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The Spanish in South Florida

The Spanish in South Florida


  • The Spanish in South Florida

Published Date

  • published 1940


[page 2]
quantities of turtles. They killed 170 of these animals and, to commemorate
the event, Ponce de Leon named this cluster of ten or eleven keys the "Dry
Tortugas," a name which remains to this day. (2 and 4)

Indirect result of Ponce de Leon's first voyage was a 1515 map
with the name Bimini applied to Florida. By 1521 when he returned to
explore the west coast, Florida had become the Spaniards' name for that
area of the present United States east of Texas. In an encounter with
warlike savages Ponce was mortally wounded by an arrow which pierced
his armor. His followers brought him to the harbor of Matanzas in Cuba, a
settlement which he had founded. There, with his armor, his sword, and
his banner near him, he died a few days later. (5) According to the British
surveyor, De Brahm, the name Florida which Ponce gave to the northern
land was not restricted to the peninsula until it came under British rule.

It must be remembered that Portugal, following Vasco da Gama's
discovery of a route around the Cape of Good Hope to India, had
already established colonies on the east coast of Africa and was enjoying
immense profits from the Indian trade. (6) The Spanish, limited by the
Papal "demarcation line," were obliged to confine their efforts to the
western Atlantic. (1) Magellan's voyage in the interests of Spain
showed that India could be reached by a western route but it also
showed that such a route was too long and too dangerous for profit. The
Spanish hoped to find a shorter passage somewhere north of Florida. By
1525 they had explored the whole American coast from Labrador to the
Straits of Magellan. (7)