Old Stone Mill, Newport

Early Visitors To Rhode Island

The answer to the school teacher’s question, “By whom was America discovered?” resolved into a conventional sentence beginning with the name of a celebrated fifteenth century Genoese navigator some time engaged in the service of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, and long associated with the year-date in history best known and best beloved by American schoolboys, is still sufficient unto itself. Another answer to the question is somewhat irrelevant to the real purpose of the dialogue, to wit, to establish an episode that was a fact of transcendental importance. That “Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492” is significant because the discovery and date mark the beginning of a migration of Europeans westward across the Atlantic Ocean that has continued for more than four centuries, with all the consequences thereof in the winning of two continents for civilization and in the transformation of human society through democracy, in America first and later in Europe. The school boy’s answer very properly ignores legendary earlier visits by Europeans to lands lying far to the west beyond the ocean, beginning so early as 565 with the Irish Saint Brendan.

Relating to Rhode Island more particularly, perhaps, the most significant of legendary pre-Columbian visits to America are recorded in the Icelandic sagas of the Northmen, wild sea rovers who harried and pillaged sections of Europe that correspond with modern France and the British Isles, beginning about the middle of the ninth century. Three half-centuries later, some of the Northmen had settled down permanently in various parts of Europe, one band going so far south as Italy in 1015. Meanwhile others had established themselves in France and the British Isles. Iceland had been colonized by Northmen, probably from Ireland or England, in the tenth century, and Greenland had been visited from Iceland. There is a close resemblance to be found in the legend of a discovery of America originating in Ireland and that recited in the sagas. Ari Marson, sailing from Limerick and the River Shannon in Ireland, reached White Man’s Land or Greater Ireland, believed to have been part of the continent of North America between South Carolina and Florida, in 982. In succession to Ari Marson other successful voyages to the western land were made by Bjarni Asbranson, 999, and Gudlief Gudlangson, 1029. The similarity of this legend to the tale in the sagas appears in the chronology, which is close enough to suggest identity; in the names of the discoverers, Bjarni and Lief; and in the name Kialarnes (was it Killarney?) applied by one of the Icelandic Northmen navigators to a place in the western land; and is not more, nor scarcely less, marked than that which is perpetually revealed in folklore and traditions common to peoples having a common origin. The Northmen of history were not Scandinavians exclusively, nor are their modem descendants to be found only in Scandinavian countries in Europe, or among Americans of Scandinavian ancestry. Evidence of Northmen and Dane in Ireland is found among Erin’s blue-eyed blond sons, who mingle with the brown-eyed brunettes of more ancient Irish lineage in such number as to suggest a question as to which of the two is the truer type of Irishman.

The Story of the Norsemen

The sagas, like the Homeric poems, were preserved for centuries in the form of oral narratives told by wandering entertainers; in written form they go back only to the twelfth century. As the Homeric poems unquestionably were amplified in the telling, wherefore it is difficult to winnow from them the facts and episodes of history in their setting of heroic epic verse, so the sagas are to be interpreted with the caution that from one to two centuries of story telling had intervened between the discovery of America alleged to have occurred as the tenth century rolled into the eleventh century, and the time in which an Icelandic scribe reduced the narratives to writing. The sagas have not the value for history that attaches to writing that is so closely related in time to events as almost to be part of the res gestae. This is the story of the discovery of America as told in the Icelandic sagas: Crossing from Iceland to Greenland in 986, Bjarni Herjulfson was driven far to the south by adverse storms, and sighted land until that time not known to the Northmen. Five years later, Lief Erickson and thirty-four companions sailed for the southwestern land on the same vessel that had been used by Bjarni Herjulfson, and discovered and named Helluland, Markland and Vinland, as they journeyed southward, probably in daytime coastwise trips from headland and harbor to headland and harbor. Vinland received its name because of the abundance of wild grapes. In or near Vinland Lief and his comrades passed a winter so mild that their descriptions of it and their tales of the abundance of grapes, wild grain (probably Indian corn), and fish and game in stream and forest, induced others to follow in what gave promise of becoming permanent colonization. The winter quarters of Lief houses of stone known as Liefsbooths, were occupied by successive voyagers. Thorwald Erickson, Lief’s brother, spent one or two winters at Liefsbooths in Vinland in 1002 or 1003 and is party returned to Greenland after Thorwald had been killed by Indians in 1003 and buried at Krossness. In 1007 Thorfinn Karlsefin, with three ships, 160 men and seven women, including Thorfinn’s wife, Gudrid, sailed for Vinland. Liefsbooths not having been found, the first winter was passed amid severe hardship. A son, called Snorri, was born to horfinn and Gudrid. Found eventually, Liefsbooths were occupied, and other houses were built. The cattle carried on this voyage indicate a purpose of permanent settlement; the party spent several years at Liefsbooths, until the hostility of aboriginal natives caused an abandonment of the project and return to Greenland.

