Did Portuguese fisherman visit New England prior to 1492?

Did Portuguese fisherman visit New England prior to 1492?

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This might blow your mind a little bit, but one thing I notice, living in New England as I do, that there are the remnants of a tiny Portuguese community here going way, way back. For example, there is a well-known chess master by the name of John Curdo (a Portuguese name). The funny thing is even though they have Portuguese names, they are real old-timey yankees, almost like Puritans, and they have Mayflower-esque genealogies.

So, there is this rumor that this people originally came not after the Mayflower, but before it. In Newburyport there is a long barrier beach, now called Plum Island, and the legend up there is that the Portuguese fisherman would sail across the Atlantic, fish George's bank and then dry their catch of cod on Plum Island, before sailing back to Portugal at the end of the season. Now, of course, this could have been happening after Columbus, but before the Mayflower, but it is even more interesting if it was happening before Columbus.

One would think that old notices on the cod trade would have evidence of this activity, if it occurred, so I am wondering if they rumors have a basis in fact, or if they are just idle rumors.

While it would be hard to disprove an early Portuguese presence in New England, it seems unlikely. One could argue that 16th century fisherman don't often leave behind a wealth of evidence, but consider how much evidence survives linking the Portuguese to Newfoundland around the same time. According to Mark Kurlansky:

A 1502 map identifies Newfoundland as "land of the King of Portugal," and to this day, many Portuguese consider Newfoundland to be a Portuguese "discovery." Many of the earliest maps of Newfoundland show Portuguese names. These names have remained, though they are no longer recognizably Portuguese. Cabo de Espera (Cape Hope)… has become Cape Spear, Cabo Raso is now Cape Race, and the Isla dos Baccalhau [Cod Island] is Baccalieu Island. (50-51)

Kurlansky says that by 1508, 10% of fish sold in Douro and Minho was Newfoundland salt cod. There is more on Newfoundland here.

Meanwhile, attempts to place the Portuguese even a little bit outside of Newfoundland, like in north-eastern Nova Scotia, rely on little evidence:

The story is that, finding Newfoundland too cold, the settlers found another location further to the west. Samuel Eliot Morison (1978) thought that the colony was established at Ingonish, Cape Breton, and other locations have been suggested. - Robert McGhee (1991), for instance, has suggested Mira Bay, between Glace Bay and Louisbourg. It is thought that the colony failed because of the hostility of local Natives. Whether this story is true cannot be established, given the evidence currently available.

The case for the Portuguese in New England is weaker, as many popular claims revolve around one believing that the writing on the Dighton Rock in Massachusetts is Latin shorthand attesting to a Portuguese expedition:

I don't see it. In short, while it's possible that there are isolated instances of Portuguese fishermen stopping at Plum Island or elsewhere along the New England coast, it seems very unlikely that there was any serious pre-Columbian or pre-Mayflower presence--not even akin to the relatively minor fishing settlements on Newfoundland.

Did Portuguese fisherman frequent New England prior to 1492?

Short Answer:
There is some evidence that first Basque, then Portuguese and finally English(Bristol) fishermen visited Newfoundland and/or Greenland before Columbus. As these fishermen were shut out of the lucrative Icelandic fisheries controlled by the Hanseatic League ( a merchant guild which dominated European Trade in the 13th to the 15th century, and also controlled the fisheries around Iceland ). Each sought to replace the lucrative Icelandic fisheries with new as yet unfound fishing grounds further to the west. There is some evidence they found what we know today as Greenland and or Newfoundland. Then once having made the discovery kept it secret to protect their commercial interests.

Detailed Answer:
Given that Iceland which lies only 700 miles east of Greenland was well known to Europeans long before Columbus. In 1262-4 Icelanders recognized the King of Norway as their monarch. In 1380 Norway and Iceland entered into a union with the Danish crown. In 1402-04 the Black Death (Plague) hit Iceland at the same time it was ravaging Europe. see Iceland Timeline


John Cabot or Giovanni Caboto, was an Italian navigator and explorer. His 1497 discovery of the coast of North America under the commission of Henry VII of England is the earliest known European exploration of coastal North America since the Norse visits to Vinland in the eleventh century.

However; There is evidence of a competition among the merchants and fishermen of several countries including Portugal over secret fisheries which are believed by some scholars to have been Newfoundland.

According to Gaspar Frutuoso a Portuguese priest, historian and humanist, writing nearly 100 years after the fact, João Vaz Corte-Real a Portuguese sailor and explorer diary records his finding a land he called Terra Nova do Bacalhau (New Land of the Codfish), speculated to possibly have been part of North America, specifically Newfoundland in 1473.

Note Codfish…

João Vaz Corte-Real
Fragmentary evidence suggests the expedition in 1473 was a joint venture between the kings of Portugal and Denmark, and that Corte-Real accompanied the German sailors Didrik Pining and Hans Pothorst, as well as (the possibly mythical) John Scolvus.

The claim that he discovered Terra Nova do Bacalhau (literally, New Land of the Codfish) originated from Gaspar Frutuoso's book Saudades de terra from around 1570-80. There is speculation that this otherwise unidentified isle was Newfoundland.

