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John Smith was a British soldier who was a founder of the American colony of Jamestown in the early 1600s.
Pocahontas - Mini Biography (2:14)
Pocahontas was a Native American Princess, ambassador, and peacemaker to the first American settlers. She eventually was taken hostage by the British. She married John Rolfe and was renamed Rebecca.
When Pocahontas arrived in England with her husband and infant son, John Smith called her The Lady Rebecca and arranged for her to visit with Queen Anne.
Pocahontas was suffering from tuberculosis in London when John Smith came to visit her for the last time. She was so moved that Smith had come to visit that she called him father.
Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, married English colonist John Rolfe. At the time of their marriage, it was considered outrageously scandalous.
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It is also theorized that Smith might have been taking part in a ritualized acceptance ceremony as opposed to an actual execution. Powhatan possibly saw Smith as a resource in trade relations with the Europeans and the acquisition of arms, and hence wanted him alive.)
Upon returning to Jamestown,
Smith was imprisoned for losing men on the failed Chickahominy expedition and on suspicion that he would try to usurp control of the colony with his new allies. He was soon freed and relations between Native Americans and the settlement went smoothly for a time. Pocahontas often visited the colony, arriving with her people as they brought goods.
In 1608, Smith dispatched a letter to England about what had been occurring, and it was published as the short-length A True Relation... of Virginia, hence being seen as the first book to come from American soil. In September of the same year, he was elected president of the governing council, going on to contend with a difficult winter. Smith demanded a staunch work ethic from settlers with the hope of increasing survival and utilized harsh measures to keep them in line.
Also, due to a debilitating drought, Native American food supplies were scarce, and the Powhatan community refused to supply limited rations without the requested recompense; Smith responded by waging attacks on natives—ordering the burning of villages in some cases—and stealing food. Native people were also imprisoned, beaten and forced into labor.
In 1609, after the Virginia Company had drafted a new charter for Jamestown, Smith was badly burned from a gunpowder explosion following more conflict with fellow colonists. He returned to England both to recover and face allegations of misconduct, thereby relinquishing leadership of the settlement. There are no records of a subsequent hearing or trial.
Back in Britain, Smith produced a published report on Virginia that included detailed descriptions of its tribal communities, flora, fauna and overall topography. In 1614, he visited the coast of Maine and Massachusetts and came up with the name "New England" to describe the region, as well as designating certain bodies of water.
Smith met Pochantas again after she traveled to England in 1616 with husband John Rolfe and son Thomas. Believing that Smith was dead, she was astonished that he’d never informed her that he was alive or intervened as matters worsened between the colonists and the Powhatans.
After unsuccessful efforts to return to America, Smith increasingly focused on writing. He published more books that detailed his time abroad, pushing for imperialism and the colonization of New England. Some of his works include The Generall Historie of Virginia (1624); The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith (1630); and Advertisements for the Unexperienced Planters of New England, or Anywhere (1631). Smith tended to lie and vaingloriously recount his exploits, yet modern scholarship has verified portions of the information presented. He died in London on June 21, 1631.
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Throughout the centuries, brave explorers have fearlessly traveled the globe and beyond to discover new lands, people, animal species, riches and glory. Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal proved the world is round with his mission to sail around the world. His fellow countryman Vasco da Gama commanded the first European ship around the southern tip of Africa to reach India by sea. Norseman Leif Eriksson is regarded as the first European to reach North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the “New World” of the Americas. Juan Ponce de León scoured Puerto Rico and Florida in his quest for the fountain of youth. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark blazed new trails during their Corps of Discovery Expedition across the western half of the United States. Traveling to new heights of discovery were mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. These intrepid explorers and more have made an indelible mark on human history. See all Explorers.
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