Amerigo Vespucci
was a famous Italian navigator. He was inspired by the successful voyages of Christopher Columbus and decided to take a part in the general European movement to seek a western passage to the Indies. Having obtained three ships from Ferdinand, King of Castille, Vespucci was able to undertake his first voyage. Accordingly, he set sail from Cadiz in 1497, sailing toward the Fortunate Islands, and then laying his course towards the west. After twenty-seven or thirty-seven days he touched the mainland (Guiana or Brazil?), and was well received by the inhabitants. In this first voyage he may have entered the Gulf of Mexico and coasted along a great portion of the United States, as far as the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Then he returned to Spain, and landed at Cadiz on 15 October, 1498. There is no other relation of this first voyage than that contained in the first letter of Amerigo Vespucci concerning the islands newly found in his four voyages.
But the big breakthrough came on Vespucci's second trip. And that was the realization that what he was looking at was not India at all, but an entirely new continent. He verified the fact by following the coast of South America down to within 400 miles of Tierra del Fuego. Columbus found the new world, but Vespucci was the man who recognized that it was a new world.
On May 19, 1501 Vespucci left from the ports of the sponsoring Spain on his third voyage. On this voyage Vespucci was second in charge behind Gonocalo Coelho, another one of Spains' explorers. They explored on this expedition the Cape Santo Agostinho at the shoulder of present day Brazil. This voyage was one of the less successful because they explored only limited water area. On the fourth, and last, voyage Vespucci explored more of South America.
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