Across the Atlantic - History

Across the Atlantic - History

On May 20th Pan Am began regulary scheduled air service across the Atlantic. The flight took three days and included stops at the Azores, Lisbon and maisailles, terminating in Southhanmpton. The British began weekly service on August 11th. Pan Ma soon cut the flight time to 27 hours by flying via the North Atlantic weather permitted. Pan Am flew Boeing 314 flying boats.

The Atlantic Slave Trade

The Atlantic slave trade or trans-atlantic slave trade took place across the Atlantic ocean from the 16th through to the 19th centuries.

The vast majority of slaves transported to the New World were Africans from the central and western parts of the continent, sold by Africans to European slave traders who then transported them to the colonies in North and South America. The numbers were so great that Africans who came by way of the slave trade became the most numerous Old-World immigrants in both North and South America before the late eighteenth century.

The South Atlantic economic system centered on making goods and clothing to sell in Europe and increasing the numbers of African slaves brought to the New World. This was crucial to those European countries who, in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, were vying in creating overseas empires.

The first Africans imported to the English colonies were also called “indentured servants” or “apprentices for life”. By the middle of the seventeenth century, they and their offspring were legally the property of their owners. As property, they were merchandise or units of labor, and were sold at markets with other goods and services.

The Portuguese were the first to engage in the New World slave trade, and others soon followed. Slaves were considered cargo by the ship owners, to be transported to the Americas as quickly and cheaply as possible, there to be sold to labor in coffee, tobacco, cocoa, cotton and sugar plantations, gold and silver mines, rice fields, construction industry, cutting timber for ships, and as house servants.

The Atlantic slave traders, ordered by trade volume, were: the Portuguese, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Dutch, and the Americans. They had established outposts on the African coast where they purchased slaves from local African tribal leaders. Current estimates are that about 12 million were shipped across the Atlantic, although the actual number purchased by the traders is considerably higher.

The slave trade is sometimes called the Maafa by African and African-American scholars, meaning “holocaust” or “great disaster” in Swahili. Some scholars, such as Marimba Ani and Maulana Karenga use the terms African Holocaust or Holocaust of Enslavement. Slavery was one element of a three-part economic cycle—the triangular trade and its Middle Passage—which ultimately involved four continents, four centuries and millions of people.

African slavery

Slavery was practiced in some parts of Africa, Europe,Asia and the Americas before the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade. There is evidence that enslaved people from some African states were exported to other states in Africa, Europe and Asia prior to the European colonization of the Americas.The African slave trade provided a large number of slaves to Europeans.

The Atlantic slave trade was not the only slave trade from Africa, although it was the largest in volume and intensity. As Elikia M’bokolo wrote in Le Monde diplomatique: “The African continent was bled of its human resources via all possible routes. Across the Sahara, through the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean ports and across the Atlantic. At least ten centuries of slavery for the benefit of the Muslim countries (from the ninth to the nineteenth). … Four million enslaved people exported via the Red Sea, another four million[20] through the Swahili ports of the Indian Ocean, perhaps as many as nine million along the trans-Saharan caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean.”

According to John K. Thornton, Europeans usually bought enslaved people who were captured in endemic warfare between African states.There were also Africans who had made a business out of capturing Africans from neighboring ethnic groups or war captives and selling them. People living around the Niger River were transported from these markets to the coast and sold at European trading ports in exchange for muskets (matchlock between 1540–1606 but flintlock from then on) and manufactured goods such as cloth or alcohol.However, the European demand for slaves provided a large new market for the already existing trade. Further, while those held in slavery in their own region of Africa might hope to escape, those shipped away had little chance of returning to Africa.


as some one whose theis is on the Enslavement of Afrikan people, this is a very sloppy, misleading and historically inaccurate piece.

for example the writer did not mention the catalyst for the forced enslavement and genocide of Afrikan people which was the papal bull of St. Nicholas V in 1453 which said that King Alfonso of Portugal had the pope’s blessing to capture Afrikans and take their land and property – this should inform you of the wicked agenda behind the enslavement of Afrikan people and lastly Afrikan serfdom is totally different from chattel enslavement that denied the Afrikan their humanity – next time write a factual piece not a historically inaccurate one

1919: The First Non-stop Flight Across the Atlantic

The British aviators in question were John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown, and they were piloting a World War I-era Vickers Vimy bomber (the war had ended only seven months earlier), which was modified for the purpose of such a long flight without stopping.

The Vickers Vimy bomber was powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle 360 hp engines.

Those were V-12 engines, the first aircraft engines to be developed by Rolls-Royce (which later became very famous precisely for its aircraft engines).

It took Alcock and Brown less than 16 hours to fly across the entire Atlantic Ocean.

To be precise, it took them 15 hours and 57 minutes to fly to the coast of Ireland.

They landed in a clearing which seemed like a green meadow out of the air but was actually a soft wetland, which made the landing problematic.

But, the pilots were not injured.

In total, they flew 3,040 km at an average speed of 185 km/h from Canada to Ireland.

They received a prize of 10,000 pounds, which was an extremely large amount at the time.

Indeed, they were both knighted a few days later by King George V. That gave them the right add the prefix “Sir” to their names.

Battle of the Atlantic

. . . the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.

Winston Churchill

The Battle of the Atlantic, which lasted from September 1939 until the defeat of Germany in 1945, was the war's longest continuous military campaign. During six years of naval warfare, German U-boats and warships – and later Italian submarines – were pitted against Allied convoys transporting military equipment and supplies across the Atlantic to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. This battle to control the Atlantic shipping lanes involved thousands of ships and stretched across thousands of perilous square miles of ocean.

Early in the war German warships made a number of forays into the shipping lanes, aiming to catch and destroy Allied convoys. These had limited success, and led to the loss of major ships including Graf Spee and Bismarck. From 1940 onwards, the German navy focused on escalating the U-boat war. Attacking on the surface at night (where they could not be detected by Allied sonar, or ASDIC), U-boats had great success against Allied convoys, sinking merchant ships with torpedoes and then submerging to evade the counterattack by escorting warships. They were also benefitting from decoded communications of the British Admiralty. In 1941 they inflicted huge losses, sinking 875 Allied ships.

During 1941, tactical advantage began to shift towards the British. They had received 50 American destroyers in exchange for US access to British bases. Canadians increased their escort missions, and RAF Coastal Command was able to increase its air cover. The capture of U-110 (complete with Enigma machine and codes) in March 1941 helped the Allies track the movement of German U-boats. From April 1941, US warships began escorting Allied convoys as far as Iceland, sparking a number of skirmishes with U-boats. This provoked controversy as the US had not officially entered the war. Technological developments, including radar for escorting warship from August 1941 (which could detect a U-boat periscope at a range of one mile) also worked in the Allies' favour.

Yet convoys were still very vulnerable in the 'Atlantic Gap', a 'black pit' in the mid-Atlantic which was not covered by anti-submarine aircraft. The gradual improvement of antisubmarine techniques, and the increased use of improvised aircraft carriers like HMS Audacity, led to a marked decrease in sinkings towards the end of the year. This contributed to Hitler's decision – carried out against Dönitz's wishes - to transfer submarines to the Mediterranean.

In 1942 the balance tilted once again in favour of the Germans. New submarines were entering service quickly, at a rate of 20 per month. Although the US Navy entered the war at the end of 1941, it was unable to prevent the sinking of almost 500 ships between January and June 1942. Allied losses in the Atlantic reached their peak in 1942. As 1,664 ships were sunk, supplies of petrol and food to Britain reached critically low levels.

In 1943, advantage shifted to the Allies once again. By now, the Allies had sufficient escort aircraft carriers and long-range aircraft to cover the Atlantic Gap. The battle reached its peak between February and May 1943. The 'hedgehog' depth-charge mortar was just one innovation that was making life more and more dangerous for U-boat crews. By 'Black May' of 1943, U-boat losses were unsustainable – one quarter of their strength in one month, and almost at the same rate as Allied shipping. U-boats were withdrawn from the Atlantic, and the battle was won. Although new German submarines arrived in 1945, they came far too late to affect the course of the battle.

Historians estimate that more than 100 convoy battles took place during the war. They cost the Merchant Navy more than 30,000 men, and around 3,000 ships. The equally terrible cost for the Germans was 783 U-boats, and 28,000 sailors.

Did you know?

