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French explorer Jacques Marquette is best known as the first European to see and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River.
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Marquette has been recognized and memorialized for his accomplishments, particularly in the names of many towns, parks and geographical locations. Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was named for him. Several statues have also been erected in his honor, including one at the Prairie du Chien post office, at Quebec's parliament building and in his birthplace of Laon, France.
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Throughout the centuries, brave explorers have fearlessly traveled the globe and beyond to discover new lands, people, animal species, riches and glory. Ferdinand Magellan of Portugal proved the world is round with his mission to sail around the world. His fellow countryman Vasco da Gama commanded the first European ship around the southern tip of Africa to reach India by sea. Norseman Leif Eriksson is regarded as the first European to reach North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus, who is credited with discovering the “New World” of the Americas. Juan Ponce de León scoured Puerto Rico and Florida in his quest for the fountain of youth. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark blazed new trails during their Corps of Discovery Expedition across the western half of the United States. Traveling to new heights of discovery were mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to reach the peak of Mount Everest, and U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon. These intrepid explorers and more have made an indelible mark on human history. See all Explorers.
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