Lending support to this claim is scholarship which documents competition over the codfish market between fisherman before John Cabot "discovering Newfoundland", 1497.

  • English Voyages before Cabot

The Theory goes that Codfish was a lucrative commodity in the fifteenth century and that the Basques were the first to find new fishing grounds which are believed to have been Newfoundland. That the Portuguese followed them. That English expeditions out of Bristol sent several expeditions prior to Cabot. That discoveries of all of these efforts were closely held secrets before Cabot to preserve their lucrative fishing grounds.

Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
The Hanseatics monopolized the Baltic herring trade and in the fifteenth century attempted to do the same with dried cod… By then, dried cod had become an important product in Bristol. Bristol's well-protected but difficult-to-navigate harbor had greatly expanded as a trade center because of its location between Iceland and the Mediterranean. It had become a leading port for dried cod from Iceland and wine, especially sherry, from Spain. But in 1475, the Hanseatic League cut off Bristol merchants from buying Icelandic cod.

Thomas Croft, a wealthy Bristol customs official, trying to find a new source of cod, went into partnership with John Jay, a Bristol merchant who had what was at the time a Bristol obsession: He believed that somewhere in the Atlantic was an island called Hy-Brasil. In 1480, Jay sent his first ship in search of this island, which he hoped would offer a new fishing base for cod. In 1481, Jay and Croft outfitted two more ships, the Trinity and the George. No record exists of the result of this enterprise. Croft and Jay were as silent as the Basques. They made no announcement of the discovery of Hy-Brasil, and history has written off the voyage as a failure. But they did find enough cod so that in 1490, when the Hanseatic League offered to negotiate to reopen the Iceland trade, Croft and Jay simply weren't interested anymore.

Where was their cod coming from? It arrived in Bristol dried, and drying cannot be done on a ship deck. Since their ships sailed out of the Bristol Channel and traveled far west of Ireland and there was no land for drying fish west of Ireland-Jay had still not found Hy-Brasil-it was suppposed that Croft and Jay were buying the fish somewhere. Since it was illegal for a customs official to engage in foreign trade, Croft was prosecuted. Claiming that he had gotten the cod far out in the Atlantic, he was acquitted without any secrets being revealed.

To the glee of the British press, a letter has recently been discovered. The letter had been sent to Christopher Columbus, a decade after the Croft affair in Bristol, while Columbus was taking bows for his discovery of America. The letter, from Bristol merchants, alleged that he knew perfectly well that they had been to America already. It is not known if Columbus ever replied. He didn't need to. Fishermen were keeping their secrets, while explorers were telling the world.

John Day's Letter This letter was written by the English merchant John Day to an unidentified Spanish 'Lord Grand Admiral' who is believed to have been Christopher Columbus. Courtesy of the Spanish National Archives. Valladolid, Spain.

English Voyages before Cabot
the letter written by John Day, an English merchant active in the Spanish trade, reporting on John Cabot's expedition of 1497; Day claimed that what Cabot discovered "is assumed and believed to be the mainland that the Bristol men found."

As for your other question whether Europeans had made it to New England prior to the Mayflower, that is pretty much an unchallenged fact. Three months after the Pilgrims arrived a Plymouth an Indian named Samoset walked into their camp calling out "Welcome, Welcome Englishmen". Samoset, an Abnaki Indian from Maine had travelled to the Massachusetts bay aboard an English Merchant ship months earlier and was preparing to travel north to rejoin his people. He had learned English from other English fishermen who frequented his home island. He was the first Indian who the Pilgrims had spoken too since landing.

In broken English, he told the Pilgrims that he was Samoset, Sachem of a tribe in Mohegan Island, Maine, where he had learned to speak a little English from his contact with the fishermen and traders who visited his island each year. He had been visiting the Wampanoags for the past eight months, but he intended to return to his own people within a short time. [He had sailed with Capt. Dermer from Monhegan to Cape Cod some six months before the arrival of the Mayflower, and spending the winter with the Nauset Indians, reached the Plymouth settlement on that Spring day in 1621.


  • João_Vaz_Corte-Real
  • Gaspar_Frutuoso
  • Bacalao
  • John_Cabot
  • Bristol Explorers
  • Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World
  • English Voyages before Cabot

The Portuguese travelled a lot to North America before 1492, not only in New England, but in Canada, the east coast of the USA and the Bahamas (even the Caribbean, Greenland and Brazil). The Portuguese travelled to Newfoundland in 1452 (Diogo de Teive), in 1471 (João Corte-Real), in 1473 (João Corte Real and Álvaro Martins Homem), and in 1475 (João Corte Real with Pedro de Barcelos). They discovered Brazil in 1345, and proof is the letter that Afonso , king of Portugal, sent to the Pope that year. In the 15th century they built two structures in the US, Ningret Fort and Newport Tower (unconfirmed, but probably). In 1476-77, Portugal and Denmark travelled together to Greenland. In 1487, João Coelho explored Trindad & Tobago and "antilhas do Barlavento" and Pedro Vaz da Cunha explored the coast of Brazil. Sources: Causamerita, filorbis

The First Europeans

In 1497, just five years after Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean looking for a western route to Asia, a Venetian sailor named John Cabot arrived in Newfoundland on a mission for the British king. Although fairly quickly forgotten, Cabot's journey was later to provide the basis for British claims to North America. It also opened the way to the rich fishing grounds off George's Banks, to which European fishermen, particularly the Portuguese, were soon making regular visits.

