Front Matter Our Country Long Ago The Barbarous Indians The Mounds Where the Northmen Went The Northmen in America Queer Ideas Prince Henry the Navigator Youth of Columbus Columbus and the Queen "Land! Land!" Columbus and the Savages Home Again Columbus Ill-treated Death of Columbus How America Got its Name The Fountain of Youth "The Father of Waters" The French in Canada French and Spanish Quarrels The Sky City Around the World Nothing but Smoke Smith's Adventures The Jamestown Men Smith Wounded Pocahontas Visits England Hudson and the Indians The Mayflower Plymouth Rock The First Thanksgiving Snake Skin and Bullets The Beginning of Boston Stories of Two Ministers Williams and the Indians The Quakers The King-Killers King Phillip's War The Beginning of New York Penn and the Indians The Catholics in Maryland The Old Dominion Bacon's Rebellion A Journey Inland The Carolina Pirates Charter Oak Salem Witches Down the Mississippi La Salle's Adventures Indians on the Warpath Two Wars with the French Washington's Boyhood Washington's Journey Washington's First Battle Stories of Franklin Braddock's Defeat Wolfe at Quebec England and her Colonies The Stamp Tax The Anger of the Colonies The Boston Tea Party The Minutemen The Battle of Lexington Bunker Hill The Boston Boys The British leave Boston Declaration of Independence A Lady's Way of Helping Christmas Eve The Fight at Bennington Burgoyne's Surrender Winter at Valley Forge The Quaker Woman Putnam's Adventures Indian Cruelty Boone in Kentucky Famous Sea Fights The "Swamp Fox" The Poor Soldiers The Spy A Traitor's Death Two Unselfish Women Surrender of Cornwallis British Flag hauled down Washington's Farewell

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

How America Got its Name

The news of Columbus's first successful journey no sooner became known in Europe than each country wanted to secure some share of the profitable trade which they fancied would soon be opened with India. Henry VII., King of England, who had refused to listen to Columbus's plan, now hired a Venetian captain named John Cabot, and sent out an expedition in 1497.

Cabot crossed the Atlantic, and explored what he thought was China, but what was really part of North America, probably the coast of Newfoundland and of the mainland from Labrador to Cape Cod. Sailing along, he found a beautiful country, saw a bear plunge into the water to catch fish, and, landing at least once, planted an English flag upon our soil, thus taking formal possession of it in the name of England.

The next year his son made a similar journey. Sailing in and out of every bay, he sought a strait which would take him past these wild lands to the rich cities of the East, which he fancied were very near there. Of course he failed to find such a strait between Nova Scotia and Cape Hatteras, but the English later claimed all this part of the country, because it had been discovered by the Cabots. Still, for many years they made no attempt to plant a colony there, and prized their discovery so little that Henry VII. gave Cabot only Rio reward for all he had done.

The Portuguese, as we have seen, were very jealous when Columbus came back from his first journey, saying he had found the road to India. But while he was away on his third expedition, one of their captains, Vasco da Gama, sailing all around Africa and across the Indian Ocean, reached Calicut in India. He came home in 1499, with a rich cargo of silks and spices; and the Portuguese rejoiced greatly that they were the first to reach India by sea.

The next year some Portuguese ships, on their way around Africa, happened to go so far west that they sighted the coast of South America. Spain and Portugal had by this time drawn a line of demarcation on the map, agreeing that all lands west of it should belong to Spain, and all east to Portugal. As the new land was east of this line, the King of Portugal sent a fleet to explore it, and thus found it was a great continent. All the lands already discovered by the Spanish and English were supposed to form part of Asia; but this land was so far south that it was called the New World.

The pilot of the Portuguese fleet was a young Italian named Americus Vespucius. He took note of all he saw, and wrote an interesting account of his voyage. This narrative described the country, and as every one wanted to hear about the new discovery, it was soon published. A German geographer, reading the account of Americus, was so delighted with it that he suggested that the new continent should be named America, in honor of the man who had explored and described it so well. The name was thus given at first only to part of South America; but when, years afterwards, it was found that all the western lands belonged to the same continent, the whole of the New World was called America. Thus, by an accident, our country bears the name of Americus, instead of that of Columbus, its real discoverer, for it was the latter who showed the way to it, although he believed till his death that he had found only a new road to Asia.

Many writers claim that the first voyage of Americus to the West was in 1497, four years before his exploration of South America, and that he then landed on the American continent, shortly before Cabot, and more than a year before Columbus reached the mainland. According to them, Americus was thus the first to reach the continent which bears his name.