Hunting for a Way Through the Americas

The lure of the Indies continued to burn bright,

As shown in Columbus’s search for a passage on his last voyage.

And on 25 September 1513, seven years after the death of Columbus, a Spanish adventurer, Yasco Nunez de Balboa,

leading an expedition out of Darien, in the Isthmus of Panama,

with Indian guides, saw the Pacific Ocean sparkling before him to the southward.

Four days later he claimed “the Great South Sea,” as he called it,

Hunting for a Way Through the Americas for the King of Spain, and ventured out into the ocean in a native canoe.

A few years later Balboa was brutally executed in one of the power struggles that broke out among.

the conquistadors but his grandiloquent claim of the world’s largest ocean for his faraway king came close to achievement in coming decades.

And the name “South Sea” was to stick to this westwardlying ocean.

Hundreds of years later, the schooners in the island trade from America’s West Coast to Hawaii,

Tahiti, Fiji and beyond were to be known as Sou the a men. The hunt for a passage through the Americas was pursued with vigor.

In 1506, the year of Columbus’s death, an expedition was sent by Ferdinand of Spain for this purpose,

which merely covered again the ground Columbus had been over with such painstaking care in his last voyage.

Other voyagers kept pressing southward along the South American coast,

and in 1511- 12 a couple of traders in brazil wood or logwood-a timber in great demand in Europe for dying woolens-got as far south as the majestic estuary of the River Plate,

Hunting for a Way Through the Americas which at first was thought to be a passage through to the Pacific.

A few years later in 1515, the Piloto Major or Chief Pilot of Spain, Juan de Solis, charted the whole area.

The river was at first named for Solis, but was later named Rio de la Plata thanks to the immense quantities of silver (pl ata) that came down it from the mines of Peru.

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