Comic History of the United States - Bill Nye

Other Discoveries—Wet and Dry.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye

America had many other discoverers besides Columbus, but he seems to have made more satisfactory arrangements with the historians than any of the others. He had genius, and was also a married man. He was a good after-dinner speaker, and was first to use the egg trick, which so many after-dinner speakers have since wished they had thought of before Chris did.

In falsifying the log-book in order to make his sailors believe that they had not sailed so far as they had, Columbus did a wrong act, unworthy of his high notions regarding the pious discovery of this land. The artist has shown here not only one of the most faithful portraits of Columbus and his crooked log-book, but the punishment which he should have received.

The man on the left is Columbus; History is concealed just around the corner in a loose wrapper.

Spain at this time regarded the new land as a vast jewelry store in charge of simple children of the forest who did not know the value of their rich agricultural lands or gold-ribbed farms. Spain, therefore, expected to exchange bone collar-buttons with the children of the forest for opals as large as lima beans, and to trade fiery liquids to them for large gold bricks.

The Montezumas were compelled every little while to pay a freight-bill for the Spanish confidence man.

Ponce de Leon had started out in search of the Hot Springs of Arkansas, and in 1512 came in sight of Florida. He was not successful in his attempt to find the Fountain of Youth, and returned an old man so deaf that in the language of the Hoosier poet referring to his grandfather,—

"So remarkably deaf was my grandfather Squeers That he had to wear lightning-rods over his ears To even hear thunder, and oftentimes then He was forced to request it to thunder again."

Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Darien, and, rolling up his pantalettes, waded into the Pacific Ocean and discovered it in the name of Spain. It was one of the largest and wettest discoveries ever made, and, though this occurred over three centuries ago, Spain is still poor.

Balboa, in discovering the Pacific, did so according to the Spanish custom of discovery, viz., by wading into it with his naked sword in one hand and the banner of Castile, sometimes called Castile's hope (see Appendix), in the other. He and his followers waded out so as to discover all they could, and were surprised to discover what is now called the undertow.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


The artist has shown the great discoverer most truthfully as he appeared after he had discovered and filed on the ocean. No one can look upon this picture for a moment and confuse Balboa, the discoverer of the Pacific, with Kope Elias, who first discovered in the mountains of North Carolina what is now known as moonshine whiskey.

De Narvaez in 1528 undertook to conquer Florida with three hundred hands. He also pulled considerable grass in his search for gold. Finally he got to the gulf and was wrecked. They were all related mostly to Narvaez, and for two weeks they lived on their relatives, but later struck shore—four of them—and lived more on a vegetable diet after that till they struck the Pacific Ocean, which now belonged to Spain.

De Soto also undertook the conquest of Florida after this, and took six hundred men with him for the purpose. They wandered through the Gulf States to the Mississippi, enduring much, and often forced to occupy the same room at night. De Soto in 1541 discovered the Mississippi River, thus adding to the moisture collection of Spain.

After trying to mortgage his discovery to East ern capitalists, he died, and was buried in the quiet bosom of the Great Father of waters.

Thus once more the list of fatalities was added to and the hunger for gold was made to contribute a discovery.

Menendez later on founded in 1565 the colony of St. Augustine, the oldest town in the United States. There are other towns that look older, but it is on account of dissipation. New York looks older, but it is because she always sat up later of nights than St. Augustine did.

Cortez was one of the coarsest men who visited this country. He did not marry any wealthy American girls, for there were none, but he did everything else that was wrong, and his unpaid laundry-bills are still found all over the Spanish-speaking countries. He was especially lawless and cruel to the Peruvians: "recognizing the Peruvian at once by his bark," he would treat him with great indignity, instead of using other things which he had with him. Cortez had a way of capturing the most popular man in a city, and then he would call on the tax-payers to redeem him on the instalment plan. Most everybody hated Cortez, and when he held religious services the neighbors did not attend. The religious efforts made by Cortez were not successful. He killed a great many people, but converted but few.

The historian desires at this time to speak briefly of the methods of Cortez from a commercial stand-point.

Will the reader be good enough to cast his eye on the Cortez securities as shown in the picture drawn from memory by an artist yet a perfect gentleman?

