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I. The Discovery and Naming of America, 1492 to 1521
LIST OF FULL AND DOUBLE-PAGE MAPS.
1. The World as known before the Sailing of Columbus.
Magellan, Drake, and Gosnold (double page).....
North America ....
VI. The Thirteen English Colonies and the French Explorations and
VIII. The Revolution, the Middle States (colored).
XIV. Territorial Growth of the United States from 1783 to the Present
LIST OF FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
1. Stuart's Washington....
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY.
“He [the Most High] gave to thee [Columbus] the keys of those gates of the Ocean which were fast closed with such mighty chains." Dream of Columbus, narrated in his Letter to the King and Queen of Spain, 1503.
THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.
COLUMBUS. - CABOT. - AMERIGO VESPUCCI. 1
1. Birth of Columbus; Ideas about the Earth; the “Sea of Darkness." — Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America, was born at Genoa, Italy, about the year 1436.3
At that time the earth was generally supposed to be flat, to be much smaller than it actually is, and to be habitable on its upper side alone.
The only countries laid down on the rude and imperfect maps then in use were the continent of Europe, part of Asia, a narrow strip of Northern and Eastern Africa; and, finally, a few islands, of which Iceland was the largest."
1 Amerigo Vespucci (or Americus Vespucius): Italian pronunciation, Ah-maree'go Ves-poot'chee.
2 The exact year of his birth cannot be determined; several excellent authorities favor 1436. 8 See Map No. I, page 2.
4 Except, of course, Great Britain.
The Atlantic was popularly called the “Sea of Darkness.”
was believed to be covered with thick, black fogs, and to be guarded by terrible monsters, which alike made
it impassable. For these Asia
reasons, though the mariner's compass had long been known, yet navigators
seldom dared to go out of Indian Ocean
sight of land, except to reach such islands as the Canaries and Azores, which some storm-driven sailor
had originally discovered The world as known in 1436. The faint, dotted outline
of the coast of Africa shows the unexplored por- by chance. tion. The monsters represent the terrors of unknown
Europe, at this period, regions.
had no true ocean merce: its trade by sea was confined to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast.
2. The Voyages and Discoveries of the Northmen. - To these statements one marked exception must be made. The Northmen, those daring sailors of Norway and Denmark, from whom our own English-speaking race has largely sprung, braved even the tempests and the terrors of the Atlantic. By accident they made a number of remarkable discoveries several centuries before Columbus. Though they had no compass, - no guide, in fact, but the sun and the stars, — yet they were accustomed to
i The Northmen invaded and permanently settled the northeastern half of England in the ninth century. In the next century they established themselves in Northwestern France, which district was called from them Normandy (the country of the Normans, or Northmen). In 1066 the Normans crossed the Channel and conquered England. Hence many English, since the ninth century, and their descendants in America, must have sprung from the Northmen.
2 Sometimes the Northmen, in their distant expeditions, took ravens with them; when doubtful which way to steer for land they let the birds loose and followed their flight.
THE DISCOVERY AND NAMING OF AMERICA.
make long voyages in rudely built vessels not larger than fishingsmacks.
About the year 850 a famous sea-rover of the Northmen was caught in a violent tempest and driven upon the coast of Iceland. Not long after, an expedition was sent and a settlement made in the new land. In the course of the next hundred years the Northmen pushed their light barks farther and farther west, until at last they reached the bleak shores of Greenland. There, also, they established a colony. But even that distant and dreary outpost was not to be the utmost limit of their wanderings. The coast of North America had already been seen by these adventurous explorers. In the year 1000 Leif, the son of Eric the Red, reached that coast, and was henceforth called “ Leif the Lucky.”
The place where he and his companions landed, and where they later spent one or more winters, cannot be exactly determined. According to their account they found wild grapes growing in such abundance that they named the region Vinland. This may have been, as many have supposed, a part of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, or it may have been as far north as Labrador. There are no ruins or other remains to mark their temporary settlement on the American coast, although in Greenland the walls of a stone church and of other buildings show where they had a colony.
3. The Discovery of America by the Northmen had no Practical Result. — But however interesting it may be to us to know that the Northmen visited our shores as early as the year 1000, still their discovery led to nothing. The reasons are readily found. First, they were then only partly civilized, and appear
1 In the account of their return from Vinland to Greenland the records of the - Northmen say: "And when spring came they got ready and sailed off; and Leif gave a name to the land after its sort, and called it Vinland (Vineland). They sailed then ... until they saw Greenland . . . after that, Leif was called ' Leif the Lucky.'"
It was thought at one time that the ancient round stone tower at Newport, commonly called the “Old Stone Mill," was the work of the Northmen; but that idea is now pretty generaliy abandoned, and the old mill is believed to have been built by Governor Benedict Arnold of Rhode Island, in 1676–7.