The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995 Page: 370
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Pineda's historic voyage resulted from the expansion of Spain's em-
pire in America, which began amid the major islands of the Caribbean
Sea. Espaiiola, better known as Santo Domingo, was permanently settled
by Christopher Columbus in 1493. By 15o8 Puerto Rico and Jamaica
had fallen, respectively, under the control of Juan Ponce de Le6n and
Juan de Esquivel. And in 1511 Diego Velazquez initiated the conquest of
Cuba. From Puerto Rico, Ponce de Le6n first touched Florida in 1513,
formally opening the history of Spain on the North American continent.
But for some time, Florida would be regarded by the Spanish as an is-
From Cuba, Fernando Cortes launched the conquest of Mexico, and
in early 1519 the Conqueror established his base of operations at Villa
Rica de la Vera Cruz, situated about thirty-five miles north of modern
Veracruz. At the very time Cortes founded the first European settlement
in Mexico, Francisco de Garay, a successor of Esquivel as governor of Ja-
maica, had also become interested in exploration.4
Garay was one of approximately 1,200 men who had accompanied
Columbus on his second voyage of 1493. As a settler on Santo Domingo,
Garay had literally "struck it rich." He and his business partner, Miguel
Diaz de Aux, claimed an enormous thirty-five pound gold nugget that
was actually discovered by an Indian girl randomly poking in mud with a
stick. The nugget was valued at 36,ooo pesos de oro-"the equivalent of al-
most 6o,ooo standard one-ounce silver pesos." Garay used a portion of
his newfound wealth to launch extensive livestock enterprises. At one
time he employed an estimated five thousand Indians just to tend his
farms and livestock.5
In 1514, after a voyage to Spain, Garay was chosen by King Ferdinand
(widower of Queen Isabella) to manage royal properties on Jamaica,
and shortly thereafter received appointment as governor of the island.
For two years Garay worked at improving the economy of Jamaica, and
then in 1517 and 1518 learned of the voyages of Francisco Hernindez
de C6rdoba and Juan de Grijalva to the Mexican mainland, both of
which were sponsored by Governor Diego Velizquez of Cuba as prelimi-
naries to the conquest of Mexico.6
It seems likely that Garay awaited the results of the expeditions of
1517 and 1518 before proceeding with plans of his own. News that Gri-
S Donald E. Chipman, Spansh Texas, 1519-182x (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992),
4 Ibid., 23; Robert S. Weddle, Spanish Sea: The Gulf of Mexico in North Amerscan Dscovery,
15oo-1685 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1985), 90.
5 Weddle, Spanish Sea, 97.
6 Ibid., 98-99.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 98, July 1994 - April, 1995, periodical, 1995; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101216/m1/426/: accessed February 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.