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Document Number: AJ-082
Author: Smith, John, 1580-1631
Title: Generall Historie of Virginia by Captain John Smith; the Fourth Booke
Source: Tyler, Lyon Gardiner (editor). Narratives of Early Virginia, 1606-1625. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907). Pages 291-407.
Pages/Illustrations: 121 / 8 (7 of tables)
Citable URL:

Author Note

John Smith (1580-1631) was president of Jamestown Colony from September 1608-September 1609. He is credited with providing the leadership that helped the colony survive the difficult year between 1608-1609. John Smith returned to the New World in 1614 and explored and named the coasts of Maine and Massachusetts, New England. Smith was not able to return to the Jamestown Colony but he remained an advocate of Jamestown’s success and wrote about the territory until his death in 1631.

Jamestown Settlement

The London Company sponsored the expedition to establish a profitable colony. The expedition started with 144 men but only 104 survived the trip. No women were a part of the initial expedition. In 1609, about six hundred people, including women and children, joined the colony in the hopes of making it more like a settlement. Other voyages brought more settlers in the years between 1606 and 1624 expanding the population and goals of the Jamestown colony.

Document Note

The General Historie was published by Michael Sparkes in 1624. Subsequent publications were in J. Pinkerton’s General Collection of Voyages (1812), a version in 1819 by Rev. John Holt Rice, and by Edward Arber in an 1884 version of the Works of Captain John Smith.

John Smith compiled the writings of other Jamestown residents who remained in the colony after his departure to create the history. He commented on the noteworthy events that were described by other writers which included colonial governmental changes, the introduction of African slaves to the colony, the introduction of women for the male settlers to marry, and the Jamestown Massacre of 1622. Smith also described his attempts to return to Jamestown and the refusal of the Virginia Company to support his endeavor.

Other Internet and Reference Sources

More information about John Smith, the founding of Jamestown and its status after Smith’s departure and his relationship with the Virginia Company can be found at the Library of Congress, “American Memory” website at

For further disussion on the founding of Jamestown, explore the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “Texts of Imagination and Empire: The Founding of Jamestown in Its Atlantic Context” at

The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities also has a website with information at

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