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European Exploration
The Story Begins . . .
Christopher Columbus
Who was First?
• Portugal was the first country to use new
technology for sea travel. They took the lead
in European exploration and brought spices
back to Europe.
Christopher Columbus
• In 1492, Isabella paid for the voyages of Christopher
Columbus (Cristóbol Colón) who claimed land in the Americas
for Spain.
– In 1492 Columbus landed first in the Bahamas in the Caribbean Sea.
He claimed the land for Spain and called it San Salvador, or “Holy
Christopher Columbus
-In 1492, Columbus wanted to sail
westward across the Atlantic Ocean
to reach The Indies and China. This
trade route was known as the
Northwest Passage.
-Trade with Asia was profitable, but
Why sail west?
Of course, Columbus wasn’t the first. . .
This Chinese world map was made in the
mid 1400’s.
Leif Ericson (a Viking)
settled the southern coast
of Newfoundland in 1003.
But he was the most significant
• The voyage of Christopher Columbus put the
Americas on the radar of all of Europe.
• Europe had been establishing an empire all
across the known world, and now there was
new land to conquer.
• There are three important European nations
that settled North America.
The Spanish
The Spanish
• Slow to start, but gained power quickly.
• Discovery of America led to an incredible amount of
gold in the royal treasury.
• Went from the brink of bankruptcy to the richest
nation in Europe.
• Explored to spread their religion (Catholicism), gain
wealth for the Empire, and spread the influence of
The French
The French
• Had holdings in Africa, Asia and North
• Controlled the Mississippi River and all its
contributing rivers
• Hunted beavers and sent their fur back to
The British
The British
• Had built the largest global empire. “The Sun
never sits upon the British Empire.”
• Late to arrive at the Americas. Settled the
Eastern Coast and Canada.
• The first colonies were started by companies.
Australia was the dumping ground for criminals.
People came to America for religious freedom,
jobs and cheap land.
The Natives
The Natives
• Each European power had different ways of
dealing with the natives.
– The Spanish built missions to convert the natives
to Catholicism. Natives lived under Spanish rule.
– The French came to hunt, and the natives knew
where the best game was. They made friends.
– The British came to build new cities. The natives
were in the way, and were pushed out or killed.
Under Attack
• The Native Americans did not have immunity to diseases that
the Europeans brought like smallpox and measles.
• Large numbers of Native Americans were killed because they
refused to become Christians.
• The conquest of the Americas resulted in large scale genocide
of Native Americans.
Reasons for Exploration:
• The Spanish and Portuguese had three goals.
– A missionary spirit to take Christianity to new lands.
• God…. This religious zeal led many missionaries to
come to the Americas to spread their religion.
• Gold… To increase personal and country wealth
• Glory…To strengthen the empire and win renown for