I had a rather odd sleep last night; not really bad, I didn’t wake up exhausted or with a headache or anything. But it seems that I spent several hours either dreaming or dozing about Christopher Columbus and questions about early European exploration of the USA. It was critically important, for some reason, to find out if Columbus had ever set foot on what’s currently the lower 48, if he’d met natives there, and if not, who were the first (post-Columbian) ocean voyagers from across the Atlantic to do so. I didn’t come up with any good answers in my dreams, though I do remember wondering about ‘The Amerigo guy.’
On waking up, I was able to do some research on the internet, but it seems that there aren’t any clear answers there either. Columbus pretty definitely never reached what is now the American mainland north of Central America; he got kinda close to Florida but didn’t reach it. I’ve come across an interesting pool of early explorers:
Yikes! Messed up a date here at first… reshuffling the contenders.
John Cabot: Cabot landed somewhere in Canada in 1497 and sailed along the coast of New England in 1498, but as far as I can tell he didn’t come ashore in New England or further south.
Amerigo Vespucci: Vespucci’s travels were mostly in the Caribbean and South America, around 1499-1501. I’ve seen a few vague references that Vespucci may have gone to Florida at some time, but can’t find specific details.
Juan Ponce de León: After serving as navigator for Columbus, Ponce de León definitely landed in Florida in 1513. (He also came up with the name.)
Giovanni da Verrazzano: Sailed along quite a lot of the United States’ Atlantic coast, from the northern tip of Florida to Rhode Island, where he came ashore and met natives in 1524.
Henry Hudson: A surprise to me; I knew about Hudson from his Northwest Passage explorations in Canada, (including discovering Hudson’s Bay,) but I didn’t know that the Hudson river in New York state was named for the same guy. After several other expeditions for trade routes and passages in different directions, Hudson and his crew reached Maine and traded with natives in 1609.
So it looks like Juan Ponce de León is the solid answer to my question. Cool. 😉