Italian explorer describes original inhabitants of America as black in 1524

Giovanni da Verrazzano was an Italian explorer who charted the Atlantic coast of North America between the Carolinas and Newfoundland, including New York Harbor in 1524. The Verrazano–Narrows Bridge in New York was named after him. ( This post contains the letter that he wrote to King Francis 1 of France 8 July 1524. One significant excerpt from this letter is his description of the native inhabitants that he encountered. I posted the quote below, but it appears on page 2 of his letter. Check it out, and feel free to comment!!!

“They are dark in color, not unlike the Ethiopians, with thick black hair, not very long, tied back behind the head like a small tail. As for the physique of these men, they are well proportioned, of medium height, a little taller than we are. They have broad chests, strong arms, and the legs and other parts of the body are well composed. There is nothing else, except that they tend to be rather broad in the face: but not all, for we saw many with angular faces. They have big black eyes, and an attentive and open look. They are not very strong, but they have a sharp cunning, and are agile and swift runners. From what we could tell from observation, in the last two respects they resemble the Orientals, particularly those from the farthest Sinarian regions.2 We could not learn the details of the life and customs of these people because of the short time we spent on land, due to the fact that there were few men, and the ship was anchored on the high seas.”

—-Giovanni da Verrazzano 1524


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