Exploring America Exploring America

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					                                      Exploring America
               Taking the High Road to Social Studies, Arlene Capriola and Rigmor Swensen

    Who discovered America? Certainly, the              there other side of the mountains. Balboa
Native Americans must be considered the                 led about 200 men on a difficult journey to
first people in America. But the people in the          find it. They marched through the jungle and
rest of the world did not know about them.              swampland in Central America. In 1513,
    The Vikings came from what is now                   Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean, claiming
Scandinavia. Leif Ericksson led his men                 the area of Spain.
across the Atlantic Ocean. They sailed in
swift, wooden ships that curved up at both              Magellan: His Ships and Crew
ends. Their sagas, or epic stories, tell about          Circumnavigate the Globe
the Vikings arriving Vinland. The sagas
describe a land of forests, fields, and rivers              Ferdinand Magellan, a
full of fish. Although they definitely came to          Portuguese captain, got news
America in about 1000 A.D., they did not                of Balboa’s discovery. He
succeed in building a settlement. Therefore,            decided to sail to Asia through
Christopher Columbus continues to be                    this ocean. Portugal rejected
recognized as the man who discovered                    his request for ships. However, Spain
America.                                                supported him, giving him five sailing
                                 Christopher            vessels. Magellan sailed south in search of
                             Columbus was an            a water route through America. He finally
                             Italian mapmaker           sailed through a narrow passage of water, a
                             and navigator. He          strait, close to the southern tip of South
                             sailed for King            America.
Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain.                      Experienced and brave, Magellan crossed
Columbus told them of his new idea. He                  the uncharted waters of the Pacific Ocean to
believed people could reach the East by                 the Indies. Unfortunately, he was killed in a
sailing west. However, Columbus thought                 battle in the Philippines. He had lost four
the Atlantic Ocean was much smaller than it             ships and most of his men during the
is.                                                     voyage. The eighteen surviving sailors
    After a long voyage, his three ships finally        returned to Spain. They had crossed three
reached San Salvador in the Caribbean Sea.              oceans and covered 40,000 miles, the first to
He was sure he head reached the Indies,                 circumnavigate, or sail around the world.
where spices grew. Columbus made four                   This finally proved that the world was indeed
voyages to America. He never found the                  round, and that Asia could be reached by
spices and he never realized he had not                 sailing west.
reached Asia. However, his efforts led to
continuing discovery and settlement.                                             Aztecs
                                                        Cortez Conquers the Aztecs of Mexico
                                                           Meanwhile, Spain and Portugal focused
The Spanish in Central and South                        on conquering South and Central America.
                                                        Hernando Cortez, a Spanish explorer, led an
America
                                                        army of Conquistadors, or conquerors. They
         Discovers
Balboa Discovers the Pacific Ocean                      arrived in Mexico in 1519. Montezuma, the
   Europeans soon realized that North and               ruler of the Aztecs , thought the gods had
South America had to be continents. Still               sent them. He welcomed them with gold and
looking for a waterway to the East, Spain                                           silver. This only
sent explorers to find a way through or                                             made Cortez and
around America.                                                                     his men more
   Vasco Nunez de Balboa lived in a                                                 eager to conquer
Spanish colony in what is now Panama. The                                           the Aztecs.
Indians there told a story that interested him.                                         Horses did not
They said there was a magnificent ocean on              exist in the Americas and Cortez had
superior weapons and horses. The                 food, animals and disease was called the
Conquistadors quickly defeated the Aztecs        Columbian Exchange.
and destroyed their capital, Tenochtitlan.          The Inca and the Aztec civilizations were
This marked the end of the Aztec Empire and      the most advanced cultures in the Americas.
the beginning of Spanish control of Mexico.      This ended with the arrival of the Europeans.
In time, the Spanish built Mexico City on top
of the ruins of the old capital.                 Slavery Comes to the Americas
                                                     In ancient times, people made slaves of
Pizarro Conquers the Incas of Peru               the groups they conquered in battle. In some
    Francisco Pizarro, a Conquistador, arrived   societies, people could be bought and sold.
in South America in 1531. The Incas had a        However, slavery changed in the 1550s.
huge empire on the West Coast of South           Spanish and Portuguese settlers planted
America. This empire, with its center in Peru,   sugar on Caribbean Islands. The demand
covered an area of 2,000 miles along the         for cheap labor to work the sugar plantations
West Coast of South America.                     grew rapidly.
                                The Incas also       Europeans who traded in Africa, saw this
                             thought the         need as a means to economic gain. African
                             conquistadors       rulers on the coast of West Africa captured
                             were gods.          people from inland areas. The captives were
                             Atahualpa, the      then traded for European products, like guns,
                             Incan ruler,        textiles, and wine. In the Americas,
                             ordered his         plantation owners gladly bought these
people not to fight. The invading Spaniards      slaves.
captured Atahualpa. They held him for a              African slaves were
ransom of twenty-four tons of silver and gold.   transported from
After receiving the treasure, Pizarro killed     Africa to American
him anyway. The Spanish conquest of the          under inhuman
Incan civilization was swift and vicious.        conditions. They were
                                                 thrown like baggage
The Columbian Exchange                           into the cramped
    The Spanish did find gold and riches to      holds of the ship. Many of them died on the
bring back to their countries. They also         way. Cruel treatment awaited the survivors
brought home foods people in Europe had          who were sold at auction. The slaves
never seen before. These included potatoes,      became a source of forced labor on
cacao, tomatoes, and corn. The explorers, in     plantations, in mines, or in houses as
