AMERIGO VESPUCCI ( )

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1 AMERIGO VESPUCCI ( ) Amerigo Vespucci was born in Italy in Vespucci went on several expeditions to South America. In 1501, he sailed in service to the King of Portugal. This was his third and most successful voyage. During this exploration he discovered present-day Rio de Janeiro and Rio de la Plata. It was during this voyage that Vespucci became convinced that the new lands he discovered were not just the eastern extremes of Asia, as had been previously thought. Instead, he believed that he discovered a new continent. He called South America the New World. In 1507, America was named after him.

2 CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS ( ) Christopher Columbus is the Italian explorer credited with discovering America. While Columbus was not the first person to set foot on America s land, it was Columbus s voyage that started the exploration and colonization of the Americas. His voyage also proved that the Earth was round. Columbus wanted to find a quicker route to China and East Asia. Since traveling over land on the Silk Road was dangerous and the established sea route around Africa was much too long, Columbus decided to sail straight to China by crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, Columbus was wrong. He soon discovered that there was another land, the Americas, between Europe and Asia. His trip across the Atlantic was paid for by Spain. He set sail on August 12, 1492 with three ships. Two months later, land was spotted. It was a small island in the Bahamas. Columbus was convinced that he had landed on islands off the coast of East Asia. After making his discovery, he was excited to get home and claim his fame and riches.

3 John Cabot ( ) John Cabot was born in Italy in After Christopher Columbus discovered the West Indies, Cabot began to devise his own plan to reach the Indies by sailing a more northerly latitude. He believed that his route would be shorter than Columbus s. He gained support for his exploration in England. In early May of 1497, Cabot left Bristol, England on a ship named Matthew. He and his crew of 18 men were successful. They hit land in modern-day eastern Canada on June 24, 1497 after 52 days at sea. Cabot immediately claimed the land for England. The rulers of England and other countries felt that they owned any land that was explored on their behalf. As Cabot explored the maritime region of Canada and Long Island, he was convinced that he had found part of Asia, but never found the sought after Northwest Passage.

4 GIOVANNI DA VERRAZANO ( ) Giovanni da Verrazano was born in 1485 in Italy. As a young man he pursued a career in navigation. In 1524, Verrazano was chosen by King Francis I of France to search for the Northwest Passage to Asia through North America. On March 1, 1524, he reached North Carolina and sailed north to explore the coastline. A major stop of Verrazano's voyage was the New York Bay. He anchored in the narrows, between Staten Island and Long Island. This area is now know as Verrazano s Narrows. Today the Verrazano's Bridge is named for him. The bridge connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.

5 JACQUES CARTIER ( ) Jacques Cartier was born in 1491 in France. In 1534, Cartier was tasked to find the Northwest Passage through the continent of North America to Asia (the Indies) by the King of France. He was to search for gold, spices, and a passage to Asia. Cartier s expedition would lead him around parts of Newfoundland and up the St. Lawrence River. On July 24, 1534, Cartier claimed a region in Quebec, Canada as French land. He is most famous for his discovery of the St. Lawrence River. He also took corn back to France which was the first corn seen in Europe.

6 SAMUEL DE CHAMPLAIN ( ) Samuel de Champlain was born in France in He is one of the most important explorers in North American and French history. His expeditions helped to map much of Canada and the northeastern United States. In 1603, Champlain sailed to Canada and explored the St. Lawrence River. On one of his journeys to Canada in 1608, Champlain established a fur trading post. He chose a location near the St. Lawrence River and named it Quebec. It became a permanent settlement for New France. While there, he became friendly with the Algonquin and Huron Indians living near Quebec. When Champlain reached a large body of water in 1609, he named it Lake Champlain.

7 HENRY HUDSON (1585? 1611?) Henry Hudson was born in England. It is theorized that he was born in Hudson wanted to discover a better trade route between Europe and Asia. He wanted to find a northern passage to India. Hudson led two expeditions north of Europe in an attempt to go right over the top of the Earth. He had to turn back during both attempts. Then, in 1607 with funding from the Netherlands, Hudson sailed a ship called the Half Moon. Hudson once again took a northern route. His crew began to suffer in the cold weather and made Hudson change directions. Hudson then sailed south along the east coast of North America. He discovered what he thought might be a passage between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. He was wrong. It was a river, now named the Hudson River. This area would later be settled by the Dutch including the area on the tip of Manhattan which would one day become New York City.

8 ROBERT LASALLE ( ) Robert La Salle was a French explorer born in LaSalle traveled from France to Quebec, New France in late He was determined to find a water passage to the east through North America. In July 1669, LaSalle put together a group of twenty-four men. Together, they traveled in canoes up the St. Lawrence River and into Lake Ontario. The expedition party explored Lake Ontario, Irondequoit Bay, Niagara Falls, and Lake Erie. During his trip, his group became the first explorers to see the Ohio River.

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