The Farther Continent Of James Clyman

“Surveyor, mountain man, soldier, businessman, wanderer, captain of emigrants, farmer…he was himself the westward-moving frontier.”

In medias res: Fort Laramie on the Oregon-California Trail, June 27,1846, a day of reckoning. Francis Parkman was there, beginning the tour that he would chronicle in The California and Oregon Trail , the Harvard man come out West for health and curiosity, patronizing, disdaining the common emigrants who halted at the fort to tighten their iron tires and recruit their oxen, effusively admiring the stylish Sioux.Read more »

The Terror of the Wilderness

Why have Americans perceived nature as something to be conquered?

Most people who have reflected at all upon the known history of the Americas, particularly North America, have been impressed one way or another with its dominant quality of fierceness. After that early, first blush of paradisial imaginings, stained by the lush colors of the tropic islands and the defenseless peoples found thereon, a somber mood of misgiving settled over the questing Europeans, filtered their perceptions, filtered at last into the bleached bones of their accounts of exploration.Read more »

The Man Behind Columbus

Martín Pinzón of Palos

As you approach the village of Palos de la Frontera, some fifty miles west of Seville in Spain’s Analgesía, the squat little church of San J’orge looms in the foreground at the base of a rocky cliff that overlooks the tidal flats created by the mingling of the rivers Tinto and Odiel. The shallow estuary where the two rivers converge, known of old as the Saltés, is undistinguished scenically, an obscure corner of Spain virtually unknown to American tourists. Read more »

America Illusion And Reality

No event in the history of Western man provided so profound a shock as the discovery of America

America was an experience man could only have once. Knowledge of China, knowledge of Africa, festooned as it was with the Spanish moss of myth and legend, had penetrated Europe from the days of Imperial Rome and beyond. When discovered, the animals of Australasia were stranger by far than America’s, and the aborigines and the bushmen of Tasmania were more primitive, even more uniformly naked than the Caribs whose appearance was so startling to Columbus. By then the strangeness of the Americas had destroyed the sense of novelty. There could only be one New World. Read more »

Columbus And Genocide

The discoverer of the New World was responsible for the annihilation of the peaceful Arawak Indians

On April 17, 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic monarchs of Castile, signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe, the agreement by which Christopher Columbus, one-time wool-weaving apprentice in Savona, Italy, undertook a voyage of discovery to the western Atlantic. Read more »

Cathcart’s Travels

After the American sailor's ship was captured, he was held a slave in Algeria for 15 years

1. Cathcart sails for Spain. Some account of his puerile adventures in the Revolution. He is captured by pirates, hauled to Algiers, and set to work for the dey. Rich garments and poor food. He suffers humiliations and is thrice subjected to the bastinado. Read more »

The Making Of An American Lion

A Welsh waif adopted a new country and a new name and then became—thanks to a New York newspaper—the most famous African explorer of his time

On Sunday, December 8, 1872, the manager of the Theatre Comique on Broadway took the unusual step of buying up almost the entire front page of the New York Herald to puff the triumph of his latest presentation. It was called Africa or Livingstone and Stanley , and, to judge from the ecstatic reviews that were quoted, the show was a ringing success.Read more »

Death Valley

On Christmas Day of 1849 a party of twenty-seven wagons heading through Nevada toward the California gold fields lumbered over a barren ridge and downhill into a desolate place. Before the travellers lay miles of scorched and blasted earth, raw outcroppings of multicolored rock, and stunning heat. The little caravan split up; a group of bachelors who called themselves thejayhawkers piked north, and two families—the Bennetts and the Arcanes—pushed southward along with a few single men.Read more »

T.r.’s Last Adventure

Defeated in his attempt at apolitical comeback in the Presidential election of 1912, the fifty-four-year-old Theodore Roosevelt started off 1913 eager for fresh adventures. The former President accepted invitations from the governments of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to deliver addresses in their respective capitals and also gleefully agreed to accompany the explorer-priest John Augustine ^ahm on ajourney through the Amazon basin. The American Museum of Natural History in New York added two naturalists, George K. Cherne and Leo E.Read more »

Viking America: A New Theory

Was Columbus motivated by Norse discoveries, concealed over the centuries in misinterpreted maps?

In 1965 widespread interest was excited by the first publication of a fifteenth-century map showing “Vinland” and purporting to be the earliest cartographic representation of any part of the North American continent. [See “Vinland the Good Emerges from the Mists,” AMERICAN HERITAGE, October, 1965.] The Vinland Map tended to reinforce the conclusion long held by many historians that Leif Eiriksson (or Ericson) and other Vikings landed on the northeast coast of the continent around A.D.1000.Read more »