Education: Amerigo the Beautiful

In 1507 a German geographer named Martin Waldseemüller drew two maps of the known world. As research, he used the recent account of Florentine Navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who said he had found a new continent, actually South America. Waldseemüller named the land after its apparent discoverer—the first use of the word America for the New World.

Only later did Waldseemüller learn that in 1492 another navigator named Columbus had preceded Vespucci to the West. Waldseemüller tried to correct his error, but the misnomer stuck. His maps, one of them a rendition of the globe in twelve elliptical...

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