- from South America
Suppose you’re the leader of the United States. Both you and the head of a rival country want to explore the moon.
You don’t really know what’s there. But each of you wants to control it anyway. You agree to divide up the moon. That way each of you controls part of it.
This is pretty much what Spain and Portugal did after Columbus returned from his first trip across the Atlantic. Their 1494 agreement was called the Treaty of Tordesillas. It was the first international treaty. (A treaty is an agreement between two countries.) The treaty set up a north–south dividing line in what Europeans called the “New World.” Everything west of the line belonged to Spain. Everything east of the line belonged to Portugal. Both Spain and Portugal sent explorers to this “New World.” Sometimes explorers sailed for one country. Sometimes they sailed for the other. But few considered the rights of the people already there. Or their culture. Or even their lives.