Chapter 2 Exploring the Americas 1400-1625

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Exploring the Americas


Why It Matters

Although the English have been the major influence on United States history, they are only part of the story. Beginning with Native Americans and continuing through time, people from many cultures came to the Americas.

The Impact Today

The Americas today consist of people from cultures around the globe. Native Americans, Spanish, Africans, and others discussed in Chapter 2 have all played key roles in shaping the culture we now call American.

The American Republic to 1877 Video The chapter 2 video, "Exploring the Americas," presents the challenges faced by European explorers, and discusses the reasons they came to the Americas.

1429 Joan of Arc defeats the English at French town of Orleans

C. 1456 Johannes Gutenberg uses movable metal type in printing

1492 Christopher Columbus reaches America

1497 John Cabot sails to Newfoundland

c. 1500 Songhai Empire rises in Africa

1513 Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama

Rome becomes a major center of Renaissance culture


1517 Martin Luther promotes Church reform

1522 Magellan's crew completes first world voyage

1534 Cartier claims Canada for France

c. 1570 Iroquois form League of Five Nations

1588 England defeats Spanish Armada

1607 Jamestown settled

1620 Pilgrims found Plymouth

FOLDABLES Study Organizer

Evaluating Information Study Foldable Make this foldable to help you learn about European exploration of the Americas.

Step 1 Fold the paper from the top right corner down so the edges line up. Cut off the leftover piece.

-Fold a triangle. Cut off the extra edge.

Step 2 Fold the triangle in half. Unfold.

-The folds will form an X dividing four equal sections.

Step 3 Cut up one fold line and stop at the middle. Draw an X on one tab and label the other three.

Step 4 Fold the X flap under the other flap and glue together.

-This makes a three-sided pyramid.

Reading and Writing As you read, ask yourself why England, France, and Spain were exploring the Americas. Write your questions under each appropriate pyramid wall.

---Founding of Maryland by Emanuel Leutze Native Americans lived in North America long before the Europeans arrived.

History Online

Chapter Overview

Visit tarvol.glencoe com and click on Chapter 2—Chapter Overviews to pre­view chapter information.



A Changing World

Guide to Reading

Main Idea

New knowledge and ideas led Euro­peans to explore overseas.

Key Terms

classical, Renaissance, technology, astrolabe, caravel, pilgrimage, mosque

Reading Strategy

Determining Cause and Effect As you read the section, re-create the diagram below and identify three reasons Europeans increased over­seas exploration.

Read to Learn

• how technology made long sea voyages possible.

• how great civilizations flourished in Africa.

Section Theme

Culture and Traditions The spirit of the Renaissance changed the way Europeans thought about the world.

Preview of Events

1271 Marco Polo travels to China from Italy

1324 Mansa Musa makes a pilgrimage to Makkah

c. 1400 Renaissance spreads throughout Europe

A European Story

In 1271 Marco Polo set off from the city of Venice on a great trek across Asia to China. Only 17 years old at the time, Polo journeyed with his father and uncle, both Venetian merchants. Traveling on camels for more than three years, the merchants crossed almost 7,000 miles (11,265 km) of mountains and deserts. Finally they reached the palace of Kublai Khan (KOO•bluh KAHN), the Mongol emperor of China. There Marco Polo spent 17 years working for the Khan and learning much about China's advanced culture.

Expanding Horizons

For centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, the people of western Europe were isolated from the rest of the world. Their world, dominated by the Catholic Church, was divided into many small kingdoms and city-states.

Meanwhile, the religion known as Islam swept across the Middle East and Africa. The followers of Islam are known as Muslims. As Muslim power grew,


European Christians became fearful of losing access to the Holy Land, the birthplace of Chris­tianity, in what is now Israel.

Beginning in 1095, the Europeans launched the first of nine expeditions, known as the Cru­sades, to regain control of their holy sites. The Crusades brought west Europeans into contact with the Middle East. Arab merchants sold spices, sugar, silk and other goods from China and India to the Europeans. As European inter­est in Asia grew, Marco Polo returned from China. In 1296, he began writing an account of his trip describing the marvels of Asia. Polo's Travels was widely read in Europe. Little did he realize that 200 years later his book about the East would inspire Christopher Columbus and others to sail in the opposite direction to reach the same destination.


The Growth of Trade

Merchants could make a fortune selling goods from the Orient. Wealthy Europeans clamored for cinnamon, pepper, cloves, and other spices. They also wanted perfumes, silks, and precious stones. Buying the goods from Arab traders in the Middle East, the merchants sent them overland by caravan to the Mediter­ranean Sea and then by ship to Italian ports. The cities of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa prospered and became centers of the growing East-West trade. The Arab merchants, however, charged very high prices. As demand for Asian goods increased, Europeans began looking for a route to the East that bypassed the Arab merchants.

The Growth of Ideas

In the 1300s a powerful new spirit emerged in the Italian city-states and spread throughout Europe. The development of banking and the expansion of trade with Asia made Italian mer­chants wealthy. These citizens were able to pur­sue an interest in the region's past and learn more about the glorious civilizations of ancient Rome and Greece.

Because they wanted to improve their knowl­edge of people and of the world, Italians studied the classical—ancient Greek and Roman-works with new interest. Scholars translated Greek manuscripts on philosophy, poetry, and science. Many thinkers of this period began to take a more experimental approach to science; they tested new and old theories and evaluated the results.

Influenced by the classical texts, a great many authors began to write about the individual and the universe. Artists studied the sculpture and architecture of the classical world. They particu­larly admired the harmony and balance in Greek art, with its realistic way of portraying people.

