the products of their labors and not feel humiliated.

One of John Smith’s main incentives in writing about his New World experiences and observances was to promote the colonization of The New World by England. Many promotional writers sugar-coated their depictions of America in order to heighten its appeal, but Smith was not one to exaggerate the facts. He was very straightforward with his readers about both the dangers and the possibilities of colonization: instead of proclaiming that there was an abundance of gold in the New World—as many writers did—Smith illustrated that what was truly abundant within America was monetary opportunity in the form of industry. Smith was realistic about his proposition for colonization and the benefits that it could yield. He recognized that no “other motive [besides] wealth…would draw [potential colonists] from their ease and humours at home.” Therefore, he presented in his writings actual industries that could yield significant capital within the New World: fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and fur trading.”[38] In A Description of New England, Smith illustrates America as an ideal environment for such trades and enumerates the monetary benefits that they would bring. Rather than making false promises of abounding gold to his readers, Smith attempted to attract interest for colonization by depicting the opportunities that fertile soil and abundant resources would bring. He insists, however, that only hard workers will be able to reap such benefits. Just as Smith did not exaggerate the possibilities for wealth within America, he did not understate the dangers and toil associated with colonization. He declared that only those with a strong work ethic would be able to “live and succeed in America” in the face of such dangers.[39] Colonists would have to risk their lives in order to benefit from the “phenomenal possibilities” that the New World offered. As a promoter of American colonization, Smith did not placate his readers: he wished for potential colonists to be aware of the dangers that they faced, the work that colonization would require, and the benefits that they stood to gain.

--------------------

Captain John Smith (c. January 1580 – June 21, 1631) Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania. He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and his brief association with the Virginia Indian[1] girl Pocahontas during an altercation with the Powhatan Confederacy and her father, Chief Powhatan. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

His books and maps may have been as important as his deeds, as they encouraged more Englishmen and women to follow the trail he had blazed and to colonize the New World. He gave the name New England to that region, and encouraged people with the comment, "Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land...If he have nothing but his hands, he may...by industrie quickly grow rich."

John Smith was baptized on 6 January 1580 at Willoughby near Alford, Lincolnshire, where his parents rented a farm from Lord Willoughby. He claimed descendancy from the ancient Smith family of Cuerdle Lancashire and was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, from 1592–1595. After his father died, Smith left home at age 16 and set off to sea. He served as a mercenary in the army of King Henry IV of France against the Spaniards, fought for Dutch independence from the Spanish King Phillip II, then set off for the Mediterranean Sea. There he engaged in both trade and piracy, and later fought against the Ottoman Turks in the Long War. Smith was promoted to captain while fighting for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, in the campaign of Michael the Brave in 1600-1601. After the death of Michael the Brave, he fought for Radu Şerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă.

He is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads However, in 1602 he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tatars, captured and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: "we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market." Smith claimed his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to Crimea, from where he escaped from the Ottoman lands into Muscovy then on to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Smith then traveled through Europe and Northern Africa, returning to England during 1604.

In 1606 Smith became involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company of London, which had been granted a charter from King James I of England. The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, on December 20, 1606. His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.

John Smith was apparently a troublemaker on the voyage, and Cap. Christopher Newport (in charge of the three ships) had planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia. However, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened. They designated Smith to be one of the leaders of the new colony, forcing Newport to spare him.

The search for a suitable site ended on May 14, 1607, when Cap. Edward Maria Wingfield, president of the council, chose the Jamestown site as the location for the colony.

Captain John Smith's 1624 map of the Somers Isles (Bermuda), showing St. George's Town and related fortifications, including the Castle Islands Fortifications

John Smith taking the King of Pamunkey prisoner {1624 history} Pocahontas throws herself over Smith to save his life, 1870 depiction The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles, by Capt. John SmithHarsh weather, lack of water and attacks from Algonquian-speaking tribes almost destroyed the colony.

Encounter with Pocahontas' tribeIn December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the chief of the Powhatans at Werowocomoco, the main village of the Powhatan Confederacy. The village was on the north shore of the York River about 15 miles due north of Jamestown and 25 miles downstream from where the river forms from the Pamunkey River and the Mattaponi River at West Point, Virginia. Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this in part to the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who according to Smith, threw herself across his body: "at the minute of my execution, she hazarded [i.e. risked] 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 1860 Boston businessman and historian Charles Deane was the first scholar to question specific details of Smith's writings. Smith's version of events is the only source and skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is that, despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest-surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly 10 years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity. The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility that Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image. However, in a recent book, Professor J. A. Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experiences; hence there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.

Henry Brooks Adams, the pre-eminent Harvard historian of the second half of the 19th century, attempted to debunk Smith’s claims of heroism. He said that Smith’s recounting of the story of Pocahontas had been progressively embellished, made up of “falsehoods of an effrontery seldom equalled in modern times.” Although there is consensus among historians that Smith tended to exaggerate, his account does seem to be consistent with the basic facts of his life. Adams' attack on Smith, an attempt to deface one of the icons of Southern history, was motivated by political considerations in the wake of the Civil War. Adams had been influenced to write his fusillade against Smith by John G. Palfrey who was promoting New England colonization, as opposed to southern settlement, as the founding of America. The accuracy of Smith’s accounts has continued to be a subject of debate over the centuries.

Some experts have suggested that although Smith believed he had been rescued, he had in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe. In Love and Hate in Jamestown, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other Native American tribes in North America.

In True Travels (1630), Smith told a similar story of having been rescued by the intervention of a young girl after having been captured in 1602 by Turks in Hungary. Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling the story of Pocahontas.

Whatever really happened, the encounter initiated a friendly relationship between the natives and Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. As the colonists expanded further, some of the tribes felt that their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.

In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms, but Pocahontas came to the hut where the English were staying and warned them that Powhatan was planning to kill them. Due to this warning, the English stayed on their guard and the attack never came.

Also in 1608, Polish craftsmen were brought to the colony to help it develop. Smith wrote that two Poles rescued him when he was attacked by a native American.

Later, Smith left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly-needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles. In his absence, Smith left his friend Matthew Scrivener, a young gentleman adventurer from Sibton, Suffolk, who was related by marriage to the Wingfield family, as governor in his place. Scrivener was not to be a leader of the people. Smith was elected president of the local council in September 1608 and instituted a policy of discipline. He encouraged farming with an admonition taken from the New Testament (II Thessalonians 3:10): "He who does not work, will not eat."

