A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 756 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03.
Obando accordingly issued an order, by which the Spaniards were enjoined either to put away their Indian mistresses or to marry them.  Many of the Spaniards were men of quality, and thought this a hardship; yet rather than lose the dominion they had acquired over the Indians through these female connections, they consented to marry them.  The lawyers on the island alleged that this conveyed a legal right of dominion over the Indians; but Obando, lest the Spaniards should become proud as hereditary lords, took away the Indian vassals from them as soon as they were married, and made them grants of equal numbers in other parts of the island, that he might retain them under submission, as holding the Indians only by gift.  This was considered as depriving these would-be lords of their just rights, but had the best consequences, by consolidating and securing the authority of government.

When Nicholas de Obando went to take possession of the government of Hispaniola in 1500, he carried along with him Roderick de Alcacar, goldsmith to their Catholic majesties, as marker of the gold, who was to receive a fee of one per cent. then thought a very indifferent allowance.  After the distribution of the Indians among the colonists, so much gold was gathered that it was melted four times every year; twice at the town of Buena Ventura on the river Hayna, eight leagues from St Domingo, where the gold brought from the old and new mines was cast into ingots; and twice a-year at the city of de la Vega, or the Conception, to which the gold from Cibao and the neighbouring districts was brought for the same purpose.  At each melting in Buena Ventura, the produce was from 11,000 to 12,000 pesos; and at La Vega between 125,000 and 130,000 pesos, sometimes 140,000.  Hence all the gold of the island amounted to 460,000 pesos yearly, equal to L.150,000 Sterling; which yielded 4,600 pesos, or L.150 yearly to Alcacar, which was then thought a very considerable revenue, insomuch that the grant was revoked by their Catholic majesties.  It seldom happened that the adventurers at the mines were gainers, notwithstanding the vast quantities of gold procured, as they always lived luxuriously and upon credit; so that their whole share of the gold was often seized at melting times for their debts, and very frequently there was not enough to satisfy their creditors.


Settlement of the Island of Porto Rico, under the command of Juan Ponce de Leon.

A war which took place in a province of Hispaniola, called Higuey, added greatly to the power of the Spaniards, as Obando appointed Juan Ponce de Leon to keep the Indians of that quarter under subjection.  This man was possessed of good sense and great courage, but was of an imperious and cruel disposition, and soon formed projects of extending his authority beyond the narrow bounds which had been assigned him. 

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