Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who were Smith’s enemies?

For reasons to this day unknown, John Smith was “restrained as a prisoner” for the rest of the voyage. Captain Newport had saved him from the gallows, but he did not like Smith, and these two would clash later on. 
The voyage continued, and on April 21 a storm forced the three small ships to “lie at hull.” With all sails furled and hatches battened down, they rode out the storm at the mercy of wind and waves.
On April 26, the first night on Virginia soil, a sealed box was opened. In it were the names of seven men the Virginia Company had chosen as a council to govern their fledgling colony. Smith’s name was among them, but he was still a prisoner. The six men (Smith not included) elected Edward Wingfield, the eldest and one of the richest of them, as their president. He refused to seat Smith. But some (who?) wanted Smith on the council. After “the gentlemen and all the company” talked to Wingfield for a few days, Smith was finally sworn in on June 10.
But the bad blood between John Smith and the men who hated him did not dissolve. Christopher Newport and John Ratcliffe, two of the ship captains, had no use for him, nor did the Cambridge-educated colonist, Gabriel Archer. At 32 Archer was also a seasoned mariner who had explored New England with Bartholomew Gosnold and John Martin in 1602. His bitter hatred for John Smith—whatever the reason—would later lead him to make at least two attempts to end Smith’s life. 

Who were Smith’s other enemies? No one knows. Smith had narrowly escaped one hanging in the West Indies, and he would come within hours of another one a few months later.

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