There never has been a satisfactory identification in America of any of the places named in the sagas, although scholars have sought for years to prove or disprove identity. In Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, particularly, the tradition that Vinland was located on the shores of Narragansett Bay or Mount Hope Bay persists. Professor Wilfred Harold Munro, in his “Tales of an Old Seaport,” emphasizes the coincidence of length of day as recorded by the Northmen for Vinland and the same astronomical phenomenon for Narragansett Bay. Three other pieces of evidence, some time accepted as proof that Vinland was in the Narragansett Bay country, are now rejected. The skeleton in bronze armor, believed to have been that of a Northman, dug up near Fall River in 1831, and given immortality in English literature by Longfellow’s familiar lyric, was later identified as that of an Indian. The Old Stone Mill at Newport, mentioned in the same poem and still visited annually by thousands of excursionists because of its antiquity, and the legend that it was a watch tower or a Christian baptistry erected by Northmen, is believed to be the stone mill built on his estate in Newport in 1673 by Benedict Arnold. Various marked rocks at places along the shores of Narragansett Bay and Mount Hope Bay have intrigued scholars and antiquaries, as attempts have been made to read and interpret “inscriptions.” Very many of the latter have been rejected as meaningless, and due either to natural erosion or glacial scraping; others, combining picture, ideograph, pictograph, hieroglyph and phonetic signs, are attributed to colonists or Indians, the latter having adopted the white man’s habit of carving his name promiscuously. The outcropping of the Slate Rock, on which Roger Williams is said to have landed first in Providence, was covered fifty years ago with initials cut into its face by visitors who had not then acquired the souvenir habit of later days. To prevent the carrying away of the rock altogether by souvenir hunters, the city of Providence once placed an iron fence around a pile of fragments of the Slate Rock that remained, but even these disappeared eventually, and no trace of the Slate Rock may be found in the twentieth century near the granite monument that marks the spot of the landing.[1]Part of the slate rock was buried when new streets were constructed.

Two stones, in particular, Mount Hope Rock and Dighton Rock, have been studied almost so much as the famous Rosetta stone picked up on the bank of the Nile River, which furnished a key for translating ancient tablet libraries in Assyria. A rock lying at the foot of the slope of Mount Hope, close to the shore, carries an inscription that has been deciphered by Professor Edmund Burke Delabarre, one of the most persistent investigators of such markings, as written in Cherokee Indian syllabic symbols, and translated as meaning “Great Metacom, Chief Sachem.” Metacom was the Wampanoag name of King Philip, last of the VVampanoag Sachems of Pokanoket, the Indian name of Mount Hope. Professor Delabarre places the date of the carving of this inscription as late as 1834, and names Thomas C. Mitchell, of Wampanoag-Indian descent, as the probable author.

Some of the markings on Dighton Rock are unquestionably much older than those on Mount Hope Rock, as indicated by Cotton Mather’s reference to them so early as 1690. Drawings and descriptions of the Dighton Rock markings furnished by the Rhode Island Historical Society at his request, led Charles Christian Rafn, the European scholar who translated the sagas, to believe that they included enough of the letters of Thorfinn Karlsefin’s name, besides the symbols CXXXI, Roman numerals for 131, the exact number of European sailors remaining with Thorfinn after his company had been reduced by the departure of one of the vessels of his squadron, to justify reading the inscription as meaning “Thorfinn and 131 seamen.” Rafn considered the Dighton Rock inscription, thus interpreted, as conclusive corroboration of the sagas, and as proof both that the Narragansett Bay country was the Vinland of the Northmen and that Liefsbooths were located not far from Dighton Rock.

