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of Peru, Jaques Cartier, a mariner of St. Malo, was dis- chapter
patched by Chabot, admiral of France, on the humbler but more just and honorable errand of exploring those northern coasts of the New World already familiar to the French fishermen. Setting sail with two ships, Cartier made the coast of Newfoundland in twenty days, and, having nearly circumnavigated that island, crossed the yet nameless Gulf of St. Lawrence, and entered a bay which he named Des Chaleurs, from the heats of midsummer then prevailing. Tracing the coast to the north, he discovered and named the Bay of Gaspé, and took possession of the adjacent country for the King of France. A great estuary opened before him, which he ascended till he could see land on both sides; but, as winter was approaching, he turned about, and in thirty days reached St. Malo, carrying with him two of the natives. The report of this voyage produced quite an excitement in France, and Cartier was fitted out the next spring with three large ships and a number of colonists. As he passed to the northward of Anticosti on the day of St. Lawrence, he gave the name of that saint to the water through which he was sailing—a name gradually extended to the whole gulf and to the great river flowing into it. Up that river or estuary Cartier ascended till he reached a fertile island full of vines, which he called the Isle of Bacchus, now Orleans. The two natives brought back served as interpreters. He was hospitably entertained by a chief of that neighborhood, and, by his invitation, ascended in boats to a considerable village on the island of Hochalaga. To a hill on that island Cartier gave the name Mont Real, now borne by the whole island and the city built upon it. He returned to his ships and spent the winter at the Isle of Bacchus, where his people suffered much from the scurvy. They found relief from a
chapTER decoction of pine buds, recommended by the Indians; but
the sickness, the cold, and the long winter seem to have
Newfoundland he encountered Robertval on his outward charten passage, with three ships and two hundred men. Ro--bertval would have persuaded or compelled him to return; but Cartier escaped in the night, and kept on his homeward course. Robertval proceeded to the St. Lawrence, where he spent the winter, but in the spring returned to France. Several years later he embarked on a sec- 1549. ond expedition, but was never again heard of. The discoveries of the French fishermen, but more especially the explorations of Verrazzani and Cartier, served as foundation for a claim by France to the northern portion of the American continent. While the French were thus vainly attempting the occupation of the St. Lawrence, the Spaniards made another effort, not less vain, for the possession of Florida. This enterprise was undertaken by Ferdinand de Soto, who had distinguished and enriched himself in the recent conquest of Peru. He had been appointed by Charles V. governor of Cuba, and had obtained also a grant of Florida, in the interior of which he hoped to find and to plunder populous and wealthy nations. For an expedition thither, he collected, in Spain and the West Indies, an army of a thousand men, horse and foot, a force more formidable than that which Cortez had led to the conquest of Mexico. While his late companions in Peru were subduing Chili on the one side and New Granada on the other, and exploring the great southern rivers, the Orinoco and the Amazons, De Soto sailed from Havana, 1539. and landed at Tampa Bay, on the west side of the penin- * sula of Florida, whence he penetrated into the interior, first northerly, and then to the westward. He fought several battles with the natives, toward whom he acted with all the customary arrogance and cruelty of the adventurers of that day; but he nowhere found that rich and populous country for which he was in search. Push
charten ing still to the westward, he seems to have passed along — the southern sweep of the Alleganies, and across the heads of the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, till, at the end of two years, he reached the banks of the 1541. Mississippi, at no great distance, it is probable, from the southern boundary of the present State of Tennessee. Keeping still to the west, he reached the mountains of Arkansas, and passed the winter on some river of that region, down which he descended the next spring to its 1542. junction with the Mississippi. Here De Soto died. The remnant of his followers, greatly reduced by fatigue, hunger, and combats with the natives, built small vessels, floated down the Mississippi to its mouth, and, coasting the gulf, landed at last at a Spanish settlement near the present site of Tampico. 1540– While De Soto was engaged in this exploration, a 42. not less adventurous expedition was undertaken to regions still more interior and remote. By the orders of Mendoza, viceroy of Mexico, Vasquez Coronada, with a force of three hundred and fifty Spaniards and eight hundred Indians, set out from Culiacan, on the southeastern shore of the Gulf of California, then the northwestern limit of Spanish Mexican conquest, whence he penetrated north along the shores of the gulf to the River Gila, now the southwestern boundary of the United States. That river he followed to its head, and, crossing the mountains, reached the upper waters of the Rio del Norte, which he followed also to their sources, and then struck off northeasterly into the great interior desert as far as the 40th degree of north latitude. In all this vast region, little was found save rugged mountains
and arid plains. There were Indian villages in some of
the valleys, but little to tempt or reward a conquest. Already the peninsula of California had been discovered,
and the shores of the gulf partially explored, through the enterprise and at the expense of Cortez, the conqueror of chapter Mexico. Simultaneously with the expedition under Coronada, Francisco Alarçon was sent to trace the Pacific coast to the north, in hopes to find an imagined gulf or strait leading into the Atlantic. He reached no higher than the 36th degree of north latitude; Rodriguez de Cabrillo, sent to renew the enterprise, traced the coast 1542. as far north as the 44th degree.
Soto's disasters and Coronada's want of success dissipated the delusions of the Spaniards, so far, at least, as North America was concerned. The undiscovered land of gold changed its site, and, under the name of El Dorado, was thenceforth located in South America, on the banks of the Orinoco, amid the impenetrable forests and mountains of Guiana. The Indians on the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, made hostile by slaving expeditions, repulsed the Dominican friars who attempted 1549. to establish missions among them. The spirit which, since the voyages of Columbus, had carried the Spaniards, in the course of half a century, through such a course of discovery and conquest, began now to decline. Soto's discoveries were not prosecuted, and a hundred and thirty years elapsed before the Mississippi was again visited by white men. The country on the Upper del Norte, as we shall presently see, was conquered and colonized at a much earlier period.
In virtue of the discovery of Columbus, backed by a grant from the pope and a treaty of partition with Portugal, the Spanish court made a general claim to the whole continent of America, Brazil only excepted. Upon the discoveries of Ponce de Leon, Vasquez, Narvaez, De Soto, and others, they founded more particularly their claim to Florida, under which name they included an indefinite extent of the Atlantic coast of North America.