Society for the History of Discoveries

43nd Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries

October 24 – 27, 2002


Geomagnetism and the Cartography of Juan de la Cosa:
A New Perspective of the Greater Antille in the Age of Discovery
Aldo Alvarez 
(Texas A&M University)

On the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the New World in 1493, he named as his cartographer Juan de la Cosa who had proven his map making abilities during their first voyage. The Admiral appreciated the personal qualities that he observed of the maestre and owner of the Santa María and decided to confide in him this veiled and important task. The cartographic virtuoso Juan de la Cosa left us a map of the known world in 1500 that is preserved and exhibited at the Naval Museum of Madrid. It is the only known map of a witness of the first and second voyages of Columbus that includes a rendering of Cuba, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico as perceived by the instruments and knowledge of their time. The witness bases the information recorded in this map on observations made between October 12, 1492 and March 10, 1496. Recent research conducted by the ex-director of the Naval Museum of Madrid, Ricardo Cerezo, relative to the magnetic declinations in the Atlantic and the Caribbean during the age of discoveries, provides a new view of the geography of the region as perceived by the explorers of the era. The ignorance of the explorers of the magnitude of the impact of the magnetic field of the earth on the compass needle (magnetic declination) resulted in a representation of their observed geography that differs with modern era cartography. Frequently, interpretation of historic events is based on present era map representations and not on the geography as perceived by the witnesses of the period.

By knowing the magnetic declinations of the era for the Antilles, the Analysis of the map of Juan de la Cosa provides a new geographic perspective that may help in answering controversial issues. As an example, the map of Juan de la Cosa is used to analyze the traditional interpretations relative to the geographic location of the landing site in Puerto Rico by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The findings of the recent research present a different outcome than the opinions presented by Samuel Morrison in 1942, and the Academy of Puerto Rican History in 1998, relative to this issue. The decipherment and understanding of the writings of Christopher Columbus, Diego Alvarez Chanca, Michele de Cuneo, Bartolomé de Las Casas, Hernando Colon, Peter Martyr, Juan Ponce de Leon and others, depends on knowing the perception of the physical geography of the area by the explorers in order to understand the historical events.

A graph of isogonal lines of magnetic declination for the year 1500 and various charts of the Atlantic and the Greater Antilles are presented comparing the map of Juan de la Cosa with the present. These include various samples of the Spanish cartography of the period, such as the map of Captain Juan Escalante de Mendoza of 1575 of the west coast of Puerto Rico and maps from 1700 and 1737 of the area. The results of this research may provide clues in deciphering other geographic mysteries of the age of discovery.

Picturing a “Lost” City:
Re-framing the Pioneer Photographs of Machu Picchu
Roger Balm
(Rutgers University)

In July 1911, Hiram Bingham, lecturer in South American history at Yale University, was led by a Peruvian guide to the site of Machu Picchu. Carrying a folding Kodak camera and his field notebook, he set about the talk of making the first sketchmaps and photographs of this now celebrated archaeological site.

What was selected for picturing on the day that Machu Picchu was first encountered, and why? How were the images “framed” to provide the necessary documentary information? To what extent were the pictures constructed to fit popular ideas about the appearance of lost worlds rather than provide scientific fact? What were the practical difficulties of photographing the site? It is hypothesized that Bingham’s conception and interpretation of the site was determined within a matrix of personal ambition and early twentieth-century popular notions of what lost worlds should look like. These popular notions, it is speculated, had literary roots traceable to the work of authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, jack London, and Joseph Conrad. The outcome, in the case of the Bingham photographs, was a corpus of images that framed individual and collective imagination more than they documented archaeological and anthropological findings. Many of Bingham’s conclusions about Machu Picchu, including the date of its construction and the reasons for its building, have long been proved wrong. The fieldwork thus helps determine why such errors occurred and sheds light on the broader issue of how cultural expectations shape scientific endeavor.

