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Captain John Smith

Captain John Smith (1580–1631), an English soldier, sailor, and author, is best known for his excellent leadership in the Jamestown, Virginia, colony's early years. He arrived at Jamestown still imprisoned for dissent during the voyage and was eventually released. While exploring the Chickahominy River region, he was captured by Powhatan in December 1607. Chief Powhatan, the supreme leader in the Chesapeake region, released Smith after Powhatan's favorite daughter, Pocahontas, intervened. Shortly after, Smith became president of the council in the colony and orchestrated such improvements as expanding the settlement around the fort and repairing many buildings.

Smith remained in Virginia until fall 1609, when he sailed back to England. Smith was instrumental in disseminating knowledge about Virginia, publishing such works as True Relation of Virginia in 1608, Map of Virginia in 1612, Generall Historie of Virginia beginning in 1624 (there were six editions in eight years), and True Travels in 1630. While his writing contains important factual information about Virginia as it was when inhabited only by Indians, Smith is also noted for embellishing his stories with boasts and conceit.

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