The settlement grew under his leadership. During this period Smith took the chief of the neighbouring tribe hostage and, according to Smith, he did "take this murdering Opechancanough...by the long lock of his head; and with my pistol at his breast, I led him {out of his house} amongst his greatest forces, and before we parted made him [agree to] fill our bark with twenty tons of corn."[citation needed] A year later, full-scale war broke out between the Powhatans and the Virginia colonists. Smith was seriously injured by a gunpowder burn after a rogue spark landed in his powder keg. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609. He never returned to Virginia. He was succeeded as governor by an aristocratic adventurer, George Percy.

In 1614, Smith returned to the Americas in a voyage to the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts Bay. He named the region "New England".[20] He made two attempts in 1614 and 1615 to return to the same coast. First a storm dismasted his ship. In the second attempt, he was captured by French pirates off the Azores. Smith escaped after weeks of captivity and made his way back to England, where he published an account of his two voyages as A Description of New England. He never left England again. He died in the year 1631 in London at the age of 51.

He was buried in the church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the largest Parish Church in the City of London, where there is a handsome window designed by Francis Skeat and installed in 1968.

Many critics judge Captain John Smith’s character and credibility as an author based on a single event, the infamous scene where Pocahontas saved his life from the hand of Powhatan. Additional and likely more accurate judgments should rest upon his relationship with both the Indians and colonists of Jamestown. Smith earned his status as an American hero through his strong work ethic and compromise with the Indians, themes that reappear in his writings such as The Generall Historie of Virginia and The True Travels…of Captain John Smith. Most of the critical scepticism of Smith’s credibility is a result of the differences between his narratives. His earliest text is A True Relation of Virginia, which was submitted for publication in 1608, the year after Smith’s experiences in Jamestown. The second, The Generall Historie, was published in 1624, sixteen years later. Compared to The Generall Historie, many events, including the Pocahontas scene, are either left out or changed; this is likely to due to the fact that The Generall Historie was composed so much later, and Smith’s memories of the colony, the Indians, and their relations were faded. Accordingly, the publishing of letters, journals, and pamphlets from the colonists were regulated by the companies that sponsored the voyage in that they must go “directly to the company,” because no one was to “write any letter of anything that may discourage others.” Smith is now known to have violated this regulation by first publishing A True Relation as an unknown author.[22] Furthermore, the editor of The Generall Historie likely “cut out…references to the Indians’ hostility, to bickering among the leaders of Virginia Company, and to the early supposed mutiny of…Smith on the voyage to Virginia.”

The Pocahontas episode is subject to the most scrutiny by literary critics, for it does not even appear in A True Relation, but does so in The Generall Historie. According to Lemay, it is probable that “Smith was being ritualistically killed. Reborn, he was adopted into the tribe, with Pocahontas as his sponsor. But Smith, of course, did not realize the nature of the initiation ceremony.” Also important evidence to Smith’s credibility regarding the story is the fact that “no one in Smith’s day ever expressed doubt in [it], and many persons who must have known the truth…including John Rolfe [and] Pocahontas…were in London in 1616 when Smith publicized the story in a letter to the queen.”

Smith focuses heavily on American Indians in all of his works concerning the New World. Smith’s relationship with the Powhatan Indians is the sole factor that saved the Jamestown colony from sharing the fate of the Roanoke colony. His relations with the Indians were very wise in that:

He was friendly toward them, but never let them forget the might of English weapons… Realizing that the very existence of the colony depended on peace, he never thought of trying to exterminate the natives. Only after his departure were there bitter wars and massacres, the natural results of a more hostile policy. In his writings, Smith reveals the attitudes behind his actions.

However, in The Generall Historie, Smith implies that the Virginia colonists resented the Indians and the two peoples had mostly hostile feelings towards each other. He compares Chief Powhatan to the devil, and refers to the Indians as “barbarians.” Numerous times, he mentions sending spies to discover the Chief’s intent and declining Powhatan’s request to relinquish their arms. He also stresses the many experiences where the Indians threatened and attempted to kill him. However, Lemay contests Smith’s depiction of the relations between colonists and Indians: “[He] was not only fair, he was surprisingly kind and humanitarian. He treated the Indians as he treated whites…tortured [none], executed none, and saved Indians when others wanted to slay them.” Smith’s own past as a commoner allowed him to sympathize with the Indians, and he believed that the Indians were not inferior to the whites but just “at a different stage of civilization.” The respect between Smith and the Powhatan earned him the title of a werowance, “a chieftain among the whites.” The relationship between Smith and Chief Powhatan is further evidence of the understanding between these two cultures. In The Generall Historie, Smith addresses a number of letters exchanged between him and Powhatan that reflect the respect that existed between them: “Half a dozen years after Smith had left Virginia—and after the whites had repeatedly assured Powhatan that Smith was dead—[the] leader instructed his advisor… [and] Pocahontas to look for Smith in England;” judging from his directions, the Chief seems to have been deeply affected by the Smith’s rumored death. This is another indication of the positive relationship held between colonists and Indians: if their associations were as Smith depicted them in The Generall Historie, Powhatan would not have been much concerned about his absence or death.

Concerning his relationship with the colonists, Smith is considered by historical and literary critics to be an arrogant braggart. On numerous accounts, he outwardly expressed the colonists were worthless; most of them were gentlemen who felt no need to do physical labor. As a method of survival, Smith blatantly rejected the social order that existed in England, which obviously angered the gentlemen of the colony. Smith became regularly frustrated with the amount of delegation[clarification needed] that the colonists went through before a decision could be made. Smith’s disgust with the “gentlemen” of Jamestown was clear: he makes several references to them as “useless parasites,” for their ignorance in the laborious tasks that are required for beginning a colony. His frustration with them did not end at their inability to work, but also extended to the social order that they believe they were entitled to. The colonists, accustomed to the social order of England, rejected the social construct that Smith created in Jamestown. They perceived Smith’s establishment of this new structure as a challenge to their “deserved” respect. Smith mentions several times in his works that having actual workers would have been better than what the Virginia Company sent over: “twentie good workmen had been better than all them all.”[33] In Smith’s hopes to better colonize the Americas, he urges to the Massachusetts Bay Company not to make the same mistake that the Virginia Company made: “…nor such multitude of Officers, neither masters, gentlemen, gentlewomen and children as you have men to work, which idle chares you will fine very troublesome, and the effects dangerous, and one hundred good labourers better than a thousand such Gallants as we were sent me that could do nothing.”

