The Foundations of American Nationality

By Evarts Boutell Greene | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE ENGLISH OUTLOOK ON AMERICA

KEEPING the Old World background always in mind, we must now try to see the New World, not as we now know it, but as it appeared to a well-informed seventeenth-century Englishman.

More than a hundred years had passed since in 1493 Christopher Columbus came back from his heroic journey across the mysterious ocean to announce that he had found a new route around the world to the lands and people of the Far East. The later voyages of Columbus and his successors gradually made it clear that he had found not a new route to the Far East, but a new world. By a strange fate, this New World soon received not the name of its greatest pioneer, but that of one of his lesser contemporaries, Americus Vespucius, a Florentine navigator who explored much of the coast of South America, the first part of the New World that was recognized as a previously unknown continent. Columbus, like Americus Vespucius and so many other great explorers of his time, was an Italian; but his voyages had been made under the auspices of the Spanish government, which at once set up its claim to sovereignty in the Western Hemisphere. The voyages of Columbus to "the Indies" aroused the jealousy of the Portuguese, whose daring seamen had made their way down the western coast of Africa and around the Cape of Good Hope to the Indian Ocean, and the Pope was called upon to decide the dispute. This resulted in the "papal line of demarcation," first fixed in 1493 one hundred leagues west of

Spain and the New World.

Potuguese enterprise.

The "Papal Meridian."

-20-

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