Vespucci was the one person for whom North and South America was named after. Vespucci had a wonderful life and found many things on his voyages. Amerigo Vespucci was born in Florence, Italy in March of 1451, and grew up in a considerable mansion near the river. As a young boy, Amerigo’s happiest moments studying the stars. He excelled in mathematics and his hobby was copying maps. His dream as a young boy was to travel and get a better picture about what the Earth looked like. Amerigo spent half of his life as a business man hoping to strike it rich so he could explore. Amerigo was the third son, there were two older brothers, Antonio and Girolamo, the youngest was Bernardo. The parents were Stagio and Elisabetta Vespucci. Italy, at this time was not yet a civilized country. Italy was a bunch of city- states each self governed and looking for money for it’s own purposes and not for the benefit of the country. Florence, where Amerigo was born and grew up, was in the city-state governed by the powerful Medici family. Later in Vespucci’s life he ends up working for this family helping govern the city-state. Italy, at this time was not a good country as it is today. In 1492 Vespucci left Florence for Seville, Spain because Italy had the monopoly and didn’t need, or want, exploration. Well into his forties, around 1495, Vespucci became the director of a ship company that supplied ships for long voyages. This was the first opportunity Vespucci had to make voyages and he was very happy about this, therefore he was only looking for “new worlds” to discover and not money or rewards for finding exotic places. In 1497 Vespucci said that he went on a voyage to the “New World.” Little is known about this because there was not much evidence to support that he actually made this voyage such as: journals, maps they used, or any crew members journals about what happened. He was said to be back in 1498. Later on down the road, after this journey was said to take place people began to doubt this and Columbus became known as the founder of the “New World” even though he thought he was in India.
In 1499 Vespucci was said to have made his second voyage with Alonso de Ojeda as the captain. This voyage could be backed by a great deal of evidence and is supposed to have occurred. The watchman finally did spot land, the Cape Verde Islands, and this is the first time anyone has been purposely to the “New World.” On this first journey Vespucci explored the north eastern coast of South America and also came in contact with Cuba, Hispaniola, and the Bahaman Islands. Vespucci got back to Spain in 1500 and told everyone about his findings of the land and the people. On May 19, 1501 Vespucci left from the ports of the sponsoring Spain on his third voyage. On this voyage Vespucci was second in charge behind Gonocalo Coelho, another one of Spains’ explorers. They explored on this expedition the Cape Santo Agostinho at the shoulder of present day Brazil. This voyage was one of the less successful because they explored only limited water area. On the fourth, and last, voyage Vespucci explored more of South America.
In 1503, on this journey, led by Amerigo Vespuccci himself, the captain and crew explored the south eastern side of South America. They ran along the coast and visited such places as Cape Soo Roque, Guanabara Bay, Rio de la Plata, Cape Santo Agostinho, San Julian and spotted the Falkland Islands. His crew returned back to Spain in 1504 and told their story to mapmakers to put on the maps. After the findings of the “New World” a mapmaker suggested they call it America, after the knowing founder. Martin Waldseemuller a German mapmaker was one of the first to believe that Vespucci was the first European to reach the “New World.” In 1507, he suggested they call it America and soon this name was used throughout and eventually used officially in the naming of the continent.
Vespucci left a controversy when he died saying that he did not make the voyage that started in 1497. Today scholars still doubt that Vespucci made the voyage. Vespucci also claimed, in his writings, that he captioned all the journeys himself when he only captained one of the four reported expedition. The results to Vespucci’s findings was that North and South America were named after him, and back in the late 1400’s and the early 1500’s they would know that there was a “New World” out there and they didn’t have to go on believing that Asia was just beyond the horizon and that in reality there was two of the biggest continents in the way of their destination, Asia.
1. Baker, Nina Amerigo Vespucci McCelland & Stewart Limited Canada, 1956
2. World Book Encyclopedia 1985 Vol. 29 (V) p.p. 274
3. Bohler, Richard World Explorers and Discovers Mac Millan Publishing Company New York, 1992 p.p. 439-441
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