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He played an important role in the establishment of the Jamestown colony, the first permanent English settlement in North America, in the early 17th century.Smith was a leader of the Virginia Colony based at Jamestown between September 1608 and August 1609, and led an exploration along the rivers of Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay, during which he became the first English explorer to map the Chesapeake Bay area.His page was a 12-year-old boy named Samuel Collier.
He was knighted for his services to Sigismund Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, and his friend Mózes Székely.These events happened approximately when the expedition stopped in the Canary Islands for resupply of water and provisions. Fortunately for Smith, upon first landing at what is now Cape Henry on 26 April 1607, unsealed orders from the Virginia Company designated Smith as one of the leaders of the new colony, thus, perhaps, sparing Smith from the gallows.By the summer of 1607, the English colonists were still living in temporary housing.In 1606, Smith became involved with the Virginia Company of London's plan to colonize Virginia for profit; it had been granted a charter by King James.The expedition set sail in three small ships, the Discovery, the Susan Constant, and the Godspeed, on 20 December 1606.
The men may well have died from drinking brackish creek water and from poor nutrition.