Francisco Vasquez de Coronado: Explorer and Conquistador



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Francisco Vasquez de Coronado: Explorer and Conquistador

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-1554) was a Spanish ruler, explorer and conquistador. He was the first European to explore North America's Southwest.

Coronado was a governor of New Galicia, a western province of Mexico. He searched fruitlessly for treasure that was rumored to exist in northern Mexico: the fabled seven Golden Cities of Cibola. With a group of hundreds of Spaniards and enslaved natives, he traveled through what is now northern Mexico and the southwestern USA (including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas). His expedition found only Zuñi, Hopi, and Pueblos, native Americans who repelled Coronado when he demanded that they convert to Christianity. Coronado killed many native Americans during this expedition. Since he did not find gold, silver, or other treasures, his expedition was branded a failure by Spanish leaders.
Francisco Fernández de Córdoba: Explorer

Francisco Fernández (Hernandez) de Córdoba (? - 1524) was a Spanish explorer and slave trader who explored Mexico (1517) and Nicaragua (1524).

In February 1517, Cordoba sailed from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico with 3 ships and 110 soldiers; he was the first European to travel to this area, and the first to see the Mayan people. Cordoba had been sent to Mexico by Diego Velazquez, the governor of Cuba, to look for treasures to plunder. First Juan de Grijalva and then Hernan Cortes continued the Spanish exploration/conquest of Mexico.

In 1524, the Governor of Darien (now part of Panama), Pedro Arias de Ávila (also called Pedrarias Dávila), sent Hernandez de Cordoba to Nicaragua (Francisco de Soto accompanied him on this trip) to claim the land (and usurp the land claims of Gil González de Ávila ). On this trip, Cordoba founded the first permanent Spanish settlements in the area, including Granada (on Lake Nicaragua) and Leon (east of Lake Managua). After trying to claim Nicaragua for himself, Cordoba was killed by Pedro Arias de Ávila.



Christopher Columbus: Explorer

Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504.



The First Trip:
Columbus sailed for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña (captained by Vicente Yáñez Pinzon), the Pinta (owned and captained by Martin Alonzo Pinzon), and the Santa Maria (captained by Columbus), and about 90 crew members. They set sail on Aug. 3, 1492 from Palos, Spain, and on October 11, 1492, spotted the Caribbean islands off southeastern North America. They landed on an island they called Guanahani, but Columbus later renamed it San Salvador. They were met by the local Taino Indians, many of whom were captured by Columbus' men and later sold into slavery. Columbus thought he had made it to Asia, and called this area the Indies, and called its inhabitants Indians.

While exploring the islands in the area and looking for gold to loot, Columbus' men traveled to the islands of Hispaniola (now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Cuba, and many other smaller islands. On the return trip, the Santa Maria was wrecked and the captain of the Pinta sailed off on his own to try to beat Columbus back. Columbus returned to Spain in the Nina, arriving on March 15, 1493.




The Second Trip:
On a second, larger expedition (Sept. 25, 1493-June 11, 1496), sailed with 17 ships and 1,200 to 1,500 men to find gold and capture Indians as slaves in the Indies. Columbus established a base in Hispaniola and sailed around Hispaniola and along the length of southern Cuba. He spotted and named the island of Dominica on November 3, 1493.

The Third Trip:
On a third expedition (May 30, 1498-October 1500), Columbus sailed farther south, to Trinidad and Venezuela (including the mouth of the Orinoco River). Columbus was the first European since the Viking Leif Ericsson to set foot on the mainland of America.

The Fourth Trip:
On his fourth and last expedition (May 9, 1502-Nov. 7, 1504), Columbus sailed to Mexico, Honduras and Panama (in Central America) and Santiago (Jamaica). Columbus is buried in eastern Hispaniola (now called the Dominican Republic).

Samuel de Champlain: Explorer

Samuel de Champlain (1567?-1635) was a French explorer and navigator who mapped much of northeastern North America and started a settlement in Quebec. Champlain also discovered the lake named for him (Lake Champlain, on the border of northern New York state and Vermont, named in 1609) and was important in establishing and administering the French colonies in the New World.

In 1603, Champlain sailed to France on Francois Grave Du Pont's expedition. They sailed up the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay River; they also explored the Gaspe Peninsula. He returned to France in 1603, and decided to search for a Northwest Passage and to settle the Gaspe Peninsula.

