The Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith
The story about Pocahontas is interesting and pretty confusing, especially since Disney launched an animated version in 1995. How was her real relationship with Captain John Smith? Was she really a princess? Was he really a captain?
There are many resources about their real lives and studies arguing about certain facts which fit into one or another version. It’s not my intention to dig into these fights, I would just like to present a lovely picture book, made by Elmer Boyd-Smith (1860-1943), who wrote and illustrated it. The Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith was published by Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston and New York) in November 1906.
Pocahontas and John Smith
You probably already know one or more versions of stories about Indian princess Pocahontas, who saved life of handsome adventurer John Smith, but the fact is nobody knows for sure what really happened. The only thing we can rely on, is ability of historians and entertainers to tweak the reality until it fits into their desired projections.
However, we will summarize the story, as it is presented in this book, in few sentences. Pocahontas is chief’s daughter, kind of tomboy, very popular among other Indians and true child of the nature. John Smith was a dreamer and adventurer who, despite his young age, already got a lot of experience in war. He fought on the land and on the sea, earned spurs after series of important victories in duels with Turks, but was also robbed by his comrades and even became a slave, until he finally became a captain of one of the the ships which brought colonists in the New World.
John Smith and Pocahontas meet for the first time
This is where the paths of Pocahontas and John Smith crossed. After series of misfortunes of colonists John failed into a trap by Indians, who caught him and wanted to kill him. Pocahontas saw him and convinced her tribe to spare his life.
Pocahontas and John Smith became good friends, he learned some Indian language and they even made him as ‘one of them’. Indians and colonists befriended each other, but there were still persistent disagreements, so their relationship was always full of ups and downs, just the friendship between John Smith and Pocahontas lasted. When Indians planned another treachery, she warned him soon enough to save his and lives of his men.
Pocahontas marries John Rolfe
After a while John was injured and had to sail back to England. Pocahontas stopped helping colonists and some time later heard about John’s death. Years passed and one of the colonists managed to capture Pocahontas and used her as kind of guarantee against the attacks by Indians. The colony (by the way, they called it Jamestown, after their king, and this town is still standing) really became a safer place.
She stayed in captivity for years, was educated as English woman and met a youngster called John Rolfe. They married and Pocahontas, now called Lady Rebecca, soon gave birth to a son. Not much later, they sailed to England, Pocahontas was received as a celebrity, introduced to the court of king James as a princess and finally met John Smith again. This meeting induced new desire for adventures, so after a while John went to sea to seek new action.
Pocahontas, too, longed for her homeland and departed with her husband and son to Virginia. Unfortunately she felt sick and died before the ship landed in the New World. The story about the princess Pocahontas and courageous soldier John Smith, however, is still very much alive.
The end of the story about Pocahontas
Although we can’t rely on the presented story by E. Boyd-Smith, we can still learn few things about the time when the book was published from his approach to the storytelling and especially the biased presentation of characters. Of course we can find much more joy in his illustrations. Although he is more known as painter (mainly impressionist) and he never achieved not nearly as much success as some of his colleagues, E. Boyd-Smith is thanks to his simple, yet attractive and effective style sometimes compared to Howard Pyle and even Jessie Willcox-Smith.
I hope you enjoyed in pictures of Pocahontas and John Smith. They were first published before 1923, what makes them public domain in USA and the author died more than 70 years ago, what makes them public domain in EU. They were all edited by me. If you need Pocahontas’ pictures in better resolution, please contact me through the comment section and I’ll see, if I can help you.