18 de febrero de 2009

1497, 1515

Turn back now to Columbus's time. England, destined to dominate the continent of North America, was also practically the discoverer of the same. On St. John's day, June 24, 1497, thirteen months and a week before Columbus saw South America, John Cabot, a Venetian in the service of King Henry VII., from the deck of the good ship Matthew, of Bristol, descried land somewhere on the coast either of Labrador or of Nova Scotia. Cabot, of course, supposed this prima vista of his to belong to Asia, and expected to reach Cipango next voyage. So late as 1543 Jean Allefonsce, on reaching New England, took it for the border of Tartary.
Andre Thevet, in 1515, in a pretended voyage to Maine, places Cape Breton on the west coast of Asia. This confusion probably explains the tradition of Norumbega as a great city, and of other populous and wealthy cities in the newly found land. Men transferred ideas of Eastern Asia to this American shore.
See also: 1498, 1506-1513


How the French fought for foothold in Florida and were routed by the Spaniards has just been related. So early as 1504, and possibly much earlier, before Cabot or Columbus, French sailors were familiar with the fisheries of Newfoundland. To the Isle of Cape Breton they gave its name in remembrance of their own Brittany. The attention of the French Government was thus early directed toward America, and it at length determined to share in the new discoveries along with the Spanish and the English.
In 1524 Verrazano, a Florentine navigator, was sent by Francis I. on a voyage of discovery to the New World. Sighting the shores of America near the present Wilmington, North Carolina, he explored the coast of New Jersey, touched land near New York Bay, and anchored a few days in the harbor of Newport. In this vicinity he came upon an island, which was probably Block Island. Sailing from here along the coast as far north as Newfoundland, he named this vast territory New France.
In 1534 Cartier, a noted voyager of St. Malo, coasted along the north of Newfoundland, passed through the Straits of Belle Isle into the water now known as St. Lawrence Gulf, and into the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. Erecting a cross, he took possession of the shores in the name of the king of France.
In the following year he made a second voyage, going up as far as the mouth of a small river which the year before he had named St. John's. He called the waters the Bay of St. Lawrence. Ascending this, he came to a settlement of the natives near a certain hill, which he called Mont
Royal, now modified into "Montreal." Cartier returned to France in 1536, only a few of his men having survived the winter.
In 1540 Lord Roberval fitted out a fleet, with Cartier as subordinate. Cartier sailed at once--his third voyage--Roberval following the next year. A fort was built near the present site of Quebec. Roberval and Cartier disagreed and returned to France, leaving the real foundation of Quebec to be laid by Champlain, much later.
See also: 1528-1540


Moreover, the Spaniards found their first American conquests too easy, and the rewards of these too great. This prevented all thought of developing the country through industry, concentrating expectation solely upon waiting fortunes, to be had from the natives by the sword or through forced labor in mines, Their treatment of the aborigineswas nothing short of diabolical. Well has it been said: "The Spaniards had sown desolation, havoc, and misery in and around their track. They had depopulated some of the best peopled of the islands and renewed them with victims deported from others. They had inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of the natives all the forms and agonies of fiendish cruelty, driving them to self-starvation and suicide, as a way of mercy and release from an utterly wretched existence. They had come to be viewed by their victims as fiends of hate, malignity, and all dark and cruel desperation and mercilessness in passion. The hell which they denounced upon their victims was shorn of its worst terror by the assurance that these tormentors were not to be there. Las Casas, the noble missionary, the true soldier of the cross, and the few priests and monks who sympathized with him, in vain protested against these cruelties."
To all these causes we must add the narrow colonial policy of Spain.
Imitating Venice and ancient Carthage instead of Greece, she held her dependencies under the straitest servitude to herself as conquered provinces, repressing all political or commercial independence. A similar restrictive policy, indeed, hampered the colonies of other nations, but it was nowhere else so irrational or blighting as in Spanish America.
See also: 1565