Explorations in America before Columbus

Explorations in America before Columbus

Explorations in America before Columbus

Explorations in America before Columbus

Excerpt

America was visited by many expeditions hundreds of years before Columbus was born. Some of these were larger than Columbus' convoy. We have the record of the adventures of these men and know of their struggles to become permanent settlers in this new land. In this they failed, probably because of the hostility of the natives, just as hundreds and thousands of similar pioneers failed long after Columbus made his voyage. There was still plenty of land in Europe, so it did not seem worth while to cross the sea to fight for it. As late as 1803 American land was still so cheap that the Louisiana Purchase, embracing more than one-third of all the land in the United States, was concluded for only $15,000,000.

The voyage of Columbus became so famous because it was based on a monumental error which promised vast wealth. He accidentally learned that a great scholar in Florence, Toscanelli by name, had declared and demonstrated that the shortest route to the Orient was to sail west. There, only 5000 miles away, it was claimed, lay China and Japan filled with costly spices and gold. Only a few years before this time the sea route around Africa to the East Indies had been opened, and a new and most profitable trade had developed. The lust for gold was then as now irrepressible, and Columbus's discovery of the Caribbean Islands was therefore glamorized as the greatest of all gold strikes. Gold was the motive of Columbus, and gold was the banner of his successors for several generations. Little . . .

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