The Renaissance

This period of intellectual and artistic cre­ativity became known as the Renaissance (REH •nuh•SAHNTS). A French word meaning "rebirth," it refers to the renewed interest in classical Greek and Roman learning. Over the next two centuries, the Renaissance spread north, south, and west, reaching Spain and northern Europe in the 1400s.

The spirit of the Renaissance dramatically changed the way Europeans thought about themselves and the world. It encouraged them to pursue new ideas and set new goals; it paved the way for an age of exploration and discovery.

Reading Check Describing What cultures influenced the Renaissance?

Powerful Nations Emerge

During the 1400s the population of western Europe began to increase. Merchants and bankers in the growing cities wanted to expand their businesses through foreign trade. If they could buy spices and silks from the East directly, without going through the Arab and Italian cities, they could earn huge profits. They looked for alternatives to the overland route through the Middle East.

The development of large nation-states in western Europe helped expand trade and inter­est in overseas exploration. For many years Europe had been a patchwork of small states. Political power was divided among local lords, and few people traveled outside their region.


By the 1400s, however, a new type of central­ized state was emerging in western Europe. Strong monarchs came to power in Spain, Por­tugal, England, and France. They began to establish national laws, courts, taxes, and armies to replace those of local lords. These ambitious kings and queens sought ways to increase trade and make their countries stronger and wealthier.

Reading Check Explaining What resulted from the emergence of large nation-states?

Linking Past & Present

Astrolabe to Satellite

"Land ho!" The tools that early explorers used to sail the uncharted seas were much different from the instruments used today. One early navigation tool was the astrolabe. A sailor held the astrolabe vertically, located a star through its sights, and measured the star's elevation above the horizon. A ship's approximate latitude 00A could be identified this way.

---Sailors used the astro­labe for navigation.

---Satellites transmit scientific data.

Today navigation satellites do the work of an astrolabe—and more! The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites were launched by the United States in 1993. From space the GPS can track the location of a vehicle on the earth to within a few meters of its actual position.

Technology's Impact

Advances in technology—the use of scien­tific knowledge for practical purposes—paved the way for European voyages of exploration. In the 1450s the introduction of movable type and the printing press made it much easier to print books. Now more people could have access to books and to new information. After its publication in print form in 1477, many Europeans read Marco Polo's Travels.


Better Maps

Maps were a problem for early navigators. Most maps were inaccurate because they were drawn from the often-mistaken impressions of traders and travelers. Little by little, cartogra­phers, or mapmakers, gradually improved their skills.

Using the reports of explorers and informa­tion from Arab geographers, mapmakers made more accurate land and sea maps. These maps showed the direction of ocean currents. They also showed lines of latitude, which measured the distance north and south of the Equator.

Better instruments were developed for navi­gating the seas. Sailors could determine their lat­itude while at sea with an astrolabe, an instrument that measured the position of stars. Europeans also acquired the magnetic compass, a Chinese invention that began to be widely used in Europe and the Middle East in the 1200s. The compass allowed sailors to determine their direction when they were far from land.

Better Ships

Advances in ship design allowed ship­builders to build sailing vessels capable of long ocean voyages. The stern rudder and the trian­gular sail made it possible for ships to sail into the wind. Both of these new features came from the Arabs. In the late 1400s, the Portuguese developed the three-masted caravel. The caravel sailed faster than earlier ships and carried more cargo and food supplies. It also could float in shallow water, which allowed sailors to explore inlets and to sail their ships up to the beach to


make repairs. A Venetian sailor called the caravels "the best ships that sailed the seas."

By the mid-1400s the Italian ports faced increased competition for for­eign trade. Powerful countries like Portugal and Spain began searching for sea routes to Asia, launching a new era of exploration. Portugal began its exploration by sending ships down the west coast of Africa, which Euro­peans had never visited before.

Reading Check Explaining How did the caravel affect overseas exploration in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries?

African Kingdoms

Powerful kingdoms flourished in Africa south of the Sahara between 400 and 1600. The region was rich with natural resources. Africans mined gold, copper, and iron ore. Trade with Islamic societies in North Africa brought both wealth and Islamic ideas and customs to the West African kingdoms.

City-states on the east coast of Africa also ben­efited from trade. There Arab traders from the Middle East brought cotton, silk, and porcelain from India and China to exchange for ivory and metals from the African interior.

As the Portuguese sailed south along the African coastline in the mid-1400s, they set up trading posts. From these, they traded for gold and for slaves.

Ghana—A Trading Empire

Between 400 and 1100, a vast trading empire called Ghana emerged in West Africa. Well located between the salt mines of the Sahara and the gold mines to the south, Ghana prospered from the taxes the leaders of the empire imposed on trade.

Caravans with gold, ivory, and slaves from Ghana crossed the Sahara to North Africa. Mus­lim traders from North Africa loaded caravans with salt, cloth, and brass and headed back to Ghana. As a result of their trading contacts, many West Africans became Muslims.

In 1076 people from North Africa called Almoravids attacked Ghana and disrupted its trade routes. While Ghana fought the Almoravids, new trade routes and gold mines opened up to the east, bypassing Ghana. Ghana then began to decline, and new states emerged in the region.

Geography Skills

Wealthy African trading kingdoms existed before Europeans sailed west to find riches.

1. Location. What direction is Ghat from Timbuktu?

2. Comparing. What African kingdom covered the smallest area?
Mali—A Powerful Kingdom

Mali, one of the new states, grew into a pow­erful kingdom. The people of Mali developed their own trade routes across the desert to North Africa. By the late 1200s, Mali's expanded terri 


tory included the former kingdom of Ghana. The country was mainly agricultural, but gold mines enriched the kingdom.

Mali's greatest king, Mansa Musa, ruled from 1312 to 1337. He was described at the time as "the most powerful, the richest, the most fortu­nate, the most feared by his enemies, and the most able to do good to those around him."

