Explorations In The Northern Interior And On The Pacific
De León.—While some conquerors were struggling in Central America, Mexico, and Peru, others were trying to subdue the vast northern region called Florida. In 1514 Juan Ponce de León secured a patent to colonize Florida and Bimini, which he had explored in the previous year. Instead of proceeding to the task, however, he engaged in a war against the Caribs, and it was not until 1521 that he attempted to carry out his project. In that year he led a colony of two hundred men to the Peninsula, landed on the west coast, and tried to establish a settlement. But he was attacked by natives, and driven back to Cuba, mortally wounded.
Ayllón's colony on the Carolina coast.—To carry out his contract to colonize Chicora, in July, 1526, Ayllón sailed from Española with six vessels and a colony of five hundred men and women, Dominican friars, and supplies, prepared to find a new home in Carolina. But the experiment was doomed to be another failure. Landing was first made on the river called the Jordan, perhaps Cape Fear River. On another stream; perhaps the Peedee, the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape was begun. But supplies gave out, and at the end of two years Ayllón died (October, 1528). Quarrels ensued, and in midwinter the survivors, only about one hundred and fifty now, returned to Santo Domingo.
Narváez.—At the same time the conquest of Florida was attempted by Pánfilo de Narváez, the man who had been sent to Vera Cruz to arrest Cortés. In 1526 he secured a patent to the lands of Ponce de León and Garay. Raising a colony of six hundred persons in Spain, in 1528 he reached Florida, landing near Tampa Bay. Hearing of a rich province called Apalachen (Apalache), he sent his vessels along the coast and himself marched up the peninsula at the head of three hundred men to find the Promised Land. He found the place sought near modern Tallahassee, but it proved to be a squalid Indian village of forty huts. A few weeks having been spent in exploration and warfare, Narváez went to the coast near St. Marks Bay, built a fleet of horse-hide boats, and set out for Pánuco. After passing the mouth of the Mississippi a storm arose, and all were wrecked on the coast of Texas.
Cabeza de Vaca.—In a short time most of the survivors of Narváez's party died of disease, starvation, and exposure, or at the hands of the savages. Having passed nearly six years of slavery among the Indians, Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, the treasurer of the colony of Florida, with three companions, escaped westward, crossed Texas, Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Sonora, and in 1536 reached Culiacán, the northern outpost of Sinaloa, after a most remarkable journey.
De Soto.—Vaca went to Spain (1537) to apply for the governorship of Florida, but it had already been conferred on Hernando de Soto, who had taken a prominent part in the conquest of both Central America and Peru. In 1539 De Soto reached Florida with a colony of six hundred persons. Landing at Tampa Bay, as Narváez had done, he soon set out to look for a rich province called Cale. This was the beginning of an expedition lasting nearly four years, during which the Spaniards were led on by tales of gold and treasure from one district to another, hoping to repeat the exploits of Cortés and Pizarro. As he passed through the country De Soto imitated those captains by capturing the chiefs, holding them as hostages, and compelling them to provide food and men to carry the baggage. Going to Apalachen he wintered there, meanwhile discovering Pensacola Bay. From Apalachen he went to the Savannah River, thence northwest to the North Carolina Piedmont, south toward Mobile Bay, northwest to the Mississippi near modern Memphis, westward across Arkansas into Oklahoma, thence down the Arkansas River to its mouth, where he died, in May, 1542, being buried in the Mississippi.
Moscoso in Arkansas and Texas.—De Soto's followers, led by Luis de Moscoso, now set out for Pánuco, crossing Arkansas to the Red River, then turning southwest through eastern Texas, perhaps reaching the Brazos River. Giving up the attempt by land, they returned to the Mississippi, built a fleet of boats, descended the river, and skirted the Texas coast, reaching Pánuco in 1543. Thus ended the fourth attempt to colonize Florida.