In reality, Smith was discontent with only a few colonists who acted this way: he “claimed the early colonists were heroes. His primary purpose in writing The Generall Historie…was to eternalize ‘the memory of those that effected’ the settlement of Virginia.” In Smith’s publication, A Description of New England (1616), he goes so far as to compare the colonists to Adam and Eve; just as Adam and Eve spread productivity throughout the world, the colonists created life in the Virginia colony. Smith essentially sympathized with gentlemen; he knew it was not their fault they were useless and that this trait was merely a product of the imposed standards of English society. He recognized that “they were imprisoned by their own self-imposed limitations. What they could and could not do was decided by their awareness of traditional roles and by the shame that they would feel if others saw them engaged in physical work.” Lemay speculates that as a result of Smith’s strict rules and the emigration to America, these men could shed these roles and create new lives for themselves in which they could celebrate the products of their labors and not feel humiliated.

One of John Smith’s main incentives in writing about his New World experiences and observances was to promote the colonization of The New World by England. Many promotional writers sugar-coated their depictions of America in order to heighten its appeal, but Smith was not one to exaggerate the facts. He was very straightforward with his readers about both the dangers and the possibilities of colonization: instead of proclaiming that there was an abundance of gold in the New World—as many writers did—Smith illustrated that what was truly abundant within America was monetary opportunity in the form of industry. Smith was realistic about his proposition for colonization and the benefits that it could yield. He recognized that no “other motive [besides] wealth…would draw [potential colonists] from their ease and humours at home.” Therefore, he presented in his writings actual industries that could yield significant capital within the New World: fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and fur trading.”[38] In A Description of New England, Smith illustrates America as an ideal environment for such trades and enumerates the monetary benefits that they would bring. Rather than making false promises of abounding gold to his readers, Smith attempted to attract interest for colonization by depicting the opportunities that fertile soil and abundant resources would bring. He insists, however, that only hard workers will be able to reap such benefits. Just as Smith did not exaggerate the possibilities for wealth within America, he did not understate the dangers and toil associated with colonization. He declared that only those with a strong work ethic would be able to “live and succeed in America” in the face of such dangers.[39] Colonists would have to risk their lives in order to benefit from the “phenomenal possibilities” that the New World offered. As a promoter of American colonization, Smith did not placate his readers: he wished for potential colonists to be aware of the dangers that they faced, the work that colonization would require, and the benefits that they stood to gain. -------------------- Captain John Smith (c. January 1580 – June 21, 1631) Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Bathory, Prince of Transylvania. He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and his brief association with the Virginia Indian[1] girl Pocahontas during an altercation with the Powhatan Confederacy and her father, Chief Powhatan. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

His books and maps may have been as important as his deeds, as they encouraged more Englishmen and women to follow the trail he had blazed and to colonize the New World. He gave the name New England to that region, and encouraged people with the comment, "Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land...If he have nothing but his hands, he may...by industrie quickly grow rich." His message attracted millions of people in the next four centuries.

John Smith was baptized on 6 January 1580 at Willoughby[2] near Alford, Lincolnshire, where his parents rented a farm from Lord Willoughby. He claimed descendancy from the ancient Smith family of Cuerdley[3] Lancashire and was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, from 1592–1595.[4] After his father died, Smith left home at age 16 and set off to sea. He served as a mercenary in the army of King Henry IV of France against the Spaniards, fought for Dutch independence from the Spanish King Phillip II, then set off for the Mediterranean Sea. There he engaged in both trade and piracy, and later fought against the Ottoman Turks in the Long War. Smith was promoted to captain while fighting for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, in the campaign of Michael the Brave in 1600-1601. After the death of Michael the Brave, he fought for Radu Şerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă.

He is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads.[5] However, in 1602 he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tatars, captured and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: "we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market."[6] Smith claimed his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to Crimea, from where he escaped from the Ottoman lands into Muscovy then on to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Smith then traveled through Europe and Northern Africa, returning to England during 1604.

[edit] Virginia Colony[edit] VoyageIn 1606 Smith became involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company of London, which had been granted a charter from King James I of England. The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, on December 20, 1606. His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.

John Smith was apparently a troublemaker on the voyage, and Cap. Christopher Newport (in charge of the three ships) had planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia. However, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened. They designated Smith to be one of the leaders of the new colony, forcing Newport to spare him.

[SiteThe search for a suitable site ended on May 14, 1607, when Cap. Edward Maria Wingfield, president of the council, chose the Jamestown site as the location for the colony.

In December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the chief of the Powhatans at Werowocomoco, the main village of the Powhatan Confederacy. The village was on the north shore of the York River about 15 miles due north of Jamestown and 25 miles downstream from where the river forms from the Pamunkey River and the Mattaponi River at West Point, Virginia. Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this in part to the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who according to Smith, threw herself across his body[7]: "at the minute of my execution, she hazarded [i.e. risked] 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".[8]

In 1860 Boston businessman and historian Charles Deane was the first scholar to question specific details of Smith's writings. Smith's version of events is the only source and skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is that, despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest-surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly 10 years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity.[8] The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility that Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image. However, in a recent book, Professor J. A. Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experiences; hence there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.[9]

Henry Brooks Adams, the pre-eminent Harvard historian of the second half of the 19th century, attempted to debunk Smith’s claims of heroism. He said that Smith’s recounting of the story of Pocahontas had been progressively embellished, made up of “falsehoods of an effrontery seldom equalled in modern times.” Although there is consensus among historians that Smith tended to exaggerate, his account does seem to be consistent with the basic facts of his life. Adams' attack on Smith, an attempt to deface one of the icons of Southern history, was motivated by political considerations in the wake of the Civil War. Adams had been influenced to write his fusillade against Smith by John G. Palfrey who was promoting New England colonization, as opposed to southern settlement, as the founding of America. The accuracy of Smith’s accounts has continued to be a subject of debate over the centuries.[10]

Some experts have suggested that although Smith believed he had been rescued, he had in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe.[11][12] In Love and Hate in Jamestown, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other Native American tribes in North America.[13]

In True Travels (1630), Smith told a similar story of having been rescued by the intervention of a young girl after having been captured in 1602 by Turks in Hungary. Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling the story of Pocahontas.[14]

Whatever really happened, the encounter initiated a friendly relationship between the natives and Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. As the colonists expanded further, some of the tribes felt that their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.

