American Minute with Bill Federer

Explorers circle the Earth - on Sea and in Space 

In 1519, the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan set out on the first voyage to circumnavigate the world.

Sailing for Spain, Magellan began his search for a route to the East Indies by traveling down the coast of South America.

Magellan fleet reached Cape Virgenes and concluded they had found passage because the waters were brine and deep.

Four ships went through the 373-mile long passage which Magellan called "Estrecho de Todos los Santos" or "Canal of All Saints," as the date was November 1st, "All Saints' Day."

It came to be called the "Strait of Magellan."

On the other side of the strait, Magellan saw the sea very still and peaceful, so he gave it the Portuguese name "Mar Pacifico" meaning "Pacific Ocean."

The first European to see the Pacific Ocean was Spanish explorer Vasco Nez de Balboa who had crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1513, though he called it "Mar del Sur" meaning "southern sea."

Magellan sailed for weeks without sighting land. His food supplies dwindled and rotted, and men began to perish from scurvy, malnourishment, and dehydration.

They sighted a small uninhabited island, restocked supplies, and set sail again on JANUARY 28, 1521.

They reached the Marianas, Guam and then the Philippine Islands, which were later named for King Philip II of Spain.

Magellan communicated with native tribes through his Malay interpreter, Enrique.

They traded gifts with Rajah (King) Siaiu of Mazaua who guided them to the Island of Cebu.

The story was that on the Island of Cebu, Magellan met Rajah Humabon, who had an ill grandson.

Magellan (or one of his men) was able to cure or help this young boy, and in gratitude Chief Humabon and his queen Hara Amihan were baptized as Christians, along with 800 of followers.

Afterwards, Rajah Humabon and his ally Datu Zula entangled Magellan in a conflict with a neighboring chieftain, Datu Lapu-Lapu of the Island of Mactan.

Magellan had wished to convert Datu Lapu-Lapu to Christianity, but he was dismissive.

On the morning of April 27, 1521, Datu Lapu-Lapu with around 1,500 of his troops confronted the Spaniards on the beach.

Magellan was hit by a bamboo spear, surrounded and then killed.

Magellan's crew continued to sail the ship, Victoria, and finally made it back to Spain in September of 1522.

The Philippine Islands went on to become the most Christian nation in Asia, with 93% of it population of 93.3 million being Christian.

AMERICAN MINUTE-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred

The second expedition to circumnavigate the globe was in 1577 led by Sir Francis Drake.

Francis Drake was born around 1540 amidst religious upheaval in England.

During the Prayer Book Rebellion, 1549, his poor farmer father, Edward Drake, fled with his family to the coast where they lived on an old laid-up ship.

Edward Drake was ordained as a Protestant minister and preached to sailors in the King's Navy, afterwards becoming a vicar of Upchurch on the Medway.

Profoundly influenced, Francis Drake would later have religious services on his ship twice a day.

Around the age of 12, Francis Drake was apprenticed to a ship transporting merchandise from France. The ship's master, having no children, eventually bequeathed the ship to Francis, which began his prosperous sailing career.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Francis Drake sailed numerous times to the Caribbean for trade.

He also raided Spanish ships and settlements, resulting in King Philip II of Spain calling him a pirate, El Draque, and offering the equivalent of six million dollars for his life.

In 1577, almost 60 years after Spain's Ferdinand Magellan, Francis Drake began the second voyage to circumnavigate the world.

Drake sailed down the coast of South America and before Tierra del Fuego, passed through the Strait of Magellan.

Through violent storms, he sailed and raided the Pacific Spanish coast of America as far north as California.

Turning west, Drake sailed to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, almost sinking on a reef.

Drake made it across the Indian Ocean, around Cape Horn and up the coast of Africa back to England in 1580, where he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1588, Sir Francis Drake helped repel the Spanish Armada from invading England.


Sir Francis Drake died aboard the ship, Defiance, JANUARY 28, 1596, after a failed attempt to capture San Juan, Puerto Rico.

AMERICAN MINUTE-Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred

The first persons to orbit the earth in space were Russian-Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961, followed by American astronaut John Glenn, February 20, 1962.

The courage and risks of space travel shocked the world on JANUARY 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded just seventy-three seconds after lift-off.

The entire seven member crew was killed, including a high school teacher-the first private citizen to fly aboard the craft.

In his address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan stated:

"Today is a day for mourning...a national loss... The members of the Challenger crew were pioneers...

The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future."


Reagan continued:

"The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives.

We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved good-bye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.'"

President Reagan added:

"There's a coincidence today.

On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama.

In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and a historian later said, 'He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.'

Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake's, complete."

AMERICAN MINUTE - Notable Events of American Significance Remembered on the Date They Occurred

Search AMERICAN MINUTE archives
Watch past FAITH IN HISTORY episodes for FREE

Bill Federer
Bill Federer
Invite Bill Federer to speak - large or small groups - email [email protected] or call 314-540-1172

Visit the American Minute archive  



Daily Reading at:

Receive American Minute on your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, or RSS reader.   

Click here to make a donation. Thank you!

American Minute is a registered trademark. Permission is granted to forward. reprint or duplicate with acknowledgement to    
Invite Bill Federer to speak - large or small groups - email [email protected] or call 314-540-1172
Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter