THE UNITED STATES
DISCOVERY AND EXPLORATION,
Books for Study and Reading
References.--Parkman's Pioneers of France (edition
of 1887 or a later edition); Irving's Columbus (abridged
Home Readings.--Higginson's Tales of the Enchanted
Islands of the Atlantic; Mackie's With the Admiral of the
Ocean Sea (Columbus); Lummis's Spanish Pioneers; King's
De Soto in the Land of Florida; Wright's Children's
Stories in American History; Barnes's Drake and his
THE EUROPEAN DISCOVERY OF AMERICA
1. Leif Ericson discovers America, 1000.--In our early
childhood many of us learned to repeat the lines:--
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
In fourteen hundred, ninety-two.
Leif discovers America, 1000. Higginson,
25-30; American History Leaflets, No. 3.
We thought that he was the first European to visit America. But
nearly five hundred years before his time Leif Ericson had
discovered the New World. He was a Northman and the son of Eric the
Red. Eric had already founded a colony in Greenland, and Leif
sailed from Norway to make him a visit. This was in the year 1000.
Day after day Leif and his men were tossed about on the sea until
they reached an unknown land where they found many grape-vines.
They called it Vinland or Wineland. They Then sailed northward and
reached Greenland in safety. Precisely where Vinland was is not
known. But it certainly was part of North America. Leif Ericson,
the Northman, was therefore the real discoverer of America.
[Illustration: EUROPE, ICELAND, GREENLAND, AND NORTH
Marco Polo, Cathay, and Cipango.
2. Early European Travelers.--The people of Europe knew
more of the lands of Asia than they knew of Vinland. For hundreds
of years missionaries, traders, and travelers visited the Far East.
They brought back to Europe silks and spices, and ornaments of gold
and of silver. They told marvelous tales of rich lands and great
princes. One of these travelers was a Venetian named Marco Polo. He
told of Cathay or China and of Cipango or Japan. This last country
was an island. Its king was so rich that even the floors of his
palaces were of pure gold. Suddenly the Turks conquered the lands
between Europe and the golden East. They put an end to this trading
and traveling. New ways to India, China, and Japan must be
3. Early Portuguese Sailors.--One way to the East seemed
to be around the southern end of Africa--if it should turn out that
there was a southern end to that Dark Continent. In 1487 Portuguese
seamen sailed around the southern end of Africa and, returning
home, called that point the Cape of Storms. But the King of
Portugal thought that now there was good hope of reaching India by
sea. So he changed the name to Cape of Good Hope. Ten years later a
brave Portuguese sailor, Vasco da Gama, actually reached India by
the Cape of Good Hope, and returned safely to Portugal (1497).
Columbus and his beliefs. Higginson, 31-35;
Eggleston, 1-3; American History Leaflets, No. 1.
4. Columbus.--Meantime Christopher Columbus, an Italian,
had returned from an even more startling voyage. From what he had
read, and from what other men had told him, he had come to believe
that the earth was round. If this were really true, Cipango and
Cathay were west of Europe as well as east of Europe. Columbus also
believed that the earth was very much smaller than it really is,
and that Cipango was only three thousand miles west of Spain. For a
time people laughed at the idea of sailing westward to Cipango and
Cathay. But at length Columbus secured enough money to fit out a
Columbus reaches America, 1492. Higginson,
35-37; Eggleston, 3-5.
5. The Voyage, 1492.--Columbus left Spain in August,
1492, and, refitting at the Canaries, sailed westward into the Sea
of Darkness. At ten o'clock in the evening of October 20, 1492,
looking out into the night, he saw a light in the distance. The
fleet was soon stopped. When day broke, there, sure enough, was
land. A boat was lowered, and Columbus, going ashore, took
possession of the new land for Ferdinand and Isabella, King and
Queen of Aragon and Castile. The natives came to see the
discoverers. They were reddish in color and interested
Columbus--for were they not inhabitants of the Far East? So he
called them Indians.
[Illustration: SHIPS, SEA-MONSTERS, AND INDIANS. From an early
Spanish book on America.]
The Indians, Higginson, 13-24; Eggleston,
Columbus discovers Cuba.
