Following nearly two decades of 17th-century travel, Smith entered a new phase of his life. He ceased adventuring and turned his attention more fully to writing and self-promotion. While other soldiers and adventurers may have gone on to India or become pirates, Smith realized he could make a career as a writer, says Musselwhite.
Although Smith is almost entirely famous in popular culture because he was a fighter and a practical man, his recognition has endured because he was able to pivot and worked to win patronage at court. He was certainly not a gruff, egalitarian, according to Musselwhite.
After leaving New England, he spent the rest of his life in London. Kupperman explains that Smith knew all of the contemporary writers and was part of that group. He hung out with a more quill and parchment crowd, many of whom wrote forwards and introductions for his books.
"His circle really was this community of writers in early 17th-century London," says Kupperman.
And as far as his books, he has often been described by historians as a liar because he repeatedly wrote about the same material, changing and embroidering it. A main accusation against Smith is that he was constantly aggrandizing himself; the Pocahontas story offers a good example.
Kupperman says that is true, but he was also communicating in the style of the day.
If his later writings and general history are used as important sources for understanding the world of colonial promotion, they are not a source of "objective, factual detail," Musselwhite says. But Smith represents the most powerful example of what colonial promotion had become by the 1620s. All of the personal stories were woven into grandiose claims in an attempt to develop a patronage network and colonial schemes.
In 1624, Smith, who died in 1631, compiled all of his writings about the colonies into "The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles."
"The reason his image has endured is 90 percent because of his own creation," says Musselwhite. "You would really describe him as a pragmatic and tireless soldier and as a tireless self-promoter and publicist."
Today, we might call him an influencer.