This paper reviews the procedures and initial findings of recent field research (the 1911 Yale Peruvian Research Project) I undertook in 2002 in Peru. The project used original photographic equipment and reference material identical to that carried by the 1922 expedition. After relocating the vantage points used during the initial exploration of the site using original photographs archived at Yale University, new photographs were taken to help reveal the full meaning and intention of the pioneer images. For this presentation at the annual meeting of SHD, a 1911-vintage Kodak 3A Special camera, as used by Bingham, will be available for examination.

The Land of the Marqués’s Evening Star
Alan K. Brown

The generations that came after the conquest of Mexico still spoke of “the land sought by the Marqués del Valle” – Cortez, Hernán Cortés – “beneath the western star” but never found by him; sometimes they also applied that description to the Lower California peninsula, calling it the Island of the Marqués Star. Recently scholarship, largely Spanish-language, has done something to clarify what it was that the Conqueror was seeking through his many naval exploring expeditions into the Pacific Ocean. For example, it now seems clear that a romantic quest for the Far East and the oriental Spicery provided a motive for his actions even before he first reached the Mexican mainland. Again, ever more emphasis has been attributed to the influence of knightly romances, if not upon the conquistador himself, at least upon his European followers, as witnessed, for example, by the application of the name California. A factor that has still been overlooked is that the romance of Las Sergas de Explandián places the fictional island of California in the Southern Hemisphere and opposite the Ryukyus at the northeast end of the then known Old World, and therefore, no actual confusion between fiction and reality can have existed in the minds of those who gave the Lower California peninsula this name – bestowing it ironically, as is suggested by the presence of other, previously unnoticed contemporary toponymy drawn from this romance. A topic almost too attractive to modern writers has been Cortés’ and his rivals’ and emulators’ frequent justification of their explorations as being searches for islands of Amazon-like women, claiming a convergence, or creating one, between the European legend and an Aztec tradition of a Cihuatlan, “place of women.” The literary background certainly includes the medieval Alexander romance cycle’s Queen Thalestris – “Califrida,” apparently reflected in the California and Calafia of the Renaissance Spanish romance – and it is probably not accidental that Spanish leaders, including Cortés, regularly put their young male relatives in charge of Amazon hunts. Cortés own abortive Lower California colony was referred to as “Tarshish,” the golden Biblical land of Solomon that was sought westward between Europe and Asia by Columbus, Magellan and many others. To be sure, all such advertising claims became progressively less easy to make, with the slowly growing appreciation of the vast width of the Pacific. Evidence that includes Cortés’ instructions to his captains, especially a document deciphered for this study, shows that, even while his rivals in the search were looking for Isles of King Solomon, for new Mexicos and new golden Perus, his vision was of a relatively nearby, northwestern land “suitable for Spaniards to live in.” If, as seems quite possible, the “Cíbola” sought by Viceroy Mendoza’s disastrous Coronado expedition was a deformation of Nahuatl Cihuatlan, then Cortés’ claim that he had been the first to know of this goal seems quite justified. His last, apparently frustrated attempt to search northward provided the first exploit in the career of Francisco de Ulloa, who went on to become a remarkable explorer, and who during this voyage, the last stage of which has remained secret, may have encountered indications of the existence of great forests farther on – the same evidence found by one of the Viceroy’s expeditions merely three years afterward.

