Original Narratives of Early American History : Spanish Explorers in the Southern United States 1528-1543

Original Narratives of Early American History : Spanish Explorers in the Southern United States 1528-1543

Original Narratives of Early American History : Spanish Explorers in the Southern United States 1528-1543 There are few Spanish narratives that are more unsatisfactory to deal with by reason of the lack of directions, distances, and other details, than that of Cabeza de Vaca; consequently there are scarcely two students of the route who agree. His line of travel through Texas was twice crossed by later explorers,—in 1541 by the army of Francisco Vazquez Coronado, on the eastern edge of the Stake Plains, and again in 1582 by Antonio de Espejo, on the Rio Grande below the present El Paso. These data, with the clews afforded by the narrative itself, point strongly to a course from the tuna fields, about thirty leagues inland from San Antonio Bay, to the Rio Colorado and perhaps to the Rio Llano, westward across the lower Pecos to the Rio Grande above the junction of the Conchos, thence in an approximately straight line across Chihuahua and Sonora to the Rio Sonora, where we find Cabeza de Vaca's Village of the Hearts, which Coronado also visited in 1540, at or in the vicinity of the present Ures. Soon after he reached this point traces of the first Christians were seen, and shortly after the Spaniards themselves, in the form of a military body of slave-hunters. As to the character of our chronicler, he seems to have been an honest, modest, and humane man, who underestimated rather than exaggerated the many strange things that came under his notice, if we except the account of his marvellous healings, even to the revival of the dead. The expedition of Narvaez was in itself a disastrous and dismal failure, reaching "an end alike forlorn and fatal"; but viewed from the standpoint of present-day civilization, the commander deserved his fate. On the other hand, while one might well hesitate to say that the accomplishment of Cabeza de Vaca and his three[8] companions compensated their untold sufferings, the world eventually became the wiser in more ways than one. The northern continent had been penetrated from shore to shore; the waters of the Mississippi and the bison of the plains were now first seen by white men; and some knowledge of the savage tribes had been gleaned for the benefit of those who should come after. There is no blatant announcement of great mineral wealth—a mountain with scoria of iron, some small bags of mica, a quantity of galena, with which the Indians painted their faces, a little turquoise, a few emeralds, and a small copper bell were all. Yet the effect of the remarkable overland journey was to inspire the expedition of Coronado in 1540; and it is not improbable that De Soto, who endeavored to enlist the services of Cabeza de Vaca, may likewise have been stimulated to action. After the three Spaniards returned to Mexico they united in a report to the Audiencia of Española (Santo Domingo), which is printed in Oviedo's Historia General y Natural de las Indias (tomo III., lib. XXXV., ed. 1853). In April, 1537, they embarked for Spain, but the ship in which Dorantes set sail proved to be unseaworthy and returned to Vera Cruz. Invited to the capital by the Viceroy Mendoza, Dorantes was tendered a commission to explore the northern country, but this project was never carried out. Cabeza de Vaca, in reward for his services, was appointed governor, captain-general, and adelantado of the provinces of Rio de la Plata. Sailing from Cadiz in November, 1540, he reached Brazil in March of the following year. Here he remained seven months, when he sent his vessels ahead to Buenos Ayres and started overland to Asuncion, which he reached in March, 1542, after a remarkable experience in the tropical forests. But the province seems to have needed a man of sterner stuff than Alvar Nuñez, for he soon became the subject of animosity and intrigue, which finally resulted in open[9] rebellion, and his arrest in April, 1543. He was kept under close guard for about two years, when he was sent to Spain, and in 1551 was sentenced to banishment in Africa for eight years—a judgment that does not seem to have been carried out, for after serving probably a year or so in mild captivity at Seville, he was acquitted. He died in 1557.

Native Americans Before 1492: Moundbuilding Realms of the Mississippian Woodlands

Moundbuilding Realms of the Mississippian Woodlands

Native Americans Before 1492: Moundbuilding Realms of the Mississippian Woodlands

The pre-Columbian culture of the Mississippi woodlands has received surprisingly little attention from historians. Studying this culture, which was in many respects highly advanced, opens an entirely new perspective on what we are used to thinking of as "American" history. This essay by a distinguished historian and teacher is aimed at world history classes and other classes that cover the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans.

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