The 'Wolf pack' tactic began with widely-dispersed German U-boats searching for an Atlantic convoy. When one U-boat spotted a target, a radio message sent its location to all other U-boats, who converged for the kill


Many Europeans of Columbus's day assumed that a single, uninterrupted ocean surrounded Europe and Asia, although Norse explorers had colonized areas of North America beginning with Greenland c. 986 . [1] [2] The Norse maintained a presence in North America for hundreds of years, during which some degree of contact with Europe was maintained. This had ceased by the early 15th century. [3] [4] [5]

Until the mid-15th century, Europe enjoyed a safe land passage to China and India—sources of valued goods such as silk, spices, and opiates—under the hegemony of the Mongol Empire (the Pax Mongolica, or Mongol Peace). With the Fall of Constantinople to the Turkish Ottoman Empire in 1453, the land route to Asia (the Silk Road) became more difficult as Christian traders were prohibited. [6]

Portugal was the main European power interested in pursuing trade routes overseas, with the neighboring kingdom of Castile—predecessor to Spain—having been somewhat slower to begin exploring the Atlantic because of the land area it had to reconquer from the Moors during the Reconquista. This remained unchanged until the late 15th century, following the dynastic union by marriage of Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon (together known as the Catholic Monarchs of Spain) in 1469, and the completion of the Reconquista in 1492, when the joint rulers conquered the Moorish kingdom of Granada, which had been providing Castile with African goods through tribute. The fledgling Spanish Empire decided to fund Columbus's expedition in hopes of finding new trade routes and circumventing the lock Portugal had secured on Africa and the Indian Ocean with the 1481 papal bull Aeterni regis. [7]

Navigation plans Edit

In response to the need for a new route to Asia, by the 1480s, Christopher and his brother Bartholomew had developed a plan to travel to the Indies (then construed roughly as all of southern and eastern Asia) by sailing directly west across what was believed to be the singular "Ocean Sea," the Atlantic Ocean. By about 1481, Florentine cosmographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli sent Columbus a map depicting such a route, with no intermediary landmass other than the mythical island of Antillia. [8] In 1484 on the island of La Gomera in the Canaries, then undergoing conquest by Castile, Columbus heard from some inhabitants of El Hierro that there was supposed to be a group of islands to the west. [9]

A popular misconception that Columbus had difficulty obtaining support for his plan because Europeans thought the Earth was flat can be traced back to a 17th-century campaign of Protestants against Catholicism, [10] and was popularized in works such as Washington Irving's 1828 biography of Columbus. [11] In fact, the knowledge that the Earth is spherical was widespread, having been the general opinion of Ancient Greek science, and gaining support throughout the Middle Ages (for example, Bede mentions it in The Reckoning of Time). The primitive maritime navigation of Columbus's time relied on both the stars and the curvature of the Earth. [12] [13]

Diameter of Earth and travel distance estimates Edit

Eratosthenes had measured the diameter of the Earth with good precision in the 2nd century BC, [14] and the means of calculating its diameter using an astrolabe was known to both scholars and navigators. [12] Where Columbus differed from the generally accepted view of his time was in his incorrect assumption of a significantly smaller diameter for the Earth, claiming that Asia could be easily reached by sailing west across the Atlantic. Most scholars accepted Ptolemy's correct assessment that the terrestrial landmass (for Europeans of the time, comprising Eurasia and Africa) occupied 180 degrees of the terrestrial sphere, and dismissed Columbus's claim that the Earth was much smaller, and that Asia was only a few thousand nautical miles to the west of Europe. [15]

Columbus believed the incorrect calculations of Marinus of Tyre, putting the landmass at 225 degrees, leaving only 135 degrees of water. [17] [15] Moreover, Columbus underestimated Alfraganus's calculation of the length of a degree, reading the Arabic astronomer's writings as if, rather than using the Arabic mile (about 1,830 m), he had used the Italian mile (about 1,480 meters). Alfraganus had calculated the length of a degree to be 56⅔ Arabic miles (66.2 nautical miles). [15] Columbus therefore estimated the size of the Earth to be about 75% of Eratosthenes's calculation, and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan as 2,400 nautical miles (about 23% of the real figure). [18]

Trade winds Edit

There was a further element of key importance in the plans of Columbus, a closely held fact discovered by or otherwise learned by Columbus: the trade winds. A brisk westward wind from the east, commonly called an "easterly", propelled the ships of the first voyage for five weeks from the Canary Islands off Africa. To return to Spain eastward against this prevailing wind would have required several months of an arduous sailing technique upwind, called beating, during which food and drinkable water would have been utterly exhausted. Columbus returned home by following prevailing winds northeastward from the southern zone of the North Atlantic to the middle latitudes of the North Atlantic, where prevailing winds are eastward (westerly) to the coastlines of Western Europe, where the winds curve southward towards the Iberian Peninsula. So he used the North Atlantic's great circular wind pattern, clockwise in direction, in both legs of his voyage.

Funding campaign Edit

Around 1484, King John II of Portugal submitted Columbus's proposal to his experts, who rejected it on the basis that Columbus's estimation of a travel distance of 2,400 nautical miles was about four times too low (which was accurate). [19]

In 1486, Columbus was granted an audience with the Catholic Monarchs, and he presented his plans to Isabella. She referred these to a committee, which determined that Columbus had grossly underestimated the distance to Asia. Pronouncing the idea impractical, they advised the monarchs not to support the proposed venture. To keep Columbus from taking his ideas elsewhere, and perhaps to keep their options open, the Catholic monarchs gave him an allowance, totaling about 14,000 maravedís for the year, or about the annual salary of a sailor. [20]

In 1488 Columbus again appealed to the court of Portugal, receiving a new invitation for an audience with John II. This again proved unsuccessful, in part because not long afterwards Bartolomeu Dias returned to Portugal following a successful rounding of the southern tip of Africa. With an eastern sea route now under its control, Portugal was no longer interested in trailblazing a western trade route to Asia crossing unknown seas. [21]

In May 1489, Isabella sent Columbus another 10,000 maravedis, and the same year the Catholic Monarchs furnished him with a letter ordering all cities and towns under their domain to provide him food and lodging at no cost. [22]

As Queen Isabella's forces neared victory over the Moorish Emirate of Granada for Castile, Columbus was summoned to the Spanish court for renewed discussions. [23] He waited at King Ferdinand's camp until January 1492, when the monarchs conquered Granada. A council led by Isabella's confessor, Hernando de Talavera, found Columbus's proposal to reach the Indies implausible. Columbus had left for France when Ferdinand intervened, [a] first sending Talavera and Bishop Diego Deza to appeal to the queen. [24] Isabella was finally convinced by the king's clerk Luis de Santángel, who argued that Columbus would bring his ideas elsewhere, and offered to help arrange the funding. [b] Isabella then sent a royal guard to fetch Columbus, who had travelled several kilometers toward Córdoba. [24]

In the April 1492 "Capitulations of Santa Fe", Columbus was promised he would be given the title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea" and appointed viceroy and governor of the newly claimed and colonised for the Crown he would also receive ten percent of all the revenues from the new lands in perpetuity if he was successful. [26] He had the right to nominate three people, from whom the sovereigns would choose one, for any office in the new lands. The terms were unusually generous but, as his son later wrote, the monarchs were not confident of his return.

For his westward voyage to find a shorter route to the Orient, Columbus and his crew took three medium-sized ships, the largest of which was a carrack (Spanish: nao), the Santa María, which was owned and captained by Juan de la Cosa, and under Columbus's direct command. [27] [c] The other two were smaller caravels the name of one is lost, but is known by the Castilian nickname Pinta ('painted one'). The other, the Santa Clara, was nicknamed the Niña ('girl'), perhaps in reference to her owner, Juan Niño of Moguer. [28] The Pinta and the Niña were piloted by the Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez, respectively). [27] On the morning of 3 August 1492, Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera, going down the Rio Tinto and into the Atlantic. [29] [30]

The Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María

A conjectural replica of the Niña

Three days into the journey, on 6 August 1492, the rudder of the Pinta broke. [31] Martín Alonso Pinzón suspected the owners of the ship of sabotage, as they were afraid to go on the journey. The crew was able to secure the rudder with ropes until they could reach the Canary Islands, where they arrived on 9 August. [32] The Pinta had its rudder replaced on the island of Gran Canaria, and by September 2 the ships rendezvoused at La Gomera, where the Niña ' s lateen sails were re-rigged to standard square sails. [33] Final provisions were secured, and on 6 September the ships departed San Sebastián de La Gomera [33] [34] for what turned out to be a five-week-long westward voyage across the Atlantic.

As described in the abstract of his journal made by Bartolomé de las Casas, on the outward bound voyage Columbus recorded two sets of distances: one was in measurements he normally used, the other in the Portuguese maritime leagues used by his crew. Las Casas originally interpreted that he reported the shorter distances to his crew so they would not worry about sailing too far from Spain, but Oliver Dunn and James Kelley state that this was a misunderstanding. [35]

On 13 September 1492, Columbus observed that the needle of his compass no longer pointed to the North Star. It was once believed that Columbus had discovered magnetic declination, but it was later shown that the phenomenon was already known, both in Europe and in China. [36] [d]

Rediscovery of the Americas Edit

After 29 days out of sight of land, on 7 October 1492, the crew spotted "[i]mmense flocks of birds", some of which his sailors trapped and determined to be "field" birds (probably Eskimo curlews and American golden plovers). Columbus changed course to follow their flight. [40]

On 11 October, Columbus changed the fleet's course to due west, and sailed through the night, believing land was soon to be found. At around 10:00 in the evening, Columbus thought he saw a light "like a little wax candle rising and falling". [41] [f] Four hours later, land was sighted by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana (also known as Juan Rodríguez Bermejo) aboard La Pinta. [42] [g] Triana immediately alerted the rest of the crew with a shout, and the ship's captain, Martín Alonso Pinzón, verified the land sighting and alerted Columbus by firing a lombard. [43] [h] Columbus would later assert that he had first seen land, thus earning the promised annual reward of 10,000 maravedís. [44] [45]

Columbus called this island San Salvador, in the present-day Bahamas or Turks and Caicos the indigenous residents had named it Guanahani. [46] According to Samuel Eliot Morison, San Salvador Island [i] is the only island fitting the position indicated by Columbus's journal. [39] [j] Columbus wrote of the natives he first encountered in his journal entry of 12 October 1492:

Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language. [48]

Columbus called the indigenous Americans indios (Spanish for "Indians") [49] [50] [51] in the delusion that he had reached the East Indies [52] the islands of the Caribbean are termed the West Indies after this error. Columbus initially encountered the Lucayan, Taíno, and Arawak peoples. [k] Noting their gold ear ornaments, Columbus took some of the Arawaks prisoner and insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold. [54] Columbus noted that their primitive weapons and military tactics made the natives susceptible to easy conquest. [l]

Columbus observed the people and their cultural lifestyle. He also explored the northeast coast of Cuba, landing on 28 October 1492, and the north-western coast of Hispaniola, present day Haiti, by 5 December 1492. Here, the Santa Maria ran aground on Christmas Day, 25 December 1492, and had to be abandoned. Columbus was received by the native cacique Guacanagari, who gave him permission to leave some of his men behind. Columbus left 39 men, including the interpreter Luis de Torres, [55] [m] and founded the settlement of La Navidad. [56] He kept sailing along the northern coast of Hispaniola with a single ship, until he encountered Pinzón and the Pinta on 6 January.

