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Peter Hudson

The history of black people in Canada can be dated from the early seventeenth-century expeditions of French explorer Pierre du Gua sieur de Monts Traveling with du Gua was an African man Mathieu da Costa who worked as an interpreter between the French and the indigenous Mic Mac people ...

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Eric J. Morgan

Portuguese ex-plorer, was born around 1451. Details of his early life are unknown, though some scholars believe Dias may have been related to João Dias and Diniz Dias, other prominent Portuguese explorers of the fifteenth century. Bartolomeu Dias was the first European to sail around the southern coast of Africa, which he accomplished in 1488. Born into a prominent noble family, by his mid-thirties Dias was a member of the Portuguese royal court, in charge of the crown’s warehouse of goods, and an accomplished sailor. Dias had accompanied the nobleman Diogo de Azambuja on his expedition to the Gold Coast in 1481, where São Jorge da Mina, a Portuguese fort on the Gulf of Guinea, was constructed. On 10 October 1486 King John II of Portugal appointed Dias as the head of an expedition to sail around Africa to find a trade route to India The ...

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Jeremy Rich

African-born slave who became one of the first Spanish explorers of North America, was probably born somewhere in Morocco in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century. No sources are available for his early life. His travel companion Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca reported that Esteban was born in the Portuguese-controlled town of Azemmour, Morocco, around 1513. He may have been bought there and brought from elsewhere in Morocco or had come from somewhere else in the north of West Africa. He may also have chosen to sell himself into slavery to improve his life, given Azemmour’s numerous economic and environmental problems. He converted to Christianity after his enslavement. In 1520 he was sold to Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, a Spanish aristocrat. When Dorantes decided to make his fortune in North America in 1527, Esteban joined him.

This expedition led by Pánfilo Narváez of five caravels left Spain ...

Article

Jean Baptiste Pointe Du Sable's biography combines conjecture and lore with a few established facts. He was probably born in St. Marc, Saint Domingue (present-day Haiti) around 1750 to a French mariner and an African-born slave. He may have been educated in Paris and employed as a sailor during his young adult life. Du Sable entered North America through either Louisiana or French Canada, and first appeared in historical documents in 1779, when a British officer in the Great Lakes region reported that the local trader “Baptist Point de Sable” was “much in the interest of the French.”

The British detained Du Sable for suspected “intercourse with the enemy,” but he soon impressed his captors as a well-educated and highly capable frontiersman. British governor Patrick Sinclair sent Du Sable to the Saint Clair River region to manage trade and serve as a liaison between Native Americans and ...

Article

Richard C. Lindberg

explorer and merchant, was born in San Marc, Haiti, the son of a slave woman (name unknown) and Dandonneau (first name unknown), scion of a prominent French Canadian family active in the North American fur trade. Surviving historical journals record the name of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable (Pointe au Sable by some accounts), a Haitian of mixed-race ancestry, as the first permanent settler of Chicago. In her 1856 memoir of frontier life in the emerging Northwest Territory, Juliette Kinzie, the wife of the fur trader John Kinzie makes note of the fact that the first white man who settled here was a Negro Several of the voyageurs and commercial men who regularly traversed the shores of southern Lake Michigan in the last decade of the eighteenth century kept accurate records of their encounters in journals and ledger books One such entry describes du Sable as a ...

Article

Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable is reputed to be the founder of Chicago because he was the first non–Native American to build a home on the future site of the city. As an enterprising free black man on the Revolutionary frontier, Du Sable has become a symbolic figure of great importance to the modern-day African American community, especially in Chicago. The lack of much concrete evidence about his life seems only to enhance his mythic importance as a pioneering black settler and prominent frontiersman. Documents composed by English speakers spell his name variously as “Au Sable,” “Point Sable,” “Sabre,” and “Pointe de Saible.”

Du Sable s birth date is not known It is thought that he was born in the town of Saint Marc on the island of Saint Domingue in what later became the first free black republic in the Americas Haiti At the time of his birth Saint ...

Article

Esteban  

E. Thomson Shields

Esteban (?–1539), African-born slave and explorer for Spain, , became the first African-American character portrayed in North American literature. What is known about Esteban (also called Estevan, Estevanico, and Stephen) comes from reports concerning two Spanish explorations into North America, the first led by Pánfilo de Narváez begun in 1527 and the second led by Fray Marcos de Niza in 1539. Esteban was a slave on the Narváez expedition to la Florida, or what is now the southeastern United States. He was one of the expedition’s four survivors, with Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, whose Relación (1542) tells about the men’s adventures; Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Esteban’s owner; and Alonso Castillo Maldonado.

