The Story Of North America And South America…

Posted By on April 25, 2011

The story of the America’s…..From Art Cashin on the floor of The New York Stock Exchange

On this day in the year 1507 A.D., an enterprising author published a hit book.  While he was not the John Grisham of his day, he did hope to benefit from two recent events of interest to move his book.  First was the discovery of moveable type which had occurred some sixty years before.  (That meant he could print his tome in volume….so to speak.)  Then, of course, there was that other curiosity (not about past clandestine White House lunches or curious shifting of funds) rather it was a public curiosity about a variety of sea voyages in the previous two decades.

The author, a German named Martin Waldseemuller, decided to publish makeshift maps of the new lands reached by these explorers.  He dutifully researched all the reports and drew the assumed designs and locations of the new areas.  Of course, he had to name them, so in his massive “Cosmographics Introductione” he applied a name to a large land mass in the Southern Hemisphere.  He used the name of one of the men who had claimed to have visited it. No, it was not Christopher Columbus (he was busy renegotiating with the Spanish Court).  Rather the budding cartographer used the name on a certain self-promotional pamphlet by a certain Italian Merchant named Amerigo Vespucci.  The author called the potential continent – Amerigo.  Unfortunately for Columbus, Waldseemuller’s book was an instant hit.

And, so the continent became known as America (later, South America when another continent further north was also discovered).  And the other guy, Columbus, well he remained in litigation over Spanish rights to the treasures of this New World until he wound up in jail.

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