Discuss Smith's leadership style as portrayed in Love and Hate in Jamestown.  Offer your opinion as to whether or not you consider him to have been successful and why.

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Love and Hate in Jamestown is one of the best introductory treatments of early English colonization in America. It dispenses with any anachronistic blather about democracy and makes clear that America began as a daring and hopeful start-up business venture by the aristocrats, gentlemen merchants, and adventurers of the London...

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Love and Hate in Jamestown is one of the best introductory treatments of early English colonization in America. It dispenses with any anachronistic blather about democracy and makes clear that America began as a daring and hopeful start-up business venture by the aristocrats, gentlemen merchants, and adventurers of the London Company of Virginia (and similar English corporations like the Massachusetts Bay Company).

The endless bickering and jockeying for position that bedeviled the colony is familiar to anyone that has studied early Spanish colonization (Columbus was regularly maligned with exaggerated tales of his alleged misdeeds by competitors seeking his job). The ambitious and capable Captain John Smith joined the venture late and his forwardness with advice quickly rankled company president Edward Maria Wingfield, Esq., the man who had invested the most on the expedition (whose middle name, Maria, honored of his godmother, an English Princess who had become Queen of France). Wingfield had Smith put in chains, and nearly had him hung from a gallows hastily erected during a stopover on the Island of Nevis, in the English West Indies.

Wingfield was brave and had solid military experience which he used effectively to pick a defensible site for Jamestown, but he lacked the experience to consider other crucial practical matters like the local water supply. When the settlers' confidence in his leadership waned, Captain Smith stepped in to do whatever was necessary to help the colony survive. He may not have been popular, but he was practical, hard-working, resourceful, and determined. He was also courageous, courteous and diplomatic with the local Indians.

Smith's leadership style was blunt, but apparently that's what was needed to bring order, direction, and especially food to the fledgling colony. His famous order that those who don't work don't eat was the kind of reality check the men needed, whether or not they wanted it. His skills were what the colony required more than further discussions or complaints from the gentlemen who were too frequently unwilling to do the necessary manual labor once it became apparent they would not be simply gathering up lumps of gold into their pockets.

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Smith was a bit of a dictatorial leader.  He had his own view of how the settling of Jamestown should occur and had no trouble ignoring those people who were his superiors.  Although he was not the President of the colony (the colonists did not like him), he took it upon himself to make moves against the Native Americans, particularly Powhatan's tribe.  The other English settlers wanted as little to do with the Native Americans as possible - they recognized that the "noble savages" really consisted of well-established tribes with their own cultures and tensions between each other.  Smith felt that a relationship should be established, and believed he could manipulate that relationship to his benefit.

In many ways, Smith was right.  Ignoring the Native Americans was not going to make them ignore the settlers.  Smith was right, too, when he later intervened to stop the settlement being abandoned by English "gentlemen".  However, Smith consistently put himself into harm's way through his actions.  His neck was often - literally - put on the chopping block.  It is as much his ingenuity as outside influences that saved him.  It is hard to argue that such a reckless and unpredictable character could be a good leader.

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