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The Voyage of Verrazzano A Chapter in the Early History of Maritime Discovery in America   By: (1810-1882)

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The following pages, intended to show the claim of discovery in America by Verrazzano to be without any real foundation, belong to a work, in hand, upon the earliest explorations of the coast which have led to the settlement of the United States by Europeans. They are now printed separately, with some additions and necessary changes, in consequence of the recent production of the map of Hieronimo de Verrazano, which professes to represent this discovery, and is therefore supposed to afford some proof of its authenticity; in which view it has been the subject of a learned and elaborate memoir by J. Carson Brevoort Esq.

Certain important documents in relation to Verrazzano, procured from the archives of Spain and Portugal by the late Buckingham Smith, on a visit to those countries a year or two before his death, are appended. They were intended to accompany a second edition of his Inquiry, a purpose which has been interrupted by his decease. They were entrusted by him to the care of his friend, George H. Moore Esq., of New York, who has placed them at our disposal on the present occasion.

The fragmentary and distorted form in which the letter ascribed to Verrazzano, appeared in the collection of Ramusio, and was thence universally admitted into history, rendered it necessary that the letter should be here given complete, according to its original meaning. It is, therefore, annexed in the English translation of Dr. Cogswell, which though not entirely unexceptionable is, for all purposes, sufficiently accurate. The original Italian text can, however, be consulted in the Collections of the New York Historical Society, accompanying his translation, and also in the Archivio Storico Italiano, in which it is represented by the editor to be more correctly copied from the manuscript, and amended in its language where it seemed corrupt; but such corrections are few and unimportant. In all cases in which the letter is now made the subject of critical examination, the passages referred to are given, for obvious reasons, according to the reading of the Florentine editor.

We are indebted to the American Geographical Society of New York for the use of its photographs of the Verrazano map, and to Mr. Brevoort for a copy of the cosmography of Alfonse, from which the chart of Norumbega has been taken. And our thanks are due to Dr. J. Gilmary Shea of New York, for valuable assistance; and to Dr. E. B. Straznicky of the Astor Library, Mons. O. Maunoir of the Societe de Geographie of Paris, Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull of Hartford, Hon. John R. Bartlett of Providence, and James Lenox Esq. of New York, for various favors kindly rendered during the progress of our researches.



Page I. The Discovery Attributed to Verrazzano

II. The Verrazzano Letters not Genuine

III. The Letter untrue. I. No Voyage of Discovery made for the King of France, as it states

IV. II. Misrepresentations in regard to the Geography of the Coast. The Chesapeake. The Island of Louise. Massachusetts Bay

V. III. Cape Breton and the Southerly Coast of Newfoundland, here claimed to have been discovered, were known previously. Perversion of the Text of the Letter by Ramusio

VI. IV. The Description of the People and Productions of the Land not made from the Personal Observations of the Writer of the Letter. What distinctly belonged to the Natives is unnoticed, and what is originally mentioned of them is untrue. Further important Alterations of the Text by Ramusio,

VII. The Extrinsic Evidence in Support of the Claim... Continue reading book >>

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