On 13 January 1493, Columbus made his last stop of this voyage in the Americas, in the Bay of Rincón at the eastern end of the Samaná Peninsula in northeast Hispaniola. [57] There he encountered the Ciguayos, the only natives who offered violent resistance during his first voyage to the Americas. [58] The Ciguayos refused to trade the amount of bows and arrows that Columbus desired in the ensuing clash one Ciguayo was stabbed in the buttocks and another wounded with an arrow in his chest. [59] Because of this and because of the Ciguayos' use of arrows, he called the inlet where he met them the Bay of Arrows (or Gulf of Arrows). [60] On 16 January 1493, the homeward journey was begun. [61]

Four natives who boarded the Niña at Samaná Peninsula told Columbus of what was interpreted as the Isla de Carib (probably Puerto Rico), which was supposed to be populated by cannibalistic Caribs, as well as Matinino, an island populated only by women, which Columbus associated with an island in the Indian Ocean that Marco Polo had described. [62]

First return Edit

While returning to Spain, the Niña and Pinta encountered the roughest storm of their journey, and, on the night of 13 February, lost contact with each other. All hands on the Niña vowed, if they were spared, to make a pilgrimage to the nearest church of Our Lady wherever they first made land. On the morning of 15 February, land was spotted. Columbus believed they were approaching the Azores Islands, but other members of the crew felt that they were considerably north of the islands. Columbus turned out to be right. On the night of 17 February, the Niña laid anchor at Santa Maria Island, but the cable broke on sharp rocks, forcing Columbus to stay offshore until the morning, when a safer location was found to drop anchor nearby. A few sailors took a boat to the island, where they were told by several islanders of a still safer place to land, so the Niña moved once again. At this spot, Columbus took on board several islanders who had gathered onshore with food, and told them that his crew wished to come ashore to fulfill their vow. The islanders told him that a small shrine dedicated to Our Lady was nearby. [63]

Columbus sent half of the crew members to the island to fulfill their vow, but he and the rest of the crew stayed on the Niña, planning to send the other half to the island upon the return of the first crew members. While the first crew members were saying their prayers at the shrine, they were taken prisoner by the islanders, under orders from the island's captain, João de Castanheira, ostensibly out of fear that the men were pirates. The boat that the crew members had taken to the island was then commandeered by Castanheira, which he took with several armed men to the Niña, in an attempt to arrest Columbus. During a verbal battle across the bows of both craft, during which Columbus did not grant permission for him to come aboard, Castanheira announced that he did not believe or care who Columbus said that he was, especially if he was indeed from Spain. Castanheira returned to the island. However, after another two days, Castanheira released the prisoners, having been unable to get confessions from them, and having been unable to capture his real target, Columbus. There are later claims that Columbus was also captured, but this is not backed up by Columbus's log book. [63]

Leaving the island of Santa Maria in the Azores on 23 February, Columbus headed for Castilian Spain, but another storm forced him into Lisbon. He anchored next to the king's harbor patrol ship on 4 March 1493, where he was told a fleet of 100 caravels had been lost in the storm. Astoundingly, both the Niña and the Pinta had been spared. Not finding King John II of Portugal in Lisbon, Columbus wrote a letter to him and waited for the king's reply. After receiving the letter, the king agreed to meet with Columbus in Vale do Paraíso despite poor relations between Portugal and Castile at the time. Upon learning of Columbus's discoveries, the Portuguese king informed him that he believed the voyage to be in violation of the 1479 Treaty of Alcáçovas. After spending more than a week in Portugal, Columbus set sail for Spain. Columbus met with Ferdinand and Isabella in Barcelona on 15 March 1493 to report his findings. [n]

Columbus showed off what he had brought back from his voyage to the monarchs, including a few small samples of gold, pearls, gold jewelry from the natives, a few Taíno he had kidnapped, flowers, and a hammock. He gave the monarchs a few of the gold nuggets, gold jewelry, and pearls, as well as the previously unknown tobacco plant, the pineapple fruit, the turkey, and the hammock. The monarchs invited Columbus to dine with them. [o] He did not bring any of the coveted East Indies spices, such as the exceedingly expensive black pepper, ginger or cloves. In his log, he wrote "there is also plenty of 'ají', which is their pepper, which is more valuable than black pepper, and all the people eat nothing else, it being very wholesome". [64] [p]

Upon first landing in the Americas, Columbus had written to the monarchs offering to enslave some of the indigenous Americans. [l] While the Caribs may have met the sovereign's requirements for such treatment on the grounds of their cannibalism and aggressiveness towards the peaceful Taíno, Columbus had yet to meet them and only brought Taínos before the sovereigns. [65] In Columbus's letter on the first voyage, addressed to the Spanish court, he insisted he had reached Asia, describing the island of Hispaniola as being off the coast of China. He emphasized the potential riches of the land and that the natives seemed ready to convert to Christianity. [66] The descriptions in this letter, which was translated into multiple languages and widely distributed, [67] were idealized, particularly regarding the supposed abundance of gold:

Hispaniola is a miracle. Mountains and hills, plains and pastures, are both fertile and beautiful . the harbors are unbelievably good and there are many wide rivers of which the majority contain gold. . There are many spices, and great mines of gold and other metals. [68]

Upon Columbus's return, most people initially accepted that he had reached the East Indies, including the sovereigns and Pope Alexander VI, [52] though in a letter to the Vatican dated 1 November 1493, the historian Peter Martyr described Columbus as the discoverer of a Novi Orbis ('New Globe'). [69] The pope issued four bulls (the first three of which are collectively known as the Bulls of Donation), to determine how Spain and Portugal would colonize and divide the spoils of the new lands. Inter caetera, issued 4 May 1493, divided the world outside Europe between Spain and Portugal along a north–south meridian 100 leagues west of either the Azores or Cape Verde Islands in the mid-Atlantic, thus granting Spain all the land discovered by Columbus. [70] The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas, ratified the next decade by Pope Julius II, moved the dividing line to 370 leagues west of the Azores or Cape Verde. [71]

The stated purpose of the second voyage was to convert the indigenous Americans to Christianity. Before Columbus left Spain, he was directed by Ferdinand and Isabella to maintain friendly, even loving, relations with the natives. [73] He set sail from Cádiz, Spain, on 25 September 1493. [74]

The fleet for the second voyage was much larger: two naos and 15 caravels. The two naos were the flagship Marigalante ("Gallant Mary") [r] and the Gallega the caravels were the Fraila ("The Nun"), San Juan, Colina ("The Hill"), Gallarda ("The Gallant"), Gutierre, Bonial, Rodriga, Triana, Vieja ("The Old"), Prieta ("The Brown"), Gorda ("The Fat"), Cardera, and Quintera. [75] The Niña returned for this expedition, which also included a ship named Pinta probably identical to that from the first expedition. In addition, the expedition saw the construction of the first ship in the Americas, the Santa Cruz or India. [76]

Caribbean exploration Edit

On 3 November 1493, Christopher Columbus landed on a rugged shore on an island that he named Dominica. On the same day, he landed at Marie-Galante, which he named Santa María la Galante. After sailing past Les Saintes (Todos los Santos), he arrived at Guadeloupe (Santa María de Guadalupe), which he explored between 4 November and 10 November 1493. The exact course of his voyage through the Lesser Antilles is debated, but it seems likely that he turned north, sighting and naming many islands including Santa María de Montserrat (Montserrat), Santa María la Antigua (Antigua), Santa María la Redonda (Saint Martin), and Santa Cruz (Saint Croix, on 14 November). [77] He also sighted and named the island chain of the Santa Úrsula y las Once Mil Vírgenes (the Virgin Islands), and named the islands of Virgen Gorda.