Frémont’s ‘Accidental’ Survey of the Mexican Boundary in SW New Mexico and Arizona: 
How the Disaster of the Fourth Expedition of 1848-49 Led to a preliminary Exploration
Stuart Bryan
(Rio Grande County Museum and Cultural Center)

John Charles Frémont the ‘Pathfinder’ (Nevins 1935) and famous mid-19th century western explorer attempted a crossing of the Southern Rocky Mountains during the severe winter of 1848-1849. The purpose of the expedition, his fourth to the Trans-Mississippi west, was to survey and map a route for the first transcontinental railroad. This attempt failed in disaster with the death of 12 men and all of the one hundred and twenty Missouri mules. Burdened with hidden and suppressed guilt (Rolle 1991), accusations of poor leadership and cannibalism followed this failure and led to a decision by Frémont to recover his reputation. He would write later from Socorro to his wife Jessie (daughter of Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton) that “the survey has been uninterrupted up to this point and I shall carry it on consecutively.” Was this incredible bombast or the remarks of extreme confidence? In any case, he borrowed funds, formed a new expedition at Taos, NM, moved down the Rio Grande and explored the unknown deserts of the U.S.-Mexico boundary in southwest New Mexico and Arizona to California.

The exploration party left Saint Louis on October 3, 1848 on board the steamer Martha bound up the Missouri for Westport Landing (Kansas City). Arriving at Bents Fort (Colorado) on the Arkansas River with thirty five men on November 21st, Frémont was advised of the dangerous winter conditions ahead. Not heeding these warnings he proceeded on to Fort El Pueblo where he hired the mountain man and trapper William ‘Old Bill’ Williams as his guide.

South of Canon City, Colorado the party turned up Hardscrabble Canyon and entered the Wet Mountain Valley. On December 3rd about noon they crossed Robideux Pass (modern Mosca Pass) and camped at the Great Sand dunes National park. After a bitter and cold crossing of the San Luis Valley the group sheltered in the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande Del Norte at Monte Vista on the 8th. An approach march up the Rio Grande found the party at South Fork on the night of the 11th. Here the fateful decision to enter the San Juan-La Garita Mountains was made.

Richard Kern, the expedition artist, wrote in his journal “we made a right turn into the mountains and entered a series of little canyons” (Brandon 1955, Hafen and Hafen 1960). They were approaching the mouth of West Alder Creek. By the 18th, passing over the bald flat top of Pool Table Mountain, they were badly beaten, frozen and floundering in mule high snow drifts at the head of Wannamaker Creek. This was aptly named Camp Desolation. Benjamin Kern MD the expedition’s doctor, writes “another day will bring us death and destruction.” They had crossed a high 11,850 foot saddle which Charles Pruess the German cartographer had mistakenly thought to be the Continental Divide. Frémont ordered the men to turn back on the 23rd and the party moved three miles to the famous Christmas Camp on the shoulder of Mesa Mountains near the headwaters of Embargo Creek. Here Alexis Godey, Frémont’s trusted lieutenant on two earlier western trips, prepared a holiday feast of “boiled mule in apple sauce, without the apple sauce,” mule pudding, elk steak and brandy.

Four men were sent to Taos for help on the 27th; a one hundred and fifty mile walk since all the mules were dead and starving. The so-called Relief Party consisted of Bill Williams the guide, Charles Krutzfeldt, the botanist, Thomas Brekenridge the young hunter and Henry King a newly wed from St. Louis. They were to “obtain succor” at Taos, return and meet the main party above Del Norte on the Rio Grande in 16 days. Not possible! Out on the wind swept San Luis Valley floor devoid of vegetation and away from the protection of the river the relief party suffered with Mr. King dying south of Alamosa of starvation and exposure. Frémont later coming on the three survivors and noted the condition of the King corpse with explanatory knife marks; accusations of cannibalism and blame would surely follow.

On February 14, 1849 Frémont left Taos, New Mexico taking the southern route along the Gila Trail for California. His self-appointed mission was to explore the then vague Mexican-American boundary line at the Arizona border between Douglas and Nogales. This exploration was conducted during the spring 1849 with Frémont and his party of twenty four men and sixty horses arriving safety at Warner Springs, California in late April. The Gadsen Purchase would follow in 1853 establishing the modern border.

