Captain John Smith’s most famous adventures were as one of the first settlers of James Fort. Today his bronze statue stands within the outlines of the original fort and is one of the most recognized features of Historic Jamestowne.
Norfolk native William Couper designed the heroic portrayal of Smith, who served as leader of the colony for a year but inspired enough envy that he both entered and left the Virginia colony under arrest. With a granite base, the statue measures 20 feet tall. The inscription on the base reads: “John Smith, Governor of Virginia, 1608” and features Smith’s adopted coat of arms and motto, vincere est vivere (“to live is to conquer”).
The statue was a gift from Joseph Bryan and his wife, Isobel Lamont Stewart Bryan, early supporters of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (now Preservation Virginia). The statue was unveiled May 13, 1909, by Joseph Bryan III, grandson of original donor.