This Article Document describes the 4 year, 4,000 mile, Spanish Conquest of Native America. Hernando de Soto led an army of settlers from Havana, Spain's "Ellis Island," into North America in 1539. They were the first Europeans to describe this continent's interior. To do so, he planned to find a northern passage to trade Spain's New World fortunes with China, the finest market in the world.
Coastal Indians reported a sea to the north which DeSoto believed was the Pacific Ocean, the sea Balboa discovered beyond Panama, DeSoto's boyhood home. Magellan had sailed that sea to the Orient when DeSoto was 21 years old, but lost his life on the long voyage. DeSoto wanted to build a port city on America's Northern Sea then sail a short distance across it to China. He planned to protect his trade route from a Gulf Coast harbor, Mobile, Alabama, which would become Spain's mainland headquarters in North America, home for his settlers and a beacon for New World settlement. His search for America's Northern Sea, and enough gold to lure Spanish settlers to his new colony, was well recorded as his people plundered this continent from Florida to Lake Michigan, then to Mexico City (Spain's stronghold on this continent) to escape.
Digging up the Past Scenes from their venture were highly publicized in Europe and later in America, but were discredited over the years by the fact that pioneers never found the giant Indian cities which DeSoto's people reported in their journals. Modern scientists, however, believe those cities were located at various sites around the country. Carbon-dating indicates Indian habitation at many sites up to the time DeSoto was here, but conventional wisdom holds that DeSoto came here only to search for gold, discovering America's Great River, the Mississippi, somewhere along his way.
DeSoto's trail was located in 1995 using geographic data published in Spain just after his people returned from America. All of the landmarks they described were located using their measures and directions from the Port of Havana, a landmark established well before DeSoto and occupied ever since. America's harbors, rivers, lakes, swamps, plains and mountains have not moved since DeSoto was here. His trail was located by following his people's directions between landmarks described in their journals. Modern maps were used to track DeSoto's people from Havana and across America. His search for what he believed was the Pacific Ocean became apparent by following his army's trail to Lake Michigan.
DeSoto's people described four Indian Provinces per State, on average, each with large villages. Those villages were located at precisely the same places American cities are located at today. When pioneers settled those fertile places along America's rivers, which were Indian villages when DeSoto was here, they adopted similar lifestyles to those described in Indian villages by DeSoto's people. Pioneers used the same trails and river crossings which DeSoto used when he followed Indian guides towards his objectives. Those trails, for the most part, are highways, county roads and railroads today. Our rivers are even bridged at the same places where DeSoto crossed most of them.
These articles serve as a guide through North America before its Indian cities and provinces were destroyed by foreign diseases. Today's names of cities and landmarks are indexed with the Indian names which DeSoto's people reported. By using the various Indian names listed for a village, province or river, anyone may consult The DeSoto Chronicles, available at most public libraries and book stores, to find a wealth of information about that proximity as it existed five centuries ago.