Prosaic historian and romantic poet accepted Rafn’s interpretation for the time being. Thus P. C. Sinding wrote:

On the rough surface of a rock,
Unmoved by time or tempest shock.
In Runic letters Thorwald drew
A record of his gallant crew,

and Dighton Rock achieved almost the immortality of the “Skeleton in Armor.” Perhaps poetic license permitted substitution by the poet of “Thorwald” for Thorfinn, but what, after all, are conventions betwixt poets and historians? There were doubters, nevertheless, supporting other theories, other authors, other origins, beginning so early as 1000 B. C. with the Phoenicians. Dighton Rock, like Mount Hope Rock, has yielded up some of its secrets to Professor Delabarre. His patient research and persistent study have been rewarded by an interpretation that rejects a Norse origin for the inscription, leaves \ inland without positive identification in America, and reduces the story told in the sagas to legend not supported by any satisfactory corroborative evidence that would establish an actual visit by Europeans to North America earlier than 1492. Professor Delabarre has found that the Dighton Rock inscription, excluding initials of visitors and other marks clearly of comparatively recent origin, indicates three authors, three carvings, and three periods, in reverse order as follows: “Injun trail to spring in swamp, yds. 167,” “Thach, 1592,” “1511. Miguel Cortereal, V Dei hic dux Ind.”

Of these the first is a commonplace direction intended to help strangers not familiar with the neighborhood. Perhaps the inscription in complete form read “Follow Injun (Indian) trail to spring in swamp, yards 167.” Almost exactly 500 feet from Dighton Rock, along a path that follows an old Indian trail, is a spring of fresh water. Dighton Rock lies at the water’s edge, and is partly submerged at high tide. It afforded a convenient landing place from small boats, and if used for this purpose by the fishermen who have followed the shore in succeeding generations through four centuries, the direction to fresh water would be valuable. Professor Delabarre places the date of this carving, from comparative estimate of erosion, etc., as later than the others deciphered by him. The second inscription, “Thach. 1592,” may be interpreted as part of the name of Thacher or Thatcher, who may have been one of the fishermen who lived along the New England coast in 1592. It is known that fishing villages were established at Newfoundland so early as 1500, and south of Newfoundland later in the sixteenth century, and that the New England Indians were familiar with white men long before the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth.

The third, and probably the oldest, inscription is significant for historical reasons, aside from the fact that it shatters the Norse tradition. Assuming that Professor Delabarre is correct in his primary reading, and that the story of the Northman in Narragansett Bay must be rejected as mythical, the inscription places a European in the Narragansett Bay country before the visit made by Verrazzano in 1524. Professor Delabarre had done more than decipher; he has undertaken expansion and interpretation, so that the inscription may be read in Latin as “1511. Miguel Cortereal, voluntate Dei hie dux Indorum,” and translated “1511. Miguel Cortereal, by the will of God leader of the Indians here.” Corroboration for the primary reading is found, first, in the fact that markings on the Dighton Rock near the inscription suggest a carving of the coat-of-arms of Portugal, and, second, in the story of Miguel Cortereal. Miguel Cortereal and Gaspard Cortereal, brothers, sailed from Lisbon for Newfoundland early in the sixteenth century. Gaspard Cortereal was shipwrecked and drowned. Miguel Cortereal and his ship disappeared so completely as to suggest that the vessel had been wrecked and that Miguel had been drowned. The inscription on the rock at Dighton indicates that Miguel Cortereal, if shipwrecked, reached land, and carved a memorial for himself on the rock. Miguel Cortereal, if he remained with the Wampanoags, died probably earlier than 1524; otherwise he would have communicated with Verrazzano, who tarried long enough in April and May of 1524 to explore much of the lower reaches of Narragansett Bay. Verrazzano specifically mentioned two Indian sachems, aged, respectively, forty and twenty-four years, and related the difficulties involved in conversation conducted in the sign language. It is inconceivable that Cortereal was alive and in the neighborhood of Narragansett Bay in 1524; Verrazzano, master of detail that he appears to have been, could not have failed to mention Cortereal had they met.