In 1324 Musa, a Muslim, made a grand pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Makkah (also spelled Mecca) in western Saudi Arabia. A pilgrimage is a journey to a holy place. Arab writers reported that Musa traveled with a huge military escort. Ahead of him marched 500 royal servants who carried gold to distribute along the way. Musa returned to Mali with an Arab architect who built great mosques, Muslim houses of worship, in the capital of Timbuktu. Under Mansa Musa, Timbuktu became an important center of Islamic art and learning.

The Songhai Empire

Some years later the Songhai (SAWNG•hy) people, who lived along the Niger River, rose up against Mali rule. They built a navy to control the Niger and in 1468 captured Timbuktu. In the late 1400s, Askiya Muhammad brought the Songhaiempire to the height of its power. Askiya strength­ened his country and made it the largest in the history of West Africa. He built many schools and encouraged trade with Europe and Asia.

Plan of Government

Devoted to Islam, Askiya introduced laws based on the teachings of the holy book of Islam, the Quran. He appointed Muslim judges to uphold Islamic laws. Askiya also developed a sophisticated plan for his country's government. He divided Songhai into five provinces. For each province he appointed a governor, a tax collector, a court of judges, and a trade inspector. Everyone in Songhai used the same weights and measures and followed the same legal system.

In the late 1500s, the North African kingdom of Morocco sent an army across the Sahara to attack Songhai gold-trading centers. Armed with guns and cannons, the Moroccans easily defeated the Songhai.

History Online

Student Web Activity

Visit and click on Chapter 2 Student Web Activities for an activity on African kingdoms.

Reading Check Identifying Which African kingdom thrived between A.D. 400 and A.D. 1100?

Section 1 Assessment

Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Write sentences in which you use the following groups of terms: classical and Renaissance; technology, astrolabe, and caravel; pilgrimage and mosque.

2. Reviewing Facts Name three technological advances that furthered European exploration. Describe how these advances helped explorers.

Reviewing Themes

3. Culture and Traditions How did the Islamic religion spread to the early kingdoms of Africa? What is the name of the holy book of Islam?

Critical Thinking

4. Drawing Conclusions Why do you think the Renaissance began in Italy and not in another part of Europe?

5. Comparing Re-create the diagram below and compare three African kingdoms. In the outer spaces, describe each kingdom. In the shared space, identify similarities between them.

Analyzing Visuals

6. Geography Skills Review the map of the African trading kingdoms on page 41. Which of the trading king­doms was established earliest? In which region of Africa did the three trading kingdoms develop?

Interdisciplinary Activity

Science Select a technological advance that has occurred during your lifetime. Compare its effects to the effects of one of the techno­logical advances described in Sec­tion 1. Which has had the greater impact on society? Explain.


Section 2

Early Exploration

Guide to reading

Main Idea

In search of trade routes, Portuguese explorers ushered in an era of over­seas exploration.

Key Terms

line of demarcation, strait, circumnavigate

Reading Strategy

Organizing Information As you read the section, re-create the diagram below and identify explorers, when they traveled, and where they went.

Read to Learn

• how Portugal led the way in over­seas exploration.

• about Columbus's plan for sailing to Asia.

Section Theme

Geography and History In 1400 Europeans had a limited knowledge of the geography of the world.

Preview of Events

c. 1000 Leif Eriksson lands in present-day Newfoundland

1488 Bartholomeu Dias reaches the Indian Ocean

1492 Columbus lands in the Americas

1498 Vasco da Gama reaches India

1519 Magellan begins circumnavigation of the world

A European Story

More than 150 years after the death of Marco Polo, a young Italian sea captain—Christopher Columbus—sat down to read Polo's Travels with interest. Columbus read what Polo had to say about the islands of Cipangu, or present-day Japan. According to Polo, Cipangu lay some 1,500 miles (2,414 km) off the eastern shore of Asia. Because the earth is round, Columbus reasoned, a person sailing west from Europe should quickly reach Cipangu. It could be much closer than anyone thought.

Unfortunately, Marco Polo—and therefore Columbus—was wrong.

Seeking New Trade Routes

The maps that Columbus and the first European explorers used did not include America. They showed three continents—Europe, Asia, and Africa—merged together in a gigantic landmass, or large area of land. This landmass was bordered by oceans. Some explorers thought that the Western (Atlantic) and Eastern (Pacific) Oceans ran together to form what they called the Ocean Sea. At the time, no one realized that another huge landmass was missing from the maps. They also did not realize that the oceans were as large as they are.


Causes and Effects of European Exploration


• European desire for new trade routes

• Growing power and wealth of European nations

• Competition for trade

• Missionaries' desire to convert others to Christianity


• Knowledge grows about other regions

• Europeans and Native Americans clash

• Enslavement of Africans Rivalry in the Americas grows

Graphic Organizer---Skills

The mid-1400s in Europe were a time of adventure, great learning, and curiosity about the world.

Analyzing Information What did European missionar­ies try to accomplish?

Portugal took the lead in exploring the boundaries of the known world. Because Portu­gal lacked a Mediterranean port, it could not be part of the profitable trade between Asia and Europe. The country's ambitious rulers wanted to find a new route to China and India.

The Portuguese also hoped to find a more direct way to get West African gold. The gold traveled by caravan across the desert to North Africa, then by ship across the Mediterranean. Portuguese traders needed a better route.

Early Portuguese Voyages

Prince Henry of Portugal laid the ground­work for a new era of exploration. He was fascinated by what lay beyond the known boundaries of the world. In about 1420 he set up a center for exploration on the southwestern tip of Portugal, "where endeth land and where beginneth sea." Known as Henry the Navigator, the prince brought astronomers, geographers, and mathematicians to share their knowledge with Portuguese sailors and shipbuilders.

