John Smith

(Captain John Smith)

1580–1631
Civilization: British — England
   Field of Renown:  explorer — Americas
Era:  Stuart

John Smith
THE CROWNING OF POWHATAN.
Captain John Smith is best known for his role in helping to found the permanent British colony at Jamestown, and for his relationships with Pocahontas and her father, Chief Powhatan. The four years he spent in Virginia however, were only one episode in a life of travel and adventure. John Smith was an explorer and soldier of fortune who spent most of his youth traveling around the world, and becoming involved in various scrapes. In the ten years before his adventures in Virginia, he fought battles in France, Holland and Turkey, and was actually captured and sold as a slave by the Turks. He escaped however, and traveled back to his home in England before going aboard a ship bound for the Americas.

The story of Smith's adventures in Virginia are often told because Jamestown is the oldest permanently settled colony in the United States, and is therefore a staple of Early American History. Smith's experience in Virginia did not start off well, as he argued with the captain of the voyage and nearly got himself hung. Most of the colonists were adventurers like himself who were interested in searching for gold, not building forts or farming. As a matter of survival however, Smith took a leadership role and forced everyone to pull their own weight. He also was involved in negotiations with the local Indians and befriended Pocahontas, the daughter of the local chief. Eventually Smith was injured and had to return to England, but not before helping to put the colony of Jamestown on a firm footing.

The seven years after he returned home from Virginia, he spent exploring New England and Canada on behalf of England, and some of the maps that the Pilgrims used when they settled New England a few years later, were made by Captain John Smith. The final years of Smith's life were spent writing books, including an autobiographical one that gave details of his many adventures.


Key events during the life of Captain John Smith:


Year
Event
1580
Birth of John Smith
1596
Went as an adventurer to France. Served under Henry Navarre.
1599
Served as an English mercenary in Holland.
1601
Fought for the Emperor against Turkey.
1602
Taken as a prisoner by the Turks and sold as a slave.
1603
Escaped and returned to England
1605
Taken on board a ship to the Americas.
  Adventures with Powhatan and Pocahontas in Virginia.
1609
Injured and returned home to England.
1610
Explored New England and Canada.
1617
Last voyage to New England and Canada
  Wrote books about Virginia, New England, and his lives adventures.
1631
Death of John Smith

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
The Star of Empire  in  The Story of Liberty  by  Charles C. Coffin
Virginia Colonized  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Captain John Smith  in  A First Book in American History  by  Edward Eggleston
Adventures of John Smith  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
Smith's Adventures  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber
Little Red Princess of the Forest  in  The Men Who Found America  by  Frederick Winthrop Hutchinson
Adventures of Captain John Smith  in  This Country of Ours  by  H. E. Marshall
Adventures of Captain John Smith  in  Historical Tales: American II  by  Charles Morris
Colonies  in  American History Stories, Volume I  by  Mara L. Pratt
Captain John Smith  in  The Awakening of Europe  by  M. B. Synge


Image Links


Pocahontas shields him from their clubs
 in Indian History for Young Folks

Captain Smith subduing the chief
 in Indian History for Young Folks

John Smith
 in Indian History for Young Folks

John Smith
 in A First Book in American History
Smith Fights the Indians
Smith Fights the Indians
 in A First Book in American History
Smith and his men in camp
Smith and his men in camp
 in A First Book in American History
The gunpowder and the savage
The gunpowder and the savage
 in A First Book in American History

Smith and Pocahontas
 in Story of the Thirteen Colonies

Crowning Powhatan
 in Story of the Thirteen Colonies

The crowning of Powhatan
 in This Country of Ours

Engraving in John Smith's Historie of New England and Virginia
 in Builders of Our Country: Book I


Contemporary
Short Biography
Pocahontas Daughter of an Indian Chieftain who helped the early settlers in the Jamestown Colony in Virginia.
Powhatan Chief of the Powhatan confederacy and father of Pocahontas. Kept an uneasy peace with Jamestown settlers.
James I First Stuart king of England. Intelligent and competent, but unable to work effectively with Parliament.
John Rolfe Jamestown colonist who married Pocahontas and brought her to England.