In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms, but Pocahontas came to the hut where the English were staying and warned them that Powhatan was planning to kill them. Due to this warning, the English stayed on their guard and the attack never came.[15]

Also in 1608, Polish craftsmen were brought to the colony to help it develop. Smith wrote that two Poles rescued him when he was attacked by a native American.[16]

[edit] Smith's leadership of JamestownLater, Smith left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly-needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles.[17] In his absence, Smith left his friend Matthew Scrivener, a young gentleman adventurer from Sibton, Suffolk, who was related by marriage to the Wingfield family, as governor in his place. Scrivener[18] was not to be a leader of the people. Smith was elected president of the local council in September 1608 and instituted a policy of discipline. He encouraged farming with an admonition taken from the New Testament (II Thessalonians 3:10): "He who does not work, will not eat."[19]

The settlement grew under his leadership. During this period Smith took the chief of the neighbouring tribe hostage and, according to Smith, he did "take this murdering Opechancanough...by the long lock of his head; and with my pistol at his breast, I led him {out of his house} amongst his greatest forces, and before we parted made him [agree to] fill our bark with twenty tons of corn."[citation needed] A year later, full-scale war broke out between the Powhatans and the Virginia colonists. Smith was seriously injured by a gunpowder burn after a rogue spark landed in his powder keg. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609. He never returned to Virginia. He was succeeded as governor by an aristocratic adventurer, George Percy.

In 1614, Smith returned to the Americas in a voyage to the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts Bay. He named the region "New England".[20] He made two attempts in 1614 and 1615 to return to the same coast. First a storm dismasted his ship. In the second attempt, he was captured by French pirates off the Azores. Smith escaped after weeks of captivity and made his way back to England, where he published an account of his two voyages as A Description of New England. He never left England again. He died in the year 1631 in London at the age of 51.

He was buried in the church of St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, the largest Parish Church in the City of London, where there is a handsome window designed by Francis Skeat and installed in 1968

Many critics judge Captain John Smith’s character and credibility as an author based on a single event, the infamous scene where Pocahontas saved his life from the hand of Powhatan. Additional and likely more accurate judgments should rest upon his relationship with both the Indians and colonists of Jamestown. Smith earned his status as an American hero through his strong work ethic and compromise with the Indians, themes that reappear in his writings such as The Generall Historie of Virginia and The True Travels…of Captain John Smith. Most of the critical scepticism of Smith’s credibility is a result of the differences between his narratives. His earliest text is A True Relation of Virginia, which was submitted for publication in 1608, the year after Smith’s experiences in Jamestown. The second, The Generall Historie, was published in 1624, sixteen years later. Compared to The Generall Historie, many events, including the Pocahontas scene, are either left out or changed; this is likely to due to the fact that The Generall Historie was composed so much later, and Smith’s memories of the colony, the Indians, and their relations were faded. Accordingly, the publishing of letters, journals, and pamphlets from the colonists were regulated by the companies that sponsored the voyage in that they must go “directly to the company,” because no one was to “write any letter of anything that may discourage others.” Smith is now known to have violated this regulation by first publishing A True Relation as an unknown author.[22] Furthermore, the editor of The Generall Historie likely “cut out…references to the Indians’ hostility, to bickering among the leaders of Virginia Company, and to the early supposed mutiny of…Smith on the voyage to Virginia.”[23]

The Pocahontas episode is subject to the most scrutiny by literary critics, for it does not even appear in A True Relation, but does so in The Generall Historie. According to Lemay, it is probable that “Smith was being ritualistically killed. Reborn, he was adopted into the tribe, with Pocahontas as his sponsor. But Smith, of course, did not realize the nature of the initiation ceremony.”[24] Also important evidence to Smith’s credibility regarding the story is the fact that “no one in Smith’s day ever expressed doubt in [it], and many persons who must have known the truth…including John Rolfe [and] Pocahontas…were in London in 1616 when Smith publicized the story in a letter to the queen.”[25]

Smith focuses heavily on American Indians in all of his works concerning the New World. Smith’s relationship with the Powhatan Indians is the sole factor that saved the Jamestown colony from sharing the fate of the Roanoke colony. His relations with the Indians were very wise in that:

He was friendly toward them, but never let them forget the might of English weapons… Realizing that the very existence of the colony depended on peace, he never thought of trying to exterminate the natives. Only after his departure were there bitter wars and massacres, the natural results of a more hostile policy. In his writings, Smith reveals the attitudes behind his actions.[26]

However, in The Generall Historie, Smith implies that the Virginia colonists resented the Indians and the two peoples had mostly hostile feelings towards each other. He compares Chief Powhatan to the devil, and refers to the Indians as “barbarians.”[27] Numerous times, he mentions sending spies to discover the Chief’s intent and declining Powhatan’s request to relinquish their arms. He also stresses the many experiences where the Indians threatened and attempted to kill him. However, Lemay contests Smith’s depiction of the relations between colonists and Indians: “[He] was not only fair, he was surprisingly kind and humanitarian. He treated the Indians as he treated whites…tortured [none], executed none, and saved Indians when others wanted to slay them.”[28] Smith’s own past as a commoner allowed him to sympathize with the Indians, and he believed that the Indians were not inferior to the whites but just “at a different stage of civilization.”[29] The respect between Smith and the Powhatan earned him the title of a werowance, “a chieftain among the whites.”[30] The relationship between Smith and Chief Powhatan is further evidence of the understanding between these two cultures. In The Generall Historie, Smith addresses a number of letters exchanged between him and Powhatan that reflect the respect that existed between them: “Half a dozen years after Smith had left Virginia—and after the whites had repeatedly assured Powhatan that Smith was dead—[the] leader instructed his advisor… [and] Pocahontas to look for Smith in England;”[31] judging from his directions, the Chief seems to have been deeply affected by the Smith’s rumored death. This is another indication of the positive relationship held between colonists and Indians: if their associations were as Smith depicted them in The Generall Historie, Powhatan would not have been much concerned about his absence or death.

