Who discovered America?

July 9, 2011

For the next two weeks or so, I’m going to stay with the history of the Dutch settlement of New Netherland along the Hudson River valley.  I’ve dusted off the articles from my 2002 research files, but Google makes it so easy to type in the subject and get pages of current and, in my opinion, remarkable tidbits of Dutch history about the area and early Dutch settlers.

One thread pulled leads to another–and another—

So I’m going to start way back, at the beginning.  Once upon a time, in lands far, far away, courageous explorers were provisioned with crew and supplies and set out on journeys to  unknown lands.  Purpose?  Nothing so noble as the reasons America was settled in the 1600s.  Merchants of England and France and Spain and Portugal sailed the vast oceans to trade for spices and riches in the Far East. The explorers were to find the fabled Northwest Passage to shorten the trip to the Far East.

Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator, sailed west under the sponsorship of Spain’s King and Queen.  He is credited with the discovery of the New World in 1492.  In subsequent voyages, he returned to the islands of the “West Indies”; his name for the islands in the current day Caribbean Sea.  In actuality, Columbus never saw the lands of North America or set foot on the shores of the eastern coast.

Christopher Columbus’s voyages and reports discussed in Spain led to a golden age of explorers and navigators sailing directly west, knowing there was uncharted territory to discover in the name of King and Country.

John Cabot (Italian sailor born as Giovanni Caboto)  was commisioned by England to find the Northwest Passage.  In 1497-98, He sailed from Bristol, England across the North Atlantic Ocean and found new lands in modern day Canada.  He continued sailing south along the coast from Labrador to present day Maryland before returning to England.  He claimed all the continent for England.

The Spanish explorers discovered different parts of what we now call America.  Even the name “America” is in honor of Americo Vaspucci, whose tales of exploration in 1497 along South America’s coastline came to the attention of a German mapmaker.  Martin Waldseemiller is first known to name the mysterious new continents after the discoverer.  He changed the name to the feminine Latin form to reflect the names of the other world’s continents (Africa, Asia, Europa).

Consistent voyages of exploration followed in the 1500s by the Spanish conquistadors.

1513 – Juan Ponce de Leon – First to discover Frorida.

1521 – Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon – First explorer of present day South Carolina. Subsequent discoverer of lands from Cape Fear to Chesapeake Bay and the James River in 1524.

1537 – Cabeza de Vaca – First to explore Texas and territory in Southwest America.

1539 – Hernando De Soto explored Florida and Southeastern America from Georgia to Arkansas and saw the lower part of the Mississippi River.

1540 – 1542 – Francisco Vasquez de Coronado – First explorer to travel through Southwest America –  Arizona and New Mexico to eastern Kansas.

1542 – Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo (Portuguese) – First explorer to navigate along the west coast of present day Californina as far north as the Russian River.

French explorers settled in North America and established outposts in Canada.  They discovered lands and rivers for different reasons and their voyages were overland in the interior of the continent.

Jacques Cartier – explored Canada.

1673 – Jacques Marguette and Louis Joliet explored the Great Lakes region and discovered the upper Mississippi River.

1524 – Giovanni da Verrazzano (Italian born navigator) sailed in the name of France when he explored the East coast of America from Cape Fear, North Carolina as far north as Maine.  He discovered the land we know today as Manhattan and entered present day New York Bay–eighty-five years before Hudson sailed the “Half Moon” into the same waters.

And finally, the English did their fair share of sending out ships and navigators to search for the elusive Northwest Passage.  In the 1500s Queen Elizabeth I ruled when Sir Walter Raleigh brought the first English settlers to establish a colony in Virginia. 1584 was the beginning of Roanoke Island.

In all my quick Google online research articles, I noticed the domination of the Dutch merchant sailing vessels of the 1500s and 1600s were curiously unmentioned. The explorer credited with the discovery of New York and the river that bears his name 400 years later was English.  He gained a reputation as navigator in his country, but lacked the funds for his latest voyage.  In 1609, Henry Hudson sailed under the authority of Holland. His discovery wasn’t the eagerly sought after Northwest Passage, but his reports of trading possibilities with the native inhabitants of the land were received favorably in Holland.

The Dutch were quite accomplished traders who sailed the world, establishing colonies that would bring profits and wealth to the Dutch East India Company.  Their fleet of ships rivaled the other countries of England and Spain.  Yet their settlement in the New World lasted only a generation or two.

From 1609, after Henry Hudson claimed the territory for Holland, until 1664 when England forced the Dutch from New Amsterdam, is a short span of time that gets very little attention outside of the original territories first settled by the Dutch.

This is my quest.  I want to learn more about this brief but influencial historical period in the early 1600s that brought my Van Schaick ancestors from their homeland in Holland to settle in the area around Albany, New York.

Of the four big “power players” who conquered the New World and explored America, why is Dutch sea domination and exploration so far below the importance of England, Spain, Portugal and France?  Time to dust off my European History schoolbooks and gain an understanding of the Netherlands during the time period in the 1600s that brought my Dutch ancestors to Fort Orange.

Next subject–Dutch establishment of trading posts on the Hudson River——-


Credit source.  http://www.elizabethan_era.org.uk



About onewomanamericanpilgrimage

In 2011, live in the tropical paradise of Maui, Hawaii. Author, published poet, award-winning speaker (Toastmasters-Kihei chapter), and photographer of Hawaii's inspirational scenery. In 2002, I was a divorced, single mother, living in rural Medina County, Ohio. Suffered from the big 3Ds--debt, divorce & depression. About to turn 50, I fantasized my life could be better, lived with a greater purpose. I was a writer in need of a lifestyle change. At a turning point in my life, July, 2002, I took a solitary road trip to visit important American locations that were also turning points in History. What I observed during my personal "odyssey" became an American Pilgrimage that changed my life. Delivered from the 3Ds--I now live an extraordinary life of purpose and joy. This blog is about my journey through Pennsylvania & New York history. It was also an awakening into my inner potential to have the courage and determination to "life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness" for the 2nd half of my life.
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