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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/77

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Smith
Smith
71

nople. Befriended by a Turkish lady of quality, he was removed to Varna in the Black Sea. There, after much cruel treatment from his master, a pasha, Smith killed his tyrant and made his escape. After long wanderings through Europe he reached Morocco, and, there falling in with an English man-of-war, came home in 1605.

In the next year he purposed to join an English settlement in Guiana, but the scheme was frustrated by the death of Charles Lee, the intended leader of the colonists. Smith then entered on the best known portion of his career, the conduct of the Virginian colony, and was among the 105 emigrants who, on 19 Dec. 1606, set out from Blackwall to found Virginia. They sailed in three vessels, the Susan Constant, under Christopher Newport [q. v.]; the Godspeed, under Bartholomew Gosnold [q. v.]; and the Discovery, under John Ratcliffe [see under Sickelmore]. Smith is described in the list of passengers as a planter. By a most unhappy arrangement the names of the council, of whom Smith was one, were sealed up in a box not to be opened till the settlers reached America, and the temporary control during the voyage was vested in Captain Newport. Smith in some unrecorded fashion came into conflict with him, was put under arrest, and, although a member of the council (under the sealed orders, which were opened on arriving in Chesapeake Bay on 26 April), was at first not allowed to act. Nevertheless, from the outset he did good service. The settlers, who had come in search of an Eldorado, such as that pictured in the popular play of ‘Eastward Ho!’ (1605), had neither the intelligence nor the industry to support themselves by tillage, and they had to subsist on the supplies which they could buy, beg, or steal from the natives. In the various expeditions into the country in search of food Smith proved himself an energetic and effective leader. In one of these, in December 1607, he was taken prisoner, and was released, according to a statement made by himself many years later (see his publications Nos. 5 and 7), through the intervention of the Indian princess Pocahontas [see under Rolfe, John]. The whole incident is matter of controversy. In all likelihood his rescue by Pocahontas owes the general acceptance which it long enjoyed to the fact of its unquestioned adoption in 1747 by Stith, the first historian of Virginia. Later writers have pointed out that it is at least wholly inconsistent with the story told by Smith in his earlier publications (cf. No. 1 and No. 2). Meanwhile, in September 1607, the first elected president, Edward Maria Wingfield [q. v.], an arrogant man of no special capacity, was deposed, a proceeding in which Smith took a leading part. Wingfield was succeeded by John Ratcliffe. He held office for one year, and Smith then (10 Sept. 1608) became the titular head of the colony, as he had been almost from the outset its guiding and animating spirit. With resolute discipline Smith introduced something of order and industry among the thriftless and helpless settlers. They built houses and finished the church, fortified the settlement at Jamestown, and took some steps towards supporting themselves by tillage and fishing.

During the summer of 1608 he explored the coasts of the Chesapeake as far as the mouth of the Patapsco, and further explored the head of the Chesapeake. On these two voyages Smith computed that he sailed three thousand miles. From his surveys he constructed a map of the bay and its environs (see No. 2 below). His dealings with the natives were marked by honesty and good judgment.

In August 1609 a fresh party of colonists arrived, deprived unhappily of their leaders by a storm which separated the fleet [see Somers, Sir George]. Further dissensions arose, leading to cabals against Smith and to difficulties with the natives. In the following September Smith was badly hurt by the accidental explosion of a bag of gunpowder, and left the colony, never to revisit it. Henceforth he took no part in the proceedings of the Virginia Company, but devoted himself to encouraging in England colonisation and the establishment of fisheries in what was afterwards known as New England. Thither he sailed with two ships on a voyage of exploration in 1614. On his return he presented to Prince Charles a map of the coast from the Penobscot to Cape Cod, in which the real contour of the New England coast was for the first time indicated. In this the territory south of the Hudson was called New England, and among other English names adopted that of Plymouth was assigned to the mainland opposite Cape Cod, two names which by a happy chance so well fitted in with the feelings of the later settlers as to be permanently adopted.

Smith now became intimate with one of the chief patrons of New England exploration, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, and in 1615 he made two attempts to visit New England. The first failed through a storm in which Smith's ship was dismasted. At the next attempt he was taken by a French ship of war, and, after serving with his captors against the Spaniards, was set free. In 1617