History of American Exploration from 1605 to 1610

About the history of American exploration from 1605 to 1610 including explorations of Henry Hudson and Champlain.


1607-1609 As one of the seven councilors of Jamestown, the first permanent British colony in the New World, Smith traveled inland and traded with Powhatan, an Indian chief who taught him how to plant corn. (Later King James sent Powhatan a crown, a four-poster bed, and a red silk-lined cape, intended to be gifts in exchange for Powhatan's allegiance to Great Britain, which he never gave.) During this time, Smith explored Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers.

1608-1609 Champlain, after founding Quebec as the center of New France's fur trade, set out with a war party of Hurons and Algonquians down the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers and discovered Lake Champlain. His object was to find the Northwest Passage; the Indians' object was to fight the Iroquois. Only the Indians got what they wanted. With Champlain in full armor at their head, they battled 200 Iroquois at the site of Fort Ticonderoga and won. Champlain, appalled at their torture of a prisoner--ripping out his fingernails, burning his penis, scalping him alive, tearing out his arm sinews--persuaded them to kill the man quickly.

1608-1611 Etienne Brule (1592?-1633), a young French interpreter and protege of Champlain, lived with the Algonquians (the first European to do so) and explored Lake Huron and its inlet, Georgian Bay.

1609 Using maps given him by his friend John Smith, Henry Hudson, a British subject sailing for the Dutch East India Company in the galleon Half Moon, aborted a proposed expedition to search for a northeast passage to China by following the Russian coastline and headed instead for the New World. Though a skillful navigator, he was a poor leader, prone to vacillation, which exacerbated friction among the mixed Dutch and British crew. After traveling partway up Chesapeake Bay, they went north to New York Harbor, where they traded with the Indians, who were dressed in deerskin and feather mantles and smoked copper pipes. The Europeans exchanged knives and beads for hemp, tobacco, and dried currants. Later the Indians attacked a longboat, killing one man; the survivors were so frightened that they dared not try to land and rowed all night back and forth across the bay. At an anchorage that may have been near present-day 42nd Street, Hudson went ashore on the island Manna-hata. A crew member wrote: "The lands were pleasant, with grass and flowers and goodly trees." In six days, the Half Moon sailed up the Hudson to the site of Albany; the longboat went far enough beyond to prove that this route was not the Northwest Passage either. Most relations with the Indians were friendly--a chief broke his arrows to show his love of peace, and Hudson entertained Indians at a drinking party on the ship--but in one incident, an Indian was killed for sneaking on board to steal. Another vandalizing Indian, having lost his hand to the cook's knife, jumped overboard and drowned.

1610 On a return voyage in the Discovery, Hudson became the first explorer to sail into Hudson Bay, which he was certain was the gateway to the Pacific. He was forced by ice to winter in James Bay. In the spring, when he wanted to continue his search for a passage west, the crew mutinied. Hudson, his son, and five faithful sailors were overpowered and forced into a boat that was towed into the bay and set adrift among the ice floes. The seven men were never seen again.

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