As Portuguese ships moved south along the coast of West Africa, they traded for gold and ivory and established trading posts. Because of its abundance of gold, the area came to be known as the Gold Coast. In the mid-1400s the Portuguese began buying slaves there as well.

King John II of Portugal launched new efforts to realize the Portuguese dream of a trading empire in Asia. If the Portuguese could find a sea route around Africa, they could trade directly with India and China. In the 1480s the king urged Portuguese sea captains to explore farther south along the African coast.

Bartholomeu Dias

In 1487 the king sent Bartholomeu Dias to explore the southernmost part of Africa. As Dias approached the area, he ran into a terrible storm that carried him off course and around the south­ern tip of Africa. Dias wrote that he had been around the "Cape of Storms." On learning of Dias's discovery, King John II renamed this southern tip of land the Cape of Good Hope—he hoped that the passage around Africa might lead to a new route to India.

Vasco da Gama

The first Portuguese voyages to India were made years later. In July 1497, after much prepa­ration, Vasco da Gama set out from Portugal with four ships. Da Gama sailed down the coast of West Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and visited cities along the coast of East Africa. He engaged an Arab pilot who knew the Indian Ocean well. With the pilot's help, Da Gama sailed on to India. He reached the port of Calicut in 1498, completing the long-awaited eastern sea route to Asia.

The Portuguese Empire

Events moved quickly after that. Pedro Alvares Cabral, following Da Gama's route, swung so wide around Africa that he touched Brazil. By claiming the land for his king, he gave


Portugal a stake in the Americas. Meanwhile, Portuguese fleets began to make annual voyages to India returning with cargoes that made Lis­bon the marketplace of Europe.

Reading Check Analyzing Why was Portugal interested in exploration?

Columbus Crosses the Atlantic

Christopher Columbus had a different plan for reaching Asia. He thought he could get there by sailing west. Born in Genoa, Italy, in 1451, Columbus became a sailor for Portugal. He had traveled as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as the Gold Coast.

In the 1400s most educated people believed the world was round. A more difficult matter was determining its size. Columbus was among those who based their estimates of the earth's size on the work of Ptolemy, an ancient Greek astronomer. Columbus believed Asia was about 2,760 miles (4,441 km) from Europe—a voyage of about two months by ship. Ptolemy, however, had underestimated the size of the world.

The Viking Voyages

Several centuries before Columbus, northern Europeans called Vikings had sailed west and reached North America. In the 800s and 900s, Viking ships visited Iceland and Greenland and established settlements. According to Norse


Spanish Galleon

In the late 1500s and early 1600s, Spanish galleons car­ried gold and silver from the West Indies to Spain. That's not all these ships carried, however. The threat of pirates prompted the Spanish galleons to carry weapons as part of their cargo. What powered the Spanish galleons?

---The crow's nest served as a lookout.

1.Two or three sails on the foremast and mainmast allowed the ship to "catch the wind."

2. Elaborate living quarters for the captain were placed within the high sterncastle. The rest of the crew slept on deck.

3. Strong hands were needed to climb the rigging into the crow's nest, or lookout platform.

4. Stones and bricks pro­vided ballast to keep the ship from tipping over. These stones would be replaced with cargo in the Americas. Many colonial streets and sidewalks were paved with ballast stones.

5. Food and water were stored in the hold.

---Spanish galleons were about 140 feet (43 meters) long.


Picturing History

Financed by Spain's Queen Isabella, the voyages of Columbus led to an exchange of goods between Europe and the Americas. On what islands of the Americas did Columbus first set ashore?

sagas, or traditional stories, a Viking sailor named Leif Eriksson explored a land west of Green­land—known as Vinland—about the year 1000. Other Norse sagas describe failed attempts by the Vikings to settle in Vinland. Historians think that Vinland was North America. Archaeologists have found the remains of a Viking settlement in New­foundland. No one is sure what other parts of North America the Vikings explored.

The Viking voyages to other lands were not well known in the rest of Europe. Europeans did not "discover" the Americas until Columbus made his great voyage.

Spain Backs Columbus

For most of the 1400s, Spanish monarchs devoted their energy to driving the Muslims out of their country. With the fall of the last Muslim kingdom in southern Spain in 1492, King Ferdi­nand and Queen Isabella of Spain could focus on other goals. The Spanish had been watching the seafaring and trading successes of neighbor­ing Portugal with envy. They, too, wanted to share in the riches of Asian trade. Columbus needed a sponsor to finance his ambitious proj­ect of a westward voyage to Asia. He visited many European courts looking for support. After years of frustration, he finally found a sponsor in Spain.

Queen Isabella, a devout Christian, was finally persuaded by her husband's minister of finance to support the expedition for two reasons. First, Columbus had promised to bring Christianity to any lands he found. Second, if he found a way to Asia, Spain would become very wealthy. She promised Columbus a share of any riches gained from lands he discovered on his way to Asia.

Columbus's First Voyage

On August 3, 1492, Columbus set out from Palos, Spain. He had two small ships, the Nina and the Pinta, and a larger one, the Santa Maria, carrying a total of about 90 sailors. The small fleet stopped at the Canary Islands for repairs and to stock up on supplies, then sailed west­ward into the unknown.

The ships had good winds, but after a month at sea the sailors began to worry. Columbus wrote that he was

“having trouble with the crew .... I am told that if I persist in going onward, the best course of action will be to throw me into the sea.”

Columbus, however, was determined. He told the men, "I made this voyage to go to the Indies, and [I] shall continue until I find them, with God's help." To convince the crew that they had not traveled too far from home, Columbus altered the distances in his ship's log. (See page 593 of the Primary Sources Library for another log entry by Columbus.)