Niza, Coronado, and the Sonoran Road to Cíbola: 1536-1540
Revisiting Old Tales with New Evidence
William B. Carter
(South Texas Community College)

The first Spanish expeditions to New Mexico left for posterity contradictory accounts of what lay in the vast territory between Culiacán and Cíbola, the Zuni Pueblo located in what would later be called the Kingdom of New Mexico. Fray Marcos de Niza was the first to make the venture, and although disaster prevented him from actually reaching the Pueblo Indians, his stories of their fabulous wealth launched one of the most extensive expeditions ever into the northern frontier of New Spain, that of the conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and the thousands of Spaniards and Indian allies who accompanied him. Upon discovering the complete absence of treasure among the Puebloans, the disappointed and angry Coronado, as well as his men, called Niza a fantastic liar. Hernán Cortéz and Pedro de Castañeda cast similar aspersions on Niza, and notable historians such as Carl Sauer and Ramón Gutiérrez have perpetuated efforts to dismiss Niza’s accounts altogether.

The present paper argues that while aspects of Niza’s descriptions were often exaggerated or fictitious, there are important elements that are worthy of attention, particularly his descriptions of the people and places of Sonora. Recent archaeological interpretations of northwestern Mexico as well as evidence in historical documents previously overlooked by historians lend credence and corroboration to significant parts of Niza’s account of Sonora. Given the devastation that European epidemic diseases wrought on the Sonoran peoples soon after the Coronado expedition, and the almost total lack of information that Coronado himself provided of Sonora, Niza’s description may well be the most important source for understanding the Indian world in that part of New Spain and the degree of change it later underwent.

Cabeza de Vaca and His Continuing Influence Over the Historical Identity of the 
U.S.-Mexican Borderlands
Lina del Castillo
(University of Miami)

Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca willingly leaves his place in early 16th century Spain and travels to a place he knows little about. Like most aspiring conquistadors, Cabeza de Vaca has expectations based on the knowledge he does have. Unlike most travelers of his day Cabeza de Vaca is shipwrecked. As a result he wanders naked and lost through “the New World” for nine years. Miraculously he survives and once safe in Spain chronicles his experiences in that unknown territory with “alien” native tribes. This chronicle now known as Naufragios has been the subject not only of detailed academic works, but also of documentaries, films, children’s books, and even musical compositions. Perhaps the reason for continuing interest in this traveler’s misadventures is the transformations he undergoes as an individual through his experiences in a region whose identity continues to be in a state of flux. Cabeza de Vaca has been referred to as the “origin of us, the late twentieth-century Mexicans.” The transformations Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca exposes in Naufragios and how later readers have interpreted the chronicle help us come closer to understanding the complex and changing historical identity of a region extending from southwestern United States to northwest Mexico.

This paper proposes to explore the influence of Cabeza de Vaca’s adventures on the changing identity of the U.S. Mexico Borderlands region by interpreting four different cultural texts. First, the original text of Naufragios will be considered in light of recent academic investigations on this intriguing report to the Spanish Crown. The next cultural text I will turn to is “The great journey,” the musical setting of Naufragios by the contemporary composer Colin Mathews which, through its form and content, further captures the tension Cabeza de Vaca reveals in Naufragios. Changing American identity in Texas particularly with respect to slavery will be examined through three children’s books based on Naufragios that were written in the United States at different, and crucial points during the 20th century. Finally, Nicholás Echevarría’s critically acclaimed film Cabeza de Vaca will be considered as it represents a visual engendering of ‘la raza cósmica.’ These four different perspectives ultimately use Cabeza de Vaca’s text to construct and disseminate particular as well as changing understandings of identity in the U.S.-Mexican borderlands region stemming from the Encounter period to our own times. 

Geographical Migration of Europeans to the 16th Century New World:
A New Look and Application of Teleology
Michael Cunningham

Value: Teleology – the ends justifies the means

Criteria to measure the Value: Historical Prospective as defined by Ronald MacArthur as the sum total of past history which influenced a given event.

