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5 2 vespucci sails for america

VESPUCCI
SAILS FOR

Fascinating Facts
• Amerigo Vespucci’s cousin, Simonetta Vespucci, was
known for her beauty. The famous painting by Sandro
Botticelli called The Birth of Venus, painted about 1485,
may be a portrait of her.

AMERICA

• The name America was originally just given to the
southern continent. It was only years later that the
northern continent came to be known as North America.

• In Latin, Amerigo is Americus. The male name Americus
was changed to the female name America to match the
female names of the other continents. The Latin names
of the other continents are Europa, Africa, and Asia.

Genre


Nonfiction

Comprehension Skill

Sequence

Text Features

• Maps
• Sidebars
• Captions

Scott Foresman Social Studies

ISBN 0-328-14889-X

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by Ellen B. Cutler


Amerigo Vespucci was born in Italy, lived in Spain, and
was one of the first Europeans to travel across the
Atlantic Ocean. In this book you will read about his life
and discover why America was named for him.

VESPUCCI

Vocabulary

AMERICA

SAILS FOR

astronomy

Write to It!

maritime


Vespucci worked for the powerful Medici family and
became friends with Christopher Colombus. What
effect did the people in Vespucci’s life have on his
voyages? What might have happened if he did not
know such powerful people? Write two paragraphs
about your ideas.

expedition
embark
latitude
longitude
astrolabe
cartographer

Write your paragraphs on a separate sheet of paper.

Maps
MapQuest, Inc.

by Ellen B. Cutler

Photographs
Every effort has been made to secure permission and provide appropriate credit for photographic material. The publisher deeply
regrets any omission and pledges to correct errors called to its attention in subsequent editions.
Unless otherwise acknowledged, all photographs are the property of Scott Foresman, a division of Pearson Education.
ISBN: 0-328-14889-X

Photo locators denoted as follows: Top (T), Center (C), Bottom (B), Left (L), Right (R) Background (Bkgd)

Copyright © Pearson Education, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected
by Copyright, and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited
reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding
permission(s), write to: Permissions Department, Scott Foresman, 1900 East Lake Avenue,
Glenview, Illinois 60025.

Opener: ©Getty Images; (Bkgd) Digital Wisdom, Inc.
2 ©The Granger Collection,
NY Offices: Needham, Massachusetts • Duluth, Georgia
Sales
3 ©Alan King/Alamy Images
Coppell,
Texas • Sacramento, California • Mesa, Arizona
5 ©Adam Woolfitt/Corbis
6 ©Giraudon/Art Resource, NY
9 ©Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis
11 ©Sue Cunningham/Worldwide Picture Library/Alamy Images
13 ©Getty Images
14 ©Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art Resource, NY

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 V0G1 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05

Editorial Offices: Glenview, Illinois • Parsippany, New Jersey • New York, New York
• Glenview, Illinois


Who was Amerigo
Vespucci?
Amerigo Vespucci was
born in Florence, Italy, on
March 9, 1454. He was
part of a large and wellrespected family. Young
Vespucci studied subjects
like geography, math, and
astronomy, or the scientific
study of the stars and
planets. He also learned to
read and write in Latin. He
put his education to use in
the service of the Medici
(MEH-dih-chee) family.
Vespucci was an able
man and quickly earned the
Medicis’ confidence. He
worked for them in Florence
Amerigo Vespucci was an Italian
and in Seville, Spain, in
navigator.
1491. Vespucci’s job was
with a company that stocked ships with supplies that might
be needed during a long sea voyage.

A Sense of Adventure
Spain was a great maritime power with ships that
traveled from Spanish ports to cities in Europe, northern
Africa, and the Middle East. It was an exciting time that
stirred Vespucci’s sense of adventure and increased his
interest in geography and astronomy.

2

Christopher Columbus made his first voyage across
the Atlantic in 1492. Vespucci helped stock the ships
Columbus commanded on his second voyage in 1493.
It was around this time that the two men met and
became friends.

Florence and the Renaissance
Vespucci lived at the time of the Renaissance. This was
a time of great achievements. Scientists were making
important discoveries and artists were creating paintings
along with marble and bronze statues for churches,
government buildings, and private homes.
The Medici family had business interests in many
of the greatest cities in Europe and ruled Florence for
nearly three hundred years. Lorenzo the Magnificent was
the head of the family during the mid- to late-1400s. A
merchant and a banker, he was famous for his support
for the arts.
Florence was the center of the Italian Renaissance.


The astrolabe was
invented by the ancient
Greeks. It was first
used in Europe in the
early 1100s.