On Santa Cruz, the Europeans saw a canoe with a few Carib men and two women. They had two male captives, and had recently castrated them. The Europeans pursued them, and were met with arrows from both the men and women, [78] fatally wounding at least one man, who perished about a week later. [79] The Europeans either killed or captured all of the canoe's inhabitants, putting one to death by beheading. [80] Another was thrown overboard, and when he was spotted crawling away holding his entrails, the Arawaks recommended he be recaptured so he would not alert his tribe he was thrown overboard again, and then had to be shot down with arrows. [78] [s] Columbus's childhood friend Michele da Cuneo—according to his own account—took one of the women in the skirmish, whom Columbus let him keep as a slave Cuneo subsequently beat and raped her. [80] [78] [t] [u]

The fleet continued to the Greater Antilles, and landed on the island of San Juan Bautista, present-day Puerto Rico, on 19 November 1493. Diego Álvarez Chanca recounts that on this island, the Europeans rescued some women from a group of at least 20 that the local Caribs had been keeping as sex slaves. The women explained that any male captives were eaten, and that their own male offspring were castrated and made to serve the Caribs until they were old enough to be considered good to eat. The Europeans rescued three of these boys. [83]

Hispaniola and Jamaica Edit

On 22 November, Columbus sailed from San Juan Bautista to Hispaniola. The next morning, a native taken during the first voyage was returned to Samaná Bay. [79] The fleet sailed about 170 miles over two days, and at Monte Cristi, decomposing bodies of four men were discovered one had a beard implying he had been a Spaniard. [84] On the night of 27 November, cannons and flares were ignited in an attempt to signal La Navidad, but there was no response. A canoe party led by a cousin of Guacanagari presented Columbus with two golden masks and told him that Guacanagarix had been injured by another chief, Caonabo, and that except for some Spanish casualties resulting from sickness and quarrel, the rest of his men were well. [84] The next day, the Spanish fleet discovered the burnt remains of the Navidad fortress, and Guacanagari's cousin admitted that the Europeans had been wiped out by Caonabo. [85] Other natives showed the Spaniards some of the bodies, and said that they had "taken three or four women apiece". [85] While some suspicion was placed on Guacanagari, it gradually emerged that two of the Spaniards had formed a murderous gang in search of gold and women, prompting Caonabo's wrath. [86] The fleet then fought the winds, traveling only 32 miles over 25 days, and arriving at a plain on the north coast of Hispaniola on 2 January 1494. There, they established the settlement of La Isabela. [87] Columbus spent some time exploring the interior of the island for gold. Finding some, he established a small fort in the interior.

Columbus left Hispaniola on 24 April 1494, and arrived at the island of Cuba (which he had named Juana during his first voyage) on 30 April and Discovery Bay, Jamaica, on 5 May. He explored the south coast of Cuba, which he believed to be a peninsula of China rather than an island, and several nearby islands including La Evangelista (the Isle of Youth), before returning to Hispaniola on 20 August.

Slavery, settlers, and tribute Edit

Columbus had planned for Queen Isabella to set up trading posts with the cities of the Far East made famous by Marco Polo, but whose Silk Road and eastern maritime routes had been blockaded to her crown's trade. However, Columbus would never find Cathay (China) or Zipangu (Japan), and there was no longer any Great Khan for trade treaties.

In 1494, Columbus sent Alonso de Ojeda (whom a contemporary described as "always the first to draw blood wherever there was a war or quarrel") to Cibao (where gold was being mined for), [88] which resulted in Ojeda's capturing several natives on an accusation of theft. Ojeda cut the ears off of one native, and sent the others to La Isabela in chains, where Columbus ordered them to be decapitated. [89] During his brief reign, Columbus executed Spanish colonists for minor crimes, and used dismemberment as another form of punishment. [90] By the end of 1494, disease and famine had claimed two-thirds of the Spanish settlers. [91] [92] A native Nahuatl account depicts the social breakdown that accompanied the pandemic: "A great many died from this plague, and many others died of hunger. They could not get up to search for food, and everyone else was too sick to care for them, so they starved to death in their beds." [93]

By 1494, Columbus had shared his viceroyship with one of his military officers named Margarit, ordering him to prioritize Christianizing the natives, but that part of their noses and ears should be cut off for stealing. Margarit's men exploited the natives by beating, raping and enslaving them, with none on Hispaniola being baptized for another two years. Columbus's brother Diego warned Margarit to follow the admiral's orders, which provoked him to take three caravels back to Spain. Fray Buil, who was supposed to perform baptisms, accompanied Margarit. After arriving in Spain in late 1494, Buil complained to the Spanish court of the Columbus brothers and that there was no gold. Groups of Margarit's soldiers who remained in the west continued brutalizing the natives. Instead of forbidding this, Columbus participated in enslaving the indigenous people. [94] In February 1495, he took over 1,500 Arawaks, some of whom had rebelled against the oppression of the colonists, [54] [95] and many of whom were subsequently released or taken by the Caribs. [96] That month, Columbus shipped approximately 500 of these Americans to Spain to be sold as slaves about 40% died en route, [54] [95] and half of the rest were sick upon arrival. In June of that year, the Spanish crown sent ships and supplies to the colony on Hispaniola, which Florentine merchant Gianotto Berardi had helped procure. [97] [v] In October, Berardi received almost 40,000 maravedís worth of slaves, who were alleged to be either cannibals or prisoners. [97] [w]

The natives of Hispaniola were systematically subjugated via the encomienda system Columbus implemented. [99] Adapted from Spain, it resembled the feudal system in Medieval Europe, as it was based on a lord offering "protection" to a class of people who owed labor. [100] In addition, Spanish colonists under Columbus's rule began to buy and sell natives as slaves, including children. [101] Columbus's forced labor system was described by his son Ferdinand: "In the Cibao, where the gold mines were, every person of fourteen years of age or upward was to pay a large hawk's bell of gold dust [x] all others were each to pay 25 pounds of cotton. Whenever an Indian delivered his tribute, he was to receive a brass or copper token which he must wear about his neck as proof that he had made his payment any Indian found without such a token was to be punished." [88] The monarchs, who suggested the tokens, called for a light punishment, [102] but any Indian found without a copper token had their hands cut off, which was a likely death sentence. [68] Since there was no abundance of gold on the island, the natives had no chance of meeting Columbus's quota and thousands are reported to have committed suicide. [103] By 1497, the tribute system had all but collapsed. [104]

Columbus became ill in 1495, and during this time, his troops acted out of order, enacting cruelties on the natives, including torturing them to learn where the supposed gold was. [105] When he recovered, he led men and dogs to hunt down natives who fled their forced duties, killing them or cutting off their hands as a warning to others. [106] Brutalities and murders were carried out even against natives who were sick and unarmed. [106]

The Spanish fleet departed La Isabela on 10 March 1496. [107] Again set back by unfavorable trade winds, supplies began to ran low on 10 April, Columbus requested food from the natives of Guadeloupe. Upon going ashore, the Spaniards were ambushed by arrows in response, they destroyed some huts. They then held a group of 13 native women and children hostage to force a sale of cassava. [108] The Niña and India left Guadeloupe on 20 April. On 8 June, the fleeted landed at Portugal, near Odemira, and returned to Spain via the Bay of Cádiz on 11 June. [109]

According to the abstract of Columbus's journal made by Bartolomé de Las Casas, the objective of the third voyage was to verify the existence of a continent that King John II of Portugal suggested was located to the southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. King John reportedly knew of the existence of such a mainland because "canoes had been found which set out from the coast of Guinea [West Africa] and sailed to the west with merchandise." [110] [111] Italian explorer John Cabot had already reached the mainland in June 1497. [112]

On 30 May 1498, Columbus left with six ships from Sanlúcar, Spain, for his third trip to the Americas. Three of the ships headed directly for Hispaniola with much-needed supplies, while Columbus took the other three in an exploration of what might lie to the south of the Caribbean islands he had already visited, including a hoped-for passage to continental Asia. [113] Columbus led his fleet to the Portuguese island of Porto Santo, his wife's native land. He then sailed to Madeira and spent some time there with the Portuguese captain João Gonçalves da Camara, before sailing to the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

On 13 July, Columbus's fleet entered the doldrums of the mid-Atlantic, where they were becalmed for several days, the heat doing damage to their ships, food, and water supply. [114] An easterly wind finally propelled them westwards, which was maintained until 22 July, when birds flying from southwest to northeast were sighted, and the fleet turned north in the direction of Dominica. [115] The men sighted the land of Trinidad on 31 July, approaching from the southeast. [116] The fleet sailed along the southern coast and entered Dragon's Mouth, anchoring near Soldado Rock (west of Icacos Point, Trinidad's southwesternmost point) where they made contact with a group of Amerindians in canoes. [117] [y] On 1 August, Columbus and his men arrived at a landmass near the mouth of South America's Orinoco river, in the region of modern-day Venezuela. Columbus recognized from the topography that it must be the continent's mainland, but while describing it as an otro mundo ('other world'), [118] retained the belief that it was Asia—and perhaps an Earthly Paradise. [119] On 2 August, they landed at Icacos Point (which Columbus named Punta de Arenal), narrowly avoiding a violent encounter with the natives. [120] Early on 4 August, a tsunami nearly capsized Columbus's ship. [121] The men sailed across the Gulf of Paria, and on 5 August, landed on the mainland of South America at the Paria Peninsula. [122] Columbus, suffering from a monthlong bout of insomnia and impaired vision from his bloodshot eyes, authorized the other fleet captains to go ashore first: one planted a cross, and the other recorded that Columbus subsequently landed to formally take the province for Spain. They sailed further west, where the sight of pearls compelled Columbus to send men to obtain some, if not gold. The natives provided nourishment including a maize wine, new to Columbus. Compelled to reach Hispaniola before the food aboard his ship spoiled, Columbus was disappointed to discover that they had sailed into a gulf, and while they had obtained fresh water, they had to go back east to reach open waters again. [123]

At sea, Columbus observed that the North Star is not fixed, then, making observations with a quadrant, "regularly saw the plumb line fall to the same point," instead of moving respectively to his ship. He divined that he had discovered the entrance to Heaven, from which Earth's waters extend, the planet forming a pear shape with the insurmountable "stalk" portion of the pear pointing towards Heaven. [124] He then sailed to the islands of Chacachacare and Margarita (reaching the latter on 14 August), [125] and sighted Tobago (which he named "Bella Forma") and Grenada (which he named "Concepción"). [126]