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Notice the bonds Nos. 18 and 27. Do you notice the listening attitude of No. 18? He is listening to the accumulating interest. Note the aged and haggard look of No. 27. He has just begun to notice that he is maturing.

Cast your eye on the prone form of No. 31. He has just fallen due, and in doing so has hurt his crazy-bone (see Appendix).

Be good enough to study the gold-bearing bond behind the screen. See the look of anguish. Some one has cut off a coupon probably. Cortez was that kind of a man. He would clip the ear of an Inca and make him scream with pain, so that his friends would come in and redeem him. Once the bank examiner came to examine the Cortez bank. He imparted a pleasing flavor on the following day to the soup.

Spain owned at the close of the sixteenth century the West Indies, Yucatan, Mexico, and Florida, besides unlimited water facilities and the Peruvian preserves.

North Carolina was discovered by the French navigator Verrazani, thirty years later than Cabot did, but as Cabot did not record his claim at the court-house in Wilmington the Frenchman jumped the claim in 1524, and the property remained about the same till again discovered by George W. Vanderbilt in the latter part of the present century.

Montreal was discovered in 1535 by Cartier, also a Frenchman.

Ribaut discovered South Carolina, and left thirty men to hold it. They were at that time the only white men from-Mexico to the North Pole, and a keen business man could have bought the whole thing, Indians and all, for a good team and a jug of nepenthe. But why repine?

The Jesuit missionaries about the middle of the seventeenth century pushed their way to the North Mississippi and sought to convert the Indians. The Jesuits deserve great credit for their patience, endurance, and industry, but they were shocked to find the Indian averse to work. They also advanced slowly in church work, and would often avoid early mass that they might catch a mess of trout or violate the game law by killing a Dakotah in May.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Father Marquette discovered the Upper Mississippi not far from a large piece of suburban property owned by the author, north of Minneapolis. The ground has not been disturbed since discovered by Father Marquette.

The English also discovered America from time to time, the Cabots finding Labrador while endeavoring to go to Asia via the North, and Frobisher discovered Baffin Bay in 1576 while on a like mission. The Spanish discovered the water mostly, and England the ice belonging to North America.

Sir Francis Drake also discovered the Pacific Ocean, and afterward sailed an English ship on its waters, discovering Oregon.

Sir Walter Raleigh, with the endorsement of his half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, regarding the idea of colonization of America, and being a great friend of Queen Elizabeth, got out a patent on Virginia.

He planted a colony and a patch of tobacco on Roanoke Island, but the colonists did not care for agriculture, preferring to hunt for gold and pearls. In this way they soon ran out of food, and were constantly harassed by Indians.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


It was an odd sight to witness a colonist coming home after a long hard day hunting for pearls as he asked his wife if she would be good enough to pull an arrow out of some place which he could not reach himself.

Raleigh spent two hundred thousand dollars in his efforts to colonize Virginia, and then, disgusted, divided up his patent and sold county rights to it at a pound apiece. This was in 1589. Raleigh learned the use of smoking tobacco at this time.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


He was astonished when he tried it first, and threatened to change his boarding-place or take his meals out, but soon enjoyed it, and before he had been home a week Queen Elizabeth thought it to be an excellent thing for her house plants. It is now extensively used in the best narcotic circles.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye


Several other efforts were made by the English to establish colonies in this country, but the Indians thought that these English people bathed too much, and invited perspiration between baths.

One can see readily that the Englishman with his portable bath-tub has been a flag of defiance from the earliest discoveries till this day.

This chapter brings us to the time when settlements were made as follows:

The French at Port Royal, N.S., 1605.
The English at Jamestown 1607.
The French at Quebec 1608.
The Dutch at New York 1613.
The English at Plymouth 1620.

* * * * * * *

The author's thanks are due to the following books of reference, which, added to his retentive memory, have made the foregoing statements accurate yet pleasing:

A Summer in England with H. W. Beecher. By J. B. Reed.

Russell's Digest of the Laws of Minnesota, with Price-List of Members.

Out-Door and Bug Life in America. By Chilblainy, Chief of the Umatilla.

Why I am an Indian. By S. Bull. With Notes by Ole Bull and Introduction by John Bull.

[Illustration] from Comic History of the U.S.A. by Bill Nye