As to Professor Delabarre’s expansion of the primary reading and his translation of it into English, and his assumption that Miguel Cortereal was progenitor in direct line of Massasoit and Wamsutta and Metacom, there is valid reason for doubt. Certainly the proud Metacom would be first to repudiate and last to acknowledge the truth of an implication of white ancestry. There appears to have been no tradition among the Wampanoags of a white sachem, such as might be expected to endure for the less than three-quarters of a century rom 1511 to the birth of Massasoit in 1580. While there is a strong appeal to the romantic Professor De ! a 1 ba J rre ’s suggestion that Miguel Cortereal had become chief sachem of the Wampanoags and had transmitted to his posterity those characteristics that produced the sterling honor and dignity of Massasoit in his relations with Pilgrims and Puritans, and the splendid sagacity of Metacom in his effort to save his nation from the disintegration that appeared to be involved inevitably in the growth of white settlements and the aggressive atti-fi.de of the Puritans, these noble red men were no more outstanding characteS among the Wampanoags than were Canon,cus, Miantonomah and Canonchet among the Narragansetts Doubt attaches to the expansion of the letter V into “voluntate” and of “Ind” into Indorum. Besides these, there is the possibility, also, that the legend was not carved at the same time by the same hand that sculpyured the name of Miguel Cortereal on the face of the rock. The legend is not essential to maintain these theses: (I) That the inscriptions on Dighton Rock include no evidence whatsoever that tends to corroborate the minstrel tales written out in the sagas years after their oral composition; and (2) that Miguel Cortereal visited the Narragansett Bay country some time later than 1502 and somewhat earlier than 1524.

Verrazzano’s Letter to Francis I

The next visitors to Narragansett Bay of whom there is a record were Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine navigator in the service of King Francis I of France, and his crew of fifty seamen on board the good ship “Dauphene” or “Dolphin.” Seeking a westward passage to China and India, Verrazzano sailed from Madeira, January 17, 1524, and reached the coast of North America about March 20 near Wilmington, North Carolina, probably. He explored the North Atlantic coast northward and eastward so far as Cape Breton. Verrazzano was one of the first sixteenth century navigators to sail directly west, instead of following the southern route familiar to Spaniards and Portuguese; on the return voyage he sailed directly east. It appears from the letter which he sent to King Francis from Dieppe, France, on July 8, 1524, shortly after his return, that he was thoroughly familiar with latitude and longitude, and had made a fairly accurate calculation of the probable width of the North American continent from ocean to ocean, based upon the observation of the length of a degree of longitude at certain latitude, and knew the advantage of great circle sailing. In his letter to the King Verrazzano narrated the events of the voyage and described the places he had visited. The original letter has been lost, the quotations from it that follow, translated from a copy, relate to Rhode Island. Preceding paragraphs tell the story of a voyage up the coast to the mouth of a river easily identified as the Hudson, which Verrazzano explored in a small boat far enough to see the East River entrance to Long Island Sound, and the Palisades and mountains beyond. Sailing from Sandy Hook eastward, always in sight of the shore, Block Island was discovered, and named Louisa in honor of the King’s mother. Verrazzano recorded his observation of a similarity in this island to the Isle of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea. Of Rhode Island Verrazzano wrote this to the king:

Weighing anchor, we sailed fifty leagues toward the east, as the coast stretched in that direction, and always in sight of it; at length we discovered an island of a triangular form, about ten leagues from the mainland, in size about equal to the island of Rhodes, having many hills covered with trees, and well peopled, judging from the great number of fires which we saw all around its shores; we gave it the name of your majesty’s illustrious mother.

We did not land there, as the weather was unfavorable, but proceeded to another place, fifteen, leagues distant from the island, where we found a very excellent harbor. Before entering it, we saw about twenty small boats full of people, who came about our ship, uttering many cries of astonishment, but thev would not approach nearer than within fifty paces; stopping, they looked at the structure of our ship, our persons and dress; afterwards they all raised a loud shout together, signifying that they were pleased. By imitating their signs, we inspired them in some measure with confidence, so that they came near enough for us to toss to them some little bells and glasses, and many toys, which they took and looked at, laughing, and then came on board without fear.

Among them were two kings more beautiful in form and stature than can possibly be described; one was about forty years old, the other about twenty-four, and they were dressed in the following manner: The oldest had a deer’s skin around his body, artificially wrought in damask figures, his head was without covering, his hair was tied back in various knots; around his neck he wore a large chain ornamented with many stones of different colors. The young man was similar in his general appearance.

This is the finest-looking tribe, and the handsomest in their costumes, that we have found in our voyage. They exceed us in size, and they are of a very fair complexion; some of them incline more to a bronze, and others to a tawny color; their faces are sharp, their hair long and black, upon the adorning of which they bestow great pains; their eyes are black and sharp, their expression mild and pleasant, greatly resembling the antique. I say nothing to your majesty of the other parts of the body, which are all in good proportion, and such as belong to well-formed men.

