De Soto spent his first winter on Apalachee Bay. In the spring he marched north to Georgia, hunting for a country that he had heard about, ruled by a woman. The mouatains caused him to turn south as far as the village of Mavilla (Mobile). Here he suffered great losses at the hands of the Indians, but he refused to turn back or send for supplies and men.

116. Discovery of the Mississippi. De Soto found camp for his second winter in northern Mississippi. Here the Indians attacked him again. In the spring the Spaniards moved westward for many days, finally coming upon a great rushing stream—the Mississippi, the Indians called it (1541)

On barges, which their own hands had built, De Soto and his men crossed the broad bosom of the Mississippi. Through dense forests that almost hid the sun they marched for days and days together, but found no sign of great riches. They crossed what is now Arkansas, Oklahoma, and perhaps a part of Texas. The winter of 1542 was one of great hardship for all the men.

In the following spring, when they reached Mississippi, De Soto was tired, and broken in health. A fever seized the great leader, and in a few days he died. His companions sadly buried him at dead of night beneath the waters of the mighty river he had discovered. Once more the fearless leaders made a dash for the west in the hope of finding rich treasure. They were disappointed, and returned to spend another winter on the banks o the Mississippi. Only half the army was now alive. These men built boats, floated down the Mississippi to its mouth, and finally reached home.

De Soto’s expedition discouraged further search in North America for wealth such as South America possessed, but it did extend Spanish claims to this great region.

117. Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibolo. The Spaniards easily believed most of the stories the Indians told about wonderful cities and their riches. To. the northward the Indians pointed to the Seven Cities of Cibolo.

A missionary was sent with Indians to fInd these seven cities, supposed to contain great quantities of treasure. The missionary saw only one from a hill. He feared to go nearer, and returned with wonderful tales.

The excitement was great when the missionary’s tales were told. The governor of Mexico prepared a large army and sent it forth under Coronado to conquer the cities. The army contained about three hundred of the sons of Spanish nobility. They wore coats of shining armor, carried lances and swords, and were mounted on the finest horses Mexico could furnish. Many negroes and Indians were taken along as servants to these sons of the nobility. Others went as herders to drive the oxen and to care for the cows which were to be killed as food for the warriors.

This army marched northward with high hopes. The men entered southeastern Arizona, crossing mountains and valleys. They marched into New Mexico and soon found the first one of the seven cities. It proved to be nothing but an Indian pueblo with its flat roofs. The houses were entered by ladders, and had very small windows, if any. The people were poorly dressed. They raised a poor sort of corn, beans, and melons. They also made pottery and wore blankets, as they do now. These Indians were probably the Zuñis of New Mexico.

118. Discovery of the Grand Cañon. In their search the army had divided. Some had gone to explore the Gulf of Upper California and others bad found that wonder of wonders, the Grand Cañon. As they stood upon the plateau-like banks and looked far down into its mighty depths, a distance Of over six thousand feet, or more than a mile, they saw the muddy Colorado rushing along. As they gazed upon this wonderful work of nature, they might have imagined they could see the graywalls of some giant castle, or the red stone of frowning forts built in that far-off time when the gods did battle.

Coronado spent his first winter not far from the present city of Albuquerque. He forced the Indians to give their houses to his men, and to furnish them with a supply of blankets.

119. Discover Great Herds of Crooked-Back Oxen. A fresh story told of a wonderful city took Coronado and his men hundreds of miles to the northeast. For many days they pushed onward, crossing New Mexico, the Pan Handle of Texas, and a portion of Oklahoma into Kansas. Here they found, not a wonderful city, but great prairies with their vast oceans of waving grass. Upon these grassy prairies fed countless herds of buffalo —crooked-back oxen, the Spaniards called them.

They did see a new kind of Indian. He was more savage than those in the south, and lived in a kind of tent-like house made of skins fastened to poles.

120. Meaning of Coronado’s Expedition. A year later, disappointed, with fortune gone, with many of his gay companions not returning, Coronado reported to the governor of Mexico and proved that those wonderful cities were not to be found. His report that this region was hardly fit for settlers we know to be false, and that there is little of gold or silver in it is not entirely true. They were there, but he did not find them. Coronado’s and De Soto’s expeditions convinced Spaniards that there was little hope of finding gold in the main parts of North America.


121. Las Casas, the Enemy of Human Slavery. The Spanish grandees who led expeditions generally thought themselves above work. Hence they early made slaves of the Indians. But the Indians were not used to working all day long, either in the mines or in the broiling sun. They were accustomed to a great deal more freedom than were even the Spaniards. The natural result was that the Indians, men and women, sickened and died. Among the Spaniards there was one man who set his face sterniy against making slaves of the Indians. His name was Las Casas. He devoted his whole life to the Indians, so that the Spanish monarchs called him their "Universal Protector." From the writings of Las Casas we see how hard was the lot of the Indians. "The main care was to send the men to work in the gold mines, and to send the women to . . . till the ground. . . . The men perished in the gold mines with hunger and [from hard] labor, the women perished in the fields. . . . As for the blows which they gave them with whips, cudgels, and their fists . . . I could be hardly able to make narrations of those things. . . ."

