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Unit 1

1.3 European Exploration in the Americas

3 min readseptember 18, 2020

Will Pulgarin


Columbus, 1492

New ships, such as the caravel, allowed for longer exploratory voyages. In August of 1492, Columbus used three caravels (la Niña, la Pinta, and Santa Maria), supplied and funded by the Spanish crown, to set sail towards India. After an arduous voyage, Columbus and his men reached land on October 12, 1492. At dawn Columbus went ashore and encountered a group of people who called themselves the Taino. He renamed their island San Salvador and claimed it for Spain. 
Columbus observed in his journal:
“They…brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned…They were well built, with good bodies and handsome features…They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…They would make fine servants…With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” 
When Columbus returned to Spain, word of his discovery spread through Europe and ignited the Age of Exploration. 
🎥Watch: AP U.S. History - Columbus & the Legacy of Discovery
https://www.americanyawp.com/text/wp-content/uploads/Tabula_Terre_Nove1.jpg

Resources:

1513 Atlantic map from cartographer Martin Waldseemuller. Wikimedia.

The Age of Exploration

Columbus’ voyage pleased the Spanish monarchs, who quickly funded more voyages to the New World. Other countries quickly set sail across the Atlantic to lay claims and to explore. Like Columbus, European explorers set sail to the New World in search of gold. Many set sail to introduce the native people to God, while others set sail seeking glory.

Explorers

The main explorers during the Age of Exploration were:
Date
Explorer
Country they sailed for
Major Achievement
1000 CE
Leif Ericson
Norway
First explorer to come ashore in the New England Area
 
1487
Bartolomeu Dias
Portugal
First to sail around the southernmost tip of Africa, setting up the route from Europe to Asia
 
1492
Christopher Columbus
Spain
Landed in the Bahamas – eventually this would lead to the discovery of the Americas
 
1497
John Cabot
England
Sailed to Chesapeake Bay; helped lay the groundwork for the later British claim to Canada
 
1499
Amerigo Vespucci
Spain
Explored coast of South America; America was named after Amerigo
 
1513
Juan Ponce de Leon
Spain
Discovered Florida; died looking for the fountain of youth🤔
1519
Ferdinand Magellan
Spain
Reached southern part of South America
 
1519
Hernan Cortez
Spain
Conquered the Aztecs in Mexico
 
1531
Francisco Pizarro
Spain
Conquered the Incas in Peru
1534
Jacques Cartier
France
Looked for the northwest passage; explored parts of Canada
1540
Francisco Vasquez Coronado
Spain
Explored and led a large expedition from Mexico to present-day Kansas through parts of the southwestern United States
 
1603
Samuel de Champlain
France
Explored and established the city of Quebec in the northern colony of New France
 
1607 & 1608
Henry Hudson
England
Discovered the Hudson River and Hudson Bay.
 

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