John Smith - Biography and Facts
John Smith (1580 – 1631) was a famous English soldier, explorer, author and Admiral of New England that managed to carve his place in history by helping establishment of the first English settlement in North America called Jamestown, for being leader of Virginia Colony, and for his several exploratory trips in which he mapped for the first time areas of Chesapeake Bay and New England. His maps, books and articles played a very important role into encouraging English government and public to organize large scale colonization effort of the North America. In modern popular culture he is best remembered as the leader of the English forces who first encountered tribe of Pocahontas Indians, and as a folk hero of the early American history.
John Smith was born in very early January of 1580 in Willoughby, Lincolnshire. After receiving education at the t King Edward VI Grammar School in Louth between 1592 and 1595, he went to live his life as deckhand trade and mercenary ships. Between the age of 16 and 21 he fought for French against Spaniards, Dutch against Spaniards, he traded and pirated in the Mediterranean and spend several years of his life fighting the Turks, for which he was awarded with coat of arms that featured three Turkish heads (supposedly for his wins in 3 duels against the Turks). It is recorded that in 1602 he was captured by Tatars and sold as a slave, but he managed to escape via Turkey, Greece, Crimea to Poland, after which he managed to return home to England in 1604.
In 1606 John Smith began his most important adventure. He was attracted by the commercial appeal of the journey to the New World. He became part of the part of the mission created by the Virginia Company of London for colonization of Virginia. Expedition departed from England on 20th of December in 1606 with three ships – Discovery, Susan Constant and the Godspeed. Upon Cape Henry on 26 April 1607, John Smith was awarded with the position of the leader of one of the three planed settlements (which thankfully saved him from the gallows because he was charged for mutiny during the long ship journey). First years were very hard on settlers, who were unprepared for the swampy terrain, harsh winter, and accidental fire that almost destroyed their village.
In December of 1607 John Smith was captured by the Powhatan tribe of Native American Indians. According by his report, Smith was brought to their village some 25 miles away from Jamestown, where he was to be executed but was spared in the last moment by the chieftain’s daughter Pocahontas who threw herself on him to prevent his death.
With more and more settlers arriving by ships and worsening situation in the Jamestown with food and housing, Smith prospected area around Jamestown in summer of 1608 by covering around 3 thousand miles. During this time je created map that played important role in future settlement of North America by the English. In 1609 his stay in Jamestown was ended after one barrel of powder accidentally exploded during the armed combat between English settlers and native tribes. He returned to England to heal from this severe injury, but he did not rest for long. In 1614 and 1615 he attempted to trips to return to the New England, but was stopped first time by the storm and second time by French pirates in the area of Azores. He was captured, but managed to escape and return to England where he remained until his death on 21 June 1631.