Columbus, of course, never saw the mainland United States, but the first explorations of the continental United States were launched from the Spanish possessions that he helped establish. The first of these took place in 1513 when a group of men under Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the Florida coast near the present city of St. Augustine.

With the conquest of Mexico in 1522, the Spanish further solidified their position in the Western Hemisphere. The ensuing discoveries added to Europe's knowledge of what was now named America -- after the Italian Amerigo Vespucci, who wrote a widely popular account of his voyages to a "New World." By 1529 reliable maps of the Atlantic coastline from Labrador to Tierra del Fuego had been drawn up, although it would take more than another century before hope of discovering a "Northwest Passage" to Asia would be completely abandoned.

Among the most significant early Spanish explorations was that of Hernando De Soto, a veteran conquistador who had accompanied Francisco Pizzaro during the conquest of Peru. Leaving Havana in 1539, De Soto's expedition landed in Florida and ranged through the southeastern United States as far as the Mississippi River in search of riches.

Another Spaniard, Francisco Coronado, set out from Mexico in 1540 in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Cibola. Coronado's travels took him to the Grand Canyon and Kansas, but failed to reveal the gold or treasure his men sought. However, Coronado's party did leave the peoples of the region a remarkable, if unintended gift: enough horses escaped from his party to transform life on the Great Plains. Within a few generations, the Plains Indians had become masters of horsemanship, greatly expanding the range and scope of their activities.

While the Spanish were pushing up from the south, the northern portion of the present-day United States was slowly being revealed through the journeys of men such as Giovanni da Verrazano. A Florentine who sailed for the French, Verrazano made landfall in North Carolina in 1524, then sailed north along the Atlantic coast past what is now New York harbor.

A decade later, the Frenchman Jacques Cartier set sail with the hope -- like the other Europeans before him -- of finding a sea passage to Asia. Cartier's expeditions along the St. Lawrence River laid the foundations for the French claims to North America, which were to last until 1763.

Following the collapse of their first Quebec colony in the 1540s, French Huguenots attempted to settle the northern coast of Florida two decades later. The Spanish, viewing the French as a threat to their trade route along the Gulf Stream, destroyed the colony in 1565. Ironically, the leader of the Spanish forces, Pedro Menendez, would soon establish a town not far away -- St. Augustine. It was the first permanent European settlement in what would become the United States.

The great wealth which poured into Spain from the colonies in Mexico, the Caribbean and Peru provoked great interest on the part of the other European powers. With time, emerging maritime nations such as England, drawn in part by Francis Drake's successful raids on Spanish treasure ships, began to take interest in the New World.

In 1578 Humphrey Gilbert, the author of a treatise on the search for the Northwest Passage, received a patent from Queen Elizabeth to colonize the "heathen and barbarous landes" in the New World which other European nations had not yet claimed. It would be five years before his efforts could begin. When he was lost at sea, his half-brother, Walter Raleigh, took up the mission. In 1585 Raleigh established the first British colony in North America, on Roanoke Island off the coast of North Carolina. It was later abandoned, and a second effort two years later also proved a failure. It would be 20 years before the British would try again. This time -- at Jamestown in 1607 -- the colony would succeed, and North America would enter a new era.

New England

New Hampshire was one of the four New England Colonies, along with Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and Rhode Island colonies. The New England colonies were one of three groups comprising the 13 original colonies. The other two groups were the Middle Colonies and the Southern Colonies. Settlers of the New England Colonies enjoyed mild summers but endured very harsh long winters. One advantage of the cold was that it helped to limit the spread of disease, a considerable problem in the warmer climates of the Southern Colonies.

The English Claim

It took a century before the English monarch was ready to exploit his claims. During the early 1600s, expeditions were sent out under Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Bartholomew Gosnold, Martin Pring, and George Weymouth. These brought back useful intelligence on the new land (and Weymouth brought back a Native American named Squanto, who learned English before returning to his homeland), but it was Sir John Smith who studied the land seriously with an eye to colonization, and who gave it the name New England.

Discovering Literature: Shakespeare & Renaissance

The Treaty of Tordesillas and after

The story began in 1494, when Spain and Portugal divided the New World between them, with the Pope’s approval. He drew a line down the Atlantic, between the Americas and Africa, so that North and South America fell to Spain, except for the eastern corner of South America (Brazil), which fell to the Portuguese.

Eden's Decades of the New World, 1555

Richard Eden&rsquos Decades of newe worlde (1555) is an English translation of Martyr&rsquos collection of tales from Spanish explorers, including Christopher Columbus.

Spain did well out of the treaty. Columbus had already, in 1492, discovered Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and other Caribbean islands. Spanish power was established in Central America, including Panama, and the north and western coasts of South America, after the conquest of the Aztec and Inca empires. &lsquoThe Spanish Main&rsquo &ndash the north coast of South America &ndash and the islands yielded pearls, gold and gemstones, but the biggest stroke of luck was the vast silver mine at Potosi, in Peru. By 1545 its production was being shipped to Spain as 'pieces of eight' in such quantities that European commerce was transformed.

