The Writings of John Smith: Historically Inaccurate Essay

The Writings of John Smith: Historically Inaccurate Essay

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The colonization of North America was a process that was influenced by many people and organizations. Countries offered incentives for citizens to relocate to the New World, while explorers charmed potential settlers with promises of wealth, joy, and freedom through literary works. Many British citizens read these accounts and left for the continent, believing that the newly discovered world was a modern-day Promised Land. John Smith was one explorer who influenced British settlement of North America through his inspiring works The General History of Virginia and A Description of New England. While John Smith attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of North America in his writings, Smith inaccurately describes the continent.
Through the use of amplification, John Smith misrepresents the physical resources of North America. Smith embellishments are found in his descriptions of the various wildlife and resources to be found in America. For example, when Smith describes the quality of soil in New England, he notes that, “The ground is so fertile that questionless it is capable of producing any grain, fruits, or seeds you will sow or plant…” (Smith 58). Smith’s assertion that the land is capable of growing any plant is by no means accurate, due to the variation of soils found along the Atlantic coast and inland. Despite his faulty account, Smith’s embellishment appealed to the masses of poor farmers that lived in 17th century Britain who struggled to produce a mediocre crop yield. Using this promise of wealth and other amplifications made by John Smith in regards to New England, literary critic Marc J. Garcia-Martinez surmises that A Description of New England, “Through word and image presents itself as nothing furthe...


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...hout the course of North American settlement and the expansion of the United States, contributing to the build up of resentment harbored by Native Americans with government systems that did not compliment the processes of Western governments. Overall, John Smith’s word choice in describing the people of North America is inaccurate.
In conclusion, John Smith wrongfully describes North America in his writings. Through his use of embellishment, Smith provides a faulty description of America’s resources. In addition, John Smith’s rhetoric poorly describes the availability of land in the continent, while his word choice misrepresents Native American tribal structure. While exploration and settlement are not always harmful, John Smith’s writings contributed to the conflict and hardships endured by settlers who believed his dream-like description of North America.

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