The New Student's Reference Work/Smith, John

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Smith, Captain John, the founder of Virginia, was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1580. He traveled in France and the Low Countries, and, when on his way to join the Christian army fighting against the Turks in Hungary, was robbed by four adventurers. He joined a ship, half merchant and half pirate, and helped to capture a Venetian argosy. He distinguished himself in the service of Ferdinand, Duke of Austria; was next sold as a slave; but escaped and traveled through Germany, France, Spain and Morocco. In 1605 he joined an expedition of three vessels and 105 men, to found a colony in Virginia. On the way out he was accused, by the leaders, of a conspiracy to make himself king of Virginia and was kept a prisoner on the voyage. Jamestown was founded on James River in April, 1607. Smith, after being tried and acquitted, was made a member of the council, and was the real head of the colony, saving it from destruction. On one of his journeys into the country for corn he was captured by the Indians under Powhatan, their chief, and his life saved by Pocahontas, the chief's daughter. The story, however, has been doubted by late writers. On his return to Jamestown he found the colony reduced to about 40 men, who were anxious to return to England, but were induced by Smith to remain until others arrived. He explored Chesapeake Bay in two voyages, traveling about 3,000 miles and making a map of the country. He was superseded in 1609 as governor by Lord Delaware, and returned to England. In 1614 he explored the coasts of New England, making a map of the country, which he presented to Prince Charles. He undertook the founding of a colony in New England in 1615, but his vessel was captured by a French war-ship, and he was carried to La Rochelle. After his escape he wrote an account of his voyages to New England. He also wrote General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles and the True Travels, Adventures and Observations of Captain John Smith. Consult Life in Sparks' “American Biography.” He died at London, June 21, 1631. See Pocahontas.