Abbildungen der Seite
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arm of imperial tyranny and royal despotism, will be for her a magnificent sep: ulchre.

Americus Vespucius, or more properly Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine gentleman, was born March 9, 1451, of an ancient family. His father, who was an Italian merchant, brought him up in this business, and his profession led him to visit Spain and other countries. Being eminently skilled in all the sciences subservient to navigation, and possessing an enterprising spirit, he became desirous of seeing the new world, which Columbus had discovered in 1492. He accordingly entered as a merchant on board the small fleet of four ships, equipped by the merchants of Seville, and set out under the command of Ojeda. The enterprise was sanctioned by a royal license.

He sailed May 20, 1499, under the command of Ojeda, and proceeded to the Antilles islands, and thence to the coast of Guiana and Venezuela, and returned to Cadiz in November, 1500. After his return, Emanuel, king of Portugal, who was jealous of the success and glory of Spain, invited him to his kingdom, and gave him the command of three ships to make a third voyage of discovery. He sailed from Lisbon, May 10, 1501, and ran down the coasts of Africa as far as Sierra Leone and the coast of Angola, and then passed over to Brazil in South America, and continued his discoveries to the south as far as Patagonia. He then returned to Sierra Leone and the coast of Guinea, and entered again the port of Lisbon, September 7, 1502. .

King Emanuel, highly gratified by his success, equipped for him six ships, with which he sailed on his fourth and last voyage, May 10, 1503. It was his object to diseover a western passage to the Molucca islands. He passed the coasts of Africa, and entered the bay of All Saints in Brazil. Having provision for only twenty months, and being detained on the coast of Brazil by bad weather and contrary winds five months, he formed the resolution of returning to Portugal, where he arrived June 14, 1504. As he carried home with him considerable quantities of the Brazil wood, and other articles of value, he was received with joy. It was soon after this period, that he wrote an account of his four voyages. The work was dedicated to Rene II., duke of Lorraine, who took the title of the king of Sicily, and who died December 10, 1508. It was probably published about the year 1507, for in that year he went from Lisbon to Seville, and King Ferdinand appointed him to draw sea-charts with the title of chief pilot. He died at the island of Terceira in 1514, aged about sixty-three years, or agreeably to another account, at Seville, in 1512, having published the first book and chart describing the new world.

V. The Mississippi, that broad and majestic river, as it rushes onward with resistless current to the sea, contains within its deep bosom the abode of no more daring or gallant spirit than that which animated the proud Hernando de Soto.

He was born at Barcarota in 1501 ; his family was respectable, but poor, and De Soto was obliged to depend upon his bravery for his subsistence. With this view he accompanied Davila to America, and distinguished himself so much that he had command given him of a troop of horse, with which he followed Pizarro (fig. 13) to Peru, and in that severe battle which took place between Pizarro and Almagro, (fig. 14), he displayed great prowess, and distinguish himself for his valor and prudence.

On his return to Spain, he appeared at the court of the emperor Charles V. in inagnificent style, and was attended by a knot of brave cavaliers, many of whom had been with him in Peru ; he was in the prime of manhood, about thirty-six years old, commanding in figure, and of a dark, animated, and expressive countenance. With such advantages of person and reputation he soon succeeded in gaining the affections and hand of a lady of distinguished rank and merit, Isabella de Bobadilla, which marriage strengthened his influence at court. About this

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FIG. 15.-Portrait of Hernando de Soto. time the fate of Pamphilo de Narvaez and his followers, who had gone on an expedition to Florida, reached Spain. The imagination of De Soto became excited by the narrative of this expedition ; his ambition was roused by the desire of rivalling the fame of Cortez and Pizarro, and his reputation, wealth, past services, and marriage connexions, all gave him the means of attaining his wishes. He therefore asked permission of the emperor to undertake the conquest of Florida at his own expense and risk. His prayer was granted ; numerous privileges were conferred upon him, and he was created captain-general for life, of Florida as well as of Cuba ; the control of the latter island being important to him in fitting out his armament for the conquest of Florida. The news of this expedition was soon promulgated throughout Spain, and in a little more than a year from the time that this enterprise was first proclaimed, nine hundred and fifty Spaniards of all degrees had assembled in the port of San Lucar de Barrameda, to embark in the expedition. Never had a more gallant and brilliant body of men offered themselves for conquest in the new world. All were young and

vigorous, and fitted for the toils, hardships, and dangers, of so adventurous an undertaking. De Soto was magnificent in his offers of pecuniary assistance, to aid the cavaliers in fitting themselves out according to their rank and station. Many were compelled, through necessity, to accept of these offers ; others, who had means, generously declined them, deeming it more proper that they should assist than accept aid from him. Many came splendidly equipped with rich armor, costly dresses, and a train of domestics. Indeed, some young men of quality had spent a great part of their property in this manner. This brilliant armament embarked at San Lucar de Barrameda, on the sixth of April, 1538, in seven large and three small vessels. The governor, his wife, together with all his family and retinue, embarked in the largest vessel, called the San Christoval, of eight hundred tons burden. They quitted the Spanish shore in company with a fleet of twenty-six sail bound to Mexico, amid the braying of trumpets and the thunder of artillery. The armament of De Soto was so bountifully supplied with naval stores, that each man was allowed double rations. This led to useless waste, but the governor was of a munificent spirit, and so elated at finding in his train such noble and gallant spirits, that he thought he could not do enough to honor and gratify them.

The armament arrived at Cuba about the last of May. Here the fleet remained for a long period; during which De Soto despatched a vessel to St. Augustine to se lect a safe harbor. This having been accomplished, he sailed from Havana on the twelfth of May, 1539, and on the twenty-fifth of the same month arrived at Espiritu Santo, and took formal possession of the country in the name of Charles V

The troops disembarked, and not a single Indian was to be seen; the soldiers remained all night on shore in careless security, when in the morning they were suddenly attacked by a large body of Indians ; several of the Spaniards were wounded by arrows, but reinforcements arriving from the ships, the savages were repulsed and the army took up their residence in the deserted village, the houses of which were large, built of wood, and thatched with palm-leaves Leaving a garrison in this village of Herrihigua, De Soto proceeded for several leagues into the interior, although constantly harassed by the Indians.

The fertile province in which the army was now encamped lay twenty leagues to the north of that governed by Urribarracaxi, and was governed by a cacique named Acuera, who, on the approach of the Spaniards, had fled with his people to the woods. Hernando de Soto sent Indian interpreters to this chief, repre senting the power of the Spaniards to do injury in war, and confer benefits in peace; declaring his disposition to befriend the natives ; his only object being, by amicable means to bring the people of this great country into obedience to his sovereign, the powerful emperor and king of Castile. He invited the cacique, therefore, to a friendly interview, in order to arrange a peaceful intercourse. The cacique returned a haughty reply ::Others of your accursed race," said he, “ have, in years past, disturbed our peaceful shores. They have taught me what you are. What is your employment ? To wander about like vagabonds from land to land; to rob the poor; to betray the confiding; to murder the defenceless in cold blood. No! with such a people I want neither peace nor friendship. War-never-ending, exterminating warmis all I ask. You boast yourselves to be valiant--and so you may be ; but my faithful warriors are not less brave; and of this you shall one day have proof, for I have sworn to maintain an unsparing conflict while one white man remains in my borders ; not openly in the battle-field, though even thus we fear not to meet you, but by stratagem, ambush, and midnight surprisal.” In reply to the demand that he should yield obedience to the emperor, the chief replied: "I am king in my own land, and will never become the vassal of a mortal like myself. Vile and pusillanimous is he who submits to the yoke of another when he may be free!'

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