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02.02.05 Smith, (Captain) John, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles . . ., published in 1624.

Notes Concerning the Author

Captain John Smith (1580?—1631), hero of the Jamestown Colony,  can be considered the first great Southerner and the first Southern historian.  Besides being a soldier and explorer he was an able, clear, and interesting writer.

Our Review

Smith’s Generall Historie of Virginia and other books are absolutely indispensable to our knowledge of the earliest Southern (and American) history.  Massachusetts historians, notably Henry Adams in the late 19th century, in their long-running campaign to trash Southern history, have claimed repeatedly that Smith’s accounts of Virginia are not authentic.   But his accounts have been confirmed by other historians as authentic, including even the Pocahontas story.   Smith published  at least seven  other works,  including A True Relation of Such Occurrences and Accidents of Noate as Hath Happened in Virginia Since the First Planting of that Colony (London, 1608);   A Description of New-England, or, the Observations and Discoveries of Captain John Smith (London, 1616);   and The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captain John Smith, in Europe, Asia, Affrica, and America, from Anno Domini 1593 to 1629 (London, 1630).   

Availability of this Work

The original publication of The General Historie of Virginia took place in London in 1624.  Smith’s works can be found online in a number of different sources.  The Library of America has published them with other early colonial works as John Smith, Writings, with Other Narratives of Roanoke, Jamestown, and the First English Settlements of America.