Juan Ponce de Leon
Juan Ponce De Leon
Juan Ponce De Leon was the first European to set foot on the peninsula of Florida. In 1493, Ponce De Leon sailed from Spain to the New World as a crew member on one of Christopher Columbus’ ships. Rather than returning with Columbus, Ponce De Leon chose to remain behind in Santo Domingo. Here he was made the governor of a small province known as Higuey.
Ponce De Leon heard rumors of great treasures on the nearby island of Borinquen, which is the present day island of Puerto Rico. Using a small army, Ponce De Leon conquered this island in the name of Spain, and subjected the Natives to extreme cruelty. For a short time, he was named governor of Borinquen, but after his cruelty became known, Ponce De Leon was removed from office in 1511.
Ponce De Leon next conquered a small island in the Bahamas known as Bimini. Ponce De Leon had heard many stories about a fountain of youth that would keep an individual young forever, giving them eternal life. As he searched for this fountain, he discovered a land covered in flowers. He named this new land “Florida,” which means “covered in flowers” in Spanish.