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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Neil D BS: Greatest American Books (152* d) RE: BS: Greatest American Books 15 Jul 10


Henry James was an American by birth but British by choice. He moved to England at the age of 33 and remained there till his death 40 years later, eventually becoming a British subject.
   As to Kendall's assertion that "it all came about because an influential guy named Amerigo Vesputchi(sic) talked someone into naming the new world after him. He never even set foot here!" it's simply not true. When Martin Waldseemuller printed his world map in 1507 Vespucci's accounts of his voyages to the new world had recently been published and Waldseemuller might have called the lands America in his honor.* But there is no evidence that the two had ever met or corresponded in any way. At the time of his writings there were critics who accused Vespucci of trying to steal Columbus' thunder but Columbus himself never thought so. I copied this from Wikipedia: Columbus never thought Vespucci had tried to steal his laurels, and in 1505 he wrote his son, Diego, saying of Amerigo, "It has always been his wish to please me; he is a man of good will; fortune has been unkind to him as to others; his labors have not brought him the rewards he in justice should have." Vespucci's importance was that he was the first to recognize that the discoveries were in reality a new continent. Columbus still thought it was the East Indies and the Asian mainland.

*There is an alternate theory that the Americas were not named for Amerigo Vespucci at all, but rather a Welshman named Richard Amerike or Ameryk who sponsored John Cabot's voyages and owned his flagship. This theory has it that the Bristol sailors had started calling it Amerike's land, latinized as America, and that Waldseemuller had heard this term and mistakenly assumed it referred to Amerigo Vespucci. The strength of this claim is that it would have been common to name new lands after the rich sponsor of an expedition and it would not have been customary to name discoveries after someones first name, Amerigo. If the mapmaker had wanted to honor Vespucci he'd have called the lands Vespuccia. I mean we don't have our nations capital in the District of Christopher or my state capital in Christopher, Ohio. I don't say I buy this theory outright but it is an interesting alternative.


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