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THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.
discovered. Spain now asked him to confirm her claims to countries in the west. The Pope, anxious to keep peace between the two nations, granted the petition. Taking a map of the world (1493), he drew a perpendicular line from the north to the south pole, one hundred leagues west of the Azores. Later, the line was fixed at three hundred and seventy leagues west of the Cape Verd Islands. Portugal was to have all lands, not belonging to some Christian prince, found east of this line; Spain all similar lands west of it.
13. Disappointment of Spain with the newly found "Indies"; Death of Columbus. - Meantime Spain was picturing to herself the unbounded wealth she would gain through future voyages of Columbus. But he failed to find any mines of Map showing the Pope's division of the precious metal, and sore was the disappointment. It was said that his men brought back no gold, but only a mockery of it in their yellow, emaciated faces, discolored by disease. The wealth they found consisted of some hundreds of wretched Indians, kidnapped to be sold as slaves in Europe.
Loud was then the outcry against Columbus. The rabble nicknamed him the “Admiral of Mosquito Land." They pointed at him as the man who had promised everything, and ended by discovering nothing but “a wilderness peopled with naked savages."
Broken in health, broken in heart, the great sailor died in Spain, in neglect and poverty. Three years before his death he wrote a
1 The reason for drawing the first line one hundred leagues west of the Azores appears to have been because at that point the compass pointed exactly north. Portugal, however, strenuously objected, and got the line pushed farther west. By the final arrangement Portugal obtained Brazil when it was discovered.
2 Columbus died at Valladolid, in 1506. He was buried there, but later his body was removed to Seville. In 1536 it was transported to the island of San Domingo. After the cession of that island to France by the Spanish the remains of Columbus were exhumed (as was then supposed), carried to Havana, Cuba, and there
touching letter to the king and queen, asking for help, but none was given. Probably, if Queen Isabella had not soon after died, he would have received the assistance he so humbly begged. When she passed away, the admiral lost his best friend. But though his closing days were pitiful, yet none the less the voice that he imagined he once heard in a dream spoke truly. He had not found the Indies; but, as the voice seemed to say, he had unlocked “those gates of the ocean " which until then had been “fast shut with chains," — the chains of ignorance and fear.
14. John Cabot discovers the Continent of North America.
But great as was the merit of Columbus, he was not destined to be the first to look on the mainland of America, nor was he to give it the name it bears. The discovery of the continent was reserved for a fellow-countryman, John Cabot, of Venice, then residing in Bristol, England. Influenced by what Columbus had achieved, and encouraged by Henry VII., king of England, Cabot set sail westward in the spring of 1497. His object was to find a northern passage to the Indies and China, in order that he might secure the spice trade to the English sovereign. He failed to discover what he sought; but he did better, for he saw what no civilized man had yet beheld, that was — - the continent. The point where he made the discovery was probably in the vicinity of Cape Breton Island, at the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On a map drawn by his son Sebastian we read the following inscription:
deposited in the cathedral. Now, however, there seems good reason for believing that there was some mistake about this, and that the true remains of Columbus still rest in San Domingo.
1“I was twenty-eight years old [these figures are believed to be a mistake] ... when I came into your Highnesses' service, and now I have not a hair upon my head that is not gray: my body is infirm, and all that was left to me has been taken away and sold. . Hitherto I have wept over others; may Heaven now have mercy upon me, and may the earth weep for me!"— Letter of Columbus, 1503.
2 See quotation from the letter of Columbus at the beginning of this section, page 1. It was while he lay sick and in great trouble, on the Isthmus of Panama, that he fancied he heard the consoling voice.
8 Cabot (Cab'ot). 4 It is impossible to determine positively where John Cabot first saw land. Different authorities suppose Labrador, Newfoundland, and Cape Breton Island; the last is now strongly supported by special investigators,
THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.
“In the year of our Lord 1497, John Cabot, a Venetian, and his son Sebastian discovered that country which no one before his time had ventured to approach, on the 24th of Fune, about five o'clock in the morning.”1
Cabot planted the English flag on the coast, and took formal possession of the country for the English king.
The next year Sebastian Cabot made a voyage, and explored the coast from Nova Scotia to Cape Hatteras, or perhaps even farther south. He likewise asserted the title of Henry VII. to the land.
