The First American Geography 321
It includes, as do all the early geographies, a good many imaginative travellers' tales picked up from newspapers and other chance sources without any pains being taken to verify them or to inquire as to the reliability of their authors. In fact, it sometimes seems as if the more fabulous the story the better its chance to be recorded in the school text-books. We get very entertaining glimpses of the limitations of geographical knowledge at the time in the following extracts from Morse.
The Andes, in South America, ft retch along the Pacific Ocean from the Ifthmus of Darien to the Straits of Magellan. The height of Chimborazo, the most elevated point in this vaft chain of mountains is 20,280 feet, above 5000 feet higher than any other mountain in the known world.
North America has no remarkably high mountains. The moft confiderable are thofe known under the general name of the Allegany Mountains. Thefe ftretch along in many broken ridges under different names from Hudfon's River to Georgia. The Andes and the Allegany Mountains are probably the fame range interrupted by the Gulf of Mexico.
Who were the firft people of America ? And whence did they come ? The Abbe Clavigero gives his opinion in the following conclufions : —
u The Americans defcended from different nations, or from different families difperfed after the confufion of tongues. No perfon will doubt the truth of this, who has any knowledge of the multitude and great diverfity of the American languages. In Mexico alone thirty-Jive have already been difcovered."
But how did the inhabitants and animals originally pasf to America ?