Captain John Smith

Steven Olsen-Smith

in The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature

Published in print March 2008 | ISBN: 9780195187274
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 Captain John Smith

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
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This article focuses on the famous American explorer Captain John Smith. Decisive leader, prolific writer, and astute American visionary, Captain John Smith was the crucial founder of the 1607 Jamestown colony in Virginia and an inspired promoter of English colonization in North America. Controversial in his own day, Smith's posthumous reputation has fluctuated considerably owing partly to his unabashed self-promotion and his role in America's violent colonial history. Yet Smith's prominence as an American literary and historical figure has increased steadily over the decades and promises to keep growing. Smith was first among early colonial writers to recognize the opportunities presented by North America for post-Renaissance social reform. Besides helping to establish the first successful European colony here, Smith was the first to project the secular vision of human rights and political liberty that would shape American identity and sustain this vision's ongoing struggle for human progress. Smith's prominence as a historical and literary figure has traditionally rested.

Keywords: John Smith; American explorer; colonization; colonial history; post-Renaissance

Article.  10249 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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