Exploration and Empire
Section 1: Early Explorations
- Columbus. Before Columbus's voyage, Europeans did not know the Western Hemisphere existed.
- During the 1400's, Europeans became interested in finding a short sea route to the Far East--a region of spices and other valuable goods.
- Columbus, an Italian navigator, believed he could find a short route to the East by sailing west.
- Financed by the Spanish king and queen, he set sail westward from Spain on Aug. 3, 1492. Columbus reached land on October 12, and assumed he had arrived in the Far East. Actually, he landed on San Salvador, one of the islands just east of the North American mainland.
- Columbus died in 1506. He believed he had sailed to an unknown land in the Far East. Other Europeans called this unexplored area the New World and honored Columbus as its discoverer.
- Europeans also called the Western Hemisphere America, after Amerigo Vespucci.
An Italian, Vespucci claimed he made voyages to the New World for Spain and Portugal beginning in 1497.
- The discovery of the existence of America caused a wave of excitement in Europe.
- To many Europeans, the New World offered opportunities for wealth, power, and adventure. European rulers and merchants wanted to gain control of the hemisphere's resources in order to add to their wealth. Rulers also sought to gain New World territory, and thus increase their power and importance.
- Christian clergymen were eager to spread their religion to the Indians. Explorers and others viewed the New World as a place to seek adventure, as well as gain fame and fortune. Before long, Europeans from several countries sailed across the Atlantic to explore America and set up trading posts and colonies.
- The Spanish and Portuguese. During the 1500's, the Spanish and...