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STATE OF NEW YORK.
In the beginning of the seventeenth century, moment- Chap. I. ous events, which had been agitating Europe, led the way to the permanent colonization of the northern regions of tion. America. The art of printing had gradually diffused the learning of the cloister through the marts of commerce ; a venerable but abused faith no longer shackled emancipated mind;. a recent inductive philosophy was teaching mankind to seek the fruits of careful experiment; and an irrepressible spirit of adventure, growing with the progress of knowledge, prompted enterprise in the New World which the genius of Columbus had given to the Old.
The immortal Genoese, who, in those late years fore- 1492. told at Rome, had verified the sublime prophecy of Seneca, and made the ocean reveal the long-mysterious earth beyond the furthest Thule, had worked out his grand demonstration in the service of Spain. By her the splendid prize was claimed. But Portugal, having already explored the Azores, boldly asserted a superior right. The question was referred to the Pope; and Alexander the Papal donaSixth decided that the sovereigns of Spain should hold, New World as a gift in perpetuity, all the heathen lands found or 1493. to be discovered to the west of a meridian, one hundred 4th May. leagues westward of the Azores. The apostolic decree did
tion of the
Ckap. I. not satisfy Portugal; and it was agreed that the line of
partition should be advanced two hundred and seventy 1493.
leagues further to the west. Still, nearly all the New World remained actually included in the papal donation to Spain.*
But the Pontiff's sweeping grant was not universally respected. Leaving Spain and Portugal to push their con
quests in the rich and sultry regions of the south, England discoveries. and France commenced an early rivalry in exploring the
rugged and picturesque territories of the north. Disrea garding the edict of the Vatican, almost simultaneously they began their grand career of transatlantic enterprise. While the Cabots, under commissions of Henry the Seve
enth, after discovering Newfoundland, sailed along the 1497-8. continent, from Labrador to the parallel of Gibraltar, and, 1517. in a succeeding reign, perhaps entered the Arctic Seas
westward of Greenland, the fishermen of Normandy visit: 1504. ed Cape Breton, and made rude charts of the great gulf 1506. within; and Verazzano, under a commission of Francis Verazzano. the First, coasting northward from the Carolinas, explored, 1524. with his boat, the most beautiful” Bay of New York,
and anchored awhile in the very excellent harbor" of Newport. But, though plans of colonization were suggested in England and France, permanent occupation was
* Hazard's Historical Collections, i., 3-6 ; Chalmers's Political Annals, 10; Herrera, 1., 2, 10 ; Irving's Columbus, i., 185–200 ; Prescott's Ferd. and Isab., ii., 116, 174, 181; Thorne, in Hakluyt's “Divers Voyages,” &C., 43-47, reprinted by the Hakluyt Society of London, 1850.
+ Verazzano thus describes the Narrows, and the Bay of New York: “After proceeding one hundred leagues, we found a very pleasant situation among some steep hills, through which a very large river, deep at its mouth, forced its way to the sea. From the sea to the estuary of the river, any ship heavily laden might pass, with the help of the tide, which rises eight feet. But as we were riding at anchor in a good berth, we would not venture up in our vessel, without a knowledge of the mouth ; therefore we took the boat, and entering the river, we found the country on its banks well peopled, the inhabitants not differing much from the others, being dressed out with the feathers of birds of various colors. They came toward us with evident delight, raising loud shouts of admiration, and showing us where we could most securely land with our boat. We passed up this river about half a league, when we found it formed a most beautiful lake, three leagues in circuit, upon which they were rowing thirty or more of their small boats, from one shore to the other, filled with multitudes who came to see us. All of a sudden, as is wont to happen to navigators, a violent contrary wind blew in from the sea, and forced us to return to our ship, greatly regretting to leave this region, which seemed so commodious and delightful, and which we supposed must also contain great riches, as the hills showed many indications of minerals.". Letter to King Francis I., of July 8, 1524, translated by Mr. Cogswell, in N. Y. H. S. Coll., i. (second series), 45, 46.