6. The Indians and the Indies.--These Indians were not at
all like those wonderful people of Cathay and Cipango whom Marco
Polo had described. Instead of wearing clothes of silk and of gold
embroidered satin, these people wore no clothes of any kind. But it
was plain enough that the island they had found was not Cipango. It
was probably some island off the coast of Cipango, so on Columbus
sailed and discovered Cuba. He was certain that Cuba was a part of
the mainland of Asia, for the Indians kept saying "Cubanaquan."
Columbus thought that this was their way of pronouncing Kublai
Khan--the name of a mighty eastern ruler. So he sent two messengers
with a letter to that powerful monarch. Returning to Spain,
Columbus was welcomed as a great admiral. He made three other
voyages to America. But he never came within sight of the mainland
of the United States.
John Cabot visits North America, 1497.
Higginson, 40-42; Eggleston, 8-10; American History
Leaflets, No. 9.
7. John Cabot, 1497.--While Columbus explored the West
Indies, another Italian sailed across the Sea of Darkness farther
north. His name was John Cabot, and he sailed with a license from
Henry VII of England, the first of the Tudor kings. Setting boldly
forth from Bristol, England, he crossed the North Atlantic and
reached the coast of America north of Nova Scotia. Like Columbus,
he thought that he had found the country of the Grand Khan. Upon
his discovery English kings based their claim to the right to
colonize North America.
Americus Vespucius, his voyages and books.
Higginson, 37-38; Eggleston, 7-8.
The New World named America.
8. The Naming of America.--Many other explorers also
visited the new-found lands. Among these was an Italian named
Americus Vespucius. Precisely where he went is not clear. But it is
clear that he wrote accounts of his voyages, which were printed and
read by many persons. In these accounts he said that what we call
South America was not a part of Asia. So he named it the New World.
Columbus all the time was declaring that the lands he had found
were a part of Asia. It was natural, therefore, that people in
thinking of the New World should think of Americus Vespucius.
Before long some one even suggested that the New World should be
named America in his honor. This was done, and when it became
certain that the other lands were not parts of Asia, the name
America was given to them also until the whole continent came to be
[Illustration: AMERICUS VESPUCIUS.]
Balboa sees the Pacific, 1513.
Magellan's great voyage, 1520. Eggleston, 10-11.
9. Balboa and Magellan, 1513, 1520.--Balboa was a
Spaniard who came to San Domingo to seek his fortune. He became a
pauper and fled away from those to whom he owed money. After long
wanderings he found himself on a high mountain in the center of the
Isthmus of Panama. To the southward sparkled the waters of a new
sea. He called it the South Sea. Wading into it waist deep, he
waved his sword in the air and took possession of it for his royal
master, the King of Spain. This was in 1513. Seven years later, in
1520, Magellan, a Portuguese seaman in the service of the Spanish
king, sailed through the Straits of Magellan and entered the same
great ocean, which he called the Pacific. Thence northward and
westward he sailed day after day, week after week, and month after
month, until he reached the Philippine Islands. The natives killed
Magellan. But one of his vessels found her way back to Spain around
the Cape of Good Hope.
SPANISH AND FRENCH PIONEERS IN THE UNITED STATES
10. Stories of Golden Lands.--Wherever the Spaniards
went, the Indians always told them stories of golden lands
somewhere else. The Bahama Indians, for instance, told their cruel
Spanish masters of a wonderful land toward the north. Not only was
there gold in that land; there was also a fountain whose waters
restored youth and vigor to the drinker. Among the fierce Spanish
soldiers was Ponce de Leon (Pon'tha da la-on'). He determined to
see for himself if these stories were true.
De Leon visits Florida, 1513. Higginson,
De Leon's death.
11. Discovery of Florida, 1513.--In the same year that
Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, Ponce de Leon sailed northward
and westward from the Bahamas. On Easter Sunday, 1513, he anchored
off the shores of a new land. The Spanish name for Easter was La
Pascua de los Flores. So De Leon called the new land Florida. For
the Spaniards were a very religious people and usually named their
lands and settlements from saints or religious events. De Leon then
sailed around the southern end of Florida and back to the West
Indies. In 1521 he again visited Florida, was wounded by an Indian
arrow, and returned home to die.