In poor health, Columbus returned to Hispaniola on 19 August, only to find that many of the Spanish settlers of the new colony were in rebellion against his rule, claiming that Columbus had misled them about the supposedly bountiful riches they expected to find. A number of returning settlers and sailors lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him and his brothers of gross mismanagement. Columbus had some of his crew hanged for disobedience. He had an economic interest in the enslavement of the Hispaniola natives and for that reason was not eager to baptize them, which attracted criticism from some churchmen. [127] An entry in his journal from September 1498 reads: "From here one might send, in the name of the Holy Trinity, as many slaves as could be sold . " [128]

Columbus was eventually forced to make peace with the rebellious colonists on humiliating terms. [129] In 1500, the Crown had him removed as governor, arrested, and transported in chains to Spain. He was eventually freed and allowed to return to the Americas, but not as governor. [130] As an added insult, in 1499, the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama returned from his first voyage to India, having sailed east around the southern tip of Africa—unlocking a sea route to Asia. [131]

Governorship Edit

Colonist rebellions Edit

After his second journey, Columbus had requested that 330 people be sent to stay permanently (though voluntarily) on Hispaniola, all on the king's pay. Specifically, he asked for 100 men to work as wood men soldiers and laborers, 50 farmers, 40 squires, 30 sailors, 30 cabin boys, 20 goldsmiths, 10 gardeners, 20 handymen, and 30 women. In addition to this, plans were made to maintain friars and clergymen, a physician, a pharmacist, an herbalist, and musicians for entertaining the colonists. Fearing that the king was going to restrict money allotted for wages, Columbus suggested that Spanish criminals be pardoned in exchange for a few years unpaid service in Hispaniola, and the King agreed to this. A pardon for the death penalty would require two years of service, and one year of service was required for lesser crimes. They also instructed that those who had been sentenced to exile would also be redirected to be exiled in Hispaniola. [132]

These new colonists were sent directly to Hispaniola in three ships with supplies, while Columbus was taking an alternate route with the other three ships to explore. As these new Colonists arrived on Hispaniola, a rebellion was brewing under Francisco Roldán (a man Columbus had left as chief mayor, under his brothers Diego and Bartolomew). By the time Columbus arrived on Hispaniola, Roldán held the territory of Xaraguá, and some of the new colonists had joined his rebellion. Over months, Columbus tried negotiating with the rebels. At some point in these negotiations Columbus ordered Adrián de Mújica, Roldán's partner in rebellion, to be hanged. [ citation needed ] Eventually, though, he capitulated to much of the Roldán's demands. Several other revolts broke out after that, but Roldán, now restored as mayor, took part in putting them down, and tried and hanged one of the ringleaders, Adrián de Mújica. [133] [ contradictory ]

During Columbus's term as viceroy and governor of the Indies, he had been accused of governing tyrannically, called "the tyrant of the Caribbean". [ citation needed ] Columbus was physically and mentally exhausted his body was wracked by arthritis and his eyes by ophthalmia. In October 1499, he sent two ships to Spain, asking the Court of Castile to appoint a royal commissioner to help him govern. On 3 February 1500, he returned to Santo Domingo with plans to sail back to Spain to defend himself from the accounts of the rebels. [134]

Bobadilla's inquiry Edit

The sovereigns gave Francisco de Bobadilla, a member of the Order of Calatrava, complete control as governor in the Americas. Bobadilla arrived in Santo Domingo in August 1500, where Diego was overseeing the execution of rebels, while Columbus was suppressing a revolt at Grenada. [135] [z] Bobadilla immediately received many serious complaints about all three Columbus brothers, including that "seven Spanish men had been hanged that week," with another five awaiting execution. [136] [aa] Bobadilla had orders to find out "which persons were the ones who rose up against the admiral and our justice and for what cause and reason, and what . damage they have done," then "detain those whom you find guilty . and confiscate their goods." [138] The crown's command regarding Columbus dictated that the admiral must relinquish all control of the colonies, keeping only his personal wealth. [138]

Bobadilla used force to prevent the execution of several prisoners, and subsequently took charge of Columbus's possessions, including papers which he would have used to defend himself in Spain. [139] Bobadilla suspended the tribute system for a twenty-year period, then summoned the admiral. In early October 1500, Columbus and Diego presented themselves to Bobadilla, and were put in chains aboard La Gorda, Columbus's own ship. [140] Only the ship's cook was willing to put the shamed admiral in chains. [141] Bobadilla took much of Columbus's gold and other treasures. [140] Ferdinand Columbus recorded that the governor took "testimony from their open enemies, the rebels, and even showing open favor," and auctioned off some of his father's possessions "for one third of their value." [142]

Bobadilla's inquiry produced testimony that Columbus forced priests not to baptize natives without his express permission, so he could first decide whether or not they should be sold into slavery. He allegedly captured a tribe of 300 under Roldán's protection to be sold into slavery, and informed other Christians that half of the indigenous servants should be yielded to him. [143] Further, he allegedly ordered at least 12 Spaniards to be whipped and tied by the neck and feet for trading gold for something to eat without his permission. Other allegations include that he: ordered a woman to be whipped naked on the back of a donkey for lying that she was pregnant, had a woman's tongue cut out for seeming to insult him and his brothers, cut a Spaniard's throat for being homosexual, ordered Christians to be hung for stealing bread, ordered a cabin boy's hand cut off and posted publicly for using a trap to catch a fish, and ordered for a man to have his nose and ears cut off, as well as to be whipped, shackled, and banished. Multiple culprits were given a potentially fatal 100 lashes, sometimes while naked. Some fifty men starved to death on La Isabela because of tight control over the ship's rations, despite there being an abundance. [144]

Trial in Spain Edit

A number of returned settlers and friars lobbied against Columbus at the Spanish court, accusing him of mismanagement. By his own request, Columbus remained in chains during the entire voyage home. [141] [ab] Once in Cádiz, a grieving Columbus wrote to a friend at court:

It is now seventeen years since I came to serve these princes with the Enterprise of the Indies. They made me pass eight of them in discussion, and at the end rejected it as a thing of jest. Nevertheless I persisted therein. Over there I have placed under their sovereignty more land than there is in Africa and Europe, and more than 1,700 islands. In seven years I, by the divine will, made that conquest. At a time when I was entitled to expect rewards and retirement, I was incontinently arrested and sent home loaded with chains. The accusation was brought out of malice on the basis of charges made by civilians who had revolted and wished to take possession on the land. I beg your graces, with the zeal of faithful Christians in whom their Highnesses have confidence, to read all my papers, and to consider how I, who came from so far to serve these princes. now at the end of my days have been despoiled of my honor and my property without cause, wherein is neither justice nor mercy. [145]

Columbus and his brothers were jailed for six weeks before the busy King Ferdinand ordered them released. On 12 December 1500, the king and queen summoned the Columbus brothers to their presence at the Alhambra palace in Granada. With his chains at last removed, Columbus wore shortened sleeves so the marks on his skin would be visible. [141] At the palace, the royal couple heard the brothers' pleas Columbus was brought to tears as he admitted his faults and begged for forgiveness. Their freedom was restored. On 3 September 1501, the door was firmly shut on Columbus's role as governor. From that point forward, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was to be the new governor of the Indies, although Columbus retained the titles of admiral and viceroy. A royal mandate dated 27 September ordered Bobadilla to return Columbus's possessions. [147] [ac]

After much persuasion, the sovereigns agreed to fund Columbus's fourth voyage. It would be his final chance to prove himself and become the first man ever to circumnavigate the world. Columbus's goal was to find the Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean. [148] On 14 March 1502, Columbus started his fourth voyage with 147 men and with strict orders from the king and queen which instructed him not to stop at Hispaniola, but only to search for a westward passage to the Indian Ocean mainland. Before he left, Columbus wrote a letter to the Governors of the Bank of Saint George, Genoa, dated at Seville, 2 April 1502. [149] He wrote "Although my body is here my heart is always near you." [150] Accompanied by his stepbrother Bartolomeo, Diego Mendez, and his 13-year-old son Ferdinand, he left Cádiz on 9 May 1502, with his flagship, Capitana, as well as the Gallega, Vizcaína, and Santiago de Palos. [151] They first sailed to Arzila on the Moroccan coast to rescue the Portuguese soldiers who he heard were under siege by the Moors. [152]

After using the trade winds to cross the Atlantic in a brisk twenty days, on 15 June, they landed at Carbet on the island of Martinique (Martinica). [152] Columbus anticipated that a hurricane was brewing and had a ship that needed to be replaced, so he headed to Hispaniola, despite being forbidden to land there. He arrived at Santo Domingo on June 29, but was denied port, and the new governor refused to listen to his warning of a storm. While Columbus's ships sheltered at the mouth of the Haina River, Governor Bobadilla departed, with Roldán and over US$10 million of Columbus's gold aboard his ship, accompanied by a convoy of 30 other vessels. Columbus's personal gold and other belongings were put on the fragile Aguya, considered the fleet's least seaworthy vessel. The onset of a hurricane drove some ships ashore, with some sinking in the harbor of Santo Domingo Bobadilla's ship is thought to have reached the eastern end of Hispaniola before sinking. About 20 other vessels sunk in the Atlantic, with a total of some 500 people drowning. Three damaged ships made it back to Santo Domingo one of these had Juan de la Cosa and Rodrigo de Bastidas on board. Only the Aguya made it Spain, causing some of Columbus's enemies to accuse him of conjuring the storm. [153] [154]

After the hurricane, Columbus regrouped with his men, and after a brief stop at Jamaica and off the coast of Cuba to replenish, he sailed to modern Central America, arriving at Guanaja [155] (Isla de los Pinos) in the Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras on 30 July 1502. Here Bartolomeo found native merchants—possibly (but not conclusively) Mayans [156] [ad] —and a large canoe, which was described as "long as a galley" and was filled with cargo. [157] The natives introduced Columbus and his entourage to cacao. [158] Columbus spoke with an elder, and thought he described having seen people with swords and horses (possibly the Spaniards), and that they were "only ten days' journey to the river Ganges". [159] On 14 August, Columbus landed on the mainland of the Americas at Puerto Castilla, near Trujillo, Honduras. He spent two months exploring the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica looking for the passage, before arriving in Almirante Bay, Panama, on 16 October.

