Captain John Smith Essay

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Captain John Smith

After reading three short selections on Captain John Smith (General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, A Description of New England, and New England’s Trials) in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 6th Ed., a second source was helpful to learn more about this historical figure. Philip L. Barbour, in The Three Worlds of Captain John Smith, focuses on the major roles Captain Smith filled during his lifetime: adventurer, colonist, and promoter. Because the book was divided into three main categories, it was helpful to use this secondary source in order to gain a greater understanding of John Smith’s role in the New World.

The Norton Anthology introduces each historical figure with a
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The General History of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles relays Captain Smith’s experiences in the New World. This assigned reading was written by Smith in third person to portray a more objective view and succeeded in describing some of his encounters with the ‘savages,’ his search for trade, and his frontier explorations. Although Barbour stresses the main points already covered in this assigned reading, his section entitled ‘Colonist’ takes us back to Captain Smith and the Virginia Company’s voyage to a strange new land. On November 20, 1606, King James set up a form of organization for this new company and established a King’s Council in London. These men were responsible for picking those who would govern in Virginia (Barbour 101-2). Seven men were picked to lead this new colony and ‘the fourth councilor for Virginia was Captain John Smith’ (Barbour 103). The relation of Smith’s official role as one of the leading men in Virginia is helpful in portraying his role not just as a colonist but as a leader of men.

Although both sources provide an in-depth look at Smith’s encounter with Chief Powhatan, Barbour gives an account of a mistaken meeting as Smith explores the river. The Englishmen give gifts to this man but ‘had they known that Powatah was not the real Powhatan, the

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