The Portuguese had already established trading posts down the west coast of Africa. By 1600 they had contacts on the east African coast, Macao, India, Ceylon and &lsquothe Spice Islands&rsquo, Sumatra and Java, with other islands in the East Indian archipelago, as well as the southern end of the Burmese peninsula and Japan. They monopolised the profitable spice trade. But the Dutch rebellion against the Spanish was gathering strength. From 1598 the Dutch, and occasionally the English, attacked the Spanish/Portuguese far eastern empire as part of their campaign against Spain, with a view to capturing the spice trade. (Spain had annexed Portugal in 1580, but left the administration of Portugal&rsquos far eastern empire in Portuguese hands.)

Engravings of Native Americans and Europeans in de Bry's America

Ships setting sail for the Portuguese colony of Brazil, from a richly-illustrated collection of travel narratives, compiled and engraved by Theodor de Bry.

The English explorers

One of the first explorers to catch the public interest was Martin Frobisher, who led three expeditions (1576&ndash78) in search of the north-west passage which he was convinced existed round the north of the American continent and then west and south to the riches of Asia. But it eluded him, and the &lsquogold-bearing ore&rsquo he brought back produced only heated argument.

An alternative route might lie round the north of Russia. Richard Chancellor had sailed to Archangel in 1553 and travelled overland to Moscow, where Ivan IV, called &lsquothe Terrible&rsquo, gave him favourable trading terms. (This was the Tsar who later offered Elizabeth matrimony: an offer she refused, while accepting the sumptuous furs that came with it.) The Muscovy Company, incorporated in 1555 as the first English joint-stock company, pushed south to Astrakhan, and on to Persia, trading English cloth for oriental silks and spices arriving via the Silk Road. Another joint stock company, the Turkey Company, opened trading relations with Baghdad, and prospected an overland route to Bengal, Burma and Siam. But the overland route to the East was too vulnerable to be practicable. The only way to India and the Spice Islands had to be by sea.

Elizabeth had no money to fund a world-wide colonising campaign, and she could not afford to be seen openly encouraging attacks on Spanish and Portuguese possessions, but she was quite prepared to subsidise foreign trading ventures by her subjects, as long as she shared in the profit.

Francis Drake

The most famous explorer of them all was Francis Drake. From 1572–73 he harried the Spanish treasure ships, even ambushing a mule train laden with bullion from Peru as it crossed the Panama isthmus. In 1577, fired by accounts of fortunes to be made in foreign lands, he set out to circumnavigate the earth. His route lay south-west across the Atlantic, round the Cape Horn by the channel that Magellan had pioneered, then up the west coast of South America, pausing from time to time to sack a Spanish town or capture a Spanish treasure ship. Perhaps still searching for that elusive north-west passage, he sailed up the coast of North America, until at about the latitude of [modern] Los Angeles he changed course, to catch the trade winds west across the Pacific, towards the Spice Islands, pausing there to recondition his ship and load a precious cargo of cloves. Then he headed across the Indian Ocean, round the Cape of Good Hope, up the coast of Africa and home. He had begun with five ships. Even by the time he reached the Magellan Straits he was reduced to only one ship, which he renamed the Golden Hind, and his crew was riddled with scurvy and mutiny. With her gift for public relations, the Queen knighted him on the deck of the Golden Hind when he returned in 1581. Other nations, particularly the Portuguese, had circumnavigated the world before him, but Drake’s achievement – in his tiny, indomitable ship, only 70 feet long and 19 feet wide – was still astounding.


In 1583 Humphrey Gilbert discovered the island of Newfoundland, and claimed it for England. It was, and is, a bleak land with an inclement climate, but the cod which then abounded off its shores promised a steady income in those fish-eating days, admittedly less romantic than the gold and jewels of the Spanish Main but at least validly claimed by the English. Newfoundland was England’s first colony in the New World.

Coloured engravings of Native Americans and Picts bound with Strachey's New World 'Dictionary' and 'History'

A great lord of Virginia, by Theodor de Bry. These engravings of Native Americans were based on John White&rsquos paintings of Roanoke Island.

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

In 1584 Walter Ralegh settled a small colony on the island of Roanoke (just south of modern Williamstown in North Carolina, USA) but it was poorly planned and provisioned by 1590 it had vanished without trace. Further attempts to settle an English colony in the New World came to nothing during Elizabeth’s lifetime. In any case, by 1587 any idea of planting foreign colonies had to give way to the need to devote shipping and experienced seamen to defeating Spain. It was not until 1607 that the colony of Virginia was successfully established, four years after the death of Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, but named in her honour.

Coloured engravings of Native Americans and Picts bound with Strachey's New World 'Dictionary' and 'History'

Hand-coloured map of Virginia, one of earliest English colonies established under James I.

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.


