America
   , American
   The injustice of naming two continents after Amerigo Vespucci (1451- 1512) can no longer be rectified. And we cannot justify excluding Canada, the second-largest country in area in the world, from the appellation America. By the same token, America, the gem of the ocean is equally faulty. It should have been Columbia.
   Controversy concerning the naming of America may never be resolved because who did what and when is not subject to historic proof. Amerigo Vespucci, originally a Florentine navigator, claimed he made four trips— in 1497, 1499, 1501, and 1503—to the New World, then known as the Mundus Novus (a term that first appeared in Vespucci's letters published in 1504). However, only two of these trips were actually documented. A former manager of the Seville office of the notorious Medici family of Italy, Vespucci reported to his patrons an account of his voyages along the coasts of what are now Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
   In 1507 Martin Waldseemuller, a German geographer, published an appendix to a work called Cosmographiae Introductio, which included a map labeled America that corresponded roughly to South Americ The name stuck, not only for South America but for North America as well. when mapmakers filled in that continent.
   Vespucci took two trips under the aegis of Spain and two under that of Portugal, and became Spain's "pilot major." Nevertheless, some historians say he never did take the voyages he reported, but merely heard stories from sailors and put himself in the picture.
   The Spanish refused to accept the name America; they called the land, in Spanish, Colombia. This remains a distinguished name; many towns, rivers, and other places have been named Columbia, including the seat of our government: the District of Columbia. And let us not forget Columbia, the gem of the ocean.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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