Several Portsmouth area lawmakers want the state to mark the 400th anniversary of Capt. John Smith's discovery of the Isles of Shoals by building a new monument in 2014.
House Bill 441 was unanimously deemed inexpedient to legislate by the House Public Works and Highways Committee on Feb. 12, but the proposal may be heard again during the state Legislature's capital budget deliberations.
Capt. John Smith discovered the Isles of Shoals in 1614 and originally named them the "Smyth Isles" after himself before the name was later changed. State Sens. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, and Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, were among the bill's sponsors.
Rep. David Campbell, R-Nashua, chairman of the House public works panel, wrote in his recommendation to the full House of Representatives on Feb. 20 that previous monuments to honor Smith's discovery have occurred and two of the monuments have suffered damage from the elements.
He wrote that a monument was erected on Star Island in 1864 that was a four-sided obelisk topped by three-severed, turban clad Turkish heads that pay homage to Smith's time as a mercenary who fought the Turks in Eastern Europe. Another monument was erected to mark the 300th anniversary of Smith's discovery in 1914 that was later rebuilt with a giant stone and a bronze plaque.
"Over the past century, this monument too, has been greatly worn by the elements," Campbell wrote.
Campbell also noted that if the state Legislature were to approve a bill to build a new monument to mark the 400th anniversary of Smith's discovery of the Isles of Shoals, it would represent one of the few times that such a milestone has been recognized in the United States.
He wrote that 400th anniversary monuments have been built to honor the founding of the Spanish St. Augustine, Fla., settlement and Jamestown, Va., which was named after Smith and founded in 1609. He wrote that Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass., is scheduled to mark its 400th anniversary in 2020.