Unit 2 - Famous Explorers Notes

Famous Explorers
There were Four main reasons why Europeans
took the risk to explore the New World,
including Texas:
1. God – to spread the Catholic religion to any
natives they met
2. Gold – to find gold for themselves and the
country financing the expedition
3. Glory – to receive recognition for exploration
in the New World
4. Land – to claim land for their mother country
Pineda was the first European to see and map
the Texas Gulf Coast in 1519. He was trying
to find a northern waterway to the Pacific
Ocean and Asia from Jamaica. His maps
included rivers that he named Espiritu Santo
(what we now call the Mississippi River) and
the Rio de las Palmas (the Rio Grande River).
In 1527, Narváez led a voyage from Spain to
the Gulf of Mexico, hoping to find gold and
other treasures in the New World. Narváez
and 600 soldiers reached Florida by 1528.
They arrived and met a Native American with
gold. They asked the native where they could
find some, and he told them how to get to a
place north of the Florida coast called
Narváez sent half his men back to find a harbor
to dock the ship, while the other 300 went
with him to look for gold. They then got lost
in the Florida swamplands. Many died from
starvation, wounds, and fights with Native
Americans. Those still alive decided to go
back and look for their ship, but when they
got back, it was gone. The other 300 soldiers
had left to return to Spain, knowing the
others had gotten lost.
Stranded and starving to death, the soldiers
began to build boats out of materials they
found on the shore. They set sail off the coast
of Florida, but the current took them west
into the Gulf of Mexico. After several weeks,
the boats shipwrecked onto an island off the
coast of Texas - which some believe may
have been Galveston Island.
Cabeza de Vaca was one of the soldiers
stranded with Narváez. He and the others
named the island Malhado, meaning
“misfortune.” Narváez died when the boats
shipwrecked onto the island. Those that
survived were left without food, water, or
shelter, and many died. Those that lived were
held captive and forced to work for the
Karankawa. Cabeza de Vaca survived in the
Karankawa village for many years, working as
a servant and healer.
Years later, Cabeza de Vaca met three other
explorers for the Narváez expedition who had
been taken as slaves by the Coahuiltecan.
One was a North African named Estevanico.
The four men eventually escaped together
and traveled from one American Indian village
to another in search of Mexico, where they
hoped to find other Spaniards. They survived
because Estevanico was able to speak many
of their languages and by helping heal sick
Almost eight years after their shipwreck off the
Texas coast, the four explorers came across a
group of Spanish soldiers, who took them to
Mexico City. Cabeza de Vaca eventually
returned to Spain and published a book about
his travels and the Native American way of
life in 1542. He was the first European to see
the American buffalo.
Coronado was a Spanish explorer sent out to
find treasure in the fabled Seven Cities of
Cibola. He searched throughout Texas, New
Mexico, and Arizona, though he found no
gold. While searching, he was the first
European to explore and write about the
panhandle of Texas. One of the groups that
he sent out to search became the first
Europeans to see the Grand Canyon.
Coronado returned to Mexico City after two
years of searching. He reported to the
Spanish officials upon his return, saying that
the land in Texas was similar to Spain. He
also told them that the many heard of buffalo
could be a source of wealth. Still, his
expedition was considered a failure because
he did not find gold.
La Salle was a French explorer sent by King
Louis XIV in order to colonize Texas and
claim it for France. He established Ft. Saint
Louis, but the colony soon failed because of
disease, failed crops, Indian attacks, and a
lack of leadership. Though he failed to settle
Texas, he did claim Louisiana and much of
the Mississippi River basin for France.

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