Their women are of the same form and beauty, very graceful, of fine countenances and pleasing appearance in manners and modesty; they wear no clothing except a deer skin, ornamented like those worn by the men, some wear very rich lynx skins upon their arms and various ornaments upon their heads, composed of braids of hair, which also hang down upon their breasts on each side. Others wear different ornaments, such as the women of Egypt and Syria use. The older and the married people, both men and women, wear many ornaments in their ears, hanging down in the oriental manner. We saw upon them several pieces of wrought copper, which is more esteemed by them than gold, as this is not valued on account of its color, but is considered by them as the most ordinary of metals—yellow being the color especially disliked by them; azure and red are those in highest estimation with them.

Of those things which we gave them, they prized most highly the bells, azure crystals, and other toys to hang in their ears and about their necks; they do not value or care to have silk or gold stuffs, or other kinds of cloth, nor implements of steel or iron. When we showed them our arms, they expressed no admiration, and only asked how they were made; the same was the case of the looking-glasses, which they returned to us, smiling, as soon as they had looked at them. They are very generous, giving away whatever they have. We formed a great friendship with them, and one day we entered into the port with our ship, having before rode at the distance of a league from the shore, as the weather was adverse. They came off to the ship with a number of their little boats, with their faces painted in divers colors, showing us real signs of joy, bringing us of their provisions, and signifying to us where we could best ride in safety with our ship, and keeping with us until we had cast anchor. We remained among them fifteen days, to provide ourselves with many things of which we were in want, during which time they came every day to see our ship, bringing with them their wives, of whom they were very careful; for, although they came on board themselves, and remained a long while, they made their wives stay in the boats, nor could we ever get them on board by any entreaties or any presents we could make them.

One of the two kings often came with his queen and many attendants, to see us for his amusement; but he always stopped at the distance of about 200 paces, and sent a boat to inform us of his intended visit’ saying they would come and see our ship—this was done for safety, and as soon as thev had an answer from us they came off, and remained awhile to look around; but on hearing the annoving cries of the sailors, the king sent the queen, with her attendants, in a very light boat, to wait, near an island a quarter of a league distant from us, while he remained a long time on board, talking with us by signs, and expressing his fanciful notions about every thing in the ship, and asking the use of all. After imitating our modes of salutation, and tasting our food, he courteously took leave of us.

Sometimes, when our men stayed two or three days on a small island, near the ship, for their various necessities, as sailors are wont to do, he came with seven or eight of his attendants to inquire about our movements, often asking us if we intended to remain there long, and offering us everything at his command and then he would shoot with his people, making great sport for us.

We often went five or six leagues into the interior, and found the country as pleasant as is possible to conceive, adapted to cultivation of every kind, whether of corn, wine or oil; there are open plains twenty-five or thirty leagues in extent, entirely free from trees or other hindrances, and of so great fertility that whatever is sown there will yield an excellent crop. On entering the woods we observed that they might all be traversed by an army ever so numerous; the trees of which they were composed were oaks cypresses and others, unknown in Europe. We found, also, apples, plums, filberts, and many other fruits, but all of a different kind from ours. The animals, which are in great numbers, as stags, deer, lynxes, and many other species, are taken by snares, and by bows, the latter being their chief implement; their arrows are wrought with great beauty, and for the heads of them they use emery, jasper, hard marble, and other sharp stones in the place of iron They also use the same kind of sharp stones in cutting down trees, and with them they construct their boats of single logs, hollowed out with admirable skill, and sufficiently commodious to contaffi ten or twelve persons; their oars are short, and broad at the end, and are managed in rowing by force of the arms alone, with perfect security, and as nimbly as they choose.

We saw their dwellings, which are of a circular form, of about ten or twelve paces in circumference, made of logs split in halves, without any regularity of architecture, and covered with roofs of straw, nicely put on, which protect them from wind and rain. There is no doubt that they would build stately edifices if they had workmen as skilful as ours, for the whole sea-coast abounds in shining stones, crystals, and alabaster, and for the same reason it has ports and retreats for animals. They change their habitations from place to place as circumstances of situation and season may require; this is easily done, as they have only to take with them their mats, and they have other houses prepared at once.

The father and the whole family dwell together in one house in great numbers; in some we saw twenty-five or thirty persons. Their food is pulse, as with the other tribes, which is here better than elsewhere, and more carefully cultivated; in the time of sowing they are governed by the moon, the sprouting of grain, and many other ancient usages. They live by hunting and fishing, and they are long-lived. If they fall sick, they cure themselves without medicine, by the heat of the fire, and their death at last comes from extreme old age.

