Captain John Smith
(c. 1579 - 1631)

Captain John Smith is probably best known for his friendship with Pocahontas, the Powhatan Indian woman who saved him from execution. Smith was a colorful character. In the course of his career he was a soldier, a pirate, a sea captain, a slave, a president of the Jamestown, Virginia colony, a diplomat, an explorer, and a writer. His role in Maine history begins in 1614. Having returned to England from Jamestown, Smith was hired by merchants to explore the land of Norumbega in search of gold and whales. Smith returned to England with fish and furs, as well as a detailed map of the coast, and an enthusiastic description of the plentiful timber and fish in the place he called New England. On a return trip to New England in 1615, Smith was captured by French pirates. During his confinement on that ship, Smith wrote A Description of New England, which encouraged people to settle the New England coast, including Maine. In 1624, he published his Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624) thus fixing the term "New England" to the region long known as Norumbega. His map "New England Observed ..." also appeared in the book and showed much of the downeast coast with new European place names, including Cape Elizabeth.

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