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A SHORT HISTORY OF
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
PART I. COLONIAL ERA
I. THE DUTCH PERIOD.
CHAPTER I.-EARLY DISCOVERIES AND EXPLORATIONS
First Explorers.-That Sebastian Cabot, an Englishborn Venetian, ever saw the coast of New York is very doubtful.1 There is some proof that the Portuguese skirted along these shores before 1513.2 A like claim is made for the Spaniards as early as 1520. But Verrazano, a Florentine corsair, employed by Francis I. of France to seek a more direct route to China, did undoubtedly explore the "most beautiful" Bay of New York in 1524. In a letter to his royal master he described his experiences, and his brother made a map of
'He has been called the "Sphinx of North American history for over three hundred years." Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, III., 32. See Dr. Charles Dean, John and Sebastian Cabot, Cambridge, 1886.
2 Evidence of this fact is found in the "Cantino" Map, and the Ptolemy of 1513.
the region. He was probably the first white man to inspect the harbor of New York. During the next seventy-five years several navigators sailed along the North American coast and very likely touched it at New York.
Importance of Hudson's Discovery. It seems that the Dutch were accustomed to visit the Hudson River as early as 15982 on trading trips. No doubt the French did the same. It remained for the sturdy Englishman, Henry Hudson, however, to do the initial work of colonizing that country known for about a century in only a vague way. He was the first man to make the river which bears his name known to the civilized world. His exploration was the first which opened that region to profitable trading voyages and led to temporary settlements and permanent occupation by the Dutch. Hence the arrival of the Half Moon, carrying Hudson's Dutch
1 Verrazano was a poor nobleman's son and born at a little village near Florence, Italy, in 1485. He was well educated, especially in geography, and was celebrated as a scientific pilot. His piratical acts were directed against the Spanish and Portuguese ships which were laden with treasures from the New World. In 1527 he was captured by the Spanish, taken to Cadiz, and hanged as a pirate. The story of his being devoured by the Indians in 1528 in Venezuela is a mistake. Our information about his voyage to New York rests upon a letter to Francis I. in 1524. That letter, the original of which is lost, was first published in Venice in 1556 and is rather vague about the territory visited. No copy has been found in the French Archives. Hence it has been called a forgery and Verrazano's part in New York history questioned. The letter may be found in the N. Y. Hist. Soc. Colls., 2d Ser., I., 45, 46, and also in the Old South Leaflets, No. 17. See De Costa, Verrazano the Explorer, New York, 1881.
2 Docs. rel. to N. Y. Col. Hist., I., 149, 248.