"Tierra! Tierra!"

On October 12, 1492, at 2:00 in the morning, a lookout shouted, "Tierra! Tierra!"—"Land! Land!" He had spotted a small island, part of the group now called the Bahamas. Columbus went ashore, claimed the island for Spain, and named it San Salvador. Although he did not know it, Columbus had reached the Americas.


Two VeiwPoints

Who Had the Right to Claim the Americas?

Who owned the land of the Americas before the Europeans arrived? Did it belong to the people who already lived there, or was it there to be taken by the Europeans? While reading the excerpts below, notice the difference in opinions about who owned the rights to the land of the Americas.

Letter from Christopher Columbus to the King and Queen of Spain, March 4, 1493

... I come from the Indies with the armada Your Highnesses gave me ...I found innumerable [many] people and very many islands, which I took possession in Your Highnesses' name, by royal crier and with Your Highnesses' royal banner unfurled, and it was not contradicted ...

And I continued to enter very many harbors, in each of which I placed a very large cross in the most appropriate spot, as I had done in all the other [harbors] of the other islands....

Speech by Chief Red Jacket, leader of the Seneca Nation, to a white missionary, 1805

There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting of the sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of Indians. He had created buffalo, the deer, an other animals for food. He had made the bear and beaver and their skins served us for clothing ....

The white people, brother, had now found our country. Tidings were carried back and more came amongst us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends.... Brother, our seats were once large, and yours were very small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but you are not satisfied. You want to force your religion upon us ....

Learning From History

1. According to Christopher Columbus, who owned the land that he explored in the Americas?

2. How did the relationship between Europeans and Native Americans seem to change as more and more Europeans came to America?

Columbus explored the area for several months, convinced he had reached the East Indies, the islands off the coast of Asia. Today the Carib­bean Islands are often referred to as the West Indies. Columbus called the local people Indians. He noted that they regarded the Europeans with wonder and often touched them to find out "if they were flesh and bones like themselves."

When Columbus returned to Spain in triumph, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand received him with great honor and agreed to finance his future voyages. Colum­bus had earned the title of Admiral of the Ocean Sea.

Columbus's Later Voyages

Columbus made three more voy­ages from Spain in 1493, 1498, and 1502. He explored the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Cuba, and Jamaica, and he sailed along the coasts of Central America and northern South America. He claimed the new lands for Spain and established settlements.

Columbus originally thought the lands he had found were in Asia. Later explorations made it clear that Columbus had not reached Asia at all. He had found a part of the globe unknown to Europeans, Asians, and Africans. In the following years, the Spanish explored most of the Caribbean region. In time their voy­ages led to the establishment of the Spanish Empire in the Americas.

Dividing the World

Both Spain and Portugal wanted to protect their claims, and they turned to Pope Alexander VI for help. In 1493 the pope drew a line of demarcation, an imaginary line running down the


middle of the Atlantic from the North Pole to the South Pole. Spain was to control all the lands to the west of the line. Portugal was to have control of all lands to the east of the line. Portugal, how­ever, protested that the division favored Spain. As a result, in 1494 the two countries signed the Treaty of Tordesillas (TOHR* day • SEE • yuhs), an agreement to move the line farther west. The treaty divided the entire unexplored world between Spain and Portugal.


Exploring America

In 1499 explorer Amerigo Vespucci began mapping South America's coastline. Vespucci concluded that South America was a continent, not part of Asia. By the early 1500s, European geographers had begun to call the continent America, in honor of Amerigo Vespucci. While European geographers discussed Vespucci's findings, others continued to explore America.

---Refer to page 48 in your text book for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC European Voyages of Exploration image

Equal-Area projection

John Cabot suggested that a voyage across the Atlantic could be quickened by sailing at a more northerly latitude than Columbus's route.

Verrazano explored the Atlantic coast from present-day Cape Fear, North Carolina, to perhaps as far north as Newfoundland.

Into the Unknown, 1492

September 6 Columbus's three ships set sail from the Canary Islands. September 20-24 Variable winds force Columbus to change course. October 10 Columbus promises to turn back if they do not sight land soon. October 12 Land is sighted. Columbus names the land San Salvador.

Geography Skills

European sea captains explored North America, South America, and the islands of the Caribbean Sea.

1. Movement. Who was the first English explorer to sail to the Americas?

2. Evaluating Information. John Cabot's suggestion was true. Explain why.


Vasco Nunez de Balboa (bal • BOH•uh), gov­ernor of a Spanish town in present-day Panama, had heard stories of the "great waters" beyond the mountains. In 1513 he formed an exploring party and hiked through the steaming jungles. After many days of difficult travel, the Spaniard climbed a hill and saw a vast body of water. When he reached the water's edge, Balboa waded in and claimed it and the adjoining lands for Spain. Balboa was the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas.

Sailing Around the World

The Spanish wanted to find a sea route through or around South America to Asia. In 4519 they hired Ferdinand Magellan, a Por­tuguese mariner, to lead an expedition of five ships. Sailing from Spain, Magellan headed west across the Atlantic Ocean and then south along the eastern coast of South America.

By late November 1520, Magellan had found and sailed through the narrow, twisting sea passage to the Pacific. This strait still bears his name. At the end of the strait, Magellan exclaimed: "We are about to stand [go] into an ocean where no ship has ever sailed before." He named the ocean the Pacific, which means "peaceful."

Magellan expected to reach Asia in just a few weeks after rounding South America, but the voyage across the Pacific lasted four months. The crew ran out of food and ate sawdust, rats, and leather to stay alive. Magellan was killed in a skirmish in the Philippines, but some of his crew continued. Their trip had taken almost three years. Only one of the five original ships and 18 of the more than 200 crew members completed the difficult journey. These men were the first to circumnavigate, or sail around, the world.