In mid-November, Columbus was told by some of the natives that a province called Ciguare "lie just nine days' journey by land to the west", or some 200 miles from his location in Veragua. Here was supposed to be found "gold without limit", "people who wear coral on their heads" who "know of pepper", "do business in fairs and markets", and who were "accustomed to warfare". Columbus would later write to the sovereigns that, according to the natives, "the sea encompasses Ciguare and . it is a journey of ten days to the Ganges River." This could suggest that Columbus knew he had found a unknown continent distinct from Asia. [160] [159]

On 5 December 1502, Columbus and his crew found themselves in a storm unlike any they had ever experienced. In his journal Columbus writes,

For nine days I was as one lost, without hope of life. Eyes never beheld the sea so angry, so high, so covered with foam. The wind not only prevented our progress, but offered no opportunity to run behind any headland for shelter hence we were forced to keep out in this bloody ocean, seething like a pot on a hot fire. Never did the sky look more terrible for one whole day and night it blazed like a furnace, and the lightning broke with such violence that each time I wondered if it had carried off my spars and sails the flashes came with such fury and frightfulness that we all thought that the ship would be blasted. All this time the water never ceased to fall from the sky I do not say it rained, for it was like another deluge. The men were so worn out that they longed for death to end their dreadful suffering. [161]

In Panamá, he learned from the Ngobe of gold and a strait to another ocean. After some exploration, he established a garrison at the mouth of Belén River in January 1503. By 6 April, the garrison he had established captured the local tribe leader El Quibían, who had demanded they not go down [ dubious – discuss ] the Belén River. El Quibían escaped, and returned with an army to attack and repel the Spanish, damaging some of the ships so that one vessel had to be abandoned. Columbus left for Hispaniola on 16 April on 10 May, he sighted the Cayman Islands, naming them "Las Tortugas" after the numerous sea turtles there. [162] His ships next sustained more damage in a storm off the coast of Cuba. [162] Unable to travel any farther, the ships were beached in St. Ann's Bay, Jamaica, on 25 June. [163]

For a year Columbus and his men remained stranded on Jamaica. A Spaniard, Diego Mendez, and some natives paddled a canoe to get help from Hispaniola. The island's governor, Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres, detested Columbus and obstructed all efforts to rescue him and his men. In the meantime, Columbus had to mesmerize the natives in order to prevent being attacked by them and gain their goodwill. He did so by correctly predicting a lunar eclipse for 29 February 1504, using the Ephemeris of the German astronomer Regiomontanus. [164] [165]

In May 1504 a battle took place between men loyal to Columbus and those loyal to the Porras brothers, in which there was a sword fight between Bartholomew Columbus and Francisco de Porras. Bartholomew won against Francisco but he spared his life. In this way, the mutiny ended. Help finally arrived from the governor Ovando, on 29 June, when a caravel sent by Diego Méndez finally appeared on the island. At this time there were 110 members of the expedition alive out of the 147 that sailed from Spain with Columbus. Due to the strong winds, it took the caravel 45 days to reach La Hispaniola. This was a trip that Diego Méndez had previously made in four days in a canoe.

About 38 of the 110 men that survived decided not to board again and stayed in Hispaniola instead of returning to Spain. On 11 September 1504, Christopher Columbus and his son Hernando embarked in a caravel to travel from Hispaniola to Spain, paying their corresponding tickets. They arrived in Sanlúcar de Barrameda on 7 November and from there they traveled to Seville.

The news of Columbus's first voyage set off many other westward explorations by European states, which aimed to profit from trade and colonization. This would instigate a related biological exchange, and trans-Atlantic trade. These events, the effects and consequences of which persist to the present, are sometimes cited as the beginning of the modern era. [166]

Upon first landing in the West, Columbus pondered enslaving the natives, [l] and upon his return broadcast the perceived willingness of the natives to convert to Christianity. [66] Columbus's second voyage saw the first major skirmish between Europeans and Native Americans for five centuries, when the Vikings had come to the Americas. [80] One of the women was captured in the battle by a friend of Columbus, who let him keep her as a slave this man subsequently beat and raped her. [80] [78] [t] [u] In 1503, the Spanish monarchs established the Indian reductions, settlements intended to relocate and exploit the natives. [167]

With the Age of Discovery starting in the 15th century, Europeans explored the world by ocean, searching for particular trade goods, humans to enslave, and trading locations and ports. The most desired trading goods were gold, silver and spices. For the Catholic monarchies of Spain and Portugal, a division of influence of the land discovered by Columbus became necessary to avoid conflict. This was resolved by papal intervention in 1494 when the Treaty of Tordesillas purported to divide the world between the two powers. [71] The Portuguese were to receive everything outside of Europe east of a line that ran 270 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. [71] The Spanish received everything west of this line, territory that was still almost completely unknown, and proved to be primarily the vast majority of the continents of the Americas and the Islands of the Pacific Ocean. In 1500, the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral arrived at a point on the eastern coast of South America on the Portuguese side of the dividing line. This would lead to the Portuguese colonization of what is now Brazil. [168]

In 1499, Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci participated in a voyage to the western world with Columbus's associates Alonso de Ojeda and Juan de la Cosa. [169] Columbus referred to the West Indies as the Indias Occidentales ('West Indies') in his 1502 Book of Privileges, calling them "unknown to all the world". He gathered information later that year from the natives of Central America which seem to further indicate that he realized he had found a new land. [160] [159] Vespucci, who had initially followed Columbus in the belief that he had reached Asia, [170] suggested in a 1503 letter to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco that he had known for two years that these lands composed a new continent. [170] [171] A letter to Piero Soderini, published c. 1505 and purportedly by Vespucci, claims that he first voyaged to the American mainland in 1497, a year before Columbus. [172] In 1507, a year after Columbus's death, [173] the New World was named "America" on a map by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller. [174] Waldseemüller retracted this naming in 1513, seemingly after Sebastian Cabot, Las Casas, and many historians convincingly argued that the Soderini letter had been a falsification. [172] On his new map, Waldseemüller labelled the continent discovered by Columbus Terra Incognita ('unknown land'). [175]

On 25 September 1513, the Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa, exploring overland, became the first European to encounter the Pacific Ocean from the shores of the Americas, calling it the "South Sea". Later, on 29 October 1520, Magellan's circumnavigation expedition discovered the first maritime passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, at the southern end of what is now Chile (Strait of Magellan), and his fleet ended up sailing around the whole Earth. Almost a century later, another, wider passage to the Pacific would be discovered farther to the south, bordering Cape Horn.

In the Americas the Spanish found a number of empires that were as large and populous as those in Europe. Small bodies of Spanish conquistadors, with large armies of indigenous groups, managed to conquer these states. The most notable amongst them were the Aztec Empire in modern Mexico (conquered in 1521) and the Inca Empire in modern Peru (conquered in 1532). During this time, pandemics of European diseases such as smallpox devastated the indigenous populations. [176] [177] [178] Once Spanish sovereignty was established, the Spanish focused on the extraction and export of gold and silver. [179]

  1. ^ Ferdinand later claimed credit for being "the principal cause why those islands were discovered." [24]
  2. ^ Some have argued that Santángel, a Jew who had converted to Catholicism to avoid Spanish persecution, aimed to open a channel to a safer place for fellow Jews to reside. [25]
  3. ^ Always referred to by Columbus as La Capitana ('The Captain')
  4. ^Shen Kuo discovered 400 years earlier, in Asia, the concept of true north in terms of magnetic declination towards the north pole, with experimentation of suspended magnetic needles and "the improved meridian determined by Shen's [astronomical] measurement of the distance between the polestar and true north". [37]
  5. ^ This map is based on the premise that Columbus first landed at Plana Cays. [38]The island considered by Samuel Eliot Morison to be the most likely location of first contact [39] is the easternmost land touching the top edge of this image.
  6. ^ Two others thought they saw this light, one independently from Columbus. The strong winds and the fact that they were some 56 kilometres (35 mi) from land indicate that this was unlikely from a native inhabitant fishing. [41]
  7. ^ According to Samuel Eliot Morison, Triana saw "something like a white sand cliff gleaming in the moonlight on the western horizon, then another, and a dark line of sand connecting them." [43]
  8. ^ Columbus is said to have responded to Pinzón, "I give you five thousand maravedis as a present!" [43]
  9. ^ Renamed from Watling's Island in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus's San Salvador [47]
  10. ^ Other candidates are the Grand Turk, Cat Island, Rum Cay, Samana Cay, or Mayaguana. [39]
  11. ^ At the time, three major indigenous peoples populated the islands. The Taíno occupied the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and the Leeward Islands they can be subdivided into Classic Taínos, who occupied Hispaniola and Puerto Rico Western Taínos, who occupied Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamian archipelago and the Eastern Taínos, who occupied the Leeward Islands. [53] The other two peoples are the Kalinago and Galibi in the Windward Islands and Guadeloupe, and the Ciboney (a Taíno people) and Guanahatabey of central and western Cuba, respectively.
  12. ^ abc ". these people are very simple as regards the use of arms, as your Highnesses will see from the seven that I have caused to be taken . unless your Highnesses should order them all to be brought to Castille, or to be kept as captives on the same island for with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them." (Columbus 1893, p. 41)
  13. ^ Torres spoke Hebrew and some Arabic the latter was then believed to be the mother tongue of all languages. [55]
  14. ^ The Monument a Colom in that city commemorates the event.
  15. ^ A taster even tasted the food from each of his dishes before he ate to "make sure it was not poisoned". He was given his own footmen to open doors for him and to serve him at the table. Columbus was even rewarded with his own coat of arms.
  16. ^ The word "ají" is still used in South American Spanish for chili peppers.
  17. ^ Omitted from this image, Columbus returned to Guadeloupe at the end of his second voyage before sailing back to Spain. [72]
  18. ^ Officially known as the Santa María after the ship lost on the first voyage and also known as Capitana ("Flagship") for its role in the expedition. It was owned by Antonio Torres, brother of the nurse to Don Juan.
  19. ^ This was the first major battle between Europeans and Native Americans for five centuries, when the Vikings had come to the Americas. [80]
  20. ^ abTony Horwitz notes that this is the first recorded instance of sexuality between a European and Native American. [81]
  21. ^ ab Cuneo wrote,