In 1562 John Hawkins identified a new and profitable commodity: African slaves. The Spanish New World colonies needed labourers to replace the indigenous Amerindians, who were being killed off by European diseases. Hawkins developed the ‘triangular trade’. He bought or captured men and women from Africa, whom he sold to the Spanish colonisers in America, in exchange for Spanish gold and gemstones, which he sold in England. The Spanish resented this intrusion into their markets, and Hawkins had to give it up after a few years, but the precedent had been set for a sinister trade that brought fortunes to British slavers until its final abolition in the British Empire, in 1807.

The Hanseatic merchants had had a special relationship with England since the 12th century. They had a monopoly of English trade with the Baltic, importing the hemp for ropes and sail cloth and timber for ships, both vital to English defences, and grain which they sold at high prices when English harvests failed. Their favourable tax status made them even more unpopular. At last, in 1598, their privileged position ended and they were banished, leaving the Baltic trade open to English merchants.

Wool had been England’s main export for centuries. In about 1585 the European market for this and every other commodity shifted from Antwerp to Amsterdam, which became the mercantile centre of the world. Here an English merchant could trade wool and woollen cloth, for Russian furs and Chinese silk, lapis lazuli from Afghanistan and alum from Italy, far eastern spices and wines from Portugal, the Rhineland and France. There was of course no common currency. International finance was in the capable hands of Genoese bankers.

Discussion of Venice and London in Florio's Italian language manual

In his Firste Fruites (1578), John Florio describes the many English merchants who traffic their goods throughout the world.

Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616)

No account of Elizabethan exploration is complete without mentioning Hakluyt. Without his urging, the English might have been content to rest in their foggy off-shore island while the Spaniards and Portuguese divided the world between them. But far from it: in 1584 Hakluyt prepared a ‘Discourse on Western Planting’ for Ralegh to present to the Queen, arguing that Spain’s domination of the New World was limited there was space enough for English colonies there, which could not only increase her foreign trade but also provide useful repositories for the idle and criminal surplus population, even then seen to be a problem. Although Roanoke failed, it prepared the way for the successful settlement of Virginia. In 1589 Hakluyt published The Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation, with a much expanded edition in 1598–1600. His books revolutionised the idea that Englishmen had of themselves. The stories of sailors and explorers which Hakluyt collected from their very lips were as inspiring as any words written by Hakluyt’s contemporary, Shakespeare. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Did Portuguese fisherman visit New England prior to 1492? - History

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Picnic on the Hill

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Motives for Exploration - Wealth and Religion

The motives for Spanish, French and English explorers were all different, although in some ways, they were the same. They all wanted to find the Northwest Passage, which they believed was a direct and efficient route to the Orient - home of spices, silks and wealth. They also wanted to lay claim to new land to expand their empires. The Spanish explorers were in search of mineral wealth, looking for El Dorado (the City of Gold) and they aspired to spread Christianity. France also wanted to spread Christianity and find a new route by water to the East through North America. The English were motivated by a desire to colonize as much of the Americas as possinble - to add to the ever-increasing British Empire.

Aryan Migration theory – Unscientific story?

Aryan Migration theory (AIT) was courted and forwarded by European Indologist around 200 years back. The theory was adopted by Britishers to rule India by degrade Indian civilization. AIT borrowed word Sanskrit name Arya from Rig Veda (ऋग् वेद) in which this word refers to a kind, favorable, attached to, true, devoted, dear, kind hearted. The Europeans found some common words spoken in both Sanskrit and European language such as पितृ [pitru] for Pedro or father in European. More words in below table :

AIT was coined at the time when most of the technologies either were not available or were in nascent stages. Even Excavation of Mohanjodaro started in 1912, DNA profiling in 1980, Astronomical software only came off very late. A conjecture based on premises lacking scientific evidences. AIT was never studied scientifically and lacked corroborative evidences.

With the discovery of fossils of highly advanced civilization near Rakhigarhi, Haryana. Earlier Chariots remains carbon dating

2500 BC discovered in Sanauli, UP, India Paleontology of Thar region provides sufficient reasons to believe Saraswati Once existed as mentioned in Rigveda. It gives sufficient proofs to surmise that Indus Civilization is Rivgvedic Harappan Civilization

Let us try to analyse what scientifically proven evidences exists as on today to refute AIT theory. We will also see WHY there was a need for AIT.

There are many cycles of rise and extinction of civilizations. There are evidences of mankind existence traced to 370,000 years till 3,000 BC in India. (I will discuss later) . However, as per Biblical framework, the world came into existence only after 2349 BC after the world destroyed in Noah’s flood in 4004 BC. On the other hand using astronomy software, it is established that Kaliyuga started at 3102 BC when Lord Krishna returned to Vaikuntha. The Vedic claim is clearly a misfit to most popular biblical framework by 700 years. Interesting isn’t it?

Lets analyse what other faiths claim versus what modern science says.

Various faiths are of the view that the world came into being few thousand years ago, is in contrast to the modern Big Bang theory. Also there is no correlation from these beliefs about other stone-age findings world wide. The Indic Vedas, however, of the view that world has been created and destroyed several times. Clearly spanning to larger time line and encompassing various stages of Human development.