He returned to Canada in 1604 on Pierre de Mont's expedition. From 1604-1607, he sailed around and charted most of the coast of Nova Scotia (to the Bay of Fundy) and down the coast to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts), and later to Rhode Island. After a short time in France, Champlain returned to Canada and helped found a colony in Port Royal, Nova Scotia (1605).

In 1608, Champlain led 32 colonists to settle Quebec in order to establish it as a fur-trading center. Only nine colonists survived the first bitter winter in Quebec, but more settlers arrived the following summer.

In 1609, Champlain befriended the Huron Indians and helped them fight the Iroquois (this battle led to 150 years of bitterness and hostility between the Iroquois and the French). It was during this venture that he discovered Lake Champlain. In 1613, he again sailed up the St. Lawrence, and explored the Ottawa River. Two years later, after returning from France, he retraced this route and ventured into what is now northern New York state and the eastern Great Lakes (Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario).

Champlain headed the Quebec settlement for years, until the English attacked and took the Fort at Quebec in July, 1629. Champlain once again returned to France. After a French-British peace treaty in 1632, Quebec was once again French, and Champlain returned as its governor (1633). He died from a stroke on Dec. 25, 1635.

CARTIER, JACQUES
Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) was a French explorer who led three expeditions to Canada, in 1534, 1535, and 1541. He was looking for a route to the Pacific through North America (a Northwest Passage) but did not find one. Cartier paved the way for French exploration of North America.

Cartier sailed inland, going 1,000 miles up the St. Lawrence River. He also tried to start a settlement in Quebec (in 1541), but it was abandoned after a terribly cold winter. Cartier named Canada; "Kanata" means village or settlement in the Huron-Iroquois language. Cartier was given directions by Huron-Iroquois Indians for the route to "kanata," a village near what is now Quebec, but Cartier later named the entire region Canada.



John Cabot: Explorer

John Cabot (about 1450-1499) was an Italian-born English explorer and navigator. In Italy, he is known as Giovanni Caboto (which is his original name).

Cabot was born in Italy but moved to England in 1495. At the request of King Henry VII of England, Cabot sailed to Canada in 1497, commanding the small ship called "Matthew." Cabot landed near Labrador, Newfoundland, or Cape Breton Island (the exact spot is uncertain) on June 24, 1497. One of John Cabot's three sons, the explorer Sebastian Cabot, accompanied him on this trip. Cabot claimed the land for England.

Cabot explored the Canadian coastline and named many of its islands and capes. The mission's purpose was to search for a Northwest passage across North America to Asia (a seaway to Asia). Cabot was unsuccessful, although he thought that he had reached northeastern Asia.

Cabot undertook a second, larger expedition in 1498. On this trip, Cabot may have reached America, but that is uncertain. Cabot's expeditions were the first of Britain's claims to Canada.

John Cabot died in England in 1499.




Daniel Boone: American Pioneer and Explorer

Colonel Daniel Boone (October 22, 1734 - September 26, 1820) was an American pioneer, soldier, and explorer. Boone was born in Pennsylvania. He founded the first US settlement west of the Appalachian mountains.

A frontiersman and folk hero, Boone explored the Kentucky wilderness from 1769 to 1782. He traveled down the Ohio River and trapped furs in the Green and Cumberland Valleys.

In 1773, Boone brought a group of settlers to Kentucky. As they traveled over the Cumberland Gap, Boone's oldest son, James, and five other members of the party were killed by Native Americans. The settlers went home to North Carolina immediately; Boone and his family spent the winter in the Clinch River Valley, then returned home.

Determined to settle the rich land of Kentucky, Judge Henderson (a wealthy local businessman) organized the Transylvania Company in order to buy land from Native Americans. Boone negotiated the price with the Cherokee Indians; their agreement is called the Watauga Treaty. In 1775, Henderson sent Boone and 28 settlers across the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, along what is now called the Wilderness Trail. Boone built a fort on the Kentucky River in what is now Madison County.

Boone was captured by Shawnee Indians in 1778 and was given up for dead. After more attacks by Native Americans, he brought more settlers to Kentucky in 1779; among these settlers were Abraham Lincoln's grandmother and grandfather.

Boone was elected to the Virginia legislature in 1781. In later Indian attacks, his brother Edward and his son Israel were killed. These attacks prompted a major campaign against Native Americans by George Rogers Clark.

Boone lost all of his land claims, and spent the rest of his life moving - he lived in Ohio, West Virginia, and Missouri. Boone's book, called "Adventures," detailed his exploits and capture by the Shawnee Indians; it was published in 1784 to much public acclaim.



