SPANISH AND FRENCH PIONEERS IN THE UNITED STATES
10. Stories of Golden Lands.–Wherever the Spaniards went, the Indians always told them stories of golden lands somewhere else. The Bahama Indians, for instance, told their cruel Spanish masters of a wonderful land toward the north. Not only was there gold in that land; there was also a fountain whose waters restored youth and vigor to the drinker. Among the fierce Spanish soldiers was Ponce de Leon (Pon’tha da la-on’). He determined to see for himself if these stories were true.
De Leon visits Florida, 1513. Higginson, 42.
De Leon’s death.
11. Discovery of Florida, 1513.–In the same year that Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean, Ponce de Leon sailed northward and westward from the Bahamas. On Easter Sunday, 1513, he anchored off the shores of a new land. The Spanish name for Easter was La Pascua de los Flores. So De Leon called the new land Florida. For the Spaniards were a very religious people and usually named their lands and settlements from saints or religious events. De Leon then sailed around the southern end of Florida and back to the West Indies. In 1521 he again visited Florida, was wounded by an Indian arrow, and returned home to die.
Discovery of the Mississippi.
Conquest of Mexico.
12. Spanish Voyages and Conquests.–Spanish sailors and conquerors now appeared in quick succession on the northern and western shores of the Gulf of Mexico. One of them discovered the mouth of the Mississippi. Others of them stole Indians and carried them to the islands to work as slaves. The most famous of them all was Cortez. In 1519 he conquered Mexico after a thrilling campaign and found there great store of gold and silver. This discovery led to more expeditions and to the exploration of the southern half of the United States.
Coronado sets out from Mexico, 1540.
The pueblo Indians. Source Book, 6.
13. Coronado in the Southwest, 1540-42.–In 1540 Coronado set out from the Spanish towns on the Gulf of California to seek for more gold and silver. For seventy-three days he journeyed northward until he came to the pueblos (pweb’-lo) of the Southwest. These pueblos were huge buildings of stone and sun-dried clay. Some of them were large enough to shelter three hundred Indian families. Pueblos are still to be seen in Arizona and New Mexico, and the Indians living in them even to this day tell stories of Coronado’s coming and of his cruelty. There was hardly any gold and silver in these “cities,” so a great grief fell upon Coronado and his comrades.
[Illustration: By permission of the Bureau of Ethnology. THE PUEBLO OF ZUСI (FROM A PHOTOGRAPH).]
Coronado finds the Great Plains.
14. The Great Plains.–Soon, however, a new hope came to the Spaniards, for an Indian told them that far away in the north there really was a golden land. Onward rode Coronado and a body of picked men. They crossed vast plains where there were no mountains to guide them. For more than a thousand miles they rode on until they reached eastern Kansas. Everywhere they found great herds of buffaloes, or wild cows, as they called them. They also met the Indians of the Plains. Unlike the Indians of the pueblos, these Indians lived in tents made of buffalo hides stretched upon poles. Everywhere there were plains, buffaloes, and Indians. Nowhere was there gold or silver. Broken hearted, Coronado and his men rode southward to their old homes in Mexico.
De Soto in Florida, 1539. Explorers, 119-138.
De Soto crosses the Mississippi.
15. De Soto in the Southeast, 1539-43.–In 1539 a Spanish army landed at Tampa Bay, on the western coast of Florida. The leader of this army was De Soto, one of the conquerors of Peru. He “was very fond of the sport of killing Indians” and was also greedy for gold and silver. From Tampa he marched northward to South Carolina and then marched southwestward to Mobile Bay. There he had a dreadful time; for the Indians burned his camp and stores and killed many of his men. From Mobile he wandered northwestward until he came to a great river. It was the Mississippi, and was so wide that a man standing on one bank could not see a man standing on the opposite bank. Some of De Soto’s men penetrated westward nearly to the line of Coronado’s march. But the two bands did not meet. De Soto died and was buried in the Mississippi. Those of his men who still lived built a few boats and managed to reach the Spanish settlements in Mexico.
Other Spanish explorers.
Attempts at settlement.
16. Other Spanish Expeditions.–Many other Spanish explorers visited the shores of the United States before 1550. Some sailed along the Pacific coast; others sailed along the Atlantic coast. The Spaniards also made several attempts to found settlements both on the northern shore of the Gulf of Mexico and on Chesapeake Bay. But all these early attempts ended in failure. In 1550 there were no Spaniards on the continent within the present limits of the United States, except possibly a few traders and missionaries in the Southwest.
Verrazano’s voyages, 1524. Higginson, 44-45; Explorers, 60-69.
Cartier in the St. Lawrence, 1534-36. Explorers 99-117.
17. Early French Voyages, 1524-36.–The first French expedition to America was led by an Italian named Verrazano (Ver-rд-tsд’-no), but he sailed in the service of Francis I, King of France. He made his voyage in 1524 and sailed along the coast from the Cape Fear River to Nova Scotia. He entered New York harbor and spent two weeks in Newport harbor. He reported that the country was “as pleasant as it is possible to conceive.” The next French expedition was led by a Frenchman named Cartier (Kar’-tya’). In 1534 he visited the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1535 he sailed up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. But before he could get out of the river again the ice formed about his ships. He and his crew had to pass the winter there. They suffered terribly, and twenty-four of them perished of cold and sickness. In the spring of 1536 the survivors returned to France.
