John Smith's Map of New England
By Dutchman Simon van de Passe, this is the only known portrait of Captain John Smith made during his life. The artist also made the only contemporary portrait of Pocahontas, when she was in London in 1616. The oval-set portrait of the Powhatan Indian happens to be the oldest artwork at the Smithsonian&apos;s National Portrait Gallery. <br /><br />Smith had Van de Passe, one of the foremost engravers of his time in London, etch his 1616 map of New England. &quot;It was really quite a coup for John Smith to get somebody that produces really fine work,&quot; says Peter Firstbrook, author of &quot;A Man Most Driven: Captain John Smith, Pocahontas and the Founding of America.&quot;<br />
The portrait identifies Smith as the admiral of New England. &quot;I think he gave this title to himself, to be honest,&quot; says Firstbrook.<br />
John Smith was a captain. &quot;Now that&apos;s not a sea captain. In those days, the person in charge of a ship was called master,&quot; Firstbroook explains. While Smith did have extensive sailing experience, the author adds, &quot;He was, in fact, a captain of cavalry, and that award was given to him by the prince of Transylvania, a man called Sigmund Bathori, for his work fighting the Ottomans when he was in the army of the Holy Roman Empire.&quot;<br />
John Smith was responsible for naming New England. Prior to the making of this map in 1616, the region was referred to as Northern Virginia. Virginia, which Sir Walter Raleigh named in the 1580s after Queen Elizabeth I, the &quot;virgin queen,&quot; stretched almost the full length of the East Coast.<br /><br />&quot;Sir Francis Drake named an area of California around San Francisco New Albion [Albion is the oldest known name for Great Britain]. Then, the French called their bit of Canada Nouveau France. I think Smith was rather taken by that and he called his section of Northern Virginia New England,&quot; says Firstbrook.<br />
Smith tended to name the various native settlements in New England by the names the inhabitants gave him. He would have written them phonetically, because the natives had no written language. Before this map was created, he called Plimouth, Accomack; Boston, Accominticus; and Cambridg, Aumoughcawgen.<br /><br />Smith acknowledges, here, that the &quot;high and mighty Prince Charles,&quot; the oldest surviving son of King James of England and Scotland and the heir apparent, was involved in the naming of towns, islands, capes, rivers and bays. &quot;Just before the map went into print, Smith managed to get an audience with the young prince. He rolled out his map and said, &apos;Your highness, would you like to change any names?&apos; I think he was really buttering him up a bit,&quot; says Firstbrook. &quot;The 16-year-old Charles said, &apos;Oh yes,&apos; and rolled up his sleeves. He proceeded to give a lot of the native settlements that John Smith identified English names.&quot;<br /><br />At the last minute, Smith inserted a list in a book that accompanied the map, called &quot;A Description of New England,&quot; of the native names alongside the newer English ones.
The map shows Cambridg, here, in the extreme north of Maine, as opposed to near Boston. Similarly, just down coast is Sandwich, which is a town now located on Cape Cod.<br /><br />&quot;There are a lot of traditional English names that have become real place names, but the ones that were named by Prince Charles were in the wrong place,&quot; says Firstbrook. &quot;It was just a completely random naming of the native settlements in New England. They&apos;ve since migrated and found a permanent resting place in other parts of the region.&quot;<br />
Salem, shown here in its present-day location, was settled by Europeans in 1626, when fishermen moved from the blustery Cape Anna down the coastline to its more protected harbor. The story goes that the settlement was named in 1629. But Firstbrook argues that the map clearly proves that Smith named an existing native settlement at the site &quot;Salem&quot; in 1616. He offers a bit of revisionist history.<br /><br />&quot;I personally think it comes from the Old Testament. Salem was the old name for Jerusalem,&quot; says Firstbrook. &quot;John Smith was a devout Christian. He was a Puritan. He knew his Old Testament.&quot;<br />
Prince Charles named the River Charles after himself. <br />
John Smith named Smith Islands, straddling present-day Maine and New Hampshire, after himself. They were subsequently renamed the Isles of Shoals.<br />
&quot;In 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold, a highly respected mariner, named Cape Cod after the fish that was so plentiful in the region. But Prince Charles came along and renamed it Cape James, after his father,&quot; says Firstbrook. &quot;Interestingly, it never stuck.&quot; All of the sailors, perhaps out of respect for Gosnald, an instrumental leader in Jamestown, kept calling it Cape Cod.
Firstbrook believes this is a depiction of the now-extinct eastern cougar. The fact that Smith included it on the map suggests that he encountered the wild cat on one of his forays inland.<br />
Many believe that Plymouth was named after the Pilgrims&apos; point of departure, Plymouth, England. But Smith labeled &quot;New Plimouth&quot; on his map four years before the Pilgrims, blown off their intended course to the Hudson River, landed at the site. <br />In &quot;A Description of New England,&quot; Smith endorsed New Plimouth as &quot;an excellent good harbour, good land; and no want of any thing, but industrious people.&quot; As Firstbrook points out, &quot;He rather completely ignored the fact that there were industrious native people there already.&quot;<br />
When Smith and his crew crossed the Atlantic in the spring of 1614, they landed at Monhegan Island, a rocky fishing station ten miles off the coast of Maine. Smith did not indicate where the tiny island was situated on his map. <br /><br />&quot;You would not expect a feature just 1.5 miles long by half a mile wide to be shown at the scale of Smith&apos;s map,&quot; says Firstbrook. <br /><br />However, Firstbrook has matched Smith&apos;s map with modern versions to come up with this best estimate of where Monhegan Island would be on the 1616 chart.<br />

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