Discovery of the Mississippi.
Conquest of Mexico.
12. Spanish Voyages and Conquests.--Spanish sailors and
conquerors now appeared in quick succession on the northern and
western shores of the Gulf of Mexico. One of them discovered the
mouth of the Mississippi. Others of them stole Indians and carried
them to the islands to work as slaves. The most famous of them all
was Cortez. In 1519 he conquered Mexico after a thrilling campaign
and found there great store of gold and silver. This discovery led
to more expeditions and to the exploration of the southern half of
the United States.
Coronado sets out from Mexico, 1540.
The pueblo Indians. Source Book, 6.
13. Coronado in the Southwest, 1540-42.--In 1540 Coronado
set out from the Spanish towns on the Gulf of California to seek
for more gold and silver. For seventy-three days he journeyed
northward until he came to the pueblos (pweb'-lo) of the Southwest.
These pueblos were huge buildings of stone and sun-dried clay. Some
of them were large enough to shelter three hundred Indian families.
Pueblos are still to be seen in Arizona and New Mexico, and the
Indians living in them even to this day tell stories of Coronado's
coming and of his cruelty. There was hardly any gold and silver in
these "cities," so a great grief fell upon Coronado and his
[Illustration: By permission of the Bureau of Ethnology.
THE PUEBLO OF ZUÑI (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH).]
Coronado finds the Great Plains.
14. The Great Plains.--Soon, however, a new hope came to the
Spaniards, for an Indian told them that far away in the north there
really was a golden land. Onward rode Coronado and a body of picked
men. They crossed vast plains where there were no mountains to
guide them. For more than a thousand miles they rode on until they
reached eastern Kansas. Everywhere they found great herds of
buffaloes, or wild cows, as they called them. They also met the
Indians of the Plains. Unlike the Indians of the pueblos, these
Indians lived in tents made of buffalo hides stretched upon poles.
Everywhere there were plains, buffaloes, and Indians. Nowhere was
there gold or silver. Broken hearted, Coronado and his men rode
southward to their old homes in Mexico.
De Soto in Florida, 1539. Explorers,
De Soto crosses the Mississippi.
15. De Soto in the Southeast, 1539-43.--In 1539 a Spanish
army landed at Tampa Bay, on the western coast of Florida. The
leader of this army was De Soto, one of the conquerors of Peru. He
"was very fond of the sport of killing Indians" and was also greedy
for gold and silver. From Tampa he marched northward to South
Carolina and then marched southwestward to Mobile Bay. There he had
a dreadful time; for the Indians burned his camp and stores and
killed many of his men. From Mobile he wandered northwestward until
he came to a great river. It was the Mississippi, and was so wide
that a man standing on one bank could not see a man standing on the
opposite bank. Some of De Soto's men penetrated westward nearly to
the line of Coronado's march. But the two bands did not meet. De
Soto died and was buried in the Mississippi. Those of his men who
still lived built a few boats and managed to reach the Spanish
settlements in Mexico.
Other Spanish explorers.
Attempts at settlement.
16. Other Spanish Expeditions.--Many other Spanish
explorers visited the shores of the United States before 1550. Some
sailed along the Pacific coast; others sailed along the Atlantic
coast. The Spaniards also made several attempts to found
settlements both on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico and on
Chesapeake Bay. But all these early attempts ended in failure. In
1550 there were no Spaniards on the continent within the present
limits of the United States, except possibly a few traders and
missionaries in the Southwest.
Verrazano's voyages, 1524. Higginson, 44-45;
Cartier in the St. Lawrence, 1534-36. Explorers 99-117.
17. Early French Voyages, 1524-36.--The first French
expedition to America was led by an Italian named Verrazano
(Ver-rä-tsä'-no), but he sailed in the service of Francis
I, King of France. He made his voyage in 1524 and sailed along the
coast from the Cape Fear River to Nova Scotia. He entered New York
harbor and spent two weeks in Newport harbor. He reported that the
country was "as pleasant as it is possible to conceive." The next
French expedition was led by a Frenchman named Cartier (Kar'-tya').
