The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in North America (1610-1791)

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in North America (1610-1791)

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in North America (1610-1791)

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in North America (1610-1791)

Excerpt

[This is the Historical Introduction by Reuben Gold Thwaites to the seventy-three volume edition of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents which he edited and from which this volume of Selections has been compiled. It is given in full, although several references are made in it to Documents not included in this volume. Because of its remarkable clarification and condensation of the long and intricate period in early American history with which the Relations are concerned, it will be found an invaluable aid to the pages that follow it.]

Doubtless Norse vikings, venturing far southward from outlying colonies in Iceland and Greenland, first coasted New France, and beached their sturdy ships on the shores of New England. But five centuries passed without result, and we cannot properly call them pioneers of American civilization. Columbus it was, who unlocked the eastern door of the New World. Five years later, John Cabot, in behalf of England, was sighting the gloomy headlands of Cape Breton. Cortereal appeared in the neighborhood, in 1501, seeking lands for the Portuguese crown. About this time at intervals, there came to Newfoundland certain Norman, Breton, and Basque fishers, who, erecting little huts and drying-scaffolds along the rocky shore, sowed the first seed of that polyglot settlement of French, Portuguese, Spanish and English which has come down to our day almost uninterruptedly.

By 1511, these fishermen appear to have known the mainland to the west: for on the map of Sylvanus, in his edition of Ptolemy, that year, we find delineation of the "Square Gulf" . . .

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