Concerning his relationship with the colonists, Smith is considered by historical and literary critics to be an arrogant braggart. On numerous accounts, he outwardly expressed the colonists were worthless; most of them were gentlemen who felt no need to do physical labor. As a method of survival, Smith blatantly rejected the social order that existed in England, which obviously angered the gentlemen of the colony. Smith became regularly frustrated with the amount of delegation[clarification needed] that the colonists went through before a decision could be made. Smith’s disgust with the “gentlemen” of Jamestown was clear: he makes several references to them as “useless parasites,” for their ignorance in the laborious tasks that are required for beginning a colony.[32] His frustration with them did not end at their inability to work, but also extended to the social order that they believe they were entitled to. The colonists, accustomed to the social order of England, rejected the social construct that Smith created in Jamestown. They perceived Smith’s establishment of this new structure as a challenge to their “deserved” respect. Smith mentions several times in his works that having actual workers would have been better than what the Virginia Company sent over: “twentie good workmen had been better than all them all.”[33] In Smith’s hopes to better colonize the Americas, he urges to the Massachusetts Bay Company not to make the same mistake that the Virginia Company made: “…nor such multitude of Officers, neither masters, gentlemen, gentlewomen and children as you have men to work, which idle chares you will fine very troublesome, and the effects dangerous, and one hundred good labourers better than a thousand such Gallants as we were sent me that could do nothing.”[33]

In reality, Smith was discontent with only a few colonists who acted this way: he “claimed the early colonists were heroes. His primary purpose in writing The Generall Historie…was to eternalize ‘the memory of those that effected’ the settlement of Virginia.”[34] In Smith’s publication, A Description of New England (1616), he goes so far as to compare the colonists to Adam and Eve; just as Adam and Eve spread productivity throughout the world, the colonists created life in the Virginia colony. Smith essentially sympathized with gentlemen; he knew it was not their fault they were useless and that this trait was merely a product of the imposed standards of English society. He recognized that “they were imprisoned by their own self-imposed limitations. What they could and could not do was decided by their awareness of traditional roles and by the shame that they would feel if others saw them engaged in physical work.”[35] Lemay speculates that as a result of Smith’s strict rules and the emigration to America, these men could shed these roles and create new lives for themselves in which they could celebrate the products of their labors and not feel humiliated.

One of John Smith’s main incentives in writing about his New World experiences and observances was to promote the colonization of The New World by England. Many promotional writers sugar-coated their depictions of America in order to heighten its appeal, but Smith was not one to exaggerate the facts. He was very straightforward with his readers about both the dangers and the possibilities of colonization: instead of proclaiming that there was an abundance of gold in the New World—as many writers did—Smith illustrated that what was truly abundant within America was monetary opportunity in the form of industry.[36] Smith was realistic about his proposition for colonization and the benefits that it could yield. He recognized that no “other motive [besides] wealth…would draw [potential colonists] from their ease and humours at home.”[37] Therefore, he presented in his writings actual industries that could yield significant capital within the New World: fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and fur trading.”[38] In A Description of New England, Smith illustrates America as an ideal environment for such trades and enumerates the monetary benefits that they would bring. Rather than making false promises of abounding gold to his readers, Smith attempted to attract interest for colonization by depicting the opportunities that fertile soil and abundant resources would bring. He insists, however, that only hard workers will be able to reap such benefits. Just as Smith did not exaggerate the possibilities for wealth within America, he did not understate the dangers and toil associated with colonization. He declared that only those with a strong work ethic would be able to “live and succeed in America” in the face of such dangers.[39] Colonists would have to risk their lives in order to benefit from the “phenomenal possibilities” that the New World offered.[36] As a promoter of American colonization, Smith did not placate his readers: he wished for potential colonists to be aware of the dangers that they faced, the work that colonization would require, and the benefits that they stood to gain.

[edit] Additional WorksA Map of Virginia is focused centrally on the observations that Smith made about the Indians, particularly regarding their religion and government. This specific focus would have been Smith’s way of adapting to the new world by assimilating to the best part of their culture and to incorporating it into the colony. A Map of Virginia was not just a pamphlet discussing the observations that Smith made, but also a map by which Smith had draws himself to help make the Americas seem more domestic. As Lemay remarks, “maps tamed the unknown, reduced it to civilization and harnessed it for Western consciousness,” promoting Smith’s central theme of encouraging the settlement of America.[40] Many “naysayers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century” have made the argument that Smith’s maps weren’t reliable because he “lacked a formal education in cartography.”[41] That allegation, however, was proved false by the fact that Smith was a “master in his chosen fields of experience.”[41]

The Proceedings of English Colonie In Virginia was a compilation of other writings; it narrates the colony’s history from Dec. 1609 to summer 1610, and Smith left the colony in Oct. 1609 due to a gun-powder accident. The writing style of The Proceedings is better constructed than A Map of Virginia. It is well organized and more focused, and this could’ve been a result of Smith’s ever conscious self promotion by allocating it to a wider reader base: “Books stood a better change…if they had been Testimonial.”[42]

-------------------- [http://cappyzeb.freeyellow.com/ancestors/pages/hiatt/jspoc/smith-poc.htm]

Children of John Smith And Pocahontas? It is believed that they had two children. This is unproved and are from traditions of the Hiatt, Smith and other families.

  1. Peregrine SMITH B: 1608

Jamestown, , Va, America M: Abt 1640

  1. Mary Smith

"John Smith was born about 1580 the son of a yeoman farmer of modest means. As a young man he traveled throughout Europe and fought as a soldier in the Netherlands and in Hungary. There he was captured, taken to Turkey and sold into slavery in Russia. He murdered his master, escaped and journeyed back to Hungary to collect a promised reward of money and a coat-of-arms. He returned to England in time to participate in the settlement of Virginia. He was an arrogant and boastful man, often tactless and sometimes brutal. Physically strong and worldly wise, he made an excellent settler. However, his personality, his obvious qualifications and his low social position infuriated many of the colony's leaders and settlers. Despite this, he was named to the first Council in May, 1607. He learned the Indians' language and became the colony's principal Indian trader. During the summer of 1608 he led a 3,000 mile expedition in an open boat to explore and map Chesapeake Bay and its principal rivers. On September 10, 1608 the Council elected him Governor of Virginia for a one-year term. He was an able leader who understood both the Indians and the settlers' needs and the colony prospered. Captain Smith returned to England in October, 1609 following an accidental gunpowder burn and became Virginia's most effective propagandist and historian. His True Relation of Virginia (1608), Map of Virginia (1612) and General History of Virginia (1624) presented the colony as Smith understood it. In 1614 he made a short voyage to New England where he explored and mapped the coast from Cape Cod to Maine. Smith returned to England and never visited Virginia again, never married and never received the recognition he thought he deserved. He died June 21, 1631 an dwas buried in St. Sepulchre's Church in London. " -------------------- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Smith_of_Jamestown

Captain John Smith (c. January 1580 – June 21, 1631) Admiral of New England was an English soldier, explorer, and author. He is remembered for his role in establishing the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, and his brief association with the Virginia Indian girl Pocahontas during an altercation with the Powhatan Confederacy and her father, Chief Powhatan. He was a leader of the Virginia Colony (based at Jamestown) between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.

