Christopherr Columbus a.k.a. Cristobal Colon

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1 Christopherr Columbus a.k.a. Cristobal Colon Christopher Columbus was an Italian merchant who dreamed of sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean to the exotic riches of Asia. He had read the stories of Marco Polo and wanted to find a faster way to get to Asia. No one from Italy could afford to pay for his voyage, so Columbus asked King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to sponsor his voyage. After he asked several times, Ferdinand and Isabella agreed to provide him with three ships the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria and the crews to sail them. Columbus expected the journey to take a few weeks. When they had been sailing for several months, his men were threatening to mutiny if they didn t find arrive soon. Luckily for Columbus, land came into view the next day. Although he thought he was landing in the East Indies, Columbus and his men had actually discovered the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean on October 12, Columbus would eventually make four trips back and forth across the Atlantic and set up several colonies in the Caribbean, enslaving the native people wherever he went. He called the native people Indians because he initially thought he was off the coast of India. Columbus is generally given credit for "discovering America," even though he never actually landed in North America. The true discovery of North America should be credited to Leif Ericson and the Vikings, who landed in Canada around the year 1000 A.D.

2 John Cabot a.k.a. Giovanni Caboto: John Cabot (born Giovanni Caboto) was an Italian merchant with a desire to explore the uncharted territory of the Americas. Inspired by the experiences of fellow Italian Columbus, Cabot went to the king of England in 1497 to seek funding for another voyage of exploration to the New World. English King Henry VII granted him the funding and he sailed west across the Atlantic. Cabot landed on an island that he named Newfoundland and also explored the coast of eastern Canada. Based on what he saw, he planted the English flag on Newfoundland and declared thatt he claimed all of North America for England. Cabot then sailed back to England to ask for more supplies and funding for another voyage. Since he had been so successful, his wishes were granted. Unfortunately, Cabot s second voyage ended in disaster. His ship disappeared on the way back to North America and he was never heard from again. Since Cabot did not have the chance to establish any forts to defend his claim, other European nations ignored English claims to North America and continued to explore and claim territory across the continent.

3 Francisco Coronado Francisco Coronado was a Spanish explorer who hoped to expand on Spanish claims in North America. After a brief career as a colonial governor in Mexico, Coronado led an expedition north into present-day Arizona and New Mexico. While there, he explored the desert, navigated the Colorado River, and became the first European to see the Grand Canyon in person. Coronado embraced his role as a conquistador. He was not interested in learning from the Native Americans or helping them in any way. He enslaved thousands of Native Americans in the American Southwest, forcing them to serve as guides, scouts, and hunters. He and his men used superior weapons (guns and steel swords) to kill thousands of Native Americans in battles and raids. During one of these expeditions, Coronado heard a story about seven lost cities of gold called Cibola. Finding Cibola became a personal obsession for Francisco Coronado. He led his troops throughout the Southwest and even as far as Kansas in search of these cities. He never did find Cibola, and modern historians believe that this legend may have referred to the adobe homes of the Pueblo, which can appear to be golden in the right light. Coronado s expeditions allowed the Spanish to lay claim to the American Southwest, a claim that would last until the 1800 s.

4 Samuel de Champlain With the Spanish claiming much of Central and South America, the French decided to focus on claiming land in eastern Canada, along the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. While Jacques Cartier was the first Frenchmen to explore this area, Samuel de Champlain was the first to establish a permanent settlement. Champlain built the first forts at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, protecting French claims further up river. These forts eventually became known as Quebec City, a city in which French is still spoken today. While this city was originally built for defensive purposes, it eventually became an important trading center for a newly discovered natural resource: animal furs. Beaver furs in particular were seen as a luxury good in Europe. Samuel de Champlain explored much of Eastern Canada and was the first European to conduct a thorough investigation of the Great Lakes. In his travels, Champlain and his men encountered a number of Native American tribes. Since the Native Americans were much better at hunting and trapping, the French would trade guns and other tools to the Native Americans in exchange for the precious animal furs. But the relationship between the French and local tribes was not always positive. Champlain had made alliances with several tribes who were enemies of the Iroquois. These tribes asked that Champlain and the French join in their war against the Iroquois. Champlain agreed and was soon in battle with the Iroquois. As the two sides got closer, Champlain and his men targeted and killed the Iroquois chiefs, throwing the Iroquois into a chaotic retreat. This was a major violation of the Iroquois understanding of war (leaders were considered off-limits) and this fight with Champlain would harm the French-Iroquois relationship through the French and Indian War of the 1750 s and 1760 s.

5 Robert de la Salle a.k.a. René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle While many European explorers were excited about the prospects of instant riches in the Americas, some were still trying to accomplish Columbus original mission: finding an all-water route to Asia. Robert de la Salle was determined to be the first to find this route. Other explorers had attempted to locate a Northwest Passage that traveled north of Canada, but all had been turned back by the extreme cold and the frozen seas. La Salle decided to continue down the St. Lawrence River, through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River. He was convinced that the Mississippi River would eventually lead to the Pacificc Ocean. As he and his crew navigated the Mississippi River, they drew detailed maps of the Mississippi River Valley. Upon reaching the mouth of the Mississippi in the Gulf of Mexico, La Salle claimed land on either side of the Mississippi River for the nation of France. This claim would last until the Louisiana Purchase in Although La Salle was wrong about the Mississippi River, he remained convinced that there was still a way to cross North America by water. He ordered his crew to continue sailing across the Gulf of Mexico and up the Rio Grande. Traveling up river is much more challenging than floating down, and his men soon started to question his decision to continue searching. After a few weeks of struggling in the Texas sun, his men committed mutiny and murdered La Salle.

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