Reading Check Describing Why did Spain finance Columbus's voyage?

Fact Fiction Folklore

America’s Flags

Spanish banner, 1492 Christopher Columbus proudly carried the Spanish banner of Castile and Leon to the shores of the Bahamas. The flag's castle represented Queen Isabella. The lion symbolized her husband, King Ferdinand.


Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Write a short paragraph in which you use the following terms: line of demarcation, strait, circum­navigate.

2. Reviewing Facts Who were the first Europeans to reach the Americas and when did they arrive?

Reviewing Themes

3. Geography and History What nations signed the Treaty of Torde­sillas? What was the purpose of the line of demarcation? How did the treaty affect European exploration of the Americas?

Critical Thinking

4. Making Inferences For years, many history books have claimed that "Columbus discovered America." Why do you think Native Americans might disagree with the choice of the word "discovered" in this statement? What might be a better word?

5. Organizing Information Re-create the diagram below and identify the regions Columbus explored.

Analyzing Visuals

6. Geography Skills Review the map of European voyages of exploration on page 48; then answer the ques­tions that follow. When did Verrazano make his voyage? For what country did he sail? Flow did Cabot's route to the Americas differ from that of Columbus?

Interdisciplinary Activity

Geography Draw a map of the world as you think Columbus might have seen it in 1492. Remember his error in calculating distance.



Michael Dorris (1945-1997)

A Modoc Native American, Michael Dorris was an edu­cator, a social activist, and an award-winning author. Morning Girl, his first book for young adults, portrays the lives of the Taino people of the Bahamas.


Morning Girl is the fictional story of a young Native Ameri­can woman who meets Colum­bus and his crew as they arrive in the Bahamas in 1492. While reading this passage, think about the ways that Morning Girl's life might change as a result of Columbus's visit.


backward: undeveloped

Morning Girl: a young Taino woman

Morning Girl

I swam closer to get a better look and had to stop myself from laughing. The strangers had wrapped every part of their bodies with colorful leaves and cotton. Some had decorated their faces with fur and wore shiny rocks on their heads. Compared to us, they were very round. Their canoe was short and square, and, in spite of all their dipping and pulling, it moved so slowly. What a backward, distant island they must have come from. But really, to laugh at guests, no matter how odd, would be impolite, espe­cially since I was the first to meet them. If I was foolish, they would think they had arrived at a foolish place. . . .

I kicked toward the canoe and called out the simplest thing. "Hello!"...

The man stared at me as though he'd never seen a girl before, then shouted something to his rela­tives. They all stopped paddling and looked in my direction.

"Hello," I tried again. "Welcome to home. My name is Morning Girl...."

All the fat people in the canoe began pointing at me and talking at once. In their excitement they almost turned themselves over, and I allowed my body to sink beneath the waves for a moment in order to hide my smile. . . .

When I came up they were still watching, the way babies do: wide eyed and with their mouths uncovered. They had much to learn about how to behave. . . . It was clear that they hadn't trav­eled much before.

From Morning Girl by Michael Dorris. Text © 1992 by Michael Dorris. Reprinted with permission from Hyperion Books for Children.


1. Recall and Interpret How does Morning Girl describe the strangers' appearance?

2. Evaluate and Connect Are Morning Girl's impressions of the visitors positive or negative? Explain your reasoning.

Interdisciplinary Activity

Descriptive Writing Imagine that you are an explorer who arrived in America with Columbus. Describe the people and climate you encounter in America. Compare the way people live in America to your way of life in Europe.



Spain in America

Main Idea

In the sixteenth century, Spain estab­lished and governed a vast empire in the Americas.

Key Terms

conquistador, tribute, pueblo, mission, presidio, encomienda, plantation

Reading Strategy

Organizing Information As you read the section, re-create the diagram below and identify Spanish conquistadors, along with the regions they explored.

Read to Learn

• how the great Aztec and Inca Empires came to an end.

• how Spain governed its empire in the Americas.

Section Theme

Culture and Traditions The conquis­tadors conquered mighty empires in the Americas.

Preview of Events

  1. Hernän Cortes lands in Mexico

  1. Francisco Pizarro captures Atahualpa

  2. 1541 De Soto crosses the Mississippi River

1565 Spain establishes fort at St. Augustine, Florida

---Conquistador's armor

An American Story

Would you like to visit a place described in the following way? "A river ... [stretched] two leagues wide, in which there were fishes as big as horses.... The lord of the country took his afternoon nap under a great tree on which were hung a great number of little gold bells.... The jugs and bowls were [made] of gold."

"[It was] a land rich in gold, silver, and other wealth ... great cities ... and civilized people wearing woolen clothes."

Spanish Conquistadors

Stories of gold, silver, and kingdoms wealthy beyond belief greeted the early Spanish explorers in the Americas. The reports led them far and wide in search of fabulous riches.

Known as conquistadors (kahn • KEES•tuh•dawrs), these explorers received grants from the Spanish rulers. They had the right to explore and establish set­tlements in the Americas. In exchange they agreed to give the Spanish crown one-fifth of any gold or treasure discovered. This arrangement allowed Spanish rulers to launch expeditions with little risk. If a conquistador failed, he lost his own fortune. If he succeeded, both he and Spain gained wealth and glory.


---Refer to page 52 in your textbook for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Spanish Explorers, 1513-1598 image

Geography Skills

Spanish explorers claimed Florida, the Caribbean islands, and the southwestern region of North America.

