Page images
PDF
EPUB

indeed, spoke of the “ New World,” but all that they usually meant by that expression was newly discovered lands.

The real character of America was first found out by Magellan, when, sailing to the southwest (1519-1521), through the straits since known by his name, he passed round South America into that great ocean which he called the Pacific. Coasting up north

[blocks in formation]

Map of 1515, showing what some geographers then supposed North America to be. This is one of

the earliest maps on which the name America occurs. It will be noticed that at that time it was confined to South America.

for some distance, he ended by going across the newly discovered ocean of the west, and one ship of his expedition sailed entirely round the globe. Then men's eyes were opened to the truth. Then they saw that America, instead of being a part of the old

1 Magellan (Ma-gel'lan).

2 Magellan himself was killed on an island of the East Indies; but one of his captains succeeded in completing the voyage. He received a coat-of-arms from the king of Spain, on which a globe was represented with the motto; You first sailed round me,"

THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.

23

world, was in all probability an immense, independent continent, a real NEW WORLD.

Was that discovery hailed with delight? Not at all. Europe was still bent on finding “ that hidden secret of nature," a direct passage to Asia, and there stood America barring all progress. It is true that when the Spaniards found gold and silver in Mexico and Peru, they became reconciled in a measure to their disappointment. Still, for more than a hundred years after Columbus, most of the explorers spent their efforts not so much in seeking to find out what was in the new country, as in trying to hit on some passage through it or round it which should be shorter and better than that which Magellan had sailed through.

17. Summary.- In 1492 Columbus, while attempting to open up a direct western all-sea route to Asia, accidentally discovered the West India Islands. He had no true idea of the magnitude of his discovery; but supposed that land, and all that which he afterward saw, to be part of Asia. His great merit is that he, first of civilized men, dared to cross the unknown sea of the Atlantic. The glory of that bold exploit will always be his.

John Cabot, a Venetian, discovered the American continent in 1497

The voyages of Amerigo Vespucci, also a countryman of Columbus, suggested the name America. Last of all, Magellan's expedition round the world in 1519-1521 proved the earth to be a globe, and showed that America was in all probability a distinct continent, and not a part of Asia.

1

1 The authorities for this and all following sections will be found in the List of Books at the end of this work.

II.

The discovery of America was “the great event which gave a new world not only to Spain, but to civilized man.” —CHARLES SUMNER.

ATTEMPTS AT EXPLORING AND COLONIZING

AMERICA.

THE COUNTRY. — THE NATIVES. — EFFECTS OF THE DISCOVERY OF

AMERICA ON EUROPE.

18. Ponce de Leon's Expedition ; Discovery of Florida. - In 1509 Diego ? Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus, was appointed governor of San Domingo. Not long afterward he despatched a force to Cuba which conquered that island.

In the spring of 1513 Ponce de Leon, who had been removed by the king of Spain from the governorship of the island of Porto Rico, determined to start on an exploring expedition to the northward. De Leon was getting to be old, but the conquest of Cuba had stirred his blood, and he resolved to accomplish something of equal note. He had heard marvellous stories from the Indians of a land not very far distant which was said to possess two things he coveted, — gold, and a fountain which could make the old young again. De Leon readily obtained a royal charter : from Spain, which gave him power to go in search of that land of promise, and when found, to hold it as governor for life. The last privilege meant much in the eyes of the veteran adven

1 Ponce de Leon (Pon’thā dā Lā-on', Spanish pronunciation). 2 Diego (De-ā'go, Spanish pronunciation).

8 Charter: a written grant made by the king or head of a government, conferring certain rights and privileges.

DISCOVERY OF FLORIDA.

25

It was

turer; for if he could once bathe in the waters of the miraculous fountain, and get back his youth, he felt sure of a long term of office. With this tempting prospect of renewed energies and of a governorship lasting for many years, De Leon set sail.

After cruising about among the Bahama Islands for several weeks he discovered the mainland of North America. Easter Sunday,' a day which the Spaniards call Pascua Florida, or Flowery Easter. Shortly after, De Leon landed at a point between where St. Augustine now stands and the St. John's River.3 There he planted the cross, raised the Spanish flag, and in commemoration of the day when he had first seen the coast, he named the country Florida. Winter is almost unknown in that climate, and the dense foliage and profusion of bright flowers fully justified the name.

But De Leon found no gold. Worse still, he found no magical fountain that could make a man approaching threescore a man of twenty. Disappointed in what he most cared for, he set sail for Porto Rico. A number of years later he went back prepared to colonize the land he had discovered. He did not succeed ; for an arrow shot by an Indian inflicted a wound which ended his days. Thus the old man found death lurking for him in that Land of Flowers, where he had hoped to get for himself a new lease of life.

19. Balboa discovers a Southern Ocean. In the autumn of the year when De Leon first saw Florida (1513), Balboa,” a fellow-countryman, undertook an exploring expedition on the Isthmus of Panama. His object was to find a great body of water which the natives told him could be seen toward the south from the top of the mountains. The way to the mountains was through a country so rough and so covered with dense forest filled with underbrush that the Spaniards did well when they made seven or eight miles a day. At last, after terrible hardships, Balboa reached the summit of the ridge. Looking down, he beheld that magnificent expanse of water which Magellan, seven years later, sailed across on his way round the world. Such a sight was worth all it cost.

1 Easter Sunday, and not Palm Sunday, as is sometimes stated.
2 Pascua (Pas’koo-ah): meaning Easter.
3 See Map, page 51.

4 The name was not restricted to the peninsula now so called, but extended over a vast region beyond.

5 Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, commonly called Balboa (Bal-bo'ah).

6 See Map, page 35. Balboa crossed the isthmus (then called the Isthmus of Darien), about 150 miles southeast of Aspinwall, from a point opposite the Bay of San Miguel to that bay (Lat. 8° 50').

A number of days afterwards, Balboa, struggling over rocks, wading streams, and cutting his way through tangled vines, succeeded in getting to the shore.

Drawing his sword with one hand, and bearing a banner in the other, he marched out knee-deep into the smooth sea, and took possession of it and of all lands bordering on it for the sovereigns of Spain. Waving his sword, he said, “I am ready to defend” their claim “as long as the world endures, and until the final day of judgment of all mankind.” He named the ocean the South Sea.?

Six years later the Spanish general, Cortez, landed in Mexico, conquered that country, and thus established the power of Spain on the Pacific slope of the North American continent.

20. French Explorations; Montreal. — Up to this time *France had obtained no part of the new world. But the king of that country did not intend to let the other powers of Europe get it all. The Pope had, as we have seen, granted the new lands to rival nations ; but that did not deter Francis I., who then ruled France. “Show me," said he to the sovereigns of those nations, “that clause in the will of ‘Father Adam' which divides the earth between the Spanish and the Portuguese, and excludes the French." “Father Adam's ” will was not produced; the consequence was

1 See Paragraph 16. 3 Cortez (Cor'tez).

2 Because he first saw it to the south of him. 4 See Paragraph 12.

« EelmineJätka »