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ALONSO ALVAREZ DE PINEDA

IN 1519 THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT COMMISSIONED ALONSO ALVAREZ DE PINEDA (1494-1519) TO EXPLORE THE COAST OF THE GULF OF MEXICO IN THE HOPE OF FINDING A WATER PASSAGE FROM THE GULF TO THE ORIENT. SHIPS, MEN, AND MONEY FOR THE EXPEDITION WERE PROVIDED BY THE GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA, FRANCISCO DE GARAY, WHO HAD BEEN ON CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS' SECOND VOYAGE TO THE NEW'WORLD.

PINEDA FOLLOWED THE COAST FROM WHAT IS NOW WESTERN FLORIDA TO PRESENT DAY VERA CRUZ, MEXICO. DURING HIS 9-MONTH EXPEDITION HE MAPPED NEARLY 800 MILES OF SHORELINE, INCLUDING THE RIVERS AND BAYS THAT EMPTIED INTO THE GULF. HE ARRIVED IN VERA CRUZ IN AUGUST 1519 TO FIND THAT ANOTHER EXPLORER, HERNAN CORTES, ALREADY HAD CLAIMED THE LAND. AFTER ESCAPING FROM CORTES, WHO HAD ATTEMPTED TO CAPTURE HIM, PINEDA SAILED NORTH, STOPPING BRIEFLY NEAR A RIVER THAT WAS PROBABLY THE RIO GRANDE. HE MAY HAVE DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN AN INDIAN FIGHT THERE, SINCE HIS RETURN TO JAMAICA NEVER WAS CONFIRMED.

PINEDA'S REPORT AND DETAILED MAP WERE FORWARDED TO GOVERNOR. GARAY AND THEN TO KING CHARLES I OF SPAIN. ALTHOUGH PINEDA'S EXPEDITION WAS A FAILURE IN THAT HE FOUND NO PASSAGE TO THE ORIENT, IT DID ENCOURAGE FURTHER EXPLORATION ALONG THE GULF COAST THAT LED TO COLONIZATION BY SPANIARDS AND OTHER EUROPEANS.
(1983)

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