The Early Exploration of the New World

  • Period: Jan 1, 1492 to Jan 1, 1498

    Christopher Columbus

    Columbus thought Asia could be reached by sailing west, instead he landed in the Bahamas. Columbus persuaded the king and queen of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella, to support an expedition. Columbus himself gave the king and queen credit for this idea. That was his first expidition in 1492. His econd one in 1498, Columbus reached South America.
  • Jan 1, 1497

    John Cabot

    King Henry VII sent Cabot on a voyage to the West. The English thought that there might be a water route through the Americas that would lead north and west to Asia. They called this sought-for route the Northwest Passage. Cabot landed on the far northern Atlantic coast of North America- probably the island of the Newfoundland. He failed to find the Northwest Passage.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1497 to Jan 1, 1498

    Vasco da Gama

    Vasco da Gama found found a route around the continent of Africa to the Spice Islands, near India.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1508 to Jan 1, 1509

    Juan Ponce de Leon

    Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish official in the New World. In 1508-1509, he explored and settled the island of Puerto Rico. Taking back in Spain, king Ferdinand authorized Ponce de Leon to explore lands north of Cuba.
  • Jan 1, 1513

    Juan Ponce de Leon

    In early 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the east coast of Florida, a name Ponce de Leon derived from the Spanish word for flowers. Then they cruised northward along the west coast of Florida for about 100 miles. Ponce de Leon expedition revealed that large tracts of land ripe for exploration lay to the north of the Caribbean islands.
  • Jan 1, 1520

    Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon

    Ayllon had eyes on the northeast coast of Americas. Ayllon intended to plant a strong colony for Spain along that coast.
  • Jan 1, 1524

    Giovanni da Verrazano

    King Francis I of France sent Italian nagivator Giovanni da Verrazano westward. Verrazano first reached land at North Carolina's Outer Banks. Across those narrown islands he thought he saw the pacific Ocean. I nfact, he was looking at the Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds.
  • Jul 1, 1526

    Rio Jordan Colony

    Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon led a group of over 500 mean, women, and children to a river he Jordan, but the colony failed due to disease and starvation. Ayllon took the colonists to a site in present day South Carolina, but it ended in disease and starvation also. Ayllon died there. In October 1526, the remaining 150 colonists returned to HIspaniola.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1539 to Jan 1, 1540

    Hernando de Soto

    Hernando de Soto sailed with a military expedition from Havana, Cuba to the west coast of Floida and marched to a site near present day Tallahassee, Florida and spent the winter. In the spring Soto passed into North Carolina. De Soto died on the trip, but many of his mean returned to Mexico.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1562 to Jan 1, 1564


    In 1562, France sent a colony under the command of Jean Ribault to North America, the colonists were called Huguenots or French Protestants. Some Huguenots sought religious freedom in the New World. The Huguenots attempted to settle near present day Port Royal, South Carolina in April 1562. Colonists gave up in 1564 and returned to France. The same year, another band of Huguenots, led by Rene de Laudonniere, settled by Fort Caroline on the north Florida coast.
  • Jan 1, 1565

    Pedro Menendez de Aviles

    Spain sent troops under Menendez to Florida. Just south of Fort Caroline, Menendez built a forst at St. Augustine. Menendez captured Fort Caroline and killed most of the French defenders. In the following years, Menendez built forts throughout Florida to strengthen Spain's grip. St. Augustine is the oldest permanent European settlement in the present-day U.S.
  • Jan 1, 1566

    Pedro de Coronas

    In 1566, an expedition set out for Chesapeake Bay. However, they entered an inlet in North Carolina's Outer Banks and sailed into Albemarle Sound. There Pedro, the leader, marked their landing by placing a wooden cross on the shore. Afterward, they returned to the West Indies.
  • Jan 1, 1566

    Juan Pardo and Hernando Boyano

    Juan and Hernando led a small group of men to the South Carolina coast. From there they pushed north and west on nearly the same route that de Soto had taken 25 years earlier. The expedition entered the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where the soldiers built several forts in the intererior. Over the next few years, the Spanish abandoned these forts. Members of the expedition traded with North Carolina Indians. Eventually some of the soldiers returned to the South Carolina coast.