Having set the context, let us fast forward from Vedic Time to the Treaty of Spain and Portugal in 1479 to share half of the world each as a property. Treaty of Alcáçovas signed on 4th Sep 1479 between Castile (most of Spain) and Portugal (most powerful powers and hungry for more revenues of that time) for the division of the Atlantic Ocean and Overseas territories into two zones of influence. The treaty of Alcacovas can be considered to be start of colonialism. The first international document on generally accepted principle in the ideology and practice followed till decolonization in 19th and 20th centuries

Treaty of Tordesillas 1494-1506

Treaty of Tordesillas 1494-1506 between Spain and Portugal ratified by Pope Julius II, head of Roman Catholic Church to divide and colonizing rights for all newly discovered lands of the world located between Portugal and Spain. According to the treaty, the lands to the east on the globe would belong to Portugal and the lands to the west to Castile (majorly Spain of today).

Division of World into two parts by Spain and Portugese under treaty

Now that the formal agreements to divide the world into two hemisphere to share amongst Portugal and Spain. Columbus (a Spanish Sailor) went westwards hemisphere and ‘discovered’ America in AD 1492. Vasco-Da-Gama 1460-1524 (a Portuguese Sailor) sailed eastwards to discover sea route to India or better known as colonial empire in Asia. He reached Indian shores, Calicut on 20th May 1498. It is known he made three trips to India and died in the city of Cochin on Christmas eve in 1524. One can read about what happened after these explorer reached on the shores of Indies.

The Aryan Immigration Theory (AIT) was a theoretical framework created to claim the credit of much advanced and enrich Indian Vedic literature and civilization by Identity crisis struck Europeans. We will see how India was exploited not only financially, the intellectual literature (Vedas) were also ripped-off to fit in their narratives. British Colonisation envious of the great wealth generated by Portuguese and Spanish, England, France and Netherlands began to establish colonies and trade networks Series of wars in 17th and 18th Centuries including the Battle of Plassey in 1757, made Britishers a dominant colonial power.

Europeans Quest for Identity

By this eithteenth century, Spain and Portugal had established their own glorified identities and Britain had India as their colony. However, Germans didn’t have such Identity for their gratification. During this period German Indologist Herder 1744-1803 was fascinated by the Indian literature and culture. So much so, that he claimed Sanskrit to be his own. And the discovery of India was attributed to re-discovery of Europe. This philosophy of attachment with Sanskrit filled the Germans’ non-identity crisis. Another German Indologist Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829) studied Indian culture. Schlegal’s attempt to prove Germans of highly civilised nation and superior to Greeks and Romans, He looked upon India as his ancestors and described Sanskrit as mother of all languages. European identity needs and colonial indology led Aryan master race which was possibly the reason for second world war holocaust purely out of racism. Question : why they took Sanskrit as their own and not Indic Gods – Linguistic divide ? German William Jones 1746-1794 theorised how to map Indians on the Biblical framework. In doing so, he mapped ‘Manu’ as ‘Adam’ ‘Narasimha’ as ‘Nimrod’. Those Indian Elements which didn’t fit into Bible were distorted or rejected. As per Bible, god created world 4004 BCE and flood of Noah happened in 2349 BCE. So naturally, rejection of Indian Yugas spanning milions of years. Any text in Sanskrit that did not fit in Bible was termed as ‘mythology’. So much disappointed with the vastness and timeline Vedas belong that he said, “Either the first eleven chapters of genesis are true or the whole fabric of our national religion is false” (The God’s of Greece, Italy, Asiatic researchers, vol. 1, 1788:p 225)

Jones was the first to propose a racial division of India involving an Aryan invasion but at that time there was insufficient evidence to support it (Bates, Crispin (1995). “Race, Caste and Tribe in Central India: the early origins of Indian anthropometry”. In Robb, Peter (ed.). The Concept of Race in South Asia. Delhi: Oxford University Press. p. 231) . It was an idea later taken up by British administrators

Britishers took forward this theory of Aryan’s racism superiority to control its new colony ‘India’. Lord Thomas Macaulay was appointed 1830s Governor General of the Indian provinces won by the East India Company. Macaulay his great ambition was to convert India to a Christian country. However, he realized that the Vedas were considered very sacred by all Hindus. Also the Brahmans, who preserved the Vedas, commanded a great respect. He pioneered the English system of education in India with a hope that the effect of his new education system would be “prodigious” (his term). Macaulay wanted Indologist European scholar Max Muller (1823-1900) to write about the Vedas in such a way that they would be considered nothing more than collections of some crude rhymes written by illiterate nomadic Aryan invaders, who came from Central Asia to India on horse backs. Macaulay thought that the attestation of an academician would look more authentic and unquestionable.

Mueller propounded the theory of Arya as a race of a family of languages and who spoke them – linguistic divide. At the same time the church evangelists working in South India to construct a Dravidian race identity because it suited there Christianity expansion. as per Max Mueller Riv Veda claimed only Brahman, Kshatriya as Aryan and categorized Sudra as non-Aryan. He called “Arya” (or Aryan) a race even though the Vedas mention nowhere that “Arya” is a race. Only many years later Muller realized his mistake and tried to emphasize that “Arya” does not denote a race but people who speak “Indo-European” languages. But the damage had already been done and his hypothesis of Aryan Invasion Theory had become a historical “fact”.

