John Smith

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John Smith was born on January 9, 1580 in Willoughby, England. He was an English adventurer and soldier, and one of the founders of Jamestown, Virginia and was the author of the first book written in America in English. At the age of sixteen after his father passed away, he ran away from home to volunteer in France who were fighting the Dutch independence from Spain. Two years later he headed toward the Mediterranean Sea where he began working on a merchant ship. At the age of twenty he joined Austrian Forces and was promoted to Captain. In Transylvania, he was wounded in battle and captured and was sold as a slave to a Turk. This Turk then sent Smith to Istanbul where he managed to escape. Smith became actively involved with the Virginia Company's plans to colonize Virginia for profit. The expedition, composed of three ships, set sail on December 20, 1606, and finally reached Virginia in April 1607. When the sealed box that listed the names of the seven council members who were to govern the colony was opened, Smith's name was on the list. On May 13, 1607 the settlers landed at Jamestown ready to begin the task of surviving in a new environment. Bad weather, lack of fresh water, and the spread of disease made life difficult for the settlers. The Algokian Indians who hoped the settlers would get tired and leave often attacked them. At this point Smith was the leader of the colonist and did his best to fight off the Indians. In 1607 John Smith was captured by the Indians and was taken to the chief Powatan. Impressed by Smith's self-confidence, the chief took him in and had him participate in some of the Indian rituals. John Smith was released in friendship after about four weeks of captivity and returned to Jamestown. Personal conflicts, as well as disagreements over new policies being formulated in London, developed among Smith and various leaders. As a result, Smith left Jamestown to explore and map the Chesapeake Bay region and search for badly needed food...
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