This is part of a series of articles by Courtney Miller on the subject of “First Contact”–the initial contact of the Native Americans with the Europeans. “The Soto Expedition” delves into Hernando de Soto’s commission from King Charles I of Spain to “conquer and colonize” Florida.
Hernando de Soto, grew up poor in the impoverished Extremadura region of southwestern Spain and dreamed of travelling to the New World to make a fortune. Around the age of 14, de Soto managed to join an expedition to the West Indies led by Pedro Arias Dávila where he earned a fortune from Dávila’s conquest of Panama and Nicaragua. Sixteen years later, he was the leading slave trader and one of the richest men in Nicaragua.