National Geographic : 1953 Jun
AS a young man, John Smith ran away from an apprenticeship in a merchant's office in England and joined a fight in Flan ders. When peace ended that adventure, he went home and camped in a pasture with his horse, guns, and a copy of Machiavelli's Art of War. To fight against Turkey, young Smith joined the Austrians. Knocked out in battle, he was abandoned as one of the slain. The Turks, finding Smith alive, sold him to a vainglorious pasha who, to make an impression, labeled Smith a Bohemian noble, subdued by the pasha's own victorious arms, and shipped him to a Con stantinople lady named Tragabigzanda. Escapes in Slavery's Collar Though he confessed his humble rank, the Englishman apparently impressed the Turkish lady, for she freed him and sent him to her brother. The latter enslaved Smith again and treated him so brutally that the youth slew his master with a flail. Still wearing slavery's iron collar, he escaped to Russia. A mere 24 years old, Smith went home to an England afire with colonizing fever. Buying stock in the Virginia Company, he sailed with 140-odd others in December, 1606, for Virginia, then a vast area between French Canada and Spanish Florida (map, page 756). Accused of a conspiracy on shipboard, Smith was under arrest when the colonists, in April, 1607, reached the "Chesapeack" (as he spelled it). Opening of sealed orders revealed he had been appointed to the governing council, but he was not allowed to take his seat until two months later. Nine days after the settlers founded "James- Capt. John Smith's Map of Virginia towne" (May 13), Captain Smith set out to find a strait to the Pacific, the "East India Sea." Instead he discovered the "Powhatan" (James) River falls at the future Richmond, Virginia. On his return Smith found the settlers facing hostile Indians and waning food supplies. Soon they were forced to cut their daily ration to a pint of worm-eaten grain boiled in water, plus an occasional bit of fish. Wrote one colonist: "Our drinke was water; our lodgings, castles in the air." Captain Smith taught them to build houses and defenses. He also got them corn, fowl, and fish by trading with the Indians. Time and time again he risked his own life to save the lives of the colonists. Smith was searching for the source of the "Chickahamania" River when he fell into the hands of Chief Powhatan's Indian warriors. For a month they exhibited the white man from village to village. The captain received Powhatan's judgment death-at Werowocomoco, the chief's head quarters on the "Pamaunk" (York) River. His executioners were raising their clubs to crush his bowed head when up sprang 13-year-old Pocahontas, the chief's daughter, and averted the blow by laying her head upon Smith's. Pocahontas claimed the prisoner as her prop erty, as was her right, and had him adopted into the tribe. Later she risked her life several times by secretly delivering corn to the colonists. Years after, when Pocahontas had married John Rolfe and moved to England, Captain Smith wrote a book in her praise and sent it to Queen Anne. Pocahontas had one son. Thomas, from whom many of Virginia's fine families have de- 760 scended. One ofthe descendants, Mrs. Edith Bolling Galt, married President Woodrow Wilson in1915. Ever abachelor, Smith noted that Powhatan "hath as many women ashewill." Some ofthe chief's wives appear inthe map's left corner. Smith's map was drawn following an expedi tion up the Chesapeake. Leading aparty of 14 men, including map makers, heexplored Mary land's Eastern Shore and, crossing the bay, jour neyed up the "Patawomeck" tothe vicinity of Great Falls. Entering the "Toppahanock" (Rap pahannock), the explorers named "Stingra Ile" for asting ray that wounded Smith. Modern Stingray Point carries on the name. Dated 1606, the map was sent toEngland, where itwas engraved by William Hole, first Englishman toreproduce musical scores from engraved plates. For 30years the chart ranked asthe"mother map" ofVirginia. This repro duction, re-edited for legibility, copies the tenth and final edition. Smith, Injured, Goes Home Shortly after finishing his map, Smith became president ofthe Jamestown council. Then a gunpowder explosion burnt him so severely that hereturned toEngland. Without Smith the colony fell apart. Some 60 desperate survivors had setsail for England when they met Lord De La Warr, first Governor ofVirginia, off "Poynt comfort." The happy sight of reinforcements and fresh supplies sent them back. Captain Smith never saw Jamestown again, but hedid visit New England, and there he made another map (page 764).