His books and maps may have been as important as his deeds, as they encouraged more Englishmen and women to follow the trail he had blazed and to colonize the New World. He gave the name New England to that region, and encouraged people with the comment, "Here every man may be master and owner of his owne labour and land...If he have nothing but his hands, he may...by industrie quickly grow rich." His message attracted millions of people in the next four centuries.

Early adventures

John Smith was baptized on 6 January 1580 at Willoughby[ near Alford, Lincolnshire, where his parents rented a farm from Lord Willoughby. He claimed descendancy from the ancient Smith family of Cuerdley Lancashire and was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, from 1592–1595. After his father died, Smith left home at age 16 and set off to sea. He served as a mercenary in the army of King Henry IV of France against the Spaniards, fought for Dutch independence from the Spanish King Phillip II, then set off for the Mediterranean Sea. There he engaged in both trade and piracy, and later fought against the Ottoman Turks in the Long War. Smith was promoted to captain while fighting for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, in the campaign of Michael the Brave in 1600-1601. After the death of Michael the Brave, he fought for Radu Şerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă.

He is reputed to have defeated, killed and beheaded Turkish commanders in three duels, for which he was knighted by the Transylvanian Prince Sigismund Báthory and given a horse and coat of Arms showing three Turks' heads. However, in 1602 he was wounded in a skirmish with the Tatars, captured and sold as a slave. As Smith describes it: "we all sold for slaves, like beasts in a market." Smith claimed his master, a Turkish nobleman, sent him as a gift to his Greek mistress in Constantinople, who fell in love with Smith. He then was taken to Crimea, from where he escaped from the Ottoman lands into Muscovy then on to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Smith then traveled through Europe and Northern Africa, returning to England during 1604.

Virginia Colony

Voyage

In 1606 Smith became involved with plans to colonize Virginia for profit by the Virginia Company of London, which had been granted a charter from King James I of England. The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, on December 20, 1606. His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.

John Smith was apparently a troublemaker on the voyage, and Capt. Christopher Newport (in charge of the three ships) had planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia. However, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on April 26, 1607, sealed orders from the Virginia Company were opened. They designated Smith to be one of the leaders of the new colony, forcing Newport to spare him.

Site

The search for a suitable site ended on May 14, 1607, when Cap. Edward Maria Wingfield, president of the council, chose the Jamestown site as the location for the colony.

Harsh weather, lack of water and attacks from Algonquian-speaking tribes almost destroyed the colony.

Encounter with Pocahontas' tribe

In December 1607, while seeking food along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured and taken to meet the chief of the Powhatans at Werowocomoco, the main village of the Powhatan Confederacy. The village was on the north shore of the York River about 15 miles due north of Jamestown and 25 miles downstream from where the river forms from the Pamunkey River and the Mattaponi River at West Point, Virginia. Although he feared for his life, Smith was eventually released without harm and later attributed this in part to the chief's daughter, Pocahontas, who according to Smith, threw herself across his body: "at the minute of my execution, she hazarded [i.e. risked] 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 1860 Boston businessman and historian Charles Deane was the first scholar to question specific details of Smith's writings. Smith's version of events is the only source and skepticism has increasingly been expressed about its veracity. One reason for such doubt is that, despite having published two earlier books about Virginia, Smith's earliest-surviving account of his rescue by Pocahontas dates from 1616, nearly 10 years later, in a letter entreating Queen Anne to treat Pocahontas with dignity. The time gap in publishing his story raises the possibility that Smith may have exaggerated or invented the event to enhance Pocahontas's image. However, in a recent book, Professor J. A. Leo Lemay of the University of Delaware points out that Smith's earlier writing was primarily geographical and ethnographic in nature and did not dwell on his personal experiences; hence there was no reason for him to write down the story until this point.

Henry Brooks Adams, the pre-eminent Harvard historian of the second half of the 19th century, attempted to debunk Smith’s claims of heroism. He said that Smith’s recounting of the story of Pocahontas had been progressively embellished, made up of “falsehoods of an effrontery seldom equalled in modern times.” Although there is consensus among historians that Smith tended to exaggerate, his account does seem to be consistent with the basic facts of his life. Adams' attack on Smith, an attempt to deface one of the icons of Southern history, was motivated by political considerations in the wake of the Civil War. Adams had been influenced to write his fusillade against Smith by John G. Palfrey who was promoting New England colonization, as opposed to southern settlement, as the founding of America. The accuracy of Smith’s accounts has continued to be a subject of debate over the centuries.[10]

Some experts have suggested that although Smith believed he had been rescued, he had in fact been involved in a ritual intended to symbolize his death and rebirth as a member of the tribe. In Love and Hate in Jamestown, David A. Price notes that this is only guesswork, since little is known of Powhatan rituals, and there is no evidence for any similar rituals among other Native American tribes in North America.

In True Travels (1630), Smith told a similar story of having been rescued by the intervention of a young girl after having been captured in 1602 by Turks in Hungary. Karen Kupperman suggests that he "presented those remembered events from decades earlier" when telling the story of Pocahontas.

Whatever really happened, the encounter initiated a friendly relationship between the natives and Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. As the colonists expanded further, some of the tribes felt that their lands were threatened, and conflicts arose again.

In 1608, Pocahontas is said to have saved Smith a second time. Smith and some other colonists were invited to Werowocomoco by Chief Powhatan on friendly terms, but Pocahontas came to the hut where the English were staying and warned them that Powhatan was planning to kill them. Due to this warning, the English stayed on their guard and the attack never came.

