Synopsis: John Smith was born in England in 1579 or 1580. He eventually made his way to America to help rule the British colony of Jamestown. There he was reportedly saved from death by Pocahontas, the daughter of a Native American chief. Smith established trade deals with the local tribes. He returned to England in 1609 and became a strong supporter of colonization.
John Smith was born in 1579 or 1580 in Lincolnshire, England. After training to be a businessman, Smith decided to join the English army. Working as a soldier for hire, he eventually joined a campaign against the Turks in Hungary. There he was captured and enslaved. After receiving harsh treatment from his master, Smith killed him and escaped. He eventually returned to England in the early 1600s.
In England, Smith met Captain Bartholomew Gosnold. Gosnold was working for the Virginia Company of London, which planned to establish a colony in America. Smith was made part of a group that would govern the colony. Its purpose was to make money by supplying raw materials.
The voyagers set sail in 1606 and arrived in America in 1607.
They built their colony in present-day Virginia. The settlement was named Jamestown, after King James I of England. It would eventually be known as the first permanent British colony in North America. The settlers were not there alone. They were surrounded by several Native American tribes, which were part of the Powhatan Confederacy.
Saved By Pocahontas
During a trip along the Chickahominy River, Smith was captured by a group of natives. He was taken to the Algonquin chief Wahunsonacock, also known as Powhatan. It is said that Powhatan's young daughter, Pocahontas, rushed to save Smith from being killed. After this, Powhatan reportedly treated Smith like a "son." He gave Smith land in exchange for his trust and protection.
There are historians who question what exactly happened between Smith and Pocahontas. Some believe that Smith was taking part in a welcoming ceremony, not an execution. Chief Powhatan possibly thought Smith could help his trade with the Europeans, and therefore wanted him alive.
When he returned to Jamestown, Smith was imprisoned for losing men on the failed mission. He was soon freed, and relations between Native Americans and the colonists went smoothly for a time. Pocahontas often visited the colony.
Harsh Times In Jamestown
In 1608, Smith sent a letter to England about what had been happening. It was published under the title "A True Relation ... of Virginia." In September of the same year, Smith was elected president of the governing council. The colony went on to face a difficult winter. Smith demanded hard work from all of the settlers and used harsh measures to keep them in line.
Due to a drought, food supplies were scarce. The Native Americans refused to give the Europeans food without getting something in return. Smith responded by launching attacks on the natives and stealing their food. In some cases, he even ordered the settlers to burn Powhatan villages. Native people were also imprisoned, beaten and forced to work for the Europeans.
Return To England
In 1609, Smith was badly burned from a gunpowder explosion. He returned to England to recover, thereby giving up leadership of the colony.
Back in England, Smith published a report on Virginia. It included descriptions of its Native American tribes, plants, animals and geography.
Smith met Pocahontas again after she traveled to England in 1616 with her husband John Rolfe and her son Thomas. At the time, Pocahontas believed that Smith was dead. She was surprised to discover that he was still alive.
In his later years, Smith focused on writing. He published books about his time in America and pushed for England to build more colonies. Some of his books include "The General History of Virginia" and "The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith." Smith died in London, England, on June 21, 1631.
Reproduced with permission. Copyright © (2016), A&E Television Networks, LLC. All rights reserved.
Synopsis: John Winthrop was born in 1588 in England. He died in 1649, in Boston, Massachusetts. Winthrop was the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was also a leader of the Puritans in New England.
John Winthrop was born into a very rich English family. They lived at Groton Manor, a very large farm.
At age 15, he entered University of Cambridge in England. At age 17, he married Mary Forth. She was the first of his four wives. The next year, the first of his 16 children was born. Winthrop studied law and was given a job in the government.
Winthrop was a very religious person. He studied the Bible and became a Puritan. Like other Puritans, Winthrop wanted to stop people from sinning. Also, Puritans were fed up with the Church of England. They didn't just want to listen to what church leaders thought. They wanted to understand God's will through reading and following the Bible.
During the late 1620s, a war was beginning in Europe. People were losing their jobs. Countries did not have enough money. Winthrop's Groton Manor was losing money, too. Charles I, the King of England, did not like Puritans. As a result, Winthrop lost his job in 1629. In the same year, the Massachusetts Bay Company got permission to start a colony in America. So Winthrop joined the company. He promised to sell Groton Manor and take his family to Massachusetts. He was elected governor of this group.
Journey To America
Winthrop sailed to the Ameican colonies in 1630. On the way, he wrote a church speech that would become famous. He spoke of building “a City upon a Hill” in New England. He told his people they must be a responsible group.
He guided the colonists as they planned and built well-organized towns. Each town had its own church. Winthrop lived in Boston where there was a large harbor. It became the capital of Massachusetts. He built his new farm nearby.
Winthrop was chosen governor of Massachusetts 12 times. But sometimes there were problems. Roger Williams was a Puritan minister who believed in separation of church and state. He complained that the church and government should be separate. He even said the king in England didn't own the land in Massauchetts. Church leaders wanted Williams to leave Massachusetts. Winthrop helped Williams leave the state and move to Rhode Island.
Conflict With Anne Hutchinson
Bigger problems came from Anne Hutchinson. She had Bible study groups in Boston. Hutchinson told the people they could find God themselves. They did not need help from ministers. She was arrested and brought to court. Hutchinson claimed that God had spoken to her directly. She said that God had promised to punish the Puritans if they harmed her. She was sent out of Massachusetts. Hutchinson was forced to move to Rhode Island.
Views On Slavery
In 1641, Winthrop stopped letting Native Americans and Africans join the church. He also helped write rules that allowed slavery in North America. Slavery began to grow in New England. Native American slaves were exchanged for Africans slaves.
But the colonists respected and loved Winthrop until his death. Winthrop died at age 61 from a fever.