Although he was no longer a young man, Vespucci was
determined to join the search for a sea route to the Far
East. He knew the supplies a ship needed for such a long
voyage. Because he had studied astronomy, he could plot
a course by looking at the stars. In 1499 Vespucci was
hired as the navigator for an expedition and embarked
on his first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. A navigator
must determine what course to take, how far the ship has
traveled, and where it is on the open sea.

Navigating by the Stars
Navigation is the science of guiding a boat safely from
one place to another. Today there are instruments that show
a ship’s latitude and longitude. In Vespucci’s time, however,
navigators studied astronomy and followed the stars. Clouds
and storms could easily send sailors off course.

Longitude

Sailors used an instrument called an astrolabe to
determine latitude. With an astrolabe, sailors could
measure the height of the Sun in the sky by day or a star
by night. From these measurements they knew how far
north or south they were. It was hard, however, to keep the
astrolabe pointed at the Sun or a star in a stable position
while the ship pitched and rolled on the waves.

Longitude was harder to measure than latitude. Sailing
ships often had to take a zigzag course to make best use
of the wind. Constant changes in direction made it hard to
determine how far the ship had sailed.
Dead reckoning was the most common way to measure
longitude. In dead reckoning, the navigator followed
changes in direction with a compass by tracking how many
hours the ship had been sailing and how fast it had been
going. From this information, the navigator made a guess
about the distance east or west the ship had sailed.

4

5

Latitude


The European Discovery of America
Merchants brought spices and silk to Europe from
India and China. Traveling to Asia by land, however,
was difficult. Wars, too, had made the route even
more dangerous than before.
Columbus thought he could reach the Far East
by sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean. He was an
experienced sailor and persuaded King Ferdinand and
Queen Isabella of Spain to support and finance his
explorations. In 1492 Columbus landed in the islands
south and east of what is now the United States. Sure
that he arrived in
the islands in Asia
called the Indies,
Columbus named
the people he
found “Indians.”

Vespucci helped
supply the ships
Columbus (pictured
here) used on his
second voyage across
the Atlantic Ocean.

6

Vespucci’s Voyages
The First Voyage
In 1499 Vespucci sailed on one of four ships
headed across the Atlantic. When the ships
reached the coast of what is now South America,
Vespucci’s ship continued south in search of the
passage to Asia. He sailed beyond the mouth
of the Amazon River before turning north again.
Vespucci arrived back in Spain by June 1500.
Vespucci halted his expedition because the
boards of his ship had started to rot. He was sure,
however, that he had found the route to Asia—and
he was eager to try again.

The Second Voyage
The Spanish government was not interested in
Vespucci’s plans for a second expedition. Vespucci
therefore turned to another maritime power,
Portugal, which was willing to help. Vespucci
embarked on his second voyage from the city of
Lisbon in May 1501.
Vespucci took a more southerly route across the
Atlantic this time and was able to explore farther
down the coast of South America. It is likely that
he reached the southern border of Brazil, and he
may have gone as far as southern Argentina. His
route back to Portugal is not known, but his ship
anchored in Lisbon in July 1502.

7


Two Voyages or Four?
Did Vespucci embark on two voyages or four? The
records are simply not clear.
The main source of information about his voyages
was the letters Vespucci wrote to friends and
government officials. In later letters he added details
and changed some of the dates. Vespucci claims
in some letters that he sailed to the Americas four
times. It is only certain that he made two of these
expeditions.

NORTH
AMERICA

EUROPE
PORTUGAL

ASIA

ATLANTIC
OCEAN
AFRICA

SOUTH
AMERICA
Vespucci’s
second voyage,
1501–1502

N

This engraving of Amerigo Vespucci was made in the 1800s.
0
0

8

1,500
1,500

3,000 Miles

3,000 Kilometers

9


Vespucci’s Contributions
Vespucci the Navigator

Descriptions of the New World

Vespucci’s knowledge of geography, math, and
astronomy helped him as a navigator. At the time of his
first voyage, no one was sure how far Asia extended to
the east around the globe. Vespucci believed that he
had sailed along the eastern edge of Asia.
When Vespucci made his second voyage, he realized
this continent was not part of Asia. He came to this
conclusion by comparing what was known about Asia
to what he saw in the new continent, which we now
know as South America. He realized that this land was
a “New World” to the Europeans. As a result, the way
Europeans looked at the world was greatly changed.
This is what many consider to be Vespucci’s greatest
achievement.
Vespucci also made other contributions to European
exploration. During his second voyage, Vespucci
mapped thousands of miles of South American
coastline for Portugal. Historians do not know what
figures Vespucci used, but they generally agree that
Vespucci correctly calculated the distance around the
world at the equator within fifty miles.