Smith's leadership of Jamestown

Later, Smith left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly-needed food, covering an estimated 3,000 miles. In his absence, Smith left his friend Matthew Scrivener, a young gentleman adventurer from Sibton, Suffolk, who was related by marriage to the Wingfield family, as governor in his place. Scrivener was not to be a leader of the people. Smith was elected president of the local council in September 1608 and instituted a policy of discipline. He encouraged farming with an admonition taken from the New Testament (II Thessalonians 3:10): "He who does not work, will not eat."

The settlement grew under his leadership. During this period Smith took the chief of the neighbouring tribe hostage and, according to Smith, he did "take this murdering Opechancanough...by the long lock of his head; and with my pistol at his breast, I led him {out of his house} amongst his greatest forces, and before we parted made him [agree to] fill our bark with twenty tons of corn."[citation needed] A year later, full-scale war broke out between the Powhatans and the Virginia colonists. Smith was seriously injured by a gunpowder burn after a rogue spark landed in his powder keg. He returned to England for treatment in October 1609. He never returned to Virginia. He was succeeded as governor by an aristocratic adventurer, George Percy.

New England

In 1614, Smith returned to the Americas in a voyage to the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts Bay. He named the region "New England".[19] He made two attempts in 1614 and 1615 to return to the same coast. First a storm dismasted his ship. In the second attempt, he was captured by French pirates off the Azores. Smith escaped after weeks of captivity and made his way back to England, where he published an account of his two voyages as A Description of New England. He never left England again. He died in the year 1631 in London at the age of 51.

Authorship

Credibility as an author

Many critics judge Captain John Smith’s character and credibility as an author based on a single event, the infamous scene where Pocahontas saved his life from the hand of Powhatan. Additional and likely more accurate judgments should rest upon his relationship with both the Indians and colonists of Jamestown. Smith earned his status as an American hero through his strong work ethic and compromise with the Indians, themes that reappear in his writings such as The Generall Historie of Virginia and The True Travels…of Captain John Smith. Most of the critical scepticism of Smith’s credibility is a result of the differences between his narratives. His earliest text is A True Relation of Virginia, which was submitted for publication in 1608, the year after Smith’s experiences in Jamestown. The second, The Generall Historie, was published in 1624, sixteen years later. Compared to The Generall Historie, many events, including the Pocahontas scene, are either left out or changed; this is likely to due to the fact that The Generall Historie was composed so much later, and Smith’s memories of the colony, the Indians, and their relations were faded. Accordingly, the publishing of letters, journals, and pamphlets from the colonists were regulated by the companies that sponsored the voyage in that they must go “directly to the company,” because no one was to “write any letter of anything that may discourage others.” Smith is now known to have violated this regulation by first publishing A True Relation as an unknown author.[20] Furthermore, the editor of The Generall Historie likely “cut out…references to the Indians’ hostility, to bickering among the leaders of Virginia Company, and to the early supposed mutiny of…Smith on the voyage to Virginia.”[21]

The Pocahontas episode is subject to the most scrutiny by literary critics, for it does not even appear in A True Relation, but does so in The Generall Historie. According to Lemay, it is probable that “Smith was being ritualistically killed. Reborn, he was adopted into the tribe, with Pocahontas as his sponsor. But Smith, of course, did not realize the nature of the initiation ceremony.” Also important evidence to Smith’s credibility regarding the story is the fact that “no one in Smith’s day ever expressed doubt in [it], and many persons who must have known the truth…including John Rolfe [and] Pocahontas…were in London in 1616 when Smith publicized the story in a letter to the queen.”

Smith focuses heavily on American Indians in all of his works concerning the New World. Smith’s relationship with the Powhatan Indians is the sole factor that saved the Jamestown colony from sharing the fate of the Roanoke colony. His relations with the Indians were very wise in that:

He was friendly toward them, but never let them forget the might of English weapons… Realizing that the very existence of the colony depended on peace, he never thought of trying to exterminate the natives. Only after his departure were there bitter wars and massacres, the natural results of a more hostile policy. In his writings, Smith reveals the attitudes behind his actions.[24]

However, in The Generall Historie, Smith implies that the Virginia colonists resented the Indians and the two peoples had mostly hostile feelings towards each other. He compares Chief Powhatan to the devil, and refers to the Indians as “barbarians.”[25] Numerous times, he mentions sending spies to discover the Chief’s intent and declining Powhatan’s request to relinquish their arms. He also stresses the many experiences where the Indians threatened and attempted to kill him. However, Lemay contests Smith’s depiction of the relations between colonists and Indians: “[He] was not only fair, he was surprisingly kind and humanitarian. He treated the Indians as he treated whites…tortured [none], executed none, and saved Indians when others wanted to slay them.” [26] Smith’s own past as a commoner allowed him to sympathize with the Indians, and he believed that the Indians were not inferior to the whites but just “at a different stage of civilization.”[27] The respect between Smith and the Powhatan earned him the title of a werowance, “a chieftain among the whites.”[28] The relationship between Smith and Chief Powhatan is further evidence of the understanding between these two cultures. In The Generall Historie, Smith addresses a number of letters exchanged between him and Powhatan that reflect the respect that existed between them: “Half a dozen years after Smith had left Virginia—and after the whites had repeatedly assured Powhatan that Smith was dead—[the] leader instructed his advisor… [and] Pocahontas to look for Smith in England;”[29] judging from his directions, the Chief seems to have been deeply affected by the Smith’s rumored death. This is another indication of the positive relationship held between colonists and Indians: if their associations were as Smith depicted them in The Generall Historie, Powhatan would not have been much concerned about his absence or death.

