When researching where the name America comes from for this article, as an American, I found it kind of strange I had to research it at all. You’d think it would be one of the first things they teach you about the history of America in elementary school. Seeing as though it wasn’t, I set out to find some really fun facts about how the name America came to be. Here what I discover!
If not Columbus, then who?
Yes, it was the voyage of Christopher Columbus that stabilized contact with the Americas. But the land was named after explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci, whose voyage to the Americas in 1492 was commissioned by the Medici.
What was Vespucci’s connection to the Medici?
Amerigo was hired as a clerk for the Medici Bank, ran by Lorenzo de’ Medici, a.k.a. Lorenzo The Magnificent, from 1469 until his death in 1492. Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici then took over the family business and became close with Amerigo Vespucci, who earned Lorenzo’s trust and protection, thus commissioning his voyage to the Americas in 1492.
What does that have to do with the name America?
Commissioned by King Manuel I of Portugal, Vespucci went on several voyages to South America and discovered that it was much larger than previously thought. Two of these voyages were recorded and published between 1502 and 1504, making Vespucci and his voyages famous in Europe.
In 1507, Martin Waldseemüller, a german cartographer, created a world map. It was the first world map to clearly distinguish a detached Western Hemisphere and a separated Pacific Ocean. Taking inspiration from the two published accounts of Vespucci’s voyages, Waldseemüller decided to use the feminine version of Amerigo’s latin name, Americus, to title the map. Hence the name America.
Did you find this post informative? If you’d like to see more posts like this, please comment!
Post by Tessa Cole
Photo credits – here