That king was notoriously fond of money, and knew how to hold on to it; but in this particular case he tried to be generous. Such services as those of the Cabots could not go wholly unrewarded. He appears to have given the father a small pension. Furthermore, in the royal note-book of that monarch's private expenses we find this significant memorandum, which is supposed to refer to the first expedition :
“10th August, 1497. To him that found the new isle, £10."3
Never, perhaps, in the world's history did any sovereign get so large a territory for so small an outlay; for on that voyage of Cabot's the English based their claim to this country. Nearly three hundred years later, Edmund Burke, the eminent British statesman, said in Parliament: “We derive our right in America from the discovery of (John] Cabot,+ who first made the northern continent in 1497."
Thus the country was found. Let us see, next, how it was named.
1 Another map, since discovered in Germany, and now preserved in Paris, bears date 1494. Whether this is a mistake for 1497 is matter of discussion. If the date is correct, then Cabot sailed three years earlier than has generally been supposed.
2 The voyage of Columbus in 1492"was much talked of,” says Cabot, “at the court of Henry VII.” He adds, “ Then increased in my heart a secret flame of desire to attempt some notable thing."
8 Ten pounds sterling represented, of course, much more than $50 then. Perhaps, indeed, it would be safe to call it as much as $700 or $800. Still, even at that rate, the king got his money's worth. Pension: money paid yearly.
4 Burke says Sebastian Cabot by mistake for John Cabot.
15. How the Name America originated. - Two years after John Cabot's voyage (1499) another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, a native of Florence, but then engaged in business in Spain, went out in partial command of an expedition of exploration. Following directly in the track of Columbus, and using his charts, he reached the northeastern part of the South American coast, somewhere in what is now Dutch Guiana. In the course of the next four years he made two more voyages in which he visited Brazil.2 On his return to Europe he wrote a pretty full account of what he had seen, which was published soon after (1504). Though it was nothing but a thin pamphlet, yet, from the fact that it was, so far as we know, the first printed description of the mainland of the Western Hemisphere, it naturally brought the name of the writer into notice.
At this time there was a German professor of geography named Waldseemüller, connected with the college of St. Dié,4 a village now included in Eastern France. He had read Vespucci's accounts
voyages particularly interested
In the year 1507 he
printed a little book in sedia strasbung
Latin on the college press and entitled it
“ An Introduction to Map showing the village of St. Die, Eastern France.
Geography." It consisted of only a few pages, and might easily be rolled up and carried
1 Amerigo Vespucci (Ah-ma-ree'go Ves-poot'chee): the name also frequently accurs in a Latinized form as Amer'icus Vespu'cius.
2 Brazil had been discovered by Pinzon, one of the companions of Columbus, in 1499, two years before Vespucci visited that country; and Columbus had reached the northeastern coast of South America in his third voyage, 1498.
3 Waldseemüller: German pronunciation nearly Valt'za-miller. 4 St. Dié (San De-ay').
6 Vespucci's voyages: according to what purports to be his own account, Amerigo Vespucci made his first voyage in the spring of 1497, and saw on June 6th
THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.
in one's pocket. Small as it was, there was, however, a sentence in it which was to have a lasting influence on the history of this country. That sentence was this suggestion made by Waldseemüller : “ And the fourth part of the world having been discovered by Amerigo or Americus, we may call it Amerigė, or AMERICA.”
Thus one-half the globe received the name it bears. One Italian had found the outposts of the new world, and claimed them for Spain ; a second had seen the northern mainland, and taken possession of it for England; finally, a third, coming after both the others, gave to it, perhaps without his own knowledge even, the title it now possesses in every atlas and history.
No man that ever lived before or since has such a monument as Amerigo Vespucci ; for a name derived from his is written across the map of two entire continents. If he deserved it, it is right he should have the honor; but most historians think he did not deserve it; that, in fact, he was no true discoverer, but only followed after those who were. In that case he has received by chance fame which he not only did not fairly earn, but which it may be he did not either seek or desire.
16. How America finally came to be considered a New and Distinct Continent. But even after America was named the idea that it was a distinct and separate division of the globe was not generally accepted. Some, indeed, thought that South America was a great island or southern continent like Australia ; but the majority believed with Columbus that it was simply an immense peninsula projecting from Southeastern Asia. People,
of that year"a coast which,” he says, "we thought to be that of a continent." If that coast was the continent, he discovered the mainland of America eighteen days before John Cabot did (June 24, 1497); and more than a year before Columbus saw it, on his third voyage (Aug. I, 1498). In 1499 Vespucci, following in the track of Columbus, visited the northeastern coast of South America, part of which had been seen and described by the great navigator the previous year. Later, Vespucci visited Brazil. All recent authorities on American history - namely, Winsor (“Narrative and Critical History of America "), Bancroft (revised edition, 1883), and Bryant believe that Vespucci did not make his first voyage until 1499, and that, therefore, John Cabot was the true discoverer of the continent of America.