Hernando de Soto
Born in 1496, just four short years after Christopher Columbus’s historic journey to America, Hernando De Soto soon followed in his footsteps.
In May 1539 de Soto one of the early Spanish explorers landed nine ships with 620 men, and 220 surviving horses at Shaw’s Point near present day Bradenton, Florida,which he named Espiritu Santo after the Holy Spirit. The ships carried priests, farmers, craftsmen,engineers and merchants. Although a few came from Cuba, most were from Europe and Africa,and many brought their families .Very few of them had ever traveled outside of Spain and many had never left their tiny home villages.
Hernando de Soto National Monument Near Bradenton Florida.
For the next three years, De Soto lead many expeditions into what is now the southeastern United States. In the search for gold and a passage to China, de Soto traveled extensively through what is now the Carolina’s, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. There is now much evidence that de Soto and his men traveled through Kentucky,entered Indiana near present day Evansville and ventured as far north as Chicago, turning back south through Illinois and Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
Many battles with the American Indian tribes were fought, often times causalities among the native Indians would be in the thousands. Many times de Soto and his men lost supplies, horses, and equipment .Starvation, disease, and hostile natives were thought to be just minor inconveniences, as the promises of riches was greatly exaggerated. DeSoto was expected to colonize the area for Spain within four years and as a result his family would acquire great wealth from the mother country.
The wealth was never realized, however, because of his vast explorations, de Soto was the first documented European to reach the Mississippi River.
De Soto died of a fever on May 21, 1542 in the Indian village of Guachoya on the banks of the Mississippi River. Although many of the natives doubted this, de Soto had convinced the Indians he was an immortal sun God ( as a ploy to gain their submission without conflict).
To ensure their safety after his death, his men concealed his corpse by hiding it in a blanket, weighted it with sand and then sank it in the middle of the Mississippi River in the dark of night.
Even though De Soto failed to find the riches or a passage to China,his impact was greatly felt in America. They brought horses and pigs to the new world, the pigs being the ancestors of the now famous razorback hogs of the southeast. Where would Arkansas be without their Razorbacks?
As with many of the earlier explorers, some of the negative influences were the swapping of disease, the Europeans brought with them small pox, and received in return syphilis and tobacco.
His explorations as well as those that followed opened the western hemisphere to others and eventually paved the way for the formation of a new country where freedom and prosperity would be available to every one who would desire it.
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Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature,landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt,the Canary Islands,much of the Caribbean. He has studied the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!
He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.
For more information and a link to his hard cover and Ebooks,and contact information: please check his website, http://www.journeysthrulife.com.
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