A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 641 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.

One circumstance, to be gathered from the peregrinations of Soto seems worthy of remark; that the scattered tribes then occupying the southern portion of North America which he visited, were more agricultural than when the country came afterwards to be colonized by the English, and not addicted to the horrible practices of the North American savages of torturing their prisoners taken in war.  Perhaps they were afterwards extirpated by a more savage race from the northwest, who have no hereditary chiefs, as were found by Soto.  From these differences, and their worship of the sun and moon, the tribes met with by Soto were probably branches of the Natches, a nation which will be described in the sequel of this work, and which does not now exist.

SECTION I.

Discovery of Florida, by Juan Ponce de Leon.

After the settlement of Hispaniola in peace by Obando, Juan Ponce de Leon was appointed lieutenant of the town and territory of Salveleon in that island.  Learning from the Indians of that district that there was much gold in the island of Borriquen, now called San Juan de Puerto Rico, or Porto Rico, he procured authority from Obando to go over to that island, which he reduced[122].  He was afterwards appointed by the king of Spain to the government of that island, independent of the admiral Don James Columbus.  In a war between De Leon and the natives, wonderful havoc was made among these poor people by a dog belonging to the governor, called Bezerillo, insomuch that the Indians were more afraid of ten Spaniards with this dog than of a hundred without him, on which account the dog was allowed a share and a half of all the plunder, as if he had been a cross-bow-man, both in gold, slaves, and other things, all of which was received by his master[123].

[Footnote 122:  Herrera, I. 327.]

[Footnote 123:  Herrera, I. 339.]

Having acquired much wealth, and being deprived of the government of Porto Rico, Juan Ponce de Leon determined upon making discoveries to the northwards, that he might gain honour and advance his estate[124].  For this purpose, he fitted out three ships well manned and stored with plenty of provisions, with which he sailed from the port of St German on Thursday the 3d of March 1512, steering for Aguada.  Next night he stood to the N.W. and by N. and on the 8th of the same month came to anchor at the shoals of Babecua, near the Isola del Viejo, in lat. 22 deg.-1/2 N. Next day he anchored at one of the Bahama or Lucayos islands called Caycos, and then at another called Yaguna, in lat. 24 deg.  N. On the 11th he came to the island of Amaguayo, and then passed Manegua, in lat 24 deg.-1/2 N. He came to Guanahani, in lat. 25-1/2 N. on the 14th, where he refitted the ships before crossing the bay to windward of the Lucayos.  This island of Guanahani was the first land discovered

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