CÍBOLA AND QUIVIRA
Cortés on the South Sea and in California.—Another line of advance toward the northern interior had been made by way of the Pacific slope. The discovery of the South Sea was followed immediately by exploration along the western coast. Balboa himself had begun that work, before his death in 1519. Espinosa had reached Nicaragua in 1519, and three years later Niño had reached Guatemala. By this time Cortés had also begun operations on the South Sea by building a shipyard at Zacatula, hoping, to discover a strait, find rich islands and mainland, reach India by way of the coast, and open communication with the Moluccas. In 1527 he sent three vessels under Saavedra across the Pacific: The operations of a new fleet built by him were hindered by the Audiencia of Mexico, but in 1532 he sent an expedition north under Hurtado de Mendoza, which reached Río Fuerte in northern Sinaloa. In the following year another expedition sent by Cortés, under Jiménez discovered Lower California, which was thought to be an island and where pearls were found. The discovery of an island with pearls confirmed the geographical ideas of Cortés, and in 1535 he himself led a colony to La Paz, but within a few months it was abandoned. This was the first of a long series of efforts to colonize California.
Explorations in the Northern Interior, 1513-1543.
Friar Marcos discovers Cíbola.—Interest in the north country, both in Spain and America, was greatly quickened by the arrival of Cabeza de Vaca in Mexico after his journey across the continent. He had seen no great wonders, but he had heard of large cities to the north of his path, and it was thought that they might be the famed Seven Cities. The viceroy took into his service the negro Stephen, one of Vaca's companions, and sent him with Friar Marcos, a Franciscan missionary, to reconnoitre. In March, 1539, they set out with guides from Culiacán. Going ahead, Stephen soon sent back reports of Seven Cities, called Cíbola, farther on. Friar Marcos hastened after him, and reached the border of the Zuñi pueblos in western New Mexico, where he learned that Stephen had been killed. Returning to the settlement, he reported that Cíbola was larger and finer than Mexico. This story, of course, was the signal for another "rush," like that to Peru a few years before.
Ulloa rounds the peninsula of California.—Rivalry between Cortés and the viceroy regarding exploration was now keen, and about the time of the return of Fray Marcos, Cortés, hoping to forestall his competitor, sent three vessels north to explore under Francisco de Ulloa. One of the vessels was lost, but with two of them Ulloa succeeded in reaching the head of the Gulf of California, and learned that California was a peninsula. Descending the Gulf he proceeded up the outer coast of California to Cabo del Engaño.
The contest for leadership.—While Ulloa's voyage was still in progress, Cortés hurried to Spain to present his claim of exclusive right to conquer the country discovered by Fray Marcos and Ulloa. He never returned to Mexico. Other contestants arose. The agents of De Soto, who at the time was in Florida, claimed Cibola as a part of the adelantado's grant. Guzmán claimed it on the basis of explorations in Sinaloa. Pedro de Alvarado claimed it on the ground of a license to explore north and west, for which purpose he had prepared a fleet.
The Coronado expedition.—But the royal council decided that the exploration should be made on behalf of the crown, in whose name the viceroy had already sent out an expedition under Francisco Vásquez Coronado, governor of Nueva Galicia. To coöperate with Coronado by water, Alarcón was sent up the coast from Acapulco with two vessels.
In February, 1540, Coronado left Compostela with some two hundred horsemen, seventy foot soldiers, and nearly one thousand Indian allies and servants. So eager were the volunteers that it was complained that the country would be depopulated. The expedition was equipped at royal expense with a thousand horses, fine trappings, pack-mules, several cannon, and with droves of cattle, sheep, goats, and swine for food. From Culiacán Coronado went ahead with about one hundred picked men and four friars. Following behind their leader, the main army moved up to Corazones, in the Yaqui River valley, where the town of San Gerónimo was founded and left in charge of Melchor Díaz.
Zuñi, Moqui, the Colorado, and the Rio Grande.—In July Coronado reached the Zuñi pueblos, which he conquered with little difficulty. But the country was disappointing and the expedition resulted only in explorations. These, however, were of great importance. At Culiacán Alarcón procured a third vessel, then continued to the head of the Gulf, and ascended the Colorado (1540) eighty-five leagues, perhaps passing the Gila River. Shortly afterward Melchor Díaz went by land from San Gerónimo to the Colorado to communicate with Alarcón, but failed and lost his life. During the journey, however, he crossed the Colorado and went some distance down the Peninsula of California.