1. Movement. Which conquistador explored areas along the southern half of the Mississippi River?

2. Analyzing Information. Who was the first explorer to cross the Rio Grande?

Cortes Conquers the Aztec

When Hernan Cortes landed on the east coast of what we now know as Mexico in 1519, he was looking for gold and glory. He came with about 500 soldiers, some horses, and a few cannons. Cortes soon learned about the great Aztec Empire and its capital of Tenochtitlan.

In building their empire, the Aztec had con­quered many cities in Mexico. These cities were forced to give crops, clothing, gold, and precious stones to the Aztec as tribute. Cortes formed alliances with nearby cities against the Aztec.

Cortes marched into Tenochtitlan in Novem­ber with his small army and his Native American allies. The Aztec emperor Montezuma (MAHN • tuh • ZOO • muh)—also spelled Moctezuma welcomed Cortes and his soldiers and provided them with food and a fine palace. However, Cortes took advantage of the Aztec's hospitality and made Montezuma his prisoner.

In the spring of 1520, the Aztec rebelled against the Spanish. During the fighting Mon­tezuma was hit by stones and later died. The battle lasted for days. Eventually, the Spanish were forced to leave Tenochtitlan. Cortes, how­ever, was determined to retake the city. He waited until more Spanish troops arrived, then attacked and destroyed the Aztec capital in 1521. An Aztec poem describes the awful scene:


“Without roofs are the houses,

And red are their walls with blood....

Weep, my friends,

Know that with these disasters

We have lost our Mexican nation.”

The Aztec Empire disintegrated, and Spain seized control of the region.

Pizarro Conquers Peru

The conquistador Francisco Pizarro sailed down the Pacific coast of South America with about 180 Spanish soldiers. Pizarro had heard tales of the incredibly wealthy Inca Empire in what is now Peru. In 1532 Pizarro captured the Inca ruler, Atahualpa (ah • tah•WAHL •pah), and destroyed much of the Incan army.

The following year, the Spanish falsely accused Atahualpa of crimes and executed him. The Inca were used to obeying commands from their rulers. Without leadership they were not able to fight effectively. Within a few years, Pizarro had gained control of most of the vast Inca Empire.

Why Spain Succeeded

The conquistadors' victories in Mexico and Peru were quick and lasting. How could Cortes and Pizarro, with only a few hundred Spanish soldiers, conquer such mighty empires?

First, the Spanish arrived with strange weapons—guns and cannons—and fearsome animals. They rode horses and had huge, fero­cious dogs. To the Native Americans, the Spanish seemed almost like gods. Second, many Native Americans hated their Aztec overlords and assisted the conquistadors in overthrowing them.

Finally, disease played an extremely large role in the Spanish conquest. Native Americans had no immunity to the diseases the Europeans had, unknowingly, brought with them. Epidemics of smallpox and other diseases wiped out entire communities in the Americas and did much to weaken the resistance of the Aztec and Inca.

Reading Check Analyzing How were the Spanish able to defeat mighty Native American empires?

Spain in North America

Mexico and Peru were rich in silver and gold. Hoping to find similar wealth to the north, con­quistadors explored the southeastern and south­western parts of North America.

Juan Ponce de Leon made the first Spanish landing on the mainland of North America, arriving on the east coast of present-day Florida in 1513. According to legend, Ponce de Leon hoped to find not only gold, but the legendary fountain of youth, "a spring of running water of such marvelous virtue" that drinking it "makes old men young again." Ponce de Leon's explo­ration led to the first Spanish settlement in what is now the United States. In 1565 the Spanish established a fort at St. Augustine, Florida.

The Seven Cities of Cibola

Many other conquistadors searched for quick riches. None ever achieved this goal, and several lost their lives trying. Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (cah•BAY•sah day VAH•cah) was part of a Spanish expedition to Florida in 1528.

After encountering troubles in Florida, the expedition, led by Panfilo de Narvaez, sailed along the coast toward Mexico. However, in November 1528, three of the five boats were lost in a storm. The two boats that survived went aground on an island near present-day Texas. Within a few months, only a handful of the ship­wrecked explorers were still alive.

Fact Fiction Folklore

The First Thanksgiving

Who celebrated the first Thanksgiving? We all know that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. Or did they? On April 30, 1598, long before the Pilgrims came to North America, Spanish colonists held a thanksgiving feast near present-day El Paso, Texas. Juan de (Mate had led 400 men and their families across the desert from Mexico. After they reached the Rio Grande, Onate told them to feast and give thanks for the abundance of the new land.


People in History

Juana Inés de la Cruz 1651-1695

A Mexican nun, Juana Ines de la Cruz, may have been the first woman in the Americas to write about women's rights. What is remark­able about Sor Juana ("Sister" Juana) is that she was a famous writer at a time when most women were not taught to read. Her poems and stories were well known in Mexico; her plays were performed in the royal palace of Mexico, and her books were pop­ular in Spain.

An archbishop of the Church, however, did not approve of women freely expressing their opin­ions. He threatened to put her on trial for violating Church rules unless she followed a strict vow of poverty and sold her books and belongings.

Although she gave the appearance of obedience, an unfinished poem found in her belongings after her death showed that she continued to exercise her talent.
To survive, Cabeza de Vaca and an enslaved African named Estevanico became medicine men. Cabeza de Vaca later wrote that their method of healing was "to bless the sick, breath­ing on them" and to recite Latin prayers.

In 1533 the Spaniards set off on foot on a great 1,000-mile journey across the Southwest. Arriv­ing in Mexico in 1536, Cabeza de Vaca related tales he had heard of seven cities with walls of emerald and streets of gold.

The stories inspired Hernando de Soto, who led an expedition to explore Florida and lands to the west. For three years De Soto and his troops wandered around the southeastern area of the present-day United States, following stories of gold. As the Spaniards traveled, they took advantage of the native peoples. Their usual method was to enter a village, take the chief hostage, and demand food and supplies.