Concerning his relationship with the colonists, Smith is considered by historical and literary critics to be an arrogant braggart. On numerous accounts, he outwardly expressed the colonists were worthless; most of them were gentlemen who felt no need to do physical labor. As a method of survival, Smith blatantly rejected the social order that existed in England, which obviously angered the gentlemen of the colony. Smith became regularly frustrated with the amount of delegation[clarification needed] that the colonists went through before a decision could be made. Smith’s disgust with the “gentlemen” of Jamestown was clear: he makes several references to them as “useless parasites,” for their ignorance in the laborious tasks that are required for beginning a colony.[30] His frustration with them did not end at their inability to work, but also extended to the social order that they believe they were entitled to. The colonists, accustomed to the social order of England, rejected the social construct that Smith created in Jamestown. They perceived Smith’s establishment of this new structure as a challenge to their “deserved” respect. Smith mentions several times in his works that having actual workers would have been better than what the Virginia Company sent over: “twentie good workmen had been better than all them all.”[31] In Smith’s hopes to better colonize the Americas, he urges to the Massachusetts Bay Company not to make the same mistake that the Virginia Company made: “…nor such multitude of Officers, neither masters, gentlemen, gentlewomen and children as you have men to work, which idle chares you will fine very troublesome, and the effects dangerous, and one hundred good labourers better than a thousand such Gallants as we were sent me that could do nothing.”[31]

In reality, Smith was discontent with only a few colonists who acted this way: he “claimed the early colonists were heroes. His primary purpose in writing The Generall Historie…was to eternalize ‘the memory of those that effected’ the settlement of Virginia.”[32] In Smith’s publication, A Description of New England (1616), he goes so far as to compare the colonists to Adam and Eve; just as Adam and Eve spread productivity throughout the world, the colonists created life in the Virginia colony. Smith essentially sympathized with gentlemen; he knew it was not their fault they were useless and that this trait was merely a product of the imposed standards of English society. He recognized that “they were imprisoned by their own self-imposed limitations. What they could and could not do was decided by their awareness of traditional roles and by the shame that they would feel if others saw them engaged in physical work.”[33] Lemay speculates that as a result of Smith’s strict rules and the emigration to America, these men could shed these roles and create new lives for themselves in which they could celebrate the products of their labors and not feel humiliated.

Promoter of American colonization

One of John Smith’s main incentives in writing about his New World experiences and observances was to promote the colonization of The New World by England. Many promotional writers sugar-coated their depictions of America in order to heighten its appeal, but Smith was not one to exaggerate the facts. He was very straightforward with his readers about both the dangers and the possibilities of colonization: instead of proclaiming that there was an abundance of gold in the New World—as many writers did—Smith illustrated that what was truly abundant within America was monetary opportunity in the form of industry.[34] Smith was realistic about his proposition for colonization and the benefits that it could yield. He recognized that no “other motive [besides] wealth…would draw [potential colonists] from their ease and humours at home.” [35] Therefore, he presented in his writings actual industries that could yield significant capital within the New World: fishing, farming, shipbuilding, and fur trading.”[36] In A Description of New England, Smith illustrates America as an ideal environment for such trades and enumerates the monetary benefits that they would bring. Rather than making false promises of abounding gold to his readers, Smith attempted to attract interest for colonization by depicting the opportunities that fertile soil and abundant resources would bring. He insists, however, that only hard workers will be able to reap such benefits. Just as Smith did not exaggerate the possibilities for wealth within America, he did not understate the dangers and toil associated with colonization. He declared that only those with a strong work ethic would be able to “live and succeed in America” in the face of such dangers.[37] Colonists would have to risk their lives in order to benefit from the “phenomenal possibilities” that the New World offered.[34] As a promoter of American colonization, Smith did not placate his readers: he wished for potential colonists to be aware of the dangers that they faced, the work that colonization would require, and the benefits that they stood to gain.

Additional Works

A Map of Virginia is focused centrally on the observations that Smith made about the Indians, particularly regarding their religion and government. This specific focus would have been Smith’s way of adapting to the new world by assimilating to the best part of their culture and to incorporating it into the colony. A Map of Virginia was not just a pamphlet discussing the observations that Smith made, but also a map by which Smith had draws himself to help make the Americas seem more domestic. As Lemay remarks, “maps tamed the unknown, reduced it to civilization and harnessed it for Western consciousness,” promoting Smith’s central theme of encouraging the settlement of America.[38] Many “naysayers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century” have made the argument that Smith’s maps weren’t reliable because he “lacked a formal education in cartography.”[39] That allegation, however, was proved false by the fact that Smith was a “master in his chosen fields of experience.”[39]

The Proceedings of English Colonie In Virginia was a compilation of other writings; it narrates the colony’s history from Dec. 1609 to summer 1610, and Smith left the colony in Oct. 1609 due to a gun-powder accident. The writing style of The Proceedings is better constructed than A Map of Virginia. It is well organized and more focused, and this could’ve been a result of Smith’s ever conscious self promotion by allocating it to a wider reader base: “Books stood a better change…if they had been Testimonial.”[40]

Publications

A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Note as Happened in Virginia (1608)

A Map of Virginia (1612)

The Proceedings of the English Colony in Virginia (1612)

A Description of New England (1616)

New England's Trials (1620, 1622)

The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624)

An Accidence, or the Pathway to Experience Necessary for all Young Seamen (1626)

A Sea Grammar (1627) - the first sailors' word book in English

The True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith (1630)

Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere (1631)

[edit] John Smith Monument, New Hampshire


Capt. John Smith Monument, as it appeared c. 1914, Isles of ShoalsThe Captain John Smith Monument currently lies in disrepair off the coast of New Hampshire on Star Island, part of the Isles of Shoals. Built in 1864 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of John Smith's visit to what he named Smith's Isles, the original monument was a tall pillar set on a triangular base atop a series of steps surrounded by granite supports and a sturdy iron railing. At the top of the original obelisk were three carved faces, representing the severed heads of three Turks that Smith lopped off while in combat during his stint as a soldier in Transylvania.[41]

In 1914, the New Hampshire Society of Colonial Wars partially restored and rededicated the monument for the 300th anniversary celebration of his historic visit.[42] The monument had weathered so badly in the harsh coastal winters that the inscription in the granite had worn away.

Portrayals in film

John Smith is one of the main characters in Disney's 1995 film Pocahontas and its straight-to-video sequel Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World. He is voiced by Mel Gibson in the first movie and by his younger brother Donal Gibson in the sequel.

Smith and Pocahontas are also central characters in the Terrence Malick film The New World, in which he was portrayed by Colin Farrell.

Captain Smith was portrayed by Anthony Dexter in the 1953 low-budget film Captain John Smith and Pocahontas.

Sources:

view all 48

Capt. John Smith (Colonial Governor of Virginia)'s Timeline

1575
March 13, 1575
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom
March 13, 1575
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom
1576
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, Engl
December 21, 1576
Castle Church, Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, Engl
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, Engl
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom
December 21, 1576
Ledbury, Herefordshire, England, United Kingdom
1579
January 2, 1579
Willoughby, Lincolnshire, England