Early America—European Exploration
1000 to 1682
Voyage of Leif Ericson to La Salle explores Mississippi
Era Summary—European Exploration
Viking expeditions to Canada—The first exploration of the American continents by Europeans that was definitely recorded in the historical records of the time is the voyage of, which occurred around 1000 A.D. The height of Viking exploration and expansion were the 9th through 11th centuries, during an extended period of "global warming", when the climates of Iceland, Greenland, and the Nordic countries are thought to have been considerably more temperate than they currently are. Leif Ericson's voyages occurred during this period, and he reported finding so many grapes and berries in the regions of Canada he discovered (probably the coast of Newfoundland), that he referred to the region as Vineland.
Although the Viking explorers found the harbors and climate of the new continent to their liking, the land was populated by hostile natives. Since they were greatly outnumbered, they abandoned the colony after a few years. Their journey, however, was recorded in the Icelandic Chronicles of the age.
The two most famous Spanish explorers of the southern United States were, and . Both were ambitious explorers, driven by prospects of riches and glory. Ponce de Leon was a governor of Puerto Rico, who led several expeditions to Florida in early 1500's supposedly in search of the "Fountain of Youth". Although it is certain he explored the regions, he encountered hostile natives, and failed to find either gold, or magical waters, and he was killed when one of his early settlements was attacked by natives.
Hernando de Soto was already a wealthy and famous conquistador when he undertook an ambitious expedition to the Southeast United States. He played a dramatic role in the conquest of Peru, but sought even more glory for himself, so in 1439, with a party of over 600 men, he embarked on an inland trek through what is now the southeast United States. He traveled for three years several thousand miles from Florida, through Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, before dying in Arkansas. Although he explored a great deal of territory, and is credited with discovering the Mississippi River, his expedition was considered a failure because he failed to find gold or other treasures. His party had many encounters with southeast Indian tribes, the most famous of which was his battle with.
Other early Spanish explorers in North America were, one of the few survivors of the disastrous expedition; , founder of St. Augustine and first Spanish governor of Florida, and Juan Pardo, who led another disastrous Spanish expedition into the inland territories of the southwest. Far to the west, led an expeditition through New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Although most of his followers returned alive, he failed to find significant cities, gold, or minerals that had been the object of his expedition. The Spaniards did not establish a permanent colony in the west for another fifty years, when Juan de Onate founded the city of Santa Fe.
Whereas the early Spanish explorers sought gold and often enslaved natives to work on their mines or plantations, the French primarily sought to trade furs and developed positive relationships with the Indians. French Jesuits, such as, and other missionaries lived among the Indians and attempted to convert them to Christianity without disrupting their livelihood. In most of its wars with the British colonies in later years, the French depended heavily on the support of their Indian allies.
The most important French exploration and expansion in the New World occurred in the early 17th century.founded the permanent settlements of Quebec and Montreal. and Joliett explored the upper Mississippi and Great Lakes region, and led an expedition from the Great Lakes to the mouth of the Mississippi, claiming the entire Mississippi Valley for France.
The first explorer to sail to the New World under the English flag was, who sailed for Henry VII only a few years after Columbus. He landed briefly in Newfoundland and claimed the territory for England, but further English exploration did not occur for another fifty years. The reign of Queen Elizabeth was the hey-day of English exploration, when English sailors such as , , and explored the northern regions of Canada, in search of a Northwest passage. Meanwhile and worked unsuccessfully to establish a British colony at Roanoke in Virginia, and other famous sailors, such as and , sailed around the southern tip of the Americas and harrassed the Spanish galleons in the region.
The most important English explorer of the age was, after whom both the Hudson river in New York, and Hudson Bay in Canada, are named. He was a fearless explorer, but was killed when his crew mutinied, and cast him and his son adrift in Hudson Bay. By the time the English planted permanent colonies in the New World, a great deal of the coastline had been charted, trade with Indians had already been established and ambitious fishermen had already discovered the shoals of cod off the coast of Newfoundland.
