As I was reading The General History by Captain John Smith I struggled a little bit with the barrier created by the choice of language he used to write in. The portion of the story I read was difficult to read because of the time period it was written. Although that was not the only problem I seemed to face while learning about his adventure. One thing that constantly came to my mind was the fact that John Smith must have been an extremely stubborn man. Was there something or possibly someone in the town making him want to stay there so bad that no one else knew about?
Captain John Smith had a very outgoing attitude allowing him to be a great leader. Although it seemed as if his power went to his head a little too much. While he was out exploring, he expected the men he had brought with him to do all of the work with no complaints, this was not the case. Many of the men refused to do work so Smith created the rule that “He who will not work shall not eat” which caught everyone’s attention and even those most determined not to work picked up their share of labor. There were terrible conditions when they arrived in Jamestown. The lack of food and poor drinking water had most of Smith’s men a little doubtful about their decision to come to this new land at all.
The picture below illustrates John Smith forcefully encouraging his men to do the work or they cannot eat.
Throughout the story many of John Smith’s men were not happy with where they were for some reason, and threatened to leave and return home to England. A main reason they weren’t very happy was the fact that not many things were working out as planned. There was little food to survive, not many places to stay. Smith tried to encourage his men that the only way they will find the things they need was to explore. Many of his followers did not like this idea and felt that nothing good would come of it. In fact most of them planned to escape three different times, but Smith did not want that to happen and talked them into staying a little bit longer.
Although some of John Smith’s men did not like the idea of exploring, he still went and sometimes even alone. On one of his later journeys he was captured by the Indian chief Powhatan. In many stories we are told that Powhatan had planned to kill him when the chief’s daughter, Pocahontas, saved him. A few days later the chief told Smith he considered him as a son and sent him on his way back to Jamestown with a deal stating that his people would provide John Smith’s people with the food they needed.
Here is a picture of Chief Powhatan as depicted by how John Smith saw him when he was imprisoned.
All in all, the settlement of Jamestown turned out to be a success. With everyone thinking he had lost his mind and had no clue what he was getting them all into, John Smith never gave up his plan and perhaps changed the hearts of all those against him. He knew this land would eventually be much better for them than what they originally had and he was determined not to stop until he accomplished his goal.
Some people claim that if John Smith and his men never came, Jamestown would have never survived. Perhaps John felt a sense of accomplishment by initially saving Jamestown that there was no way he going to leave after he was considered a hero.