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Study Guide

Explorers Country (Sponsor) Reasons for Exploring Successes/Achievement
Christopher Columbus Spain To find a western sea route to Asia First European to discover a sea route to America; discovered the "New World" by landing at San Salvador.
Juan Ponce de Léon Spain To discover riches and land to conquer First European to land in Florida (near St. Augustine); gave Spain claim to Florida.
Jacques Cartier France To colonize the New World Explored the St. Lawrence River Valley (near Quebec, Canada) and gave France a North American claim.
Christopher Newport England To discover riches;
To find a western sea route to Asia;
To colonize Virginia
Arrived at present day Jamestown; made four additional voyages bringing more people to Jamestown; was one of the first men to reach the Fall Line of the James River.

Explorer Summaries

Christopher Columbus — 1492

His voyage was sponsored by Spain, although he was born in Italy. He hoped to find a western sea route to the East Indies (islands in Asia). European traders at that time traveled to ASia over dangerous and difficult land routes to buy spice, tea, and silk.

Columbus, believing the Earth was round, thought it would be easier to travel west over the ocean to reach Asia. He did not know he would discover a continent, which blocked his way. When he landed on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas, he thought he had reached the East Indies in Asia, and so he called the people he met "Indians".

Juan Ponce de Léon

Also sponsored by Spain, Ponce de Leon set off for the New World to find riches and gold and to discover new land for Spain to claim or conquer. He landed in Florida, near present-day St. Augustine, and claimed the land for Spain.

Christopher Newport — 1607

Newport was sponsored by England and set off for the New World in 1607 to start an English colony (Jamestown). He also looked for lots of gold and other riches.

Jamestown became the first permanent (lasting) English settlement in the New World. There had been an earlier settlement, but the settlers mysteriously disappeared.

Jacques Cartier

Cartier was sponsored by France, which wanted to start a French colony in the New World. He explored the St. Lawrence River Valley, which is near present-day Quebec, Canada, and claimed the land for France.