How Did America Get Its Name?

The most common theory about the origin of America’s name is that the country is named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer who reached the New World in 1502. After returning to Florence, he suspected that Christopher Columbus was not correct in assuming that the land he explored was part of Japan and India. He produced a pamphlet describing the New World, which gained Vespucci a namesake.

Another newer theory states that America was actually named after Richard Amerike, a merchant from Bristol. According to the theory, English fishermen originally bought and traded for salted cod from Iceland. Once the Danish king stopped the trade, the fishermen had to find an alternative fish source and made their way to Newfoundland, which is an island just off the coast of modern-day Canada. One of the merchants involved with this trade was Richard Amerike, shown in trading records and bills.

The theory goes on to state that the trip of explorer John Cabot to the New World was sponsored by Richard Amerike. Amerike’s name was used on Cabot’s map, which was then given to Columbus. All of this is found in a letter in the Spanish National Archives. Furthermore, Amerike’s family crest is made up of the colors red, white and blue, accompanied by stars and stripes.