History of American Exploration from 1600 to 1605

About the history of American exploration from 1600 to 1605 including voyages of Gosnold and de Champlain.


1602 The crew of the English bark Concord, commanded by Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold (1572-1607), anchored north of what is now Massachusetts Bay, completing the first nonstop transatlantic voyage to the region. They were met by Indians sailing a European shallop, some of them naked, one dressed in European clothes. This was obviously not their first contact with white men, though some things were new to them: mustard, which they "misliked," and a sailor's red beard, which they tried to obtain in trade. The English planted seeds, which grew to the fantastic height of 9 in. in two weeks. They brought back so much sassafras, then popular in Europe as a cure-all for everything from syphilis to plague, that its price dropped from 20 shillings to 3 shillings per pound. Sir Walter Raleigh, who held the charter to Virginia, which included Massachusetts Bay, was angry that they had undertaken the voyage without his permission, and he was not placated by Gosnold's dedication of A Brief and True Relation of the Discovery of the North Part of Virginia, being a most pleasant, fruitful, and commodious soil, etc. It didn't matter; by the following year Raleigh was in the Tower of London, accused of conspiracy against the new monarch, James I. The major discovery of Gosnold's voyage was Cape Cod, which he named.

1603 Capt. Martin Pring sailed from England to Penobscot Bay, then south as far as Martha's Vineyard, which Gosnold in 1602 had named for his daughter. The Indians they met danced in a ring to the music of a gittern (a guitarlike instrument) played by a boy from the ship. On a later occasion when the Indians proved less friendly, the ship's mastiffs, Fool and Gallant, managed to frighten them so much with their appearance that "they turned all to a jest and a sport and departed away in a friendly manner."

1603 Visionary Samuel de Champlain (1567?-1635), who had once suggested to Henri IV of France that he build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, made his first voyage to Canada, where, as the Father of New France, he organized the fur trade and explored vast regions of the northeast section of North America. Though adept at developing friendly relations with the Indians, he encountered the inevitable Catch-22 of the time: By making friends with one tribe, one automatically became the enemy of another. In this case, his friends the Hurons enlisted his help in their battles with the Iroquois.

1604 Champlain explored the coast of Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy, where his expedition founded two new settlements, St. Croix and Port Royal, then traveled south to a point below Cape Cod.

1605 The Indians loved sugar candy and raisins, British Capt. George Weymouth noted, and he watched them "stamping" in a dance, which often ended as "they which have wives take them apart and withdraw themselves severally into the wood all night." Weymouth discovered and explored the Kennebec River (in present-day Macine) and shipped back to England five Indians, among them Squanto, who learned English and stayed for several years, acting as public relations agents for the New World.

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