John Smith Became a Leader of Jamestown
September 10, 1608
Did the Indian princess Pocahontas really save his life? Was
he really captured and sold into slavery in Turkey, escaping
with the love of a Turkish woman? John Smith may have been the
first romantic of America; he certainly became an appreciated
leader. Explorer, adventurer, writer, and cartographer, Smith
assumed a leadership role at the Jamestown settlement on
September 10, 1608. On the Atlantic coast of present-day
Virginia, Jamestown was the first British settlement in North
America, founded in 1607. At first, Smith wasn't even
considered for the government.
The charismatic and controversial Smith was originally
excluded from the government of the settlement on the grounds
that he had conspired to mutiny during the voyage to Virginia.
But because of his strength and ingenuity, the people of
Jamestown needed him. He began to run things long before he
officially received his post, leading the settlers through
struggles against disease, starvation, and frequent raids upon
the settlement by the Native American tribes. A brash
figure with a bold self-confidence, Smith brought his
soldiering experience to Virginia.
Smith claimed that,
while fighting in Transylvania, Hungary, against the Turks in
1600, he had been wounded, captured, and sold into slavery in
Turkey. Smith said that a Turkish woman had fallen in love
with him and helped him escape. Whether that is a "tall tale"
or not, his most famous Jamestown experience, equally as
romantic and daring, has become a legendary story in American
history. Captured and brought before Algonquin Chief
Powhatan in December 1607, Pocahontas, the chief's young
daughter, supposedly saved Smith's life by throwing herself
between him and his would-be executioners.
summer of 1608, Jamestown prospered. Smith was injured in a
gunpowder accident in 1609 and was forced to return to
England. Returning in 1614, he dubbed the region to the
north of Virginia, New England. Do you think Smith's stories
are true? You might want to read more of Captain Smith's
adventures in his book, Historie of Virginia, New-England,
and the Summer Isles, published in 1624.