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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