>One of the trickiest things I’ve found about writing about an alternate-geography-history is that the names of places keep getting confused. To alleviate this problem, in the below, all the real-world place names are in italics.
In 1000 AD, Lief Erikson sailed west from Greenland and discovered Alaska. He called it Vinland. A few colonies were established among the Aleutian Islands, and some exploration was made down the coast, perhaps as far south as Seattle; but as in normal history, the colonies were too far away and the weather was too forbidding for the Norse to stay long.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the coast of Mexico, and claimed it for Spain. Columbus died in 1506, having made four voyages in all to the “new world”, but of course exploration continued. Spain established colonies along the eastern and southern coast of Mexico. In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon went slave-hunting and discovered Baja California on Easter Sunday, calling it “Florida” after the holiday, which in Spanish is “Pascua Florida”.
Another explorer, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, was in Panama in 1513. He wandered inland in search of gold, not knowing that Panama was a narrow isthmus running east and west. The Atlantic lay to Panama’s south, and when Balboa crossed the isthmus, he found himself looking at what looked like another ocean — the Pacific — in the north. He therefore called it Mar del Norte, the “North Sea”, and that is the name that stuck. In 1519, Hernando Cortes explored the Mexican interior, and conquered the Aztecs, just as he did in real history. By the late 1520′s, other explorers began wandering the Caribbean, discovering Cuba, Jamaica, and the northern coast of the Gulf.
In 1539, Hernando de Soto led a party deep into North America, following the Colorado River from its mouth in the Bay of Mexico (as they called the Baja Bay) up into the mountains. They discovered the Mississippi as well. Later, Coronado explored the southwestern part of North America, making contact with the Cherokee for the first time.
Meanwhile, South America was also subjected to European invasion. In 1531, Pizarro destroyed the Incan civilization, right on schedule. The Line of Demarcation between Portugal and Spain was not established, since no part of the Americas was sufficiently close to Europe; so Brazil became wholly Spanish. The thin strip of arable land on the east side of the Andes became heavily populated.
In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano, sailing for France, reached the San Francisco bay. He headed north, and discovered the Oregon River and Olympic Bay. He turned back around Juneau, Alaska, being unable to find a passage through the continent.
In the 1570′s, Sir Francis Drake of England sailed completely around North and South America. He sailed as far north as North Carolina before continuing on to Asia. The English also explored Alaska and the coast of Canada thoroughly, but were unable to go very far around the northern coast and so find the northwest passage they were looking for. Spanish influence at this time extended as far north as San Diego, which they called St. Augustine.
Meanwhile, across the continent, Hiawatha was establishing the People of the Long House in upper New York State.
In the 1580′s, Sir Walter Raleigh landed ships in San Francisco Bay calling it James Bay and naming that land “Virginia”. Virginia Dare, born in 1587, was the first English baby in the New World. Raleigh brought back potatoes and, instead of tobacco, gold.
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- The Father of the French
- The Empire of the Great Sun
- Stand By Me; the World Shifts
- The World Turn’d Upside Down
- A Summer in Jamestown, Virginia