While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful Carib woman, whom the said Lord Admiral gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked—as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. But—to cut a long story short—I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought that she had been brought up in a school for whores. [82]

Across the Atlantic - History

Diagram of SS Savannah from The Rudder, May 1919

New London‘s advantageous location on Long Island Sound made it a center for innovation in the transportation of goods and services by sea. As ocean transportation’s age of sail evolved into one of mechanical power, steamships made regular runs between New London and port cities like New Haven and New York. Consequently, it is fitting that it was two New London men, Moses and Stevens Rogers, who pioneered the use of steamships for transatlantic travel.

The SS Savannah was a hybrid sailing ship built in New York in 1818. During its construction, New London sea captain Moses Rogers persuaded the shipping firm Scarborough & Isaacs in Savannah, Georgia, to purchase the ship, convert it to steam power, and sail it across the Atlantic Ocean. Rogers oversaw the installation of the ship’s engine while he recruited his brother-in-law, Stevens Rogers, to oversee the construction of the ship’s hull and rigging and eventually become the ship’s Sailing Master.

First steamship to cross the Atlantic, SS Savannah

Transatlantic passage was dangerous in the early 19th century, and the addition of the untested ability to accomplish the task by steamship only increased that danger. Consequently, Moses and Stevens Rogers were unable to find a crew in New York willing to undertake the risky passage. The two men had to travel back to New London where Moses’ reputation as competent sea captain helped the two men find the right crew for their journey.

With a full crew, the ship headed to Savannah to prepare for its voyage across the Atlantic. On May 11, 1819, President James Monroe visited the SS Savannah, just prior to its departure, to take a brief excursion on the vessel that was about to make history.

Unable to find passengers willing to risk traveling by steam power on the open seas, the ship and her crew left Georgia in May of 1819 on their experimental mission to Europe. While the fully-rigged ship proceeded under steam power for parts of most days, it ended up being traditional sail power that carried the Savannah through most of the journey. The ship arrived in England in June of 1819 before traveling on to Denmark, Sweden, and Russia.

In spite of the acclaim the ship received for its historic voyage, the SS Savannah saw little commercial success as a steamship once it returned to the US. After Scarborough & Isaacs suffered a financial setback from a fire that swept through the city of Savannah in 1820, the firm sold the ship’s engine for $1,600 and converted the ship to a sailing packet used for travel between Savannah and New York.

On November 5, 1821, the SS Savannah ran aground off Long Island, breaking up a short time later. It was another 20 years before steamships made regular crossings of the Atlantic—and almost 30 years before an American ship duplicated the feat.

The Middle Passage

Crossing the Atlantic in the hold of a slave ship, or slaver, was a horrific ordeal. Perhaps one third of the captives perished on this journey, known as the Middle Passage&mdashthe middle leg of a three-part trade in slaves and goods between Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Sailors packed people together below decks. Standing was impossible, and even rolling over was often difficult. Poor ventilation, dampness, heat, cold, seasickness, rats, poor food, and a lack of sanitation left the conditions squalid, suffocating, and deadly. Outbreaks of disease spread quickly among captives and crew.

From Thomas Astley, A New and General Collection of Voyages, 1746

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Slave factories on the Gulf of Guinea (modern Nigeria)

Captive Africans were marched great distances overland to Africa’s western coast. There they waited weeks or months in &ldquoslave factories&rdquo for the ships that would carry them to plantations in the New World.

Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

&ldquoTo be sold,&rdquo 1769

For almost four centuries, the demand for labor on the plantations of the New World fueled a vast transatlantic market for the enslavement of people from Africa. This broadside advertised the sale of people from Gambia at Charleston, South Carolina.

Map by Willem Janszoon Blaeu.

Courtesy of the Historic Maps Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Map of Africa, 1644

This map includes European names for parts of the West African coast where people were captured and held for the slave trade.

Lent by the National Museum of Natural History

Manilla from Nigeria

Slaves were valuable, and African traders demanded foreign goods for the captives they sold. Europeans bartered for slaves with copper or bronze bracelets called manillas, like this one, which was cast in Birmingham, England. Manillas were used as currency in West Africa.

Lent by the National Museum of African American History and Culture


These ankle shackles are of the type used to restrain enslaved people aboard ships in the Middle Passage.

Slave Ship

This model shows a typical ship in the early 1700s on the Middle Passage. To preserve their profits, captains and sailors tried to limit the deaths of slaves from disease, suicide, and revolts. In the grisly arithmetic of the slave trade, captains usually chose between two options: pack in as many slaves as possible and hope that most survive, or put fewer aboard, improve the conditions between decks, and hope to lose fewer to disease.

Reproduced from a watercolor by Lt. Francis Meynell

Courtesy of the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The slave deck of the Albanez, 1845

Great Britain abolished its slave trade in 1807 and used its naval power to discourage other nations from the trade. In 1845 a British sailor painted this image of enslaved Africans below decks of the Brazilian slave ship Albanez (or Albaroz). The British sloop Albatross captured the slaver with 300 Africans aboard in March of that year.

Resistance and Revolt

Enslaved people on the Middle Passage were not simply passive captives. Some refused to eat and had to be fed against their will. Others threw themselves overboard rather than submit to slavery. This image shows a rare revolt aboard a slave ship. The ship’s officers are crowded behind the barricade while the captives fill the deck, some diving into the sea.

Plate, from Carl Bernhard Wadstrom’s An Essay on Colonization: Particularly Applied to the Western Coast of Africa, 1794–1795

Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia

African Culture and the Middle Passage

These 19th-century objects came from areas of Africa that were homelands to millions of people sold into slavery. They express their makers’ sense of beauty, utility, and sacredness. The objects remained in Africa, but the ideas underlying these figures, tools, and instruments&mdashwhat they meant and the cultures they represented&mdashmade it across the Atlantic with their creators.

A World of Watercraft

Educational Resources

Explore artifacts and first person accounts of transatlantic travel in the 17th and 18th centuries to compare and contrast their experiences.

Ships, boats, and sailors tied the Atlantic world together. Native peoples and colonists depended on boats for fishing, communication, and trade with the wider world. Warships, merchant ships, and the thousands of sailors who sailed them allowed European nations to manage their empires and profit from the far-flung lands they controlled. These models represent some of the many types of watercraft people used in commerce around the Atlantic world.

Birchbark Canoe

Native Americans depended on North America’s rivers and lakes for food and transportation. They fashioned tough, lightweight bark canoes for fishing, hunting, fur trading, and warfare. By the early 1600s, the French had adopted Indian canoes for their own fur trading.

This model, made by an unknown native maker around 1803, represents the type of canoe built by the Micmac people in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada.

Lent by the Peabody Essex Museum

South American Canoe

Native peoples in coastal South America and the Caribbean made canoes of logs, bark, and reeds. This model shows a type of canoe used by the Akawai Indians on the Demerara River, which empties into the Atlantic in Guyana.

Lent by the Mariners’ Museum

Built in Galicia, Spain, before 1492

Gift of Lawrence H. M. Vineburgh

The Santa María

Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic in 1492 hoping to find a shorter route to the riches of Asia. Instead, he found the islands of the Caribbean Sea, which he claimed for Spain, though they were already inhabited. Waves of conquerors and colonists&mdashboth free and enslaved&mdashfollowed. What was a triumph for Spain was a catastrophe for native peoples. New livestock, plants, diseases, and beliefs unsettled centuries-old communities and ecosystems, changing and destroying the lives of millions of native people.

Built near London, England, about 1605

The Susan Constant

In May 1607, men from the Susan Constant and two other ships founded Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in North America. They made the dangerous 3,000-mile voyage in slow, uncomfortable cargo vessels, hoping to find gold and spices. The next month, when they sent the ship home, it was filled with timber.


Magnificent catches of fish drew colonists to New England’s shores, and some made their fortunes selling fish in overseas markets. Salt-preserved cod was the region’s main product. It fed plantation slaves in the West Indies and was traded there for molasses. During the 1600s, New England fishers set out in small boats like this two-masted vessel called a ketch.

Built in Virginia, about 1741

The Mediator

Coastal commerce linked North America’s largest cities and towns. Fast Chesapeake Bay sloops such as the Mediator regularly called at ports from New Hampshire to Georgia, and in many British, French, and Dutch harbors in the Caribbean. The sloop’s design was adapted from small, swift vessels developed in the West Indies.