The first mention of Esteban in the Relación appears after the account of the expedition s second shipwreck near Galveston Island in 1528 Most of the expedition s members were lost at ...

Article

Esteban  

Penny Anne Welbourne

Also known as Estevan, Estevanico, Stephen the Black, and the Black Moor, Esteban was born in Azamor (or Azemmour), Morocco, between 1500 and 1503. By 1527 he had been taken from Africa, most likely by Spanish or Portuguese slave traders, and brought to Spain, where he became the “personal servant” (that is, slave) of Andrés Dorantes de Carranza.

In 1527 Dorantes volunteered himself and Esteban for a Spanish expedition to the New World, commanded by Don Pánfilo de Narváez. The purpose of the journey was to conquer and claim land from the Isle of Florida (discovered and named fifteen years earlier by Juan Ponce de León) to northeastern Mexico. At its start the exploration included approximately six hundred men aboard five vessels; of those men only four were still alive when they reached what is today Galveston Island, Texas: Esteban, his master, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca ...

Article

Liliana Obregón

Born in Azemmour, Morocco, Estebanico (also known as Estevanico, Esteban, Estevanico the Moor, Black Stephen, and Esteban de Dorantes) may have been captured by Portuguese slave traders in North Africa between 1513 and 1521, and later sold in Europe. In 1528 he accompanied his owner—a Spanish explorer named Andrés de Dorantes—on an expedition led by conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez to settle unknown territory in North America. When they arrived in Florida, Narváez's group of some 300 men encountered many obstacles and were forced to split up in order to survive.

The legendary explorer Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca headed the group that included Estebanico They traveled around the area now known as the Florida Panhandle and the Mississippi River and eventually wound up shipwrecked on what is now Galveston Island in Texas Over time almost all of the expedition s members ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

Vasco da Gama was born in Sines, Alemtejo. He was en route to India when he became the second European to sail around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497. During the two-year voyage commissioned by King Manuelof Portugal, da Gama stopped at various points along the coast of East Africa, including present-day Mozambique, Mombasa, Malindi, and Zanzibar. During his stop in Malindi, da Gama met ibn Majid, the pilot who taught da Gama the route and navigation skills necessary to complete his journey to Calicut, India. After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a trading post in India, da Gama returned to Portugal in 1499 with many stories of East Africa.

In 1502 da Gama was again commissioned by the king to round the Cape of Good Hope this time to establish economic and political sovereignty over areas of East Africa ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Portuguese explorer who helped open up European commercial links to both western and eastern Africa, was born sometime between 1460 and 1469. He probably was born at Sines, a town on the southwestern coast of Portugal. His father was Estêvão da Gama, a knight in the court of the Duke of Viseu. Da Gama’s mother was Isabel Sodré, a woman of noble descent. It is a paradox that so little is known of da Gama’s life, given his fame as the first Portuguese sea captain to reach India. Since da Gama was a younger son, he may have entered Atlantic exploration to make up for losing out on his father’s inheritance.

At some point da Gama became an agent of King João II of Portugal who sought to promote Atlantic trade and exploration like his more famous predecessor Henry the Navigator Gama joined the Order of Santiago a brotherhood ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

important trader and a promoter of Portuguese ties to West Africa, was apparently born to a well-off family in Lisbon sometime in the opening decades of the fifteenth century. Little is known of his early life, personal family history, or even death. It is known, however, that Gomes apparently fought in Morocco and learned North African dances there. It is ironic that such obscurity surrounds a man who played a pivotal role in expanding Portuguese influence on the coast of West Africa.

Gomes first clearly enters the historical record in 1469. After the death in 1461 of Henry the Navigator the legendary supervisor of Portuguese maritime exploration of West Africa and the Atlantic Ocean the Portuguese crown became so distracted by its wars with the Islamic sultanate of Morocco and its Christian neighbor of Castile that efforts to develop trade with West African coastal communities slowed down King ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

known in Portugal as Infante Henrique, duke of Viseu, and a major contributor to Portuguese maritime exploration and Portugal’s ties to Africa, was born in the northern Portuguese city of Oporto on Ash Wednesday, 4 March 1394 Henrique was the third son of King John I of Portugal and his English queen Philippa of Lancaster He later became known in the English speaking world as Henry the Navigator for his promotion of naval exploration of West Africa As a prince Henrique received an extensive education in theology philosophy and the liberal arts Biographer Peter Edward Russell has argued that Henrique s English royal mother inspired him to follow in the footsteps of his Plantagenet aristocratic lineage One hint of this came from his personal motto Instead of using Portuguese Henrique picked as his maxim an Anglo French term talent de bien fere which meant in Middle French a hunger ...