CORTES, HERNAN
Hernán Cortés (also spelled Cortez), Marqués Del Valle De Oaxaca (1485-1547) was a Spanish adventurer and conquistador (he was also a failed law student) who overthrew the Aztec empire and claimed Mexico for Spain (1519-21).

Cortes sailed with 11 ships from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula to look for gold, silver, and other treasures. Hearing rumors of great riches, Cortés traveled inland and "discovered" Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. He then brutally killed the Aztec emperor Montezuma and conquered his Aztec Empire of Mexico, claiming all of Mexico for Spain in 1521. Treasures from the Aztecs were brought to Spain, and Cortés was a hero in his homeland. Cortés was appointed governor of the colony of New Spain, but eventually fell out of favor with the royals. He then returned to Spain where he died a few years later.



Juan Ponce de Leon: Explorer

Juan Ponce de Leon (1460?-1521) was a Spanish explorer and soldier who was the first European to set foot in Florida. He also established the oldest European settlement in Puerto Rico and discovered the Gulf Stream (a current in the Atlantic Ocean). Ponce de Leon was searching for the legendary fountain of youth and other riches.

Born in Santervas, Spain, in 1460 (the date is uncertain), Ponce de Leon was a soldier fighting Muslims in southern Spain in the early 1490's. Ponce de Leon sailed on Christopher Columbus' second expedition to the Americas in 1493. Ponce de Leon did not return to Spain with Columbus; he stayed in Santo Domingo (now called the Dominican Republic).

He was appointed governor of the Dominican province of Higuey. He later heard of gold in the neighboring island of Borinquen (now called Puerto Rico) and brutally conquered the island, claiming it for Spain. He was then appointed governor of this island. Due to his extreme brutality to Native Americans, he was removed from office in 1511.

Ponce de Leon was then given the right to find and take the island of Bimini (in the Bahamas); he was searching for riches and the fountain of youth (a legendary spring that gave people eternal life and health). He sailed from Puerto Rico on March 3, 1513, with three ships, the Santa Maria, the Santiago, and the San Cristobal, and about 200 men. After stops at Grand Turk Island and San Salvador, they reached the east coast of Florida (St. Augustine) in April 1513. Ponce de Leon named the land "Pascua de Florida" (feast of flowers) because they first spotted land on April 2, 1513, Palm Sunday. He then claimed the land for Spain.

They left on April 8, heading south in the warm current now known as the Gulf Stream. This oceanic current would become very important for Spanish trips from Europe to America. On the return trip, a fight broke out between Ponce de Leon's men and Native Americans in southern Florida. They sailed to Cuba, then headed north, again trying to find Bimini (but instead, finding Andros Island).

After returning to Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon resumed fighting with the Native Americans (putting down their rebellions against Spanish rule). He returned to Spain and was named a Captain General by the King of Spain on September 27, 1514, and again sailed to Puerto Rico to search for the elusive Bimini.

His last expedition was another search for Bimini in 1521. His force of 200 men landed on the west coast of Florida, but were met by Native American warriors, who wounded many of the men with arrows, including Ponce de Leon. Ponce de Leon later died in Havana, Cuba, from this wound (in July, 1521). He is buried in San Juan, Puerto Rico.



Vasco da Gama: Explorer

Vasco da Gama (1460-1524) was a Portuguese explorer who discovered an ocean route from Portugal to the East.

Da Gama was born to a noble family in Sines, Portugal. Da Gama's father Estavao was also an explorer. He was to have made the sea voyage from Portugal to India that eventually made his son famous, but the elder da Gama died before completing the journey.

Vasco da Gama sailed from Lisbon, Portugal, on July 8, 1497, heading to the East. At the time, many people thought that da Gama's trip would be impossible because it was assumed that the Indian Ocean was not connected to any other seas. Da Gama's patron was King Manuel I of Portugal.

Da Gama rounded Africa's Cape of Good Hope on November 22, and continued on to India. After many stops in Africa, and problems with Muslim traders who did not want interference in their profitable trade routes, da Gama reached Calicut, India on May 20, 1498.

At first, da Gama and his trading were well-received, but this did not last for long. Da Gama left India on August 29, 1498, after he was told to pay a large tax and leave all of his trading goods. When he left, da Gama took his goods with him, together with some Indian hostages.

