The image gallery will illuminate the context of Jedediah Smith’s travels and experiences in early 19 th century America. Through artistic representations and archival examples, the scenes viewed by Smith and his contemporaries can become more vivid and meaningful.
This modern portrait of Jedediah Smith, drawn by artist Ken Cardoza, and based on a written description of Smith, attempts to show Smith as if drawn with a pencil on paper by a friend. No images of him drawn from life have been found. Photography did not come to the West until a decade after his death.
There is some mystery regarding this portrait. Some accounts contend that the original came from a relative of Smith’s, but no single source image now exists. Its date of origin and artist is unknown, and yet it is the most recognizable image in the popular media. The suit coat and tie are very similar to other portraits from the era. Smith didn’t dress like this all the time.
Research done in the 1970’s revealed that Smith traveled to New Orleans in the spring of 1821. This image shows a street in one of the city’s first suburbs, the Faubourg Marigny, located downriver from the French Quarter. The diversity of the town’s population is shown clearly in this scene. (From the Historic New Orleans Collection)