The American History Company




Books for Study and Reading

References.--Parkman's Pioneers of France (edition of 1887 or a later edition); Irving's Columbus (abridged edition).

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 Yeomen.



Leif Ericson.

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.


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 found.

Portuguese seamen.

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 little fleet.

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, 71-76.
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 called America.


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.



Indian traditions.

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, 42.
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 comrades.

[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, 119-138.
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; Explorers, 60-69.
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.



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.


Drake on the California coast, 1577-78. Source-Book, 9.

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; Explorers, 177-189.

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, 189-200.

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 Americans, 131-135.

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.



§§ 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 weapons.

§§ 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 explorers?

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 northeastern coasts?

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 Magellan.

§§ 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 history?


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:--

1492 Columbus    
1497     Cabot.


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).


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 history.

In laying out the work on this period the teacher should remember that this part is in the nature of an introduction.

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