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Captain John Smith, Map of Virginia, circa 1606

Context

This map is attributed to Captain John Smith (1580-1631) and is one of the earliest representations of Virginia. It was one of the first maps to be published in Europe that accurately depicted the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic coastline. It also listed the names and locations of several of the Indian tribes living in the area. Because of this, Smith’s map is considered to be one of the most significant maps of colonial Virginia and enjoyed a wide distribution. Many mapmakers used this map as their guideline when drawing their own maps of Virginia for several decades.

Two illustrations are present on either side of the map. One illustration shows a Susquehanna tribesman wearing native garb, with Smith’s note that the Susquehanna were “gyant like people”. The other illustration depicts the interior of an Indian longhouse full of people, with an inscription that states that Powhatan “held this state and [fashion] when Capt. Smith was delivered to him [prisoner] 1607”.

The map is dated 1606, however Smith did not reach the shores of Virginia until 1607 and he did not publish this map until three years after his return to England in 1609.  Read more

Citation:
VIRGINIA/ Discouered and Discribed by Captayn John Smith/ Grauen by William Hole 1606. John Smith (ca. 1580–1631). 1612. London. State 8, 1624 or 1627. Copperplate engraving.

Standards

VS.1, VS.2a, VS.2c, VS. 2d, VS.3,V.S 3b VS.4, USI.1, USI.2, USI.3, USI.4b, CE.1, WG.1, WG.3, WHII.1, WHII.2, WHII.4, WHII.5, WHII.6, WHII.7, VUS.1, VUS.2, VUS.3

Suggested Questions

Analyze:
How would this map be useful for people seeking to travel to Virginia or invest in new colonies?

Current Connections:
If you were to draw a map of your home town or city, what would you include and think important enough to point out to people unfamiliar with the area?

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