The Best Essay On John Smith The Explorer

History of the first 13 Colonies and the lives of famous Colonial people

The colonization of America and interesting facts about the life of Captain John Smith

Short Biography about Captain John Smith
This article contains a short biography and fast facts and information about John Smith. Who was John Smith and why was he famous? Captain John Smith (c. January 1580 – June 21, 1631) was an English explorer who helped found the colony at Jamestown, Virginia. He was also a soldier, mapmaker and trader. He was also an author who described in detail his adventures in the colony of Virginia. Captain John Smith is also famous due to his association with Pocahontas (1580-1631), the daughter of Chief Powhatan (his Native Indian name Wahunsonacock), who according to legend saved the life of John Smith after he was captured by a Powhatan hunting party (the Powhatan were Algonquian Indians).

Pocahontas saves John Smith

30 Facts about John Smith
The following 30 facts about John Smith provide interesting facts and an overview and description of the life and times and and his involvement in the colonization of America.

30 Facts about John Smith

John Smith Fact 1John Smith was baptised on 6 January 1580. Baptism usually occurred 3 days after birth, but no birth records were kept, unlike Baptism records. He came from a family of farmers who were located near Alford, Lincolnshire, England.
John Smith Fact 2John Smith was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, from 1592–1595
John Smith Fact 3In 1596 at the age of 16 John Smith started life at sea in the military and at first fought in the Netherlands.
John Smith Fact 4John Smith then moved on to western Europe and joined a Christian army fighting the Turks in Hungary
John Smith Fact 5The early escapades of John Smith earned him the rank of a captaincy and he was honored with a coat of arms which moved him up the social ranks in England.
John Smith Fact 6In 1606 King James I of England granted a charter to the Virginia Company to establish colonies in Virginia.
John Smith Fact 7Captain John Smith became involved on 20 December 1606  joined an expedition of three ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant and the Godspeed, to the New World.
John Smith Fact 8On the voyage John Smith clashed with Captain Christopher Newport who was in charge of the three ships. The situation between the 2 men was so bad that Captain Newport planned to execute him upon arrival in Virginia.
John Smith Fact 9The execution never happened because when Captain Newport opened his sealed orders from the Virginia Company on April 26, 1607 he discovered, to his horror, that Captain John Smith had been designated as one of the leaders of the new colony.
John Smith Fact 10In May 1607 the Jamestown settlement was established in Virginia.
John Smith Fact 11The Powhatan Native Indians inhabited more than 100 surrounding villages. Within 2 weeks of the English arrival, deaths had occurred.
John Smith Fact 12The Powhatan Confederacy was extremely powerful and their land covered 16,000 miles and the people of its 30 Indian tribes numbered 15,000.
John Smith Fact 13By the Fall  of 1607 More than half the colonists had died from disease, starvation and from wounds caused by Native Indians.
John Smith Fact 14In December 1607 Captain John Smith was captured by a Powhatan hunting party and taken before Chief Powhatan (his Native Indian name Wahunsonacock).
John Smith Fact 15Chief Powhatan had every intention to kill John Smith but his daughter, Pocahontas (Indian name Matoaka), saved the life of John Smith by coming between him and a blow from her father.

Facts about John Smith

30 Facts about John Smith
The following 30 facts about John Smith provide interesting facts and an overview and description of the life and times and and his involvement in the colonization of America.

30 Facts about John Smith

John Smith Fact 16The encounter Powhatan leader and John Smith initiated a friendlier relationship between the natives and Smith and the colonists at Jamestown. 
John Smith Fact 17John Smith was released in January 1608.
John Smith Fact 18Chief Powhatan, intrigued by the by the new tools and weapons, helped the Jamestown colony survive by supplying the colonists with food, which they traded for blue beads.
John Smith Fact 19The friendly association between the Indians and the colonists, initiated by John Smith, resulted in a formal coronation of Chief Powhatan on September 10, 1608
John Smith Fact 20The newly formed friendship soon deteriorated and tensions between the Indians and colonists rose when livestock, owned by the colonists, were allowed to wander into the Indian cornfields.
John Smith Fact 21Dissent between the colonists also grew due to laziness and lack of supplies. Personal conflicts among John Smith and various leaders led to Captain John Smith leaving Jamestown to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay region and look for better foods supplies.
John Smith Fact 22In September 1608 John Smith was elected president of the local council instituted a policy of discipline. "He who does not work, will not eat."
John Smith Fact 23The Powhatan stopped trading with the colonists in an attempt to starve them out and the First Powhatan War erupted. The period covering the next 2 years (1609-1610) would become known as the 'Starving Time'.
John Smith Fact 24In October 1609 John Smith was badly injured by a gunpowder burn and had to return to England for treatment
John Smith Fact 25In London John Smith actively promoted the further colonization of Virginia but fell out with the Virginia Company.
John Smith Fact 26In April 1614, John Smith returned to America exploring and mapping the Maine and Massachusetts Bay areas, which he named New England.
John Smith Fact 27John Smith returned to England in 1615 where he concentrated on writing about the new colonies and the opportunities of America.
John Smith Fact 28The books of John Smith such as The Generall Historie of Virginia and The True Travels…of Captain John Smith inspired people to immigrate to America - the passengers on the Mayflower ship had been motivated by his words.
John Smith Fact 29John Smith died on June 21, 1631 in London, England. The cause of death was unspecified
John Smith Fact 30Captain John Smith was buried in an Anglican church in Hoborn London at the St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Facts about John Smith


