Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Juan Ponce de León
Juan Ponce de León (c. 1460–July 1521) was a Spanish conquistador. He became the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish Crown. He is regarded as the first European known to have visited what is the present day United States of America when he set foot in Florida. In this exploration, he was searching for the Fountain of Youth.
In 1508, Ponce de León founded the first settlement in Puerto Rico, Caparra (later renamed San Juan). He was greeted with open arms by the Taino, Cacique, and Agueybana. However, once under the governorship of Ponce de León, the Tainos suffered great hardship.
On March 27, 1513, Ponce de León sighted Florida for the first time, mistaking it for another island. Later, on April 2, he landed on the east coast of the newly discovered land at a point which continues to be disputed, but was undoubtedly south of present-day St. Augustine. Ponce de Leon claimed "La Pascua Florida" for Spain, and in 1514 received a commission to colonize the "island," though he would not return until 1521.
On the second visit, Ponce de Leon and his party were attacked by a tribe of the Calusa (on Pine Island), and de Leon was injured by a poisoned arrow. After this attack, he returned to Havana, Cuba, where he died.
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