Interesting Facts About John Smith Of Jamestown: Colonizer And Publicist

John Smith was an English explorer, soldier and writer best known for his role in establishing the first permanent English colony in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia. Smith’s legend has grown over the centuries, in particular due to the popular story of his involvement with Pocahontas, a native American princess.
However, Smith was a notorious self-promoter, and the truth of that tale may never be known. Much of what is known about Smith comes from his own writings, which include multiple versions of events and enhance Smith’s role. George Percy, a fellow Jamestown leader and eventual governor of Virginia, described Smith as “an Ambityous unworthy and vayneglorious fellowe.” Smith’s self-aggrandizing personality has cast doubt on his claims since the 1600s, and his legacy remains controversial today.
Here are some interesting facts about John Smith Of Jamestown:
1. During his two years in America, Smith was principally responsible for the survival of England’s first permanent colony in the New World. His bold leadership, military experience, and determination brought a measure of discipline to the dissolute colonists; his negotiations with the Indians prevented starvation; and his dispersal of the colony from unhealthy Jamestown lowered mortality. After his return to England, his promotional writings contributed significantly to English efforts for an American empire.
2. In 1602, he was captured and enslaved by a Turk, who sent him to what is now Istanbul to serve his sweetheart. According to Smith, the girl fell in love with him but sent him to serve her brother with hopes that her brother would train him for the Turkish imperial service. The brother, however, was cruel. Smith killed the brother and escaped. After traveling widely in Europe and North Africa, he returned to England in 1605.
3. Smith’s early career had prepared him for Virginia’s challenges. As a teenager he fought in the Low Countries (“that university of warre”) and survived several remarkable escapades in western Europe before joining a Christian army fighting the Turks in Hungary. After more improbable episodes, including three victories in duels, he was captured and enslaved. Smith killed his master and then wandered through eastern Europe and sailed briefly to Morocco before returning to England in 1604.
4. Back in England, a restless Smith became involved with the Virginia Company, which sought to colonize Virginia. On Dec. 20, 1606, three small ships carrying 104 settlers, including Smith, left England, bound for Virginia. During the trip, Smith was arrested for mutiny.
According to Smith, the gentlemen on board were jealous of his military and naval experience and looked down on him because of his rural upbringing. He said they accused him of plotting to seize power for himself. He spent most of the voyage in irons and was nearly hanged.
5. On one such expedition in December 1607, Smith and his party were ambushed on the Chickahominy River by a large Powhatan hunting party. Smith was the sole survivor and was brought to Werowocomoco, the village of the paramount chief’s residence.
6. When Smith returned to Jamestown in January, he discovered that he had been replaced on the council. Settlers thought Smith was responsible for his companions’ deaths on the Chickahominy River, and he was sentenced to hang. Luckily for Smith, the night of his sentencing, about 100 new settlers from England arrived with food and other reinforcements. Smith’s charges and execution were forgotten during the celebration.
7. When he returned to Jamestown, Smith’s popularity once again plummeted. A private letter he had written detailing his dissatisfaction with colony leadership and Virginia Company policies had been published in England. Company and colony leadership was understandably displeased.
Nevertheless, in September 1608, Smith was elected president of the colony. He immediately set about strengthening defenses and securing more food.

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