Square-topsail schooner Chaleur

Built in New England, before 1764

Purchased by the British Royal Navy, 1764

The Chaleur

Great Britain was often at war in the 1600s and 1700s, and Britain’s enemies attacked ships from the American colonies. To outrun danger, New England shipbuilders developed fast-sailing schooners. The Chaleur, a Marblehead schooner, represents a common type in the Massachusetts fishing fleet.

Colonial sloop, name unknown

Built in Virginia, about 1768


Sloops formed the backbone of the trade along the coasts and to the West Indies. They often sailed as smugglers and warships, too. This armed example from the 1760s, with oars to maneuver in calms, is similar to craft used by Caribbean pirates a century earlier.

Built at New York, 1770 or 1771

The London

Settlers exported vast amounts of timber cut from forests in the Americas, and such naval stores as turpentine and tar. With so much wood close at hand, colonial shipbuilding prospered, and American ships sold well overseas. English owners ordered the London, a fast-sailing general-cargo ship, directly from builders in New York.

Brigantine, original name uncertain

Built in North America, 1778

Taken into British Royal Navy, 1779, and named Swift

The Swift

The Swift was designed for speed and had little cargo capacity. The vessel may have been a packet, which carried mail and government dispatches.

Schooner, original name unknown

Built in North America, before 1780

Captured by the British, 1780, and renamed HMS Berbice

The Berbice

Connected by the sea, farmers and fishermen in the continental colonies fed the residents of the Caribbean islands in exchange for molasses, sugar, and rum. The British captured this merchant vessel in the West Indies during the American Revolution.

Built in United States, before 1839

The Diligente

The slave trade created vast misery and wealth. For nearly 400 years, merchants in Europe and America financed slaving voyages, some African peoples sold their enemies into bondage, and American planters exported valuable crops without paying their workers. Even after international treaties banned slave importing, vessels like the Diligente continued this lucrative, inhuman trade.

Wings Across the Atlantic: PM at the Dawn of Transatlantic Flight

First, there was the invention of the airplane. The next great challenge? Crossing an ocean.

In the February 1931 issue, Popular Mechanics reported on the dawn of transatlantic flight. Aviation pioneers had already proven that traveling fast distances in an airplane was possible, and now commercial companies like Pan American were beginning to put the idea to the test. These flights bare little resemblance to today's air travel and ideas of "floating islands" in the middle of the Atlantic would help break up flights as well as add some much needed security. The story is a startling glimpse at how air travel was beginning to change humanity forever.

With Central and South America already knit to the United States by air, the next step will be air mail and passenger service across the Atlantic. Bids for such a service already have been asked.

Colonel Lindbergh and other great aviators have demonstrated the feasibility of such service. They have flown the Atlantic, conquered the desert, the mountain ranges and the jungles. Long-distance flights, endurance flights, refueling records, the development of better planes, better engines, better radio-communication systems, and other improvements, lend themselves to the proposed service over the waves.

All that is needed for the regular transatlantic service is the arrangement of routes, the settling of necessary international negotiations and the development of equipment for the work, including the proper planes, landing and other facilities.

In view of what already has been accomplished and what is now under development, I picture, in the very near future, a three-day air-mail service between this country and Europe. Few persons realize it, but a transatlantic airmail route already is in operation and has been for about two years. French planes fly from Toulouse down the Spanish and African coasts to Natal, Brazil, using as a way station an anchored vessel several hundred miles from the South American coast. There the planes can be refueled and repaired if necessary. The ship breaks a long water hop, promoting greater ease and safety.

Details of the service between Europe and the United States remain to be worked out, but a feasible arrangement would be something like this: Base ports in this country would be New York, Baltimore and Charleston, S. C. Planes would leave the latter point for the journey across the Atlantic. The southern way, of course, is longer than the usual passage by way of Newfoundland, but the northern route, repeated flights have proved, is usually stormy and shrouded by fogs much of the time. Weather conditions are generally favorable most of the year by the proposed southern way.

Way points across the Atlantic would be established at Bermuda and the Azores. The long-distance water hops could be broken up by intermediate stations established on "floating islands." Some persons have smiled at the prophecies of inventors who are interested in projects of this sort, but we have learned not to smile too soon. So swift has been progress in aviation that it ill behooves the thinking person to laugh at such proposals. Whether the suggested floating islands will have hotel, swimming pool and miniature-golf facilities for patrons who desire to stay awhile, remains to be seen, but the essential idea of a man-made island in the form of an anchored or confined floating landing field suitable for planes to alight upon and to be serviced or repaired, is essentially sound and will probably be realized.

One solution of this problem, an economical and practical one, I believe would be to use vessels already constructed and now owned by the shipping board. They could be purchased, perhaps for as little as $50,000 apiece. It would be necessary to construct wide decks for landing facilities, but there would not be the expense of elaborate hoisting and propelling machinery essential to the usual airplane carrier. These vessels, equipped with radio transmitting and receiving apparatus, could be sent out into the Atlantic, stationed at strategic intervals along the proposed route and kept constantly in service as emergency landing and guiding ports for the aid of the planes.

Enough vessels of this kind could be purchased and fitted to form a virtual chain between the mainland, the intermediate islands and the European coast, so that the air route would be marked and serviced with emergency fields just as the present air routes over land are equipped. The vessels could carry, besides their radio and other equipment, powerful beacons for the guidance of night flyers. Their presence in the Atlantic would also be of help to other vessels. The entire fleet of them could be bought and made ready for such service at a total cost well within the realm of practicability.

One of the chief obstacles to long-distance flights has been encountered, not in the actual flight itself, but in getting into the air at the start. The plane is loaded with its necessary pay burden, that is, the mail, express or passengers that it must carry then, in addition to this, it carries a great quantity of gasoline and oil. It is loaded to absolute capacity. The take-off is often a hazardous and trying affair, straining men and equipment to the limit and often wrecking the hopes of the expedition at the very start.

A solution of this problem could be worked out in a plan for refueling. The ship would be loaded with its pay load and enough gasoline and oil to take it, say 100 miles out. After it had ascended safely into the air and was well under way, it would be met by a service plane and refueled or rather given its full load of fuel from the air, thus saving the tremendous task of taking off with the huge burden of a full pay load and a maximum amount of fuel.

A thorough and dependable radio beacon and communication service would be installed for the constant guidance of all planes along the way. In case the floating islands had drifted from their set position, the fact would instantly be relayed to the pilots, and little difficulty would be experienced in establishing contacts. The vessels could easily be turned to favorable positions for landing, regardless of the direction of the wind the hazards of fog and storms are continually being minimized by the development of better radio systems, improved planes and engines and more skilled pilots.

The overwater hops now accomplished in the Pan American service prove that planes, as now equipped, are capable of long-distance flights in safety. We could start a transatlantic air-mail service tomorrow with the equipment already available, but much more complete and efficient accouterments are rapidly being devised so that, when the service actually goes into effect, no detail will have been overlooked as to safety, speed, economy and comfort for pilots and passengers as well, for the mail planes will also carry people, and a hop to Europe through the air will be a matter of hours instead of days.

We have seen enough of the results of the establishment of air routes to Central and South America, and of the results of the few hops that have been made between America and Europe, to visualize what this regular service will mean in the promotion of international good will and friendliness. After all, the factors that hold the nations apart are largely geographical. When these barriers are literally swept aside as they are being eliminated through the use of the airplane, a large step will have been taken toward the cultivation of world unity of feeling. Geographical nearness is one of the important reasons for the unity of the United States. Friendliness with Canada and Mexico is being promoted because the invisible line between us and those nations is now even more invisible, due to aviation.

Air mail to Europe will cut cable expenses, quicken trade, helpfully supplement all other forms of communication now in effect, and will greatly increase the usefulness of the service already established to Central and South America, Man's flights to date prove the feasibility of the project. The necessary equipment, the routes, the personnel and the public co-operation are awaiting call. The post office department, as in the past, is lending its active aid toward the forging of this new link toward international good will.

May 24: The First Steam-Powered Ship to Cross the Atlantic.

Today in 1819, the Age of Steam knocked on the door of the Age of Sail. Moses and Stevens Rogers of New London began the first steam-powered voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in their hybrid steam-and-sail-powered ship S.S. Savannah. It was a voyage considered so risky, not a single paying passenger could be found to accompany the crew.

Steam-powered technology was still in its infancy in 1818, when sea captain and entrepreneur Moses Rogers convinced investors in Georgia to finance his idea for a hybrid steam-powered sailing ship. The Savannah — named after its home port — was originally designed to be a “packet ship,” a tall-masted sailing ship that would regularly transport mail, passengers, and light cargo across the Atlantic. Thanks to the efforts of Moses Rogers and his brother-in-law Stevens Rogers, the Savannah was also outfitted with a steam engine and retractable side paddle wheels. This enabled her to maneuver under wind or steam power, which the Rogers believed would significantly shorten the duration of the trans-Atlantic crossing.

An engraving of the SS Savannah.

As soon as the Savannah was complete, the Rogers brothers began planning their first ocean-crossing voyage. Despite their best efforts, they could find no one willing to pay to take a month-long journey on their experimental vessel. Even experienced seamen balked at the invitation to help make nautical history. The Rogers had to take the ship to their hometown of New London just to find a crew willing to undertake the risky venture. Once a crew was signed, they returned the Savannah to its namesake port in Georgia, where it was graced with a brief visit from President James Monroe before steaming off for England.