TRIVIAL PURSUITS: Why did America get its name from Amerigo Vespucci?

Amerigo Vespucci furnished supplies for ships, preparing them for mercantile expeditions. Seven years after Columbus’ first voyage, Vespucci accompanied an expedition to Trinidad.

Vespucci wrote two letters about the trip, the first titled Novus Mundus (New World) that were publicly published.

Martin Waldseemuller, a geographer, and Mathias Ringmann, a schoolmaster engaged in working on a reproduction of Ptolemy’s treatise on geography, to which they were adding a preface. After reading the account of Vespucci’s travels, they decided to incorporate Vespucci’s voyage into the treatise.

Seemingly unaware of Christopher Columbus’ discovery years earlier, Ringmann, acting as editor, wrote in his introduction: “There is a fourth quarter of the world which Amerigo Vespucci has discovered and which for this reason we can call ‘America’ or the land of Americo.” He also wrote: “We do not see why the name of the man of genius, Amerigo, who has discovered them, should not be given to these lands, as Europe and Asia have adopted the names of women.”

Their work was published on April 25, 1507, under the title “Cosmographiae Introductio.” It marked the first time the word America appeared in print.