In John Smith: A Description of New England, explain John Smith’s main purpose. What were the main reasons for the colonization of the New World? How does he describe Americans?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In John Smith: A Description of New England Captain John Smith keenly explains the reasons why man must do everything in his power to be "well employed" and not "idle." Initially, he expresses his disappointment in his current situation and ultimately sets out to encourage others to make the journey to New England, such as he did, although his latest two attempts failed. Smith goes to great pains to explain, in depth, locations and their proximity to other locations and makes reference to famous explorers to whom he is indebted for their contributions to discovering and taking best advantage of new tracts of land. He says, "Posterity may be bettered by the fruits of their labors..."

Smith is aware that, without maps and proper direction, travelers may get confused; even admitting to it himself. Therefore, one of his main purposes is to avoid the same problem for those that follow him and his maps and explanations are therefore designed to add clarity to reaching and settling in this new land. His detail about problems and difficulties is also intended to assist others not to make the same mistakes and to be aware of the potential for treachery and mutiny, amongst other things.

Smith stresses his ultimate purpose is to serve his country well and to encourage families and tradesmen and so on to go to New England because it will be of "incredible benefit to King and Country, Master and Servant."

Colonizing the new world makes sense as it allows anyone who "has nothing but his hands" to make a new start and to prosper. He points out that of "all the four parts of the world," this has to be the best place for colonization; "a most excellent place for health and fertility." The abundance of fish also make it a worthy place. He mentions the success of other settlers and stresses that there are no landlords and "every man may be master." 

Smith talks of the inhabitants who are "very kind" but also keen to defend themselves; determined people who "let fly their arrows." The people everywhere are "industrious" and not afraid to stand up for themselves. 

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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As the extended title says, part of Smith's purpose, aside from simply recording what he saw in his time in North America, was to provide "proof of the present benefits this country affords." In other words, he wrote to encourage more people to come to America. He said that "here every man may be master of his own labor and land," so plentiful were the natural resources. The main goal, as Smith sees it, of settling the New World is that it will provide material benefits to ambitious Englishmen as well as the poor of England, who can come over and significantly raise their standard of living. He also contends that an English presence is needed to check that of Spain in Florida. Smith describes Native Americans as "poor savages" in need of Christianity, but he also goes to great pains to describe their diversity, and in particular the complex political relations between them. 

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