turn, introduced horses, chickens, pigs,         servants. Living conditions were usually very
sugarcane, and wheat to the new land.            poor. Slave families could be sold and
    Diseases like                                separated from each other.
influenza, small pox,
and measles were not                             The Spanish in North America
known in the                                        In 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon got
Americas. The                                    permission from King Ferdinand of Spain to
Conquistadors spread these illnesses to the      start a settlement in North America. When
Indians. Many Native Americans died              he arrived in the Southeast, he named the
because they were not immune to them.            area Florida, which in Spanish means “the
Native populations declined and then they        season of flowers.” Here he heard stories
became easier to conquer. This transfer of       from the Indians about a “Fountain of Youth.”
The thought of eternal youth sent him            France. This claim was supported by
searching for this mythical fountain, which he   Samuel de Champlain, who followed
never found. He also failed to establish a       Cartier’s route. Champlain built a fortress
settlement because of battles with the           which later became the city of Quebec. He
Indians.                                         traded with Indians, exchanging tools and
    Back in Spain people heard about the         cloth for fur pelts.
treasure Pizarro had brought back from Peru.         French traders followed the explorers.
A rumor spread that there were seven cities      They traveled to the Great Lakes in canoes
of gold in America. Francisco Coronado           to trade items for fur. Clothing made of fur
believed the legend and searched all over        was very popular in Europe at the time and
the southwest region of the United States.       brought the traders large profits.
He never found the cities of gold. However,          Later, missionaries
in 1524, he claimed the Southwest for Spain.     joined the explorers.
                         Meanwhile,              Their goal was to
                     Hernando De Soto,           bring the Christian
                     believing the same          religion to the natives.
                     story, sailed to Florida    Father Marquette, a
                     on a quest for the          missionary, and Louis
                     treasure. He traveled       Jolliet, a fur trader,
across the Southeast as far as the               discovered the Mississippi River in 1673. A
Mississippi River. De Soto gave up his           decade later, Rene-Robert La Salle sailed
search, but claimed the southeastern portion     down the Mississippi to Arkansas and
of the United States, too, for Spain.            claimed the Mississippi Valley for France.
                                                 He named it Louisiana in honor of King Louis
The French in North America: Explorers,          XIV of France.
Traders, and Missionaries
                                                 The English and Dutch in North America
    The stage for worldwide exploration was
set, soon other nations joined the race for          The King of England sent John Cabot to
new lands and riches. French and English         find the Northwest Passage to the Pacific
explorers headed for North America. They         Ocean in 1497. Cabot went ashore in
came for a variety of reasons. Many went in      Canada. Finding the area a rich fishing
search of a Northwest Passage to the             ground, he named the region Newfoundland
sources of spices and riches in the East.        for England. This established England’s right
Some were searching for gold, some wanted                                 to territory in
furs, and others sought territory for their                               America.
countries. The fearless determination and                                     Sir Frances
success of these men proved there was                                     Drake was the
much to be learned about the world.                                       captain of a sleek,
    In 1524, Giovanni Verrazano sailed for                                quick British ship.
France. He explored the eastern coast of the                              Men like him got the
United States, from the Carolinas to Maine.                               nickname, “Sea
The Verrazano Bridge, which crosses the          Dogs.” Drake’s smaller ship attacked the
Narrows of New York Harbor, is named after       large Spanish galleons returning to Spain
him.                                             from America and then stole their cargoes of
    A short time later, in 1531, Jacques         riches. In 1578, he sailed through the Strait
Cartier explored the coast of Canada and the     of Magellan up the west coast of South
St. Lawrence River, claiming the region for      America to Peru. Here he robbed Spanish
settlements and looted Spanish ships laden            King Philip II of Spain wanted to remove
with cargoes of treasure.                         Elizabeth form the throne of England and
    The British wanted to weaken the Spanish      reinstate the Catholic religion. He was also
in the New World. Hence, they encouraged          very angry about the “Sea Dogs,” who were
Drake and other “Sea Dogs” to continue their      causing so much trouble in Spanish America.
attacks. Drake sailed up the west coast and           King Philip decided to send a fleet of 130
claimed California for England. He was also       ships, the powerful Spanish Armada, to
the first Englishman to sail around the world.    conquer England. Using smaller, quicker
    In 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman,         ships, however, and help from the weather,
was hired by the Dutch to find a Northwest        the English defeated the Spanish Armada in
Passage. He discovered the Hudson River           1588. This changed the balance of power in
in New York, which bears his name. Soon           Europe and America.
people from Holland followed him to America.

Events in Europe Affect America
The Protestant Reformation
    Religious and political events in Europe
from about 1500-1700 helped steer the
course of events in America. In 1517, Martin
Luther, a Catholic priest in Germany, started
the Reformation. This religious movement
marked the beginning of the Protestant
religion and divided the Catholic Church.
    The result was conflict between Catholics
and Protestants. It included violence and
destruction. Catholics persecuted
Protestants.
                                                  QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Members
Members of the British Monarchy
                                                     1. How did life change for the Native
Convert                                                 Americans once Europeans began
    King Henry VIII of England broke with the           exploring the North American
Catholic Church and made himself head of                continent?
the Church of England. However,
Protestants within his country differed on
religion. This state of continual religious
conflict and suppression caused many to
seek a new land where they would be free to
worship as they wished.
                                                      2. Why was the defeat of the Spanish
King Philip Sends the Spanish Armada                     Armada so important?
    The religious issue turned into a political
one when King Henry VIII’s daughter came
to the throne. Queen Elizabeth I was a
Protestant. King Philip of Spain, however,
was a Catholic.

				
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