In 1534 he visited the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1535 he sailed up
the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. But before he could get out of
the river again the ice formed about his ships. He and his crew had
to pass the winter there. They suffered terribly, and twenty-four
of them perished of cold and sickness. In the spring of 1536 the
survivors returned to France.
Ribault explores the Carolina coasts, 1562.
French colonists in Carolina. Explorers, 149-156.
18. The French in Carolina, 1562.--The French next
explored the shores of the Carolinas. Ribault (Re'-bo') was the
name of their commander. Sailing southward from Carolina, he
discovered a beautiful river and called it the River of May. But we
know it by its Spanish name of St. Johns. He left a few men on the
Carolina coast and returned to France. A year or more these men
remained. Then wearying of their life in the wilderness, they built
a crazy boat with sails of shirts and sheets and steered for
France. Soon their water gave out and then their food. Finally,
almost dead, they were rescued by an English ship.
French colonists in Florida.
19. The French in Florida, 1564-65.--While these
Frenchmen were slowly drifting across the Atlantic, a great French
expedition was sailing to Carolina. Finding Ribault's men gone, the
new colony was planted on the banks of the River of May. Soon the
settlers ate up all the food they had brought with them. Then they
bought food from the Indians, giving them toys and old clothes in
exchange. Some of the colonists rebelled. They seized a vessel and
sailed away to plunder the Spaniards in the West Indies. They told
the Spaniards of the colony on the River of May, and the Spaniards
resolved to destroy it.
Spaniards and Frenchmen.
End of the French settlement, 1565. Explorers, 159-166.
20. The Spaniards in Florida, 1565.--For this purpose the
Spaniards sent out an expedition under Menendez (Ma-nen'-deth). He
sailed to the River of May and found Ribault there with a French
fleet. So he turned southward, and going ashore founded St.
Augustine. Ribault followed, but a terrible storm drove his whole
fleet ashore south of St. Augustine. Menendez then marched over
land to the French colony. He surprised the colonists and killed
nearly all of them. Then going back to St. Augustine, he found
Ribault and his shipwrecked sailors and killed nearly all of them.
In this way ended the French attempts to found a colony in Carolina
and Florida. But St. Augustine remained, and is to-day the oldest
town on the mainland of the United States.
PIONEERS OF ENGLAND
Hawkins's voyages, 1562-67.
21. Sir John Hawkins.--For many years after Cabot's
voyage Englishmen were too busy at home to pay much attention to
distant expeditions. But in Queen Elizabeth's time English seamen
began to sail to America. The first of them to win a place in
history was John Hawkins. He carried cargoes of negro slaves from
Africa to the West Indies and sold them to the Spanish planters. On
his third voyage he was basely attacked by the Spaniards and lost
four of his five ships. Returning home, he became one of the
leading men of Elizabeth's little navy and fought most gallantly
for his country.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE.
Drake on the California coast, 1577-78.
22. Sir Francis Drake.--A greater and a more famous man
was Hawkins's cousin, Francis Drake. He had been with Hawkins on
his third voyage and had come to hate Spaniards most vigorously. In
1577 he made a famous voyage round the world. Steering through the
Straits of Magellan, he plundered the Spanish towns on the western
coasts of South America. At one place his sailors went on shore and
found a man sound asleep. Near him were four bars of silver. "We
took the silver and left the man," wrote the old historian of the
voyage. Drake also captured vessels loaded with gold and silver and
pearls. Sailing northward, he repaired his ship, the
Pelican, on the coast of California, and returned home by
the way of the Cape of Good Hope.
Ralegh and his colonies. Eggleston, 13-17;
23. Sir Walter Ralegh.--Still another famous Englishman
of Elizabeth's time was Walter Ralegh. He never saw the coasts of
the United States, but his name is rightly connected with our
history, because he tried again and again to found colonies on our
shores. In 1584 he sent Amadas and Barlowe to explore the Atlantic
seashore of North America. Their reports were so favorable that he
sent a strong colony to settle on Roanoke Island in Virginia, as he
named that region. But the settlers soon became unhappy because
they found no gold. Then, too, their food began to fail, and Drake,
happening along, took them back to England.
