John Smith Essay, Research Paper
John Smith has proved himself to be an inspiring leader and a skilled explorer who played a significant role in American history. His many accomplishments included helping found the original colony of Jamestown, saving it from a starving time, leading various expeditions of exploration, and courageously escaping from the Indians.
John Smith had the qualities of a great leader, and all of his men seemed to think highly of him. Smith always recognized good qualities of his companions, and often considered the reputation of others. Smith had no tolerance for laziness or braggarts, and scorned those who were.
“‘.In all his proceedings, [Smith] made justice his first guide, and experience his second; ever hating baseness, sloth, pride, and indignity, more then any dangers.[He] never allowed more for himself, then his soldiers with him.upon no danger would send them where he would not lead them himself.’”
John Smith first began his military career in 1597, fighting for the English in the Netherlands. After a temporary peace had been reached there, he fought against the Turks in Hungary. After Smith killed three Turks in duels, he attained the rank of major. The Turks captured Smith and sold him into slavery, but he later escaped and returned to the Holy Roman Empire, where they awarded him money and a document citing his deeds. He visited Germany, France, Spain, and Morocco and took part in a sea battle off the coast of Africa.
Perhaps Smith has shown his greatest leadership abilities in his influence over Jamestown. Not long after it was founded, a period of starving afflicted the English colony of Jamestown. Many of the colonists there did not work, due to their laziness, in growing crops and hunting for food. They instead relied on supplies sent from England, which the colonists had nearly exhausted. The shortage of supplies became so great that some even resorted to cannibalism.
“Nay, so great was our famine.one among the rest did kill his wife, powdered [salted] her, and had eaten part of her before it was known.”
John Smith helped end this famine by putting everyone to work. He began a policy that said that those who did not work would not eat. Thus, the starving time in Jamestown had ended. Smith had saved the colony.
While leading an expedition on the Chickahominy River, Indians attacked Smith and his men. The Indians shot Smith in the thigh with an arrow, took him prisoner, and brought him to Powhatan, the leader of this tribe of Indians. The Indians kept him prisoner for six or seven weeks. According to legend, just as they were about to kill him, Powhatan’s daughter, Pocahontas, saved his life by throwing herself upon him.
“Two great stones were brought before Powhatan; then as many as could laid hands on him, dragged him to them, and thereon laid his head, and being ready with their clubs to beat out his brains, Pocahontas, the king’s dearest daughter, when no entreaty could prevail, got his head in her arms, and laid her own upon his to save his from death.”
Afterward, Powhatan made Smith his son and gave him the name “Nantaquas.” Soon after Smith returned to Virginia, the governing council there elected Smith president of Jamestown.
In addition to his excellent leadership abilities, John Smith possessed the talents of a skilled explorer. Smith took part in the expedition that founded the Jamestown settlement, a difficult voyage. The hundreds of colonists on the expedition lacked energy, supplies, and morale. Many members of the crew became seasick and diseased. When they finally reached their destination, they established the settlement at Jamestown. Smith soon became supply officer of the colony. He later led a few expeditions to map the region around Jamestown.
In April 1614, Smith led an expedition to explore and map the coast of New England. He went forth this time in search of whales, gold, and copper. Or failing these, fish and furs. Smith sailed across the North Atlantic and arrived at an island off the coast of Maine sometime in April. He then went on a voyage to chart and explore the coast. Smith found many furs and fish as he continued on mapping the coastline. His maps provided necessary information for future colonization.
Along this voyage, Smith saw many lands such as Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Cape Cod. On July 18, 1614, he sailed back to England bringing with him 1,100 beaver skins, one hundred martens and otters, whale oil, and cor-fish.
In conclusion, John Smith has proved himself to be a remarkable man of many accomplishments. Through his intolerance of laziness and demand for hard work and effort, he saved one of the most important settlements in American history. Smith has also shown himself to be a courageous man who would not tolerate cowards or braggarts. Had it not been for John Smith, the entire colony of Jamestown most likely would have died. He was an admirable explorer who explored not just in search of gold and furs, but mainly for the sake of discovery and adventure. Through his various writings and publications he has shown his superior map-making and exploration skills.
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