John Smith

A Report by Sumen I.


     “History is the memory of time, the life of the dead and the happiness of the living.” These words were spoken by none other than John Smith, a significant explorer who lived in the Age of Exploration. John Smith was accountable for helping establish one of the first English colonies in North America; Jamestown, Virginia. He was born in 1579 in a town in England, where he attended boarding school. There, he studied Latin, grammar, and philosophy. After completing school, John Smith’s father sent him to work as a merchant, and at the age of sixteen, Smith’s father died. Thus, he quit his job and served as a soldier and servant to two other kings, later he discontinued his service and worked as a trader.

            In the 1600s , John Smith joined the Austrian army. As a soldier, he fought against the Turks in the “Long War”. While in battle, Smith was wounded and captured. He was then sold as a slave to a Turk. The Turk sent Smith as a gift to his sweetheart, Istanbul. Istanbul sent Smith to her brother for training for the Turkish Imperial Service. John Smith soon escaped. He then traveled all throughout Europe and parts of Africa. In 1604, he returned to England. While in England, Smith became involved with a plan to colonize Virginia.

            On the 20th of December in 1606, John Smith and several other men set sail. The voyage was very difficult. Many men very sick. There was not enough fresh food. Nor was there enough space for everyone to be comfortable. Finally, after sailing for four months, the ship reached Virginia in April of 1607. Only one passenger died. On May 13, 1607, the men reached Jamestown. Their goal was to now lead Jamestown and make it more advanced and comfortable. The winter of that year was very harsh. Life was very difficult due to the weather, spread of disease, and lack of freshwater. Moreover, the Algonquian Indians attacked the colony often. The Indians raided their camps, stole their goods and other needed supplies. They hoped to drive the English out of the land. However, they did not.

            In December of 1607, the Algonquian Indians captured John Smith and some acquaintances that were with him. The Indians took Smith back to their leader Powhaten, after killing the men with him. Powhaten was impressed with Smith’s confidence and the unknown items with him. After gaining knowledge about his colony, the Indians made Smith take part in a special ceremonial ritual. John Smith was made a subordinate chief of the tribe. Smith thought Pocahontas had something to do with this. Thus, they remained friends for four weeks. After this period, John Smith returned to Jamestown.

            When John Smith returned, he discovered Jamestown was not a fine place to live. It was disorganized and running out of needed items. Therefore, he left Jamestown to explore the Chesapeake Bay area for food supplies. Because of a deficient government, Smith was elected president of the local council. He enforced laws that allowed people to work fairly and live in better conditions. In October of 1609, John Smith accidentally injured himself with gunpowder. He was sent back to England. 

         In England, he promoted colonizing Virginia. In the fourth month of 1614, John Smith returned to the New World. He explored the Maine and Massachusetts Bay regions. With the approval of Prince Charles, John Smith named the region New England. Because of his independent exploration, Smith was denied further opportunities to explore new regions of the world. He spent the rest of this life as a writer. At the age of 51, in 1631, John Smith died. This explorer is among the foremost founders of our nation. He is still remembered and honored today for his courage and strength to succeed.  









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