We judge them to be very affectionate and charitable towards their relatives—making loud lamentations in their adversity, and in their misery calling to mind all their good fortune. At their departure out of life, their relatives mutually join in weeping, mingled with singing, for a long while. This all that we could learn of them.

This region is situated in the parallel of Rome, being 41 0 40′ of north latitude, but much colder from accidental circumstances, and not by nature, as I shall hereafter explain to your majesty, and confine myself at present to the description of its local situation. It looks towards the south, on which side the harbor is half a league broad; afterwards, upon entering it, the extent between the coast and north is twelve leagues, and then enlarging itself it forms a very large bay, twenty leagues in circumference, in which are five small islands, of great fertility and beauty, covered with large and lofty trees.

Among these islands any fleet, however large, might ride safely, without fear of tempests or other dangers. Turning towards the south, at the entrance to the harbour, on both sides, there are very pleasant hills, and many streams of clear water, which flow down to the sea. In the midst of the entrance, there is a rock of free-stone, formed by nature, and suitable for the construction of any kind of machine or bulwark for the defence of the harbor. Having supplied ourselves with everything necessary, on the fifth of May we departed from the port. [2]The Verrazzano letter is reproduced at length for its description of the Indians as well as other matters. The Indians probably were Narragansetts, possibly Wampanoags.

Other Explorers

The exploration by Portuguese mariners of the west coast of Africa promoted by Prince Henry the Navigator in the fifteenth century, and the voyages of Columbus and others in the service of Spain toward the end of that century and in the sixteenth century had for their common purpose the finding of a new trade route to the Far East. The explorations of the new continent by De Soto, Cortez, Balboa, Pizarro, Navarez, Coronado and others aimed at discovery of the resources of the new land or the wealth of old lands suspected to lie behind it. Even Ponce de Leon, in his search for the fountain of youth, was not the Quixotic clown that history has pictured him; if there was no other fountain of youth in America, there was and is a place in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas where the earth pours out healing waters for man, which was well known to the Indians and still is visited annually by thousands who seek new life in the release from diseases. The quest for a short route to the Far East, across the continent or by sailing around it, intrigued the sailors of other nations-—French, Dutch and English, Cartier, Block, Hudson, the Cabots, Frobisher, Drake, and others, many of whom followed the coast seeking deep inlets. This dominating purpose explains their neglect of the factors that attracted the attention of Verrazzano. Thus Giovanni Cabot, native of Genoa, citizen of Venice, in the service of England, who sailed directly west in 1497 until he sighted Cape Breton, probably, made no report otherwise; and Sebastian Cabot, the English-born son of Giovanni, who later sailed north and south from Cape Breton, reported only his failure to find the northwest passage. Henry Hudson, Englishman in the service of Holland, whose exploration to Albany of the noble river that bears his name, and whose later exploration of the great bay far to the north which also is named for him, made no mention of having entered Narragansett Bay. Adrian Block, a Dutch navigator, made a trading voyage to Manhattan Island in 1610, and returned on a second voyage in 1614. His ship, the “Tiger,” was destroyed by fire, but the unconquerable and indomitable Block and his crew built another vessel, called the “Unrest,” and sailed in it through the East River and Hell Gate into Long Island Sound. They discovered the mouths of the Housatonic and Connecticut Rivers and other streams flowing into the Sound. Block sailed up the Connecticut River to the site of Hartford. Passing through the Race by Fisher’s Island, Block found the Indian island of Manisses, named Louisa by Verrazzano ninety years before, and gave it his own name—Block Island. He visited Narragansett Bay, and sailed beyond along the coast of southeastern Massachusetts so far as Cape Cod. Block returned to Holland on another Dutch vessel, which had been part of the squadron including the “Tiger.” His discoveries, and the accurate maps later published in Holland, led directly to the Dutch colonization of Manhattan Island, and the location of Dutch trading posts by the Dutch West India Company at favorable places along the Connecticut and Rhode Island shores and at Dutch Island in Narragansett Bay. By that time the efforts of the English to colonize the coast of North America were approaching success; the Dutch were soon to cease to be effective factors in the determination of American history, leaving France and England to face each other eventually in the battle for an empire.


1Part of the slate rock was buried when new streets were constructed.
2The Verrazzano letter is reproduced at length for its description of the Indians as well as other matters. The Indians probably were Narragansetts, possibly Wampanoags.

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