Love and Hate in Jamestown

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The leadership strengths and weaknesses of John Smith evoked a profound effect on the Jamestown colony. The fact that Smith actually arrived in the colony as a common prisoner and was able to achieve the leadership role that he gained is amazing. His creativity and knowledge in certain areas actually saved the colonists from attack and starvation in the early days. Some of the rules he enforced as a leader were actually instrumental in saving the colony. His skill in dealing with the natives allowed him to gain their support and continue trade that resulted in the survival of the colony.

Christopher Newport, the admiral that transported John Smith and many of the colonists from England, left the Jamestown colony in the fall of 1607. Immediately all work in the settlement ceased to exist. The colonists had decided to wait on Newport to return with new workers. The plan was for the natives to provide food for them while they waited. When the natives never came with food, Ratcliffe, the current president of the colony, ordered John Smith to visit the neighboring natives and trade tools and metals for corn. The natives had noticed how the English were unable to feed themselves by planting their own crops. The natives refused to trade more than a few handfuls of corn and bread for the hatchets and iron that were offered. Smith realized the reason why the Kecoughtans were not trading more than just those small amounts and created a way to solve the problem. To prove to the natives that the English were not poor, Smith gave free beads and trinkets to the children. This was to show the Kecoughtans that the English were economically strong and possessed more valuable items. Smith used the mentality of "weakness in appearance…was weakness in reality" (Price 57) to justify his travels from village to village, collecting a large of amount of corn, bread, and other foods for the Jamestown colonists. Smith thought the natives would trade more food if they did...
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