Captain John Smith Book on New England

John Smith
The life and biography of John Smith is presented in a short, easy fact file format that is highly suitable for kids. The facts about  are a fast and accurate way to gain a good understanding of the life of this famous man who played a major role in the colonization of America. The facts include the major events in the life of John Smith together with important dates and details of his family.

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History >> Colonial America >> Biography


John Smith

  • Occupation: Explorer and leader
  • Born: 1580 in Willoughby, England
  • Died: June 21, 1631 in London, England
  • Best known for: Founding the Jamestown Colony in Virginia

Growing Up

John Smith was born in Willoughby, England in 1580. His father was a farmer who rented land from the local lord. John was able to attend grammar school in his teens, but at the age of sixteen his father died. John now had to make his way on his own. Being a tough and daring young man, John set off to live a life of adventure.


After leaving home, John worked for a time as a seaman and then became a mercenary (a soldier for hire). First, he fought in Europe for the Dutch independence. After that, he went to Hungary to fight against the Ottoman Turks. While in Hungary fighting the Turks, Smith fought three duals against Turkish commanders. He won all three duals and claimed to have beheaded the commanders.

Smith's adventures weren't all a success, however. In 1602, he was captured and sold into slavery. Eventually, Smith escaped and managed to travel all the way across Europe in order to return to England in 1604.

Traveling to America

Not long after returning to England, Smith joined the Virginia Company to start a settlement in Virginia. The settlement would become known as Jamestown and would be the first permanent English colony in North America. Three ships (the Susan Constant, the Godspeed, and the Discovery) left England in late 1606 and arrived in Virginia in April of 1607.

During the voyage, Smith spoke out against the English government as well as the captain of the expedition. He was arrested for mutiny and locked up. The captain had planned to execute Smith when they arrived in Virginia. Fortunately for Smith, the first thing the expedition did when they arrived was to open a box from the Virginia Company containing their orders. One of the orders stated that Smith was to be one of the leaders of the colony. As a result, he was released and his life spared.

Jamestown Colony

The first few years of the colony was difficult. Many people died from disease and starvation. Most of the settlers (all men) were only searching for treasure. They didn't want to work and few of them knew how to farm, fish, or hunt. In the summer of 1608, John Smith became the president of the colony.

Leader of Jamestown

As a leader, Smith was tough and egotistical. Few of the settlers liked him. However, they did recognize that he was a strong leader and would keep them alive. Smith demanded that everyone at the settlement work. His rule was "if you don't work, you don't eat."

Smith also knew that the colony needed to establish better relations with the Powhatan people, the local Native American tribe. He bravely went to meet with their leader and was captured. He likely would have been killed had it not been for the Powhatan chief's daughter, Pocahontas. Pocahontas pled for John Smith's life and the Powhatan chief decided to release him. After this encounter, the relationship between the colonists and the local tribes improved.

Smith's leadership helped to turn things around for the Jamestown colony. Unfortunately, his leg was injured in a gunpowder accident in 1609 and he was forced to return to England to recover.

Exploring New England

After recovering from his injury, Smith was ready for more adventure. He led an expedition to explore the northern coast of America. He named the land "New England" and mapped the northeastern coastline.

Death and Legacy

After returning to London, Smith retired to write detailed descriptions of his adventures. Although much of what he wrote about did actually happen, Smith also tended to embellish his stories quite a bit. Smith died in London on June 21, 1631.

Interesting Facts about John Smith
  • He met Pocahontas in London when she traveled there in 1616.
  • John Smith was a major character in the Disney animated film Pocahontas.
  • While mapping the coast of Massachusetts, he was captured by French pirates. He escaped and made his way back to England.
  • Many historians question the truth of John Smith's account of his rescue by Pocahontas.
  • He spent much of his time in England promoting the colonization of the Americas.

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Works Cited

History >> Colonial America >> Biography
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