History of American Exploration from 1615 to 1635

About the history of American exploration from 1615 to 1635 including explorations of John Smith and Jean Nicolet.


1614 After their ship burned in the Hudson River, Capt. Adriaen Block, a sea-going Dutch merchant, and his crew built another. The boat was so rickety that Block was forced to hug the coast sailing north, and thus discovered what the Indians called the Quinnitukut (Connecticut) River.

1614 While in England, John Smith meticulously planned a commercial fishing voyage to the New World; he even got Squanto and another tribesman to teach him Indian dialects in exchange for their return passage to America. In two ships, Smith's party sailed to Newfoundland, and they recorded sighting a mermaid on an iceberg during the trip. Smith then turned south, hauled in 50,000 tuna and cod, and charted the coastline from Nova Scotia to Narragansett Bay. He discovered the Merrimack River and safely deposited his two Indian guides on their native soil. The Pilgrims later survived their first new England winter thanks to Squanto.

1615 On another fishing expedition to the New World, Smith was captured by French pirates. While imprisoned on one of their privateers, he began to write his book A Description of New England. (It was he who gave New England its name.) Near the coast of France, he saw a chance to escape, and stuffing his manuscript under his shirt to protect it from the rain, he stole a ship's boat and rowed to safety. A French widow took him in, and the French government gave him a huge reward for information about the pirates.

1615 With a party of Hurons, Champlain traveled into Iroquois territory. Near Lake Oneida (New York) they were defeated by the Oneidas, an Iroquois tribe. Champlain was wounded. Etienne Brule arrived at their rendezvous at the lake to find Champlain gone, so Brule explored the Susquehanna River south to Chesapeake Bay, where he lived with the Indians. Later, at Lake Ontario, only a terrible thunderstorm saved Brule from being tortured to death by the Iroquois.

1615 British explorers Robert Bylot and William Baffin (1584-1622) searched the Foxe Basin above Hudson Bay for a northwest trade route to China.

1616 Baffin and Bylot discovered Baffin Bay in the Arctic Circle and an approach to the Northwest Passage, though they did not recognize it as such.

1616-1617 Free after 13 years in the Tower of London, limping from a stroke and sick with liver disease, Sir Walter Raleigh made his last, ill-fated search for El Dorado. During the trip 42 of the crew died of fever, his son Walter was killed by the Spanish on an exploration up the Orinoco, and his friend Lawrence Keymis committed suicide. No gold was found. Raleigh was executed on the old charge of treason in 1618.

1633 Champlain, captured by the British and sent to England in 1629, returned to New France as its governor. Two years later he died in Quebec, leaving three adopted Indian daughters--Faith, Hope, and Charity.

1633 Brule was boiled and eaten by a group of unfriendly Huron Indians.

1633-1635 Coureur de bois Jean Nicolet (1598-1642) was sent by Champlain to find a legendary "sweetwater sea," on the shores of which were said to live flat-faced, yellow-skinned Asian tribes. At Green Bay (Wisconsin) on the shore of Lake Michigan, he met the "Asians," who turned out to be Winnebago Indians. In their honor, he wore a fancy Chinese robe and fired two shots from a gun.

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