Hearing of the Moqui pueblos, to the north of Zuñi, in July Coronado sent Tobar to find them, which he succeeded in doing. Shortly afterward Cárdenas went farther northwest and reached the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. Moving to the Rio Grande, Coronado visited the pueblos in its valley and camped at Tiguex above Isleta. In the course of the winter the Indians revolted and were put down with great severity.
Gran Quivira.—Meanwhile Coronado heard of a rich country northeastward called Gran Quivira, and in April, 1541, he set out to find it. Crossing the mountains and descending the Pecos, he marched out into the limitless buffalo-covered plains, the "Llanos del Cíbola," inhabited by roving Apaches. Near the upper Brazos he turned north, crossed the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, and reached Quivira in eastern Kansas. It was probably a settlement of Wichita Indians. Disappointed, and urged by his men, Coronado now returned to Mexico. Three fearless missionaries remained to preach the gospel, and soon achieved the crown of martyrdom. Coronado had made one of the epochal explorations of all history.
The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.—Coronado found large parts of New Mexico and adjacent regions inhabited by Indians who dwelt in substantial towns (pueblos) and possessed a civilization similar to that of the Aztecs. Their terraced dwellings, which were also fortifications, were built of stone or adobe, and were several stories high. The inhabitants lived a settled life, practiced agriculture by means of irrigation, and raised cotton for clothing. They were constantly beset by the more warlike tribes all about them, and were already declining under their incursions. At the time of the conquest there were some seventy inhabited pueblos, whose population may have been from 30,000 to 60,000. The principal pueblo regions were the upper Rio Grande, the upper Pecos, Ácoma, and the Zuñi and Moqui towns. Remains of prehistoric pueblos occupy a much wider range in the Southwest, and are now the scene of important archaeological research.
CALIFORNIA AND THE PHILIPPINES
Alvarado's fleet.—Shortly after Coronado left New Mexico, two important expeditions were despatched by Viceroy Mendoza to explore in the Pacific. Magellan's voyage had been a signal for a bitter conflict between Spain and Portugal in the East, in which Portugal long had the upper hand. After the failures of Loaisa (1525) and Saavedra (1527) Charles V sold Spain's claims on the Moluccas to Portugal, but continued to claim the Philippines. In spite of former disasters to eastern expeditions, both Cortés and Pedro de Alvarado planned discoveries in the South Sea. In 1532 Alvarado made a contract for the purpose, but was led off by the gold "rush" to Peru. In 1538 he obtained a new grant, authorizing him to explore "in the west toward China or the Spice Islands," or toward the north at the "turn of the land to New Spain." Early in 1539 he left Spain with equipment nor a fleet, which he transported across Honduras and Guatemala on the backs of natives. On hearing of the discoveries of Fray Marcos, he hastened north with his fleet, but stopped in Mexico, where he and Mendoza, who had already sent out Coronado, made an agreement, as mutual insurance, to divide the profits of their respective explorations. Before continuing his expedition Alvarado was killed in the Mixton War (1541). This left the fleet in Mendoza's hands, and with it he carried out Alvarado's plans by despatching two expeditions, one up the California coast, the other across the Pacific.
Cabrillo and Ferrelo.—The coast voyage was conducted by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, and was especially designed to look for a northern strait. Leaving Navidad in June, 1542, Cabrillo explored the outer coast of the Peninsula, discovered San Diego Bay, reached Northwest Cape (latitude 38°31'), descended to Drake's Bay, and then returned to the Santa Barbara Channel, where he died. Sailing north again in 1543, his pilot, Ferrelo, reached the Oregon coast (42 1/2°), returning thence to Navidad. Cabrillo and Ferrelo had explored the coast for more than twenty-three degrees, but had missed both San Francisco and Monterey bays.
Villalobos.—The other expedition was led by López de Villalobos, who was instructed to explore the Philippines and to reach China, but not to touch at the Moluccas. Sailing in November, 1542, he took possession of the Philippines, but, being forced to leave on account of native hostility, he was captured by the Portuguese. Villalobos died in the Moluccas, where the enterprise went to pieces. The expeditions of Coronado, De Soto, Cabrillo, and Villalobos brought to an end a remarkable half century of Spanish expansion in North America and in the Pacific Ocean.
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