In his letters Vespucci wrote that the native
peoples he had seen were fast runners and excellent
swimmers. He also noted that their skin was almost
red, “like a lion’s mane.” Vespucci listened to their
speech and decided
that each group had a
unique language of its
own. The people built
huts from branches and
palm leaves, and some
of the houses were
large enough to hold
“six hundred souls.”
The native peoples,
Vespucci said, placed
a high value on things
like feathers, or “birds’
plumes of many colors.”
They made necklaces
from fish bones and
white or green stones,
but considered gold,
jewels, and pearls
“as nothing,” according
to Vespucci.

The Brazilian Macaw is the
largest parrot in the world. It
can be found in the rain forests
of South America.

10

11


Vespucci’s Last Years
At the end of his life Vespucci was one of the
most famous and respected people in Europe.
The letters he wrote describing his voyages were
copied into several languages and printed in
books, including The Four Voyages of Amerigo and
The New World.
In 1505 Vespucci became a Spanish citizen.
In recognition of his achievements, the Spanish
government gave him the job of piloto mayor or
“master navigator.” One of Vespucci’s duties was
to prepare a map of the routes that ships should
take to what he called the “New World.” Vespucci
died in Seville, Spain, in 1512.

Naming the New World
Amerigo Vespucci was not the first person from
Europe to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. He did
not bring back shiploads of gold and precious
objects for the Spanish government. Still, the
continents that he described as a “New World”
were named for him.

This is a facsimile of
the signature of Amerigo
Vespucci, piloto mayor.

12

13


The Naming of America
Both Amerigo Vespucci and Christopher Columbus
realized that the lands they had found were a continent
and not islands. The “New World,” however, was named
for Vespucci.
The cartographer Martin Waldseemüller (WALD-saymule-er) suggested the name America in 1507. When
news of the discovery of other lands came to Europe,
Waldseemüller was working on a new and more current
map of the world. For more than a thousand years, maps

were largely copies of the one drawn by the ancient Greek
cartographer Ptolemy (TALL-eh-mee) over a thousand years
before. While Waldseemüller knew little more than Ptolemy,
he wanted to make his map as complete and up-to-date
as possible.
The map that Waldseemüller created was the first to
show the newly explored lands across the Atlantic Ocean.
Waldseemüller also suggested that this land be named
Americus or America.

Martin Waldseemüller’s map was
so large it had to be printed on
twelve sheets of paper which
were then pasted together. At
the top of the map are portraits
of Ptolemy (left) and Vespucci
(right). Ptolemy stands next to a
picture of his map of the world.
Vespucci stands next to a map
showing the lands he helped
explore. North America looks
like a large island while South
America is long and thin. The
name America, which is printed
on the southern continent,
appears for the first time on
Waldseemüller’s map.

14

15


Amerigo Vespucci was born in Italy, lived in Spain, and
was one of the first Europeans to travel across the
Atlantic Ocean. In this book you will read about his life
and discover why America was named for him.

Vocabulary

Glossary

astronomy

Write to It!

astrolabe an instrument
used by navigators to
maritime
determine latitude expedition
astronomy the scientific
study of the stars, planets,
embark
and other bodies beyond Earth’s atmosphere
latitude
cartographer a mapmaker
longitude
embark to set out on a venture
astrolabe
expedition a journey made for a special purpose
cartographer
latitude the measurement of how far north or south
of the equator a place is located

Vespucci worked for the powerful Medici family and
became friends with Christopher Colombus. What
effect did the people in Vespucci’s life have on his
voyages? What might have happened if he did not
know such powerful people? Write two paragraphs
about your ideas.
Write your paragraphs on a separate sheet of paper.

longitude the measurement of how far east or west of
the prime meridian (0° longitude) a place is located
maritime having to do with the sea or sailing
Maps
MapQuest, Inc.
Photographs
Every effort has been made to secure permission and provide appropriate credit for photographic material. The publisher deeply
regrets any omission and pledges to correct errors called to its attention in subsequent editions.
Unless otherwise acknowledged, all photographs are the property of Scott Foresman, a division of Pearson Education.
ISBN: 0-328-14889-X

Photo locators denoted as follows: Top (T), Center (C), Bottom (B), Left (L), Right (R) Background (Bkgd)

Copyright © Pearson Education, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. Printed in the United States of America. This publication is protected
by Copyright, and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited
reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. For information regarding
permission(s), write to: Permissions Department, Scott Foresman, 1900 East Lake Avenue,
Glenview, Illinois 60025.

Opener: ©Getty Images; (Bkgd) Digital Wisdom, Inc.
2 ©The Granger Collection, NY
3 ©Alan King/Alamy Images
5 ©Adam Woolfitt/Corbis
6 ©Giraudon/Art Resource, NY
9 ©Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis
11 ©Sue Cunningham/Worldwide Picture Library/Alamy Images
13 ©Getty Images
14 ©Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz/Art Resource, NY

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 V0G1 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05

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