Da Gama returned to Lisbon, Portugal, in September, 1499. Along the way many crew members died from scurvy (a disease caused by a lack of Vitamin C). Upon his return, da Gama was treated as a hero and was rewarded by the king.

King Manuel I of Portugal then sent da Gama, now an Admiral, on another expedition to India (1502-1503). On this second trip, da Gama took 20 armed ships (anticipating problems from Muslim traders). On this voyage, da Gama killed hundreds of Muslims, often brutally, in order to demonstrate his power.

After King Manuel's death, King John III sent da Gama to India as a Portuguese viceroy (the King's representative in India). Vasco da Gama died of an illness in India on December 24, 1524; his remains were returned to Portugal for burial.
Sir Francis Drake: Explorer

Sir Francis Drake (1545-1596) was a British explorer, slave-trader, privateer (a pirate working for a government) in the service of England, mayor of Plymouth, England, and naval officer (he was an Admiral).

Drake led the second expedition to sail around the world in a voyage lasting from 1577 to 1580 (Magellan led the first voyage around the world). Queen Elizabeth I comissioned Drake to command the expedition together with John Winter and Thomas Doughty. They left Plymouth, England, on December 13, 1577, with six ships (including the Golden Hind). They sailed to Brazil, and through the perilous Strait of Magellan (between August 20 and September 6, 1578). At Tierra del Fuego (located at the southern tip of South America), natives gave Drake and his crew food and water. They sailed by Panama (1579), where he pirated Spanish ships and settlements for food and treasures. He landed on the island of Cano, off the coast of southern Mexico. In North America, he claimed the land he called "Nova Albion" for the Queen (his exact location was kept secret, but he may have sailed as far north as northern California or even Vancouver Island, Canada). They then crossed the Pacific Ocean and sailed by Indonesia, through the Indian Ocean, past the Cape of Good Hope, and back to Plymouth, England, in 1580. Upon his return, the Queen rewarded Drake with a large sum of money (£10,000).

Drake was also involved in the slave trade and was a fierce warrior and privateer. Drake and John Hawkins were on a slave-trading trip to the West Indies (backed by Queen Elizabeth) that ended with an attack by the Spanish fleet at San Juan de Ulua, near Veracruz, Mexico. The six English slave-trading ships were in the harbor for repairs, and only two ships survived the attack, those commanded by Hawkins and Drake; the Spanish did not want the English competing in their highly profitable slave-trading business. This battle led to a series of battles that later resulted in a war between Spain and England. In this war, England crushed the Spanish Armada in 1588 and became the dominant world power. Drake helped the British defeat the Spanish Armada; he was second in command. The Spanish called him El Draque, meaning "The Dragon."

Drake died of fever at sea near Panama; he was on a voyage intending to attack Spanish colonies in the West Indies.

Pedro Álvares Cabral: Portuguese Explorer

Pedro Álvares Cabral (1467-1520) was a Portuguese nobleman, explorer, and navigator who was the first European to see Brazil (on April 22, 1500).

Cabral's patron was King Manuel I of Portugal, who sent him on an expedition to India. Cabral's 13 ships left on March 9, 1500, following the route of Vasco da Gama. On April 22, 1500, he sighted land (Brazil), claiming it for Portugal and naming it the "Island of the True Cross." King Manuel renamed this land Holy Cross; it was later renamed once again, to Brazil, after a kind of dyewood found there, called pau-brasil. Cabral stayed in Brazil for 10 days and then continued on his way to India, in a trip fraught with storms, shipwrecks (at the Cape of Good Hope), and fighting (50 of Cabral's men were killed after an attack from Muslim traders in Calicut, India, who did not want competition on their spice routes). Cabral successfully traded for spices in Cochin (now called Kozhikode), India (in early January, 1501). Cabral returned to Portugal on June 23, 1501, with only four of the original 13 ships.

After this journey, King Manuel appointed Vasco da Gama to head the next expedition (1502), and Cabral retired. He is buried in a monastery in Santarém, Portugal.



Henry Hudson: Explorer

Henry Hudson (1565-1611) was an English explorer and navigator who explored parts of the Arctic Ocean and northeastern North America. The Hudson River, Hudson Strait, and Hudson Bay are named for Hudson.