Ralegh's last attempt, 1587. Explorers,
24. The "Lost Colony," 1587.--Ralegh made still one more
attempt to found a colony in Virginia. But the fate of this colony
was most dreadful. For the settlers entirely disappeared,--men,
women, and children. Among the lost was little Virginia Dare, the
first English child born in America. No one really knows what
became of these people. But the Indians told the later settlers of
Jamestown that they had been killed by the savages.
Ruin of Spain's sea-power. English History for
25. Destruction of the Spanish Armada, 1588.--This
activity of the English in America was very distressing to the King
of Spain. For he claimed all America for himself and did not wish
Englishmen to go thither. He determined to conquer England and thus
put an end to these English voyages. But Hawkins, Drake, Ralegh,
and the men behind the English guns were too strong even for the
Invincible Armada. Spain's sea-power never recovered from this
terrible blow. Englishmen could now found colonies with slight fear
of the Spaniards. When the Spanish king learned of the settlement
of Jamestown, he ordered an expedition to go from St. Augustine to
destroy the English colony. But the Spaniards never got farther
than the mouth of the James River. For when they reached that
point, they thought they saw the masts and spars of an English
ship. They at once turned about and sailed back to Florida as fast
as they could go.
QUESTIONS AND TOPICS
§§ 1-3.--a. To how much honor are the Northmen
entitled as the discoverers of America?
b. Draw from memory a map showing the relative positions of
Norway, Iceland, Greenland, and North America.
c. What portions of the world were known to Europeans in 1490?
Explain by drawing a map.
§§ 4-6.--a. State Columbus's beliefs about the shape
and size of the earth.
b. What land did Columbus think that he had reached?
c. What is meant by the statement that "he took possession" of
the new land?
d. Describe the appearance of the Indians, their food, and their
§§ 7-9.--a. What other Italians sailed across the
Atlantic before 1500? Why was Cabot's voyage important?
b. Why was the New World called America and not Columbia?
c. Describe the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Why was this
discovery of importance?
§§ 10-12.--a. What was the chief wish of the Spanish
b. How did they treat the Indians?
§§ 13-16.--a. Describe a pueblo. What do the existing
pueblos teach us about the Indians of Coronado's time?
b. Describe Coronado's march.
c. What other band of Spaniards nearly approached Coronado's
men? Describe their march.
d. What other places were explored by the Spaniards?
§§ 17-20.--a. Why did Verrazano explore the
b. Describe Cartier's experiences in the St. Lawrence.
c. Describe the French expeditions to Carolina and Florida.
d. What reason had the Spaniards for attacking the French?
§§ 21, 22.--a. Look up something about the early
voyages of Francis Drake.
b. Compare Drake's route around the world with that of
§§ 23-25.--a. Explain carefully Ralegh's connection
with our history.
b. Was the territory Ralegh named Virginia just what is now the
state of Virginia?
c. What is sea-power?
d. What effect did the defeat of Spain have upon our
a. Draw upon an Outline Map the routes of all the explorers
mentioned. Place names and dates in their proper places.
b. Arrange a table of the various explorers as follows, stating
in two or three words what each accomplished:--
TOPICS FOR SPECIAL WORK
a. Columbus's first voyage, Irving (abridged edition).
b. Coronado's expedition, Lummis's Spanish Pioneers.
c. Verrazano and Cartier, Higginson's Explorers.
d. The "Lost Colony," Higginson's Explorers.
e. The England of Elizabeth (a study of any small history of
England will suffice for this topic).
SUGGESTIONS TO THE TEACHER
The teacher is recommended to study sources in preparing her
work, making selections where possible, for the pupil's use. Some
knowledge of European history (English especially) is essential for
understanding our early history, and definite work of this nature
on the teacher's part, at least, is earnestly advised.
Encourage outside reading by assigning subjects for individual
preparation, the results to be given to the class. Let the children
keep note books for entering the important points thus given.
Map study and map drawing should be constant, but demand correct
relations rather than finished drawings. Geographical environment
should be emphasized as well as the influence of natural resources
and productions in developing the country and in determining its
In laying out the work on this period the teacher should
remember that this part is in the nature of an introduction.