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Explorers of North America

When Columbus left Spain in 1492, most people in the world thought there were only three large land masses: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Although he didn't realize it, it was Columbus who proved that idea wrong.

Even though he thought he'd reached Asia, he'd opened up the New World to Europe. More importantly, unlike other explorers who only wanted to trade or travel, Columbus built settlements in the New World. The settlements were created with the intention of having a continuing relationship with the peoples of the New World.…Even today, more than 500 years after his first voyage, Columbus is praised by some and condemned by others. His explorations made it possible for Europeans to begin a new life in the colonies of the New World. His discoveries started the migration of Europeans and their ways of life to the New World.

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  • Amerigo Vespucci (1452-1512)
  • Ponce de Leon
  • Henry Hudson
  • Lewis and Clark at the mouth of the Columbia... llier's Magazine', May 12th 1906


  • Map of the route followed by Hernando Cortes... 7) during the conquest of Mexico
  • European Exploration of North America
  • Main Exploration Routes 1804-1807

Dig Deeper

  • America, Discovery and Colonization of
    During the 15th century, the European nations of Spain and Portugal began a series of explorations to find trade routes to the Far East. An accidental outcome of this search was the discovery by Christopher Columbus in 1492 of land in the... more
  • Amerigo Vespucci
    As a young man, Vespucci worked for the Medici (meh-DEE-chee) family. That was one of the wealthiest, most powerful families in Florence. He worked in their businesses and as a banker for them. more
  • De Soto Discovers the Mississippi
    From the eastern coast of Florida the Spaniards made early explorations of the interior until they reached the Mississippi River. Florida, which was discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, was soon visited by other voyagers, and in 1528... more
  • Early Exploration
    around 1000: Leif Ericson, from Iceland, explored "Vinland," which may have been the coasts of northeast Canada and New England. more
  • Henry Hudson Explores the Hudson River
    Although Henry Hudson was not the first discoverer of the waters to which his name was given, he was a bold sailor whose achievements justly gave him rank with the foremost navigators and explorers of his time. He was well versed in... more
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition
    American settlers knew little about western North America when the Lewis and Clark Expedition set out in 1804. Twelve years earlier Capt. Robert Gray, an American navigator, had sailed up the mouth of the great river he named the Columbia.... more