Max Muller, being a devout Christian, while assigning date of the oldest Veda, the Rigveda, could not give an earlier date than the origin of the world, which according to the Bible is 4004 years before Christ. Later the scientists estimated that the earth is about 6 billion years old. Muller arbitrarily wrote that Aryans came to India in 1500 B.C. and the Rigveda was written in 1200 B.C.

According to Hindu traditions, Kaliyuga started on the day Lord Krishna breathed his last on this earth. When this happened there was a conjunction of seven planets – Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, sun and moon. It is astronomically estimated that this occurred on February 18, 3102 B.C. The Vedas definitely existed much before ‘Mahabharata’ period).

Max Muller’s Aryan linguistic category was converted by Risley while carrying out as commissioner 1901 Census in India , carried out “Nasal Index” to classify jatis as Hindus and tribes as non-Hindus. He decided that Indian consists of 2378 main casts and tribes and 43 races.

We saw how, quest of power and colonization led to the need of converting, manipulating, fitting in a manner to justify their Ruling of India as a colony. No-one had ever heard of Aryans coming to India upto mid-nineteenth century. One had also not heard that foreign people of “Aryan race” invaded India, conquered the indigenous people of “Dravidian race” and pushed them to southern part of India. However, now all this is part of the Indian history written by the British rulers of India. Europeans were exposed to Sanskrit and the Hindu scriptures sometime in the seventeenth century. They discovered that Sanskrit and the European languages had many common words. Thus the western scholars arrived at a conclusion that the “Indo-European” languages must have had a common origin. Their hypothesis was that from Central Asia a section of Sanskrit speaking Aryans came to India and another section of the same people migrated to Europe. We also observed false theory of Aryan and Dravidian race just a divisive policy of colonial masters.

AIT proved to be a theoretical & ethnological concept after various discoveries since 1914 excavations by ASI

In around 1914, when the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro in the Indus Valley were excavated, the archaeologists found by carbon-dating that they were at least 5,000 years old. They were beautifully planned cities with wide streets, magnificent buildings and good drainage system. Britisher’s were still defiant of AIT theory. They stated that the Hindu caste order was reason for India’s Poverty. But failed to explain how Brahmins with worship rituals contributed make India top with 30% of world GDP. Apparently, they were escaping their responsibility of famine and poverty due to extraction of resources, higher taxes on indigenous production, re-importing goods exported from India, etc. An estimated 3 Trillion USD was drained out of India by the colonial masters.

Eventhough Government of India has acknoledged the Aryan Myth as fake an a concoction of British Colonisation, it fails to remove the topic from the education system of the country. The Aryan Theory is still taught in everyday classes throughout India as history and fact despite the overwhelming proves against it. It also a well known fact that Max Muller had confessed during his later days

Individual and Group Contributions


In 1858 and 1859 Paul Morphy (1837-1884) was the unofficial but universally acknowledged chess champion of the world. While he is little known outside chess circles, more than 18 books have been written about Morphy and his chess strategies.


Kate O'Flaherty Chopin (1851-1904) was born in St. Louis her father was an Irish immigrant and her mother was descended from an old French Creole family in Missouri. In 1870 she married Oscar Chopin, a native of Louisiana, and moved there after her husband's death, she began to write. Chopin's best-known works deal with Creoles she also wrote short stories for children in The Youth's Companion. Bayou Folk (1894) and The Awakening (1899) are her most popular works. Armand Lanusse (1812-1867) was perhaps the earliest Creole of color to write and publish poetry. Born in New Orleans to French Creole parents, he was a conscripted Confederate soldier during the Civil War. After the war, he was principal of the Catholic School for Indigent Orphans of Color. There he, along with 17 others, produced an anthology of Negro poetry, Les Cenelles.


Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893), is perhaps the best known Louisiana Creole. He was born in New Orleans, educated in New York (unusual for the time), graduated from West Point Military Academy, and served with General Scott in the War with Mexico (1846). Beauregard was twice wounded in that conflict. He served as chief engineer in the draining of the site of New Orleans from 1858 to 1861. He was also a Confederate General in the Civil War and led the siege of Ft. Sumter in 1861. After the Civil War, Beauregard returned to New Orleans where he later wrote three books on the Civil War. He was elected Superintendent of West Point in 1869.


Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), was a pianist and composer born in New Orleans. His mother, Aimée Marie de Brusle, was a Creole whose family had come from Saint-Dominique. Moreau went to Paris at age 13 to study music. He became a great success in Europe at an early age and spent most of his time performing in concerts to support members of his family. His best known compositions are "Last Hope," "Tremolo Etudes," and "Bamboula." Gottschalk is remembered as a true Creole, thinking and composing in French. An important figure in the history and development of American jazz, "Jelly Roll" Ferdinand Joseph Lementhe Morton (1885-1941), was a jazz musician and composer born in New Orleans to Creole parents. As a child, he was greatly influenced by performances at the French Opera House. Morton later played piano in Storyville's brothels these, too, provided material for his compositions. His most popular works are "New Orleans Blues," "King Porter Stomp," and "Jelly Roll Blues."