Little is known about Hudson's early life. Hudson was hired by the Muscovy Company in 1607, to find a waterway from Europe to Asia. Hudson made two trips (in 1607 and 1608), but failed to find a route to China. In 1607, he sailed to Spitzbergen (an island north of Scandinavia in the Arctic Ocean) and discovered Jan Mayen Island (a tiny island off eastern Greenland). In 1608, he sailed to Novaya Zemlya (an island north of Russia in the Arctic Ocean).

Hudson was then hired by the Dutch East India Company in 1609, to try to find the Northwest Passage farther south. On this trip in a ship called the Half Moon, Hudson sailed to Nova Scotia, and then sailed south. He found what is now called the Hudson River. Hudson is credited with discovering the location which is now New York City (although da Verrazzano had previously sailed by the area in 1524). Hudson sailed into New York's harbor on September 3, 1609 and noted what an excellent harbor it was. Hudson sailed up the river about 150 miles (240 km) and noted the abundance of rich land, but realized that this was not a waterway to India. His reports resulted in many Dutch settlements in the area.

A 1610-1611 trip through the Hudson Strait and into Hudson Bay ended in a mutiny. Hudson died in 1611 after his crew mutinied and left Hudson, his son, and seven crew members adrift in a small, open boat in Hudson Bay.
VERRAZZANO, GIOVANNI DA
Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) was an Italian navigator who, in 1524, explored the northeast coast of North America from Cape Fear, North Carolina to Maine while searching for a Northwest passage to Asia. Verrazzano sailed for King François-premier (Francis I) of France. Verrazzano's brother, Girolamo da Verrazzano, was a mapmaker who accompanyed Giovanni on his voyage, and mapped the voyage.

Verrazzano left Madeira, Spain, on January 17, 1524, and landed at Cape Fear on March 1. He first sailed south, then returned and sailed north, to New York, anchoring the narrows that are now name for him. He sailed up to Maine and then on to New Foundland, Canada, and back to Europe (landing in Dieppe, France on July 8). Verrazzano thought that North America was a thin isthmus separating the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Verrazzano was killed and eaten by Carib Indians in 1528. The Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, a suspension bridge that spans New York Harbor, connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island (New York, USA), was named for Verrazzano.



VESPUCCI, AMERIGO
Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) was an Italian explorer who was the first person to realize that the Americas were separate from the continent of Asia. America was named for him in 1507, when the German mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller, printed the first map that used the name America for the New World.

On his first expedition (sailing for Spain, 1499-1500), Vespucci was the navigator under under the command of Alonso de Ojeda. On this trip, Ojeda and Vespucci discovered the mouth of the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers in South America, thinking it was part of Asia. On his second expedition (sailing for Portugal, 1501-02) he mapped some of the eastern coast of South America, and came to realize that it not part of Asia, but a New World.



Samuel de Champlain: Explorer

Samuel de Champlain (1567?-1635) was a French explorer and navigator who mapped much of northeastern North America and started a settlement in Quebec. Champlain also discovered the lake named for him (Lake Champlain, on the border of northern New York state and Vermont, named in 1609) and was important in establishing and administering the French colonies in the New World.

In 1603, Champlain sailed to France on Francois Grave Du Pont's expedition. They sailed up the St. Lawrence River and the Saguenay River; they also explored the Gaspe Peninsula. He returned to France in 1603, and decided to search for a Northwest Passage and to settle the Gaspe Peninsula.

He returned to Canada in 1604 on Pierre de Mont's expedition. From 1604-1607, he sailed around and charted most of the coast of Nova Scotia (to the Bay of Fundy) and down the coast to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard (Massachusetts), and later to Rhode Island. After a short time in France, Champlain returned to Canada and helped found a colony in Port Royal, Nova Scotia (1605).

In 1608, Champlain led 32 colonists to settle Quebec in order to establish it as a fur-trading center. Only nine colonists survived the first bitter winter in Quebec, but more settlers arrived the following summer.

In 1609, Champlain befriended the Huron Indians and helped them fight the Iroquois (this battle led to 150 years of bitterness and hostility between the Iroquois and the French). It was during this venture that he discovered Lake Champlain. In 1613, he again sailed up the St. Lawrence, and explored the Ottawa River. Two years later, after returning from France, he retraced this route and ventured into what is now northern New York state and the eastern Great Lakes (Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, and Lake Ontario).



Champlain headed the Quebec settlement for years, until the English attacked and took the Fort at Quebec in July, 1629. Champlain once again returned to France. After a French-British peace treaty in 1632, Quebec was once again French, and Champlain returned as its governor (1633). He died from a stroke on Dec. 25, 1635.

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