by James Horn
Nieuw Amsterdam, from a 1682 map of America by Nicholas Visscher. (Gilder Lehrma

“I marvel not a little,” Richard Hakluyt the younger wrote in 1582, “that since the first discovery of America (which is now full fourscore and ten years) after so great conquest and plantings of the Spaniards and Portuguese there, that we of England could never have the grace to set fast footing in such fertile and temperate places, as are left as yet unpossessed by them.”[1] Hakluyt was among the foremost experts of colonization of his age and a glance at a map of the Americas in the early 1580s would have confirmed his gloomy assessment: the entire Western Hemisphere was claimed by Spain. Despite repeated explorations throughout the sixteenth century and sporadic efforts to establish colonies, not a single non-Hispanic nation had established a settlement in the New World. At the time Hakluyt wrote, the Spanish Catholic monarch Philip II was the undisputed master of the New World.More »

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