First Encounters in the Americas

When two people meet for the first time, each takes stock of the other, often focusing on differences. Scholar Martha Minow warns that difference always “implies a reference: difference from whom? I am no more different from you than you are from me. A short person is different only in relation to a tall one a Spanish-speaking student is different in relation to an English-speaking one. But the point of comparison is often unstated.” 1 By identifying unstated points of comparison, we can examine the relationships between those who have the power to assign labels of difference and those who lack that power.

The first meetings between Europeans and the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas 2 illustrate Minow’s argument. Historians Peter Carroll and David Noble describe those encounters:

[On] an otherwise ordinary autumn day shortly after sunrise, the Arawak inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands noticed strange ships sailing on the horizon, much larger than their dugout canoes. As these ships moved closer and closer, they saw strange-looking people with light skins aboard, making odd gestures. The Arawak youths stood at the banks hesitantly, and then some of the braver men began swimming toward the mysterious boats.

These strangers offered the Arawak red-colored caps, glass beads, and other curious trifles. In exchange, the Arawak brought parrots, cotton skeins, darts, and other items. Then the strangers drew out swords, which the Arawak, in ignorance, grasped by the blades, cutting themselves. It was a symbolic act, this inadvertent drawing of blood. For the Arawak and the strangers looked at the world from opposite angles, and both were fascinated by what the other was not. 3

To the Arawak, the newcomers were so obviously different in language, dress, and color that the Arawak doubted that the Europeans were human beings. “They believe very firmly,” wrote Christopher Columbus after his first voyage to the Americas, “that I, with these ships and people, came from the sky.” 4 Other Indigenous Peoples reacted in similar ways to their first encounters with Europeans.

Columbus and other Europeans had their own misconceptions. They mistakenly believed that the Arawak were “Indians.” Carroll and Noble write:

This misconception originated in Columbus’s basic error (which he himself never realized) in thinking that in sailing westward from Europe he had reached the Indies [in Asia], which were the true object of his voyage. To Columbus, it was literally inconceivable that he had found previously unknown lands. Like other Europeans of his time, he believed firmly in the completeness of human knowledge. What he saw, therefore, he incorporated into his existing worldview, and the Native Americans thereby became, to the satisfaction of most Europeans, simply Indians. 5

In describing the “Indians,” Europeans focused not on who they were but on who they were not. They then went on to describe what the Indigenous Peoples did not have. Amerigo Vespucci, for whom the Americas are named, described the “Indians” as neither Muslims nor Jews. He noted that they were “worse than heathen because we did not see that they offered any sacrifice, nor yet did they have a house of prayer.” John Winthrop, an Englishman who helped found the Massachusetts Bay Colony, justified his claims to the Indigenous Peoples’ land by arguing that they did not mark their ownership of it in ways that Europeans recognized. He wrote that they “enclose no land, neither have they any settled habitations, nor any tame cattle.” 6

To many newcomers, the Indigenous Peoples were not only “backward” but also dangerous. In historian Ronald Takaki’s words, “They represented what English men and women in America thought they were not—and, more important, what they must not become.” 7 Colonial leaders warned that colonists must strictly adhere to the laws and moral guidelines that defined their communities otherwise they would allow themselves to become “Indianized.” Increasingly, “to be ‘Indianized’ meant to serve the Devil.” It also meant to be “decivilized, to become wild men.” 8 After all, the English viewed "Indians" as people living outside of “civilization.”

Such ideas were rooted at least in part in religious beliefs. As Carroll and Noble point out in their description of Spanish explorers,

Europeans in the age of Columbus saw themselves as Christians, the most spiritually pure people in creation. This ethnocentric idea found reinforcement in the ideals of the Roman Catholic Church, which claimed to be a universal spiritual community. Yet this ideology clearly excluded such religiously different people as Muslims, against whom Christians had waged holy wars for centuries, and Jews, who remained outsiders throughout European society. Believing in a single unitary religion, members of the Catholic Church viewed [nonbelievers] as suitable either for conversion to the true faith or worthy only of death or enslavement. Such religious attitudes shaped the Europeans’ relations with Africans as well as Native Americans. 9

Such attitudes were not limited to Europeans who were Catholic. They were shared by Protestants as well.

Relations between the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Europeans were also shaped by the fierce competition among European nations for wealth and power. As Europeans took control of more and more of the Americas, millions of Indigenous People were killed. Countless others were pushed into the interior of both continents. Still others were forced into slavery.

Section Summary

Urbanization spread rapidly in the mid-nineteenth century due to a confluence of factors. New technologies, such as electricity and steam engines, transformed factory work, allowing factories to move closer to urban centers and away from the rivers that had previously been vital sources of both water power and transportation. The growth of factories—as well as innovations such as electric lighting, which allowed them to run at all hours of the day and night—created a massive need for workers, who poured in from both rural areas of the United States and from eastern and southern Europe. As cities grew, they were unable to cope with this rapid influx of workers, and the living conditions for the working class were terrible. Tight living quarters, with inadequate plumbing and sanitation, led to widespread illness. Churches, civic organizations, and the secular settlement house movement all sought to provide some relief to the urban working class, but conditions remained brutal for many new city dwellers.


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