Article

Chouki El Hamel

Moroccan scholar, diplomat, and traveler, was born al-Hasan b. Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Wazzan al-Fasi al-Gharnati (hereafter, al-Wazzan) in Granada, Spain, to a wealthy family (some sources place the date of his birth between 1488 and 1496). In 1492, Granada fell into the hands of the Spanish Castilians, after which Iberian Muslims were forced to migrate to North Africa. In this context, the al-Wazzan family moved to Morocco and settled in the city of Fez. They were able to preserve their socioeconomic status and participated in diplomatic and commercial activities. In his book Description of Africa al Wazzan mentions that after his family settled in the region of Fez he used to accompany his father on business trips to the Rif region and the Middle Atlas mountains to collect taxes on behalf of the Wattasi sultan He also accompanied his uncle on a diplomatic mission to Timbuktu at age ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

The son of a wealthy family, Leo Africanus was born in Spain but moved to Fès, Morocco, as a child. There he was educated and later employed by his uncle as a clerk. Africanus’s first trip to the western Sudan, around 1512, was part of a diplomatic and commercial mission to the Songhai Empire led by his uncle on behalf of the rulers of Fès. During this trip Africanus traveled extensively throughout the region and visited its major trading cities, including Tombouctou, Djenné, Gao, and Sijilmasa. He recorded his observations on all of the region’s major states: the Songhai and Mali empires, the Hausa States and Bornu, as well as the Bulala state occupying the former Kanem empire. This trip provided much of the research for his later publications.

Between 1516 and 1518 Africanus made several trips to Egypt and possibly a trip to Constantinople. In 1518 during ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

one of the first slaves to enter the Kansas Territory, was born in Madison County, Kentucky. In her narrative dictated to the Scottish American abolitionist James Redpath in 1858, Noll does not name her parents but notes that she, like her mother, a cook, was owned by William Campbell, a prominent landowner, while her father was owned by a man named Barrett, who lived three miles away. Among the other slaves owned by Campbell were Lewis Garrard Clarke and John Milton Clarke, who both later escaped slavery and became prominent abolitionists in Boston in the 1850s. As of 1858 Noll incorrectly believed that Lewis Clarke, upon whom Harriet Beecher Stowe modeled the character George Harris in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851), had been caught and returned to slavery in Kentucky.

When Noll was fourteen her master moved to Clay County Missouri bringing with him ...

Article

Charles Withers

Scottish physician, botanist, and explorer, was the first European to return safely having observed the west–east course of the River Niger. His significance stems from this geographical accomplishment, from the much reprinted book of his first expedition, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, first published in 1799, and from his “heroic” failure and death in 1806, in circumstances that are still unclear, on a further Niger expedition. His second posthumously published work, published in 1815, and drawn from Park’s surviving papers and reports, began the process of Park’s biographical commemoration.

Park was born near Selkirk in Scotland on or about 11 September 1771, the seventh of thirteen children. Park was educated at home, at Selkirk Grammar School, and, from 1789, in the University of Edinburgh, where he studied medicine. In November of 1792 Park was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks by his brother ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges

Rodrigues was the first-known nonindigenous resident of Manhattan Island. His arrival in 1613 stemmed from the proprietary practices of early explorers of the New World. In June 1613Captain Thijs Volchertz Mossell, an experienced Dutch explorer, and the crew of his vessel, the Jonge Tobias began a journey from the West Indies along the eastern coastline of North America Mossell and his crew ventured up the Hudson River charted only four years before and sailed along the island of Montanges Manhattan After a brief sojourn on the island Mossell sailed away with all his crew but one Jan Rodrigues a Creole pilot Rodrigues may have stayed behind because of a wage dispute but it is just as likely that Mossell s leaving the pilot on the island was an example of a practice common among explorers as a means of claiming ownership of a coveted spot Rodrigues was ...

Article

York  

James J. Holmberg

explorer, slave, and the first African American to cross the North American continent from coast to coast north of Mexico, is believed to have been born in Caroline County, Virginia, the son of an enslaved African American also named York (later called Old York), owned by John Clark, a member of the Virginia gentry and father of the famous George Rogers Clark and William Clark. York's mother is unidentified; it is likely that she, too, was a Clark family slave. A slave named Rose is sometimes listed as York s mother but sources best identify her as his stepmother York is believed to have been assigned while a child to William Clark as his servant and companion Since such relationships were generally between children of about the same age with the slave sometimes a few years younger York may have been about two or ...