Las Casas was a monk, a just man who loved his neighbor as himself. He tried to influence the Spaniards to do away with Indian slavery, but all in vain. He went to Spain and appealed to the monarch in person, but the high Spanish officers were not in sympathy with his ideas. He continued his battle for the Indian slaves as long as he lived, and had the government officials backed him up, as they should have done, there would have been far less suffering among the red men.

The Spaniard had to have help to do his work on the great plantations in the West Indies, in Mexico, and in Central America. After the Indians proved unfit he sought the negroes in Africa. Spain became, in the sixteenth century (1500-1600), the greatest slave trader among the nations of Europe. It was easy, therefore, for the Spaniards in America to get all the black men they wanted.

122. Missions from Peru to California. The great majority of the Spaniards who came, to America were bent upon filling their pockets with gold and upon finding adventures that would test the courage of a true knight. But among them were some who came for religion’s sake. These sought out the natives and went among them as followers of the lowly Jesus, trying to teach them the simpler truths about God and the worship of him as a Supreme Being.

All this was hard to do. To aid the work, they set up a church and a school, called a "mission," among the different tribes. They taught a few of the young people to read and write. To all of the Indians they sought to be examples of what a person should be and do. They taught, besides, that the tribes should live in peace with each other, and should engage in peaceful occupations instead of in war.

These mission communities were established from Peru to California. Their people were mostly farmers, berdsmen, and workers about the mission. In some villages of the more ambitious kind, the missionaries built schools. They taught the young Indian, or tried to teach him, habits of industry; how to work regularly and steadily at whatever he did. This was no easy task for the Indians, whose fathers and mothers, for generations, had followed the "happy-go-lucky" mode of getting a living.

Among the trades learned by the young Indians were the making of the clothes they wore, carpentry, so that they might construct their rude houses, preparing furniture for the home, shoemaking, herding cattle, and so on.

Long years before the first college in the English colonies was established (1636) the Spaniards in Peru and in Mexico had built colleges. They also led the way in setting up printing presses. But neither college nor printing press grew in importance as compared with those in the English colonies.

The natural result of mingling with the Indians was a closer friendship and fellowship. This closer friendship resulted in Spaniards and Indians marrying each other. In all South America and Mexico the great majority of the civilized people are of mixed Spanish and Indian blood.


The Leading Facts. 1. Why the New World was not named after Columbus. 2. How the printing press helped defeat Columbus. 3. Balboa, and the discovery of the Pacific. 4. Columbus thought the world round, and Magellan proved it. 5. Magellan sailed around South America into the Pacific Ocean, and across this new sea to the Philippine Islands, where he was killed. 6. His ship reached Spain—the first to sail around the world. 7. Cortés marched against a rich city, afterward called Mexico, captured the ruler and the city, and ruled it for several years. 8. Pizarro invaded Peru, the richest country of all America, and captured and put to death the ruler. p. Pizarro died by the hand of a Spaniard.

Study Questions. 1. What are the reasons why the New World was named for Americus Vespucius? 2. Imagine you are Balboa trying to find the Pacific. 3. What was the meaning of Balboa’s discovery? 4. What part of the problem of Columbus did Magellan solve? 5. Where is Patagonia, and how could there be signs of spring late in August? 6. What did Magellan’s voyage prove, and what remained of Columbus’ plans yet to accomplish? 7. Why did Cortés sink his ships? 8. How were Spaniards armed, and how were Indians armed? 9. Describe the city of Mexico. 10. Who began the war, and what does that show about the Spaniards? 11. How did the people and king treat Cortés? 12. How did the king reward Pizarro for what he was going to do? 13. What did Pizarro see in passing up and down the Andes? 14. Picture the Inca coming to visit Pizarro, and Pizarro‘s reception of him. 15. What pledge did the Inca make? 16. Tell the story of Pizarro‘s march to the capital. 17. Did Pizarro deserve his fate? 18. Why was De Soto‘s expedition so large at the beginning? 19. Was he wise or unwise in refusing to send for aid? 20. How often did he come back to the Mississippi? 21. Relate the story of Coronado. 22. What was Las Casas’ occupation, and what did he do? 23. What was the purpose in establishing missions and schools?

Suggested Readings. MAGELLAN.: McMurry, Pioneers on Land and Sea, 161-185; Butterworth, The Story of Magellan and the Discovery of the Philippines, 52-143; Ober, Ferdinand Magellan, 108-244. CORTÉS: McMurry, Pioneers on Land and Sea, 186-225; Hale, Stories of Adventure, 101-126; Ober, Hcrnando Cortés, Conqueror of Mexico, 24-292. PIZARRO: Hart, Colonial Children, 12-16; Towle, Young Folks’ Heroes of History, Vol. II: Pizarro; His Adventures and Conquests, 27-327.

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© 2001 by Lynn Waterman