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Juan Ponce de Leon

1460-1521

  • Sailed for Spain
  • First European to land in Florida (near St. Augustine)
  • Wanted to discover riches and lands to conquer for Spain
  • Popular legend says that he wanted to discover the Fountain of Youth (not proven)


Ponce de Leon was trained as a warrior and public servant. De Leon sailed on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus and with his family, settled on Hispaniola (Dominican Republic). Columbus had been promised by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that any lands he discovered would be his to govern and when he died, that right would pass to his son. But, upon his death, the king and queen did not hold up their end of the bargain. Instead of Columbus, De Leon was asked by the king and queen to colonize Puerto Rico. He did so easily.

In the meantime, Diego Columbus had gone to court and won the right to govern again. De Leon did not want to serve under Columbus. He had heard Indian tales of great riches and a legendary Fountain of Youth on an island named Bimini in the Bahama Islands. So he sought and was granted the right to explore the Bahamas and northward towards Florida. Six days after Easter Sunday, 1513, de Leon and his men landed in Florida near St. Augustine. He named the land "Pascua Florida" which meant "the place of flowers." He continued his explorations of the Florida coasts, both east and west and realized that this land was not a large island as he had previously believed. He encountered Calusa Indians which turned out to be unfriendly.

Additional information about Juan Ponce de Leon
http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0839647.html
http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/articles/worldhistory/juanponcedeleon1.htm

Page created by Brooks Widmaier
January 6, 2002

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