|Raised in Iceland, Eric discovered Greenland. His Son Leif Erikson discovered Newfoundland.|
|Discovered Newfoundland and explored the seacoast of North America. Son of Erik the Red.|
|Genoan sailor, sponsored by Isabela of Spain, who crossed the Atlantic Ocean and discovered the Americas.|
|Helped establish a Spanish colony in Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean.|
|First Spanish governor of Puerto Rico. Explored inland regions of Florida while searching for the fountain of youth.|
|Adventurer who aided in conquest of Peru, then explored Southwestern United States. Discovered Mississippi river.|
|Spanish explorer who was a governor in Mexico, and explored regions of the Southwest United States.|
|Discovered the St. Lawrence Seaway and great lakes, while searching for Northwest Passage.|
|Founded French colonies in the St. Lawrence seaway and great lake region. Father of 'New France.'|
|French Missionary who explored the Mississippi River from the Great Lakes.|
|Dauntless adventurer who followed the Mississippi to its mouth, and claimed all for France.|
|Heroic Jesuit missionary to Indians. Tortured by the Indians, but returned to preach the gospel.|
|First discoverer of North American Mainland. Sailed for England rather than Italy.|
|Sea-faring adventurer. Founded the first English colony in Canada.|
|Greatest sea adventurer. Sailed around the world, harassed Spanish ships. Fought in Armada.|
|One of Elizabeth's famous sailors. Involved in War with Spain and settlement of colonies. Died defending the Revenge.|
|Explored much of Canada in seach of the Northwest Passage. Fought in the Armada.|
|Second Englishman to circumnavigate the globe, and first to intentionally do so.|
|British explorer who sought the Northwest Passage through Canada.|
|Explorer who discovered Hudson Bay and other parts of North America.|
|Discovered Baffin Bay while on a quest to find the Northwest Passage.|
|Courtier of Queen Elizabeth. Explorer, mastermind of the Jamestown colony in Virginia.|
|1000||leads a Viking expedition to the coast of North America.|
|1492||sails to the New Indies in his first voyage to America.|
|1513||crosses the ithmus of Panama and discovers the Pacific Ocean.|
|1513||makes his first expediton to Florida.|
|circumnavigates the earth.|
|1521||is killed and his colony destroyed during his final expedition to Florida.|
|is one of four survivors of the Navarez expediton to Florida, and wrote about his adventures.|
|leads and expedition through the Southeast, discovers the Mississippi.|
|leads a Spanish expedition to New Mexico.|
|1565||St. Augustine Florida, the first permanent settlement in the U.S. is founded by.|
|Juan Pardo founds a Spanish settlement in South Carolina, and leads an ill-fated expedition inland.|
|1598||Don Juan Onate founds the Spanish city of Santa Fe.|
|1534||French explorerdiscovers the Gulf of Saint Lawrence on his first voyage.|
|1562||Huguenouts under Ribault set up a temporary colony near Beaufort in South Carolina.|
|1564||Laudonniere, who sailed with Ribault on a previoius voyage, founds Fort Carolina on the St. John River.|
|1565||French colony at Fort Caroline is attacked by a Spanish fleet under.|
|1567||De Gourgues attacks a Spanish colony at St. Johns in retaliation for the Spanish raid on Fort Caroline.|
|1603||explores the St. Lawrence seaway on the first of many expeditions to America.|
|1605||Port Royal, the capital of French Acadia is founded in Nova Scotia.|
|1608||Quebec City is founded by Champlain and becomes the capital of New France.|
|1611||Montreal is established as a trading post by Champlain.|
|1615||First French Catholic missionaries are sent to Canada to convert the Indians.|
|1646||Jesuit Priestis martyred after ministering to the Hurons.|
|governs New France and greatly expands the fur trade.|
|1673||and Joliet explore the upper Mississippi Valley.|
|1682||travels from the upper Mississippi to its mouth; claims Mississipi Valley for France.|
|1689||Almost 400 French settlers killed in the Lachine massacre, by Mohawks allied with the British.|
|1497||, sailing for England, explores the Northeast coast of North America.|
|1508||Sebastian Cabot led expedition to North American, searching for the Northwest Passage.|
|explores Northern Canada in search of a Northwest Passage.|
|circumnavigates the earth, stopping in San Francisco Bay.|
|1583||attempts unsuccessfully to found a colony in Newfoundland.|
|1584||First English Expedition to Roanoake, Virginia is organized by.|
|1586||discovers Davis strait in search of a Northwest Passage to Asia.|
|During three voyages,discovers Hudson River and Hudson bay.|
|1615||explores the artic circle region of Canada, in search of a Northwest Passage.|
|1670||Hudson Bay Trading Company is established by Royal Charter.|
|1793||reaches the Pacific Ocean, completing the first overland crossing of North America.|
Recommended Reading—European Exploration
Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.