European exploration in North
Georgia Performance Standards
• SS4H2 The student will describe European
exploration in North America.
a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and
accomplishments of the Spanish, French, and English
explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Nunez Balboa, Juan
Ponce de Leon, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson,
and Jacques Cartier.
b. Describe examples of cooperation and conflict
between Europeans and Native Americans.
SS4G2 The student will describe how physical systems
affect human systems.
b. Describe how the early explorers adapted, or failed
to adapt, to the various physical environments in which
they traveled.
Essential Questions
• Why were Europeans interested in world exploration?
• What were some of the opportunity costs involved in
European exploration?
• What influence did the Europeans and Native Americans
have on each other?
• What are the strengths and weaknesses of the
relationships between Native Americans and
Europeans arrive in the Americas
• In 1420, the oceans of the world were a
mystery to most Europeans.
• In 1492, Christopher Columbus asked
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of
Spain to pay for a westward voyage to
Asia. They agreed to pay for the voyage
because they hoped that they Columbus
would find gold and spices in Asia.
Christopher Columbus meeting with
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella
Christopher Columbus
• Columbus set sail from Spain on August 3, 1492.
• He carried enough supplies to last for a year and close to 90 men
traveled in three ships named the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa
• On October 12, 1492, the ships arrived at an island in the Caribbean
Sea that Columbus named San Salvador which today is part of the
• Columbus thought that he had reached land off the coast of Asia,
near India so he named the islands the West Indies and the people
living on them Indians.
• Columbus and his men were the first Europeans to meet
the people of the Caribbean who called themselves the
Taino (TY noh) which means “good”.
• Columbus returned to Spain and made three more
voyages to the Caribbean.
• King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella wanted Columbus to
start settlements (a small community of people living in a
new place) and to search for gold. Columbus sailed a
fleet of 17 ships back to the islands and began claiming
more land for Spain.
• Columbus and the settlers had to adapt to their
new physical environment.
• They bought new crops such as wheat, barley,
and sugar cane and found ways to grow them in
the new land.
• They also brought animals such as horses, pigs,
and cows, which had not previously lived in the
• The Europeans adapted to their environment but
they hurt the Taino environment.
• The Europeans cut down rain forest and built
sugar plantations. Many of the American plants
and animals were destroyed by the Europeans.
• The Europeans also brought diseases to Taino
that they never had. Within 50 years of
Columbus’ arrival, almost no Taino people were
• Columbus returned to Spain with plants, such as
corn, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, chocolate,
peppers, beans, and squash that no one in
Europe had ever seen.
• The movement of plants, animals, and people
between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres
is known as the Columbian Exchange.
John Cabot
• Was an Italian explorer
• The king of England paid for his voyage across
the Atlantic Ocean where he reached presentday Canada, which he thought was Asia.
• He did not find people, silks, or spices but he did
find a rich fishing area of the coast of Canada.
• People began sailing to these waters.
John Cabot thought that he could reach Asia by sailing across the
Atlantic Ocean. Once people knew that the land that he found was not
Asia, explorers continued to search for
a water passage through the North American continent.
Jacques Cartier
• In 1534, he continued France’s search for
a water route to Asia.
• He sailed far up the St. Lawrence River in
• He faced many obstacles, especially the
cold climate and short growing season.
• Over time, people began to come to the
region to trade for furs.
Vasco Nunez de Balboa
(VAS coh NOON yez deh bal BOH ah)
• Balboa was a Spanish explorer who
traveled to present-day Panama in Central
• In 1513, he crossed the mountains and
jungles of Panama and reached the Pacific
Balboa’s Travels
Juan Ponce de Leon
(pon seh deh leh OHN)
• Juan Ponce De Leon was a conquistador
(Spanish for conqueror)
• He was the first conquistador to reach
what is now the United States.
• In 1513, he led an expedition to presentday Florida where he claimed the area for
• As the conquistadors traveled the land in search
of gold, they found many American Indians.
• The conquistadors fought and enslaved the
American Indians. Many of the Spanish died in
the battles as well.
• The conquistadors also faced many obstacles,
including long distances, bad weather, and
starvation as they explored the continent.
Henry Hudson
• The Dutch wanted to search for a
Northwest passage too so a Dutch trading
company hired Henry Hudson, an English
captain, to search for the passage.
• The Dutch are the people of the
• Hudson sailed up the Hudson River in
present-day New York and made claims
for the Dutch.
• In 1610, he made a voyage for England
where he found the bay known as Hudson
Bay in present-day Canada.
• One obstacle Hudson faced was the cold
climate, which he failed to adapt to.
• He stayed too long in the bay and ice trapped
the ship for an entire winter.
• His unhappy crew later set him adrift in a small
boat where he was never seen again.
• Even though his voyage was unsuccessful in
finding a Northwest Passage, it did lead to
England claiming the land around Hudson Bay.

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