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October 12, 1492

As the Mongol Empire disintegrated in the 15th century, Islamic states rose to power and blocked outsiders from entering their territory. Thus, Europeans no longer had a direct route to the Far East, where they had been trading for such luxury goods as spices and silk. Refusing to give up, they attempted to reach the Indies by sailing around Africa. Christopher Columbus, however, devised a plan to traverse the "Ocean Sea" (a.k.a. Atlantic Ocean) to reach the Far East. He convinced the Spanish Crown to help him bring it to pass.

Believing they had reached the East Indies, Columbus and his men arrived in the New World on October 12, 1492. They began trading with the natives, and some of what they received was gold. Columbus returned to Spain, showed the Crown the bounty of the islands, and received financing for a second voyage.

Columbus wrote that the people in the West Indies "would make fine servants…With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." The Crown refused to use the "Indians" as slaves and urged Columbus to maintain friendly relations with them. Once they were exposed to diseases carried by Europeans, however, they quickly began dying off. Ironically, slaves would later be imported from Africa to work in the colonies where the Indians had once lived.

Though not truly the first to land on its shores, Christopher Columbus is credited with the discovery of the Americas. What came after Columbus' first voyage made an immeasurable impact on the two continents. The period prior to the day his crew first spotted land is known as pre-Columbian American history. From that day forward, the world would never be the same.

     
  1. Why did Christopher Columbus travel to Asia via the Atlantic Ocean?
       
    (A)

Muslims prevented the use of a land route.

    (B) Traveling around Africa was an arduous task.
    (C) The Spanish Crown ordered him to take on the mission.
    (D) He wanted gold and the respect of the Crown.
       
  2. Why is it ironic that slaves were brought to the West Indies from Africa?
       
    (A) Europeans had to travel around Africa to get to the East Indies.
    (B) The Crown got their wish of turning the Indians into slaves.
    (C)

Columbus' desire to have slaves on the islands became a reality.

    (D) They were already working as servants in the East Indies.
       
  3. What was a result of Columbus' maiden voyage?
       
    (A) A new spice route was finally found.
    (B) New diseases began to spread throughout Europe.
    (C) Slaves became a necessity and more expensive to buy.
    (D)

It greatly altered the history of America.

       
  4. Which of the following would make an appropriate title for this article?
       
    (A) The Making of a Great Empire
    (B)

How Europeans "Discovered" the New World

    (C) Where Columbus Didn't Travel
    (D) The European Struggle for Control over Moslems
       
      traverse   to move or travel through an area
           
      bring to pass   to cause to happen
           
      subjugate   to defeat people or a country and rule them in a way which allows them no freedom
           
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  Answers : 1) A    2) C    3) D    4) B
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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