Bartholomew Gosnold’s Direct Route

Gosnold 1858Bartholomew Gosnold’s Direct Route – By Daniel Sheridan (Twitter: @DanielWSheridan)

On this day, May 15, 1602, going against fear and tradition, a brave sailor brings America 3,000 miles closer to Europeans.

In the 1500s, Sir Walter Raleigh made several attempts to settle Virginia. Even though he was unsuccessful, his efforts paved the way for those who followed, men like Bartholomew Gosnold.

Before Gosnold, the route to the New World typically took English sailors south along the coast of Spain, Portugal, and Africa, to the Canary Islands; from there they’d head west following Columbus’ route to the West Indies from whence they’d sail up the coast of Florida to their desired destination. Superstitious fears and tradition took them the long way around the barn!

Gosnold, ignoring fear and tradition, set a straight course from England to Massachusetts, and thus shortened the trip to America by 3,000 miles. America, as a result, became a coveted spot for colonization.

It was on this day, May 15, 1602, Bartholomew Gosnold discovered and named Cape Cod. He also saw and named other islands around Martha’s Vineyard. Gosnold, having loaded his ship with sassafras-root, considered a kind of medicine in high demand, returned home and gave glowing reports of what he saw.

The following year other British merchants, encouraged by Gosnold’s adventure, sent out vessels under Captain Pring. He visited harbors in Maine, loaded his ship with sassafras and furs, and then returned home.

These trips became big news and many were talking about the exciting prospects in the New World. King James, wanting to seize the moment, granted to the London and Plymouth Companies the land of Virginia, which was then the vast area from Florida to Canada.

You know the rest of the story…

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