John Smith was an important figure in the founding of the American colonies who had a very colorful past before he arrived in Jamestown. Although he is most commonly associated with Pocahontas, John Smith also a runaway, a pirate and a slave.
John Smith attempted to run away from home when he was only 13 years old. He wanted to be a sailor. He was stopped, however, and later went on to be a soldier during a war between the Holy Roman Empire and the Ottomans. He earned his way to join the military by working briefly as a pirate.
While fighting the Turks, Smith was captured and enslaved. Supposedly, a Muslim woman to whom he was presented as a gift fell in love with him. She turned him over to her brother in the hope that he would convert Smith to Islam. The brother was cruel, however, and Smith eventually killed him.
Smith's military exploits made him somewhat of a legend in England, and he was eventually selected to be among those to found the Jamestown Colony in Virginia. He was arrested for mutiny during the trip to Virginia and was actually a jailed prisoner when the ship reached the colony. Smith eventually served as president of the colony.