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Discussion board. No outside sources that need to be cited.

Discussion board. No outside sources that need to be cited.

A Brief Biography of Captain John Smith


John Smith was baptized in Willoughby by Alford, England, on January 9, 1579. He was the eldest son of


George Smith and Alice Rickards. George Smith was a yeoman farmer who most probably worked for


Peregrine Bertie (Lord Willoughby). Smith was educated in Alford and later he attended a boarding


school in nearby Louth. He also served briefly as an apprentice to Thomas Sewell, a local merchant, but


his formal education ended in 1596 when his father died. Smith's mother remarried soon after the death


of her husband.


Although Smith inherited land from his father, he opted for a more adventurous life abroad. In 1596 or


1597 he joined a group of English volunteers and for the next four years he fought for Dutch


independence from the Spanish King Phillip II. Smith returned to England briefly in 1599 and then set off


again to France and Italy. He toured the Mediterranean on board a merchant ship and joined the


Austrian forces in their battles against the Turks. One notable incident occurred in the battle against the


Turks. Smith contends that he was captured by the Turks in Transylvania and was then transferred to


Constantinople as a present for the Pasha's wife. She in turn fell in love with him and managed (with the


help of her brother) to smuggle Smith to "safety." Evidently Smith wanted complete freedom, he killed


the brother and returned to Transylvania. Smith continued his wanderings, eventually returning to


England in 1604.



In England Smith soon developed an interest in the plans to colonize the New World. The Virginia


Company received its charter from King James I on April 10, 1606. In December of the same year, three


ships set sail for Virginia; Smith was one of the 144 colonists on board. The colonists landed at


Jamestown on May 13, 1607 and James Smith served as one of the seven councilors of the colony.


The early years of the Jamestown settlement were marked by great hardship. The colonists suffered


from disease, malnutrition, and frequent Indian attacks. Within the first seven months two-thirds of the


colonists died. Smith stepped forward as the leader of the colony when it became apparent that the


council of seven was ineffective. He led expeditions into the interior and traded with the Indians for


corn. Smith and several other colonists were captured by Indians. In December 1607, Smith and several


other colonists left the fort to explore the local area. Unfortunately they ran into an Indian hunting party


and were promptly captured by the Indians. Although the other Englishmen were killed outright, the


Indians took Smith to Chief Powhatan. Smith was held captive for several weeks and released


unharmed, though there much debate surrounding the circumstances in which this happened.


Returning to Jamestown, Smith found that he was not well received. Captain Christopher Newport and


Gabriel Archer had assumed leadership during Smith's absence and the colonists still suffered from a


lack of food and proper shelter. Smith soon escaped from the tension of the fort and proceeded to


explore the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers and the Chesapeake Bay during the summer of 1608. His


explorations of Virginia were later compiled in his Map of Virginia. Captain Newport returned to England


in the fall of 1608 and John Smith was elected to the council once again in September.


Smith proved to be an able and efficient administrator and he quickly emerged as the leader of the


settlement. He pressured Powhatan to provide corn for the colonists and he threatened to banish any


colonist who was unwilling to work. Smith's discipline helped to sustain the colony through the winter of


1608-1609. However, Smith's prominent role in the colony was short-lived; Captain Newport returned to


Jamestown in 1609, bringing new settlers and supplies and armed with a new charter for the Virginia


Company. A power struggle ensued and Smith eventually lost his position as the president of the colony.


Smith also injured himself in a gunpowder explosion in the fall of the year. He went back to England in


October, 1609 and never returned to Virginia.


Smith did not abandon his commitment to the success of the Virginia settlement. Instead, he continued


his efforts to promote Jamestown (if not the Virginia Company) in England, producing numerous


narratives and maps of the new colony. In 1614 Smith, backed by London merchants, sailed to New


England and returned to England with furs and fish. Smith published ?A Description of New England? in


1616. He attempted a return trip to New England but was unsuccessful. During his remaining years in


England, he published eight books. His more significant title is ?The General History of Virginia, the


Somer Iles, and New England, with the Names of the Adventurers, and Their Adventures...? Captain John


Smith died in London on June 21, 1631. He is buried in St. Sepulchre's Church in London.







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