De Soto crossed the Mississippi River in 1541, describing it as "swift, and very deep." After traveling as far west as present-day Okla­homa, De Soto died of fever. His men buried him in the waters of the Mississippi.

Francisco Vasquez de Coronado also wanted to find the legendary "Seven Cities of Cibola." After traveling through areas of northern Mexico and present-day Arizona and New Mexico, the expedition reached a town belonging to the Zuni people in early summer 1540. They realized at once that there was no gold. Members of the expedition traveled west to the Colorado River and east into what is now Kansas. They found nothing but "windswept plains" and strange "shaggy cows" (buffalo). Disappointed, Coro­nado returned to Mexico.

Reading Check Explaining How did stories of the "Seven Cities of Cibola" affect Spanish exploration?

Spanish Rule

Spanish law called for three kinds of settle­ments in the Americas—pueblos, missions, and presidios. Pueblos, or towns, were established as centers of trade. Missions were religious com­munities that usually included a small town, sur­rounding farmland, and a church. A presidio, or fort, was usually built near a mission.

Juan de Onate (day ohn • YAH • tay) was sent from Mexico to gain control over lands to the north and to convert the inhabitants. In 1598 Ovate founded the province of New Mexico and introduced cattle and horses to the Pueblo people.


Social Classes

A class system developed in Spain's empire. The upper class consisted of people who had been born in Spain, called peninsulares. The peninsulares owned the land, served in the Catholic Church, and ran the local government. Below them were the creoles, people born in the Americas to Spanish parents. Lower in the class structure were the mestizos (meh•STEE•zohs), people with Spanish and Native American par­ents. Still lower were the Native Americans, most of whom lived in great poverty. At the very bottom were enslaved Africans.

In the 1500s the Spanish government granted each conquistador who settled in the Americas an encomienda, the right to demand taxes or labor from Native Americans living on the land. This system turned the Native Americans into slaves. Grueling labor in the fields and in the gold and silver mines took its toll. Many Native Americans died from malnutrition and disease.

A Spanish priest, Bartolome de Las Casas, condemned the cruel treatment of the Native Americans. He pleaded for laws to protect them. Las Casas claimed that millions had died because the Spanish "made gold their ultimate aim, seeking to load themselves with riches in the shortest possible time."

Because of Las Casas's reports, in 1542 the Spanish government passed the New Laws, which forbade making slaves of Native Ameri­cans. Although not always enforced, the laws did correct the worst abuses.

The Plantation System

Some Spanish settlers made large profits by exporting crops and raw materials back to Spain. In the West Indies, the main exports were tobacco and sugarcane. To raise these crops, the Spanish developed the plantation system. A plantation was a large estate. The Spanish used Native Americans to work their plantations.

Las Casas suggested replacing them with enslaved Africans—a suggestion he bitterly regret­ted later. He thought the Africans could endure the labor better than the Native Americans.

By the mid-1500s the Spanish were bringing thousands from West Africa to the Americas. The Portuguese did the same in Brazil. The Africans who survived the brutal ocean voyage were sold to plantation owners. By the late 1500s, plantation slave labor was an essential part of the economy of the colonies.

Reading Check Describing Whom did Las Casas try to protect?


Checking for Understanding

1. Key Terms Write three true and three false statements using each of the following terms once: conquis­tador, tribute, pueblo, mission, presidio, plantation. Indicate which statements are false.

2. Reviewing Facts What three kinds of settlements did Spain establish in the Americas? How did they differ?

Reviewing Themes

3. Culture and Traditions What groups made up the class system in Spanish America?

Critical Thinking

4. Analyzing Primary Sources One conquistador explained, "We came to serve God and the king, and also to get rich." In what way do you think conquistadors planned to serve "God and the king"?

5. Determining Cause and Effect Re-create the diagram below and list causes of Spain's success in con­quering Native American empires.

Analyzing Visuals

6. Geography Skills Review the map of Spanish exploration on page 52. What expedition traveled from Florida to the Mississippi River? Through what regions did the Coronado expedition travel?
Interdisciplinary Activity

Geography Using cookbooks as references, create an all-American dinner menu that features only foods introduced to Europeans by Native Americans.


---Refer to page 56 in your textbook for GEOPGRAPHY & HISTORY images

---Using an astrolabe like this one to establish lati­tude, Father Kino care­fully mapped the region.



MISSIONARY AND EXPLORER Eusebio Kino (yoo•SAY•be•oh KEE•no) was an Italian who studied astronomy, mapmaking, and mathematics before becoming a Jesuit priest. In 1681 he went to Mexico with the Spaniards to map the area and convert Native Americans to Catholicism.


After several years in Mexico City and Baja California, Father Kino was sent to establish missions in the "Pimeria Alta"—the Upper Pima Country—part of present-day Sonora, Mexico, and southern Arizona.

In March 1687 Father Kino established his first mission, Nuestra Senora de los Dolores at Cosari. He helped start more than 20 missions along the San Miguel, Magdalena, and Altar rivers.

Father Kino and other missionaries changed the face of Pimeria Alta forever. The priests converted thousands of Native Americans to Christianity. By introducing live­stock, wheat, European fruit, and other new crops, the missionaries altered the economy of the region.


Kino traveled so much he was known as the "padre on horse­back." He covered thousands of miles tending to the needs of his converts and exploring and mapping the Sonoran Desert and California.

---San Xavier del Bac, a mis­sion started by Father Kino in 1700, still stands today outside of Tucson.


1. Where did Father Kino establish his missions? Why?

2. How did the introduction of food crops and domestic animals affect the development of the Southwest?



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