Ribault explores the Carolina coasts, 1562.
French colonists in Carolina. Explorers, 149-156.
18. The French in Carolina, 1562.–The French next explored the shores of the Carolinas. Ribault (Re’-bo’) was the name of their commander. Sailing southward from Carolina, he discovered a beautiful river and called it the River of May. But we know it by its Spanish name of St. Johns. He left a few men on the Carolina coast and returned to France. A year or more these men remained. Then wearying of their life in the wilderness, they built a crazy boat with sails of shirts and sheets and steered for France. Soon their water gave out and then their food. Finally, almost dead, they were rescued by an English ship.
French colonists in Florida.
19. The French in Florida, 1564-65.–While these Frenchmen were slowly drifting across the Atlantic, a great French expedition was sailing to Carolina. Finding Ribault’s men gone, the new colony was planted on the banks of the River of May. Soon the settlers ate up all the food they had brought with them. Then they bought food from the Indians, giving them toys and old clothes in exchange. Some of the colonists rebelled. They seized a vessel and sailed away to plunder the Spaniards in the West Indies. They told the Spaniards of the colony on the River of May, and the Spaniards resolved to destroy it.
Spaniards and Frenchmen.
End of the French settlement, 1565. Explorers, 159-166.
20. The Spaniards in Florida, 1565.–For this purpose the Spaniards sent out an expedition under Menendez (Ma-nen’-deth). He sailed to the River of May and found Ribault there with a French fleet. So he turned southward, and going ashore founded St. Augustine. Ribault followed, but a terrible storm drove his whole fleet ashore south of St. Augustine. Menendez then marched over land to the French colony. He surprised the colonists and killed nearly all of them. Then going back to St. Augustine, he found Ribault and his shipwrecked sailors and killed nearly all of them. In this way ended the French attempts to found a colony in Carolina and Florida. But St. Augustine remained, and is to-day the oldest town on the mainland of the United States.
PIONEERS OF ENGLAND
Hawkins’s voyages, 1562-67.
21. Sir John Hawkins.–For many years after Cabot’s voyage Englishmen were too busy at home to pay much attention to distant expeditions. But in Queen Elizabeth’s time English seamen began to sail to America. The first of them to win a place in history was John Hawkins. He carried cargoes of negro slaves from Africa to the West Indies and sold them to the Spanish planters. On his third voyage he was basely attacked by the Spaniards and lost four of his five ships. Returning home, he became one of the leading men of Elizabeth’s little navy and fought most gallantly for his country.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE.
Drake on the California coast, 1577-78. Source-Book, 9.
22. Sir Francis Drake.–A greater and a more famous man was Hawkins’s cousin, Francis Drake. He had been with Hawkins on his third voyage and had come to hate Spaniards most vigorously. In 1577 he made a famous voyage round the world. Steering through the Straits of Magellan, he plundered the Spanish towns on the western coasts of South America. At one place his sailors went on shore and found a man sound asleep. Near him were four bars of silver. “We took the silver and left the man,” wrote the old historian of the voyage. Drake also captured vessels loaded with gold and silver and pearls. Sailing northward, he repaired his ship, the Pelican, on the coast of California, and returned home by the way of the Cape of Good Hope.
Ralegh and his colonies. Eggleston, 13-17; Explorers, 177-189.
23. Sir Walter Ralegh.–Still another famous Englishman of Elizabeth’s time was Walter Ralegh. He never saw the coasts of the United States, but his name is rightly connected with our history, because he tried again and again to found colonies on our shores. In 1584 he sent Amadas and Barlowe to explore the Atlantic seashore of North America. Their reports were so favorable that he sent a strong colony to settle on Roanoke Island in Virginia, as he named that region. But the settlers soon became unhappy because they found no gold. Then, too, their food began to fail, and Drake, happening along, took them back to England.
Ralegh’s last attempt, 1587. Explorers, 189-200.
24. The “Lost Colony,” 1587.–Ralegh made still one more attempt to found a colony in Virginia. But the fate of this colony was most dreadful. For the settlers entirely disappeared,–men, women, and children. Among the lost was little Virginia Dare, the first English child born in America. No one really knows what became of these people. But the Indians told the later settlers of Jamestown that they had been killed by the savages.
Ruin of Spain’s sea-power. English History for Americans, 131-135.
25. Destruction of the Spanish Armada, 1588.–This activity of the English in America was very distressing to the King of Spain. For he claimed all America for himself and did not wish Englishmen to go thither. He determined to conquer England and thus put an end to these English voyages. But Hawkins, Drake, Ralegh, and the men behind the English guns were too strong even for the Invincible Armada. Spain’s sea-power never recovered from this terrible blow. Englishmen could now found colonies with slight fear of the Spaniards. When the Spanish king learned of the settlement of Jamestown, he ordered an expedition to go from St. Augustine to destroy the English colony. But the Spaniards never got farther than the mouth of the James River. For when they reached that point, they thought they saw the masts and spars of an English ship. They at once turned about and sailed back to Florida as fast as they could go.