Significance: This new approach to geographic education will allow the student to look at what motivated the 16th century Spanish and others to come to the Western Hemisphere. Without the concept of trying to prove what was right or wrong, Teleology looks at what happened and with historical prospective it can now explain why it happened.

Issues addressed: Without the conquest of the great native civilizations of the Western Hemisphere, what would this area look like today. Why have some of the ancient teaching by these people been stricken out of the record of history? Can we almost 500 years later finally figure out what happened when Cortez conquered Mexico? 

The Utopian Conquest of the Debatable Land
Louis De Vorsey

When the first contingent of English and Barbadian settlers disembarked at the mouth of the Ashley River to establish South Carolina in 1670, they found themselves only 250 miles from the presidio of St. Augustine but twice that distance from the nearest friendly settlements on Chesapeake Bay. Even closer at hand were the Spanish missions and threatening presidios of Guale, the region south of the Savannah River. As one colonist wrote, “wee are here settled in the very chaps [jaws] of the Spaniard.” Fortunately a treaty signed in the same year by Spain and England had the effect of confirming the legitimacy of all existing British settlements in America.

At this point Spain was not in a favorable position to contest the control of the Atlantic littoral with England. At home Spain’s economy was in a depressed state with her leading manufacturing and commercial centers decaying. Her population was declining and those who emigrated continued to choose the better opportunities to be found in established possessions in Central and South America and Mexico and avoid the unpromising La Florida frontier. On the other hand England was entirely different. Her economy was prospering and expanding and there was a marked increase in population growth being experienced. It was widely believed that England was overpopulated and that overseas colonies were an ideal outlet. One area where England was determined to seat its colonists was on the coasts of North America. It was not long before raids from South Carolina forced the abandonment of the mission field north of St. Augustine and Guale became ‘the Debatable Land.’

Although she had withdrawn from Guale as the 18th century opened, Spain still claimed sovereignty over the province to a line just north of the Savannah River. The South Carolinians, however, consistently claimed ownership as far south as the twenty-ninth parallel by virtue of the royal charter to the Lords Proprietors. The twenty-ninth parallel intersects the Florida coast just south of modern day New Smyrna Beach which is close to fifty miles south of St. Augustine. In practical terms, however, the ‘Debatable Land’ came to describe the more limited region lying between the Savannah and St. Johns Rivers. In this paper we will investigate how the English employed two Utopian undertakings in their effort to establish a permanent settlement there in the early decades of the eighteenth century. While Utopian at the outset the establishment of Georgia assured the conquest of Guale and the Debatable Land passed securely into the British empire.

‘“All the marks of a horrid joy”:
William and Edmund Burke’s account of the settlement of New Spain’
Seán Patrick Donlan
(Royal Irish Academy)

Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Irishman, British Member of Parliament, and forceful critic of the French revolution, is often caricatured as a simplistic defender of the values of the European ancien régime. The Account of the European settlements in America (2 vols, 1957), written by the young Burke in collaboration with fellow law student William Burke (no relation), provides invaluable insight for Burke scholars. As neither Burke had actually visited the ‘New World’, the Account offers, too, a fascinating synthesis of European opinion about the discovery of the Americas. Published anonymously, it became one of the most popular English-language examples of ‘travel literature’ in the mid-eighteenth century. It also shows the Burkes’ articulating the themes, and duplicating the sources, of the Scottish enlightenment, many of whom – including David Hume, Adam Smith, and William Robertson – Edmund was soon to befriend, before the best-known works of the Scots.

The Account must be read in light of Edmund Burke’s own ‘colonial’ experiences in Ireland. He was the child of a mixed (Protestant/Catholic) marriage, a life-long supporter of catholic relief throughout Britain, and a critic of British colonialism in both America and India. While the work covers both North and South America, I will focus on book one, the first half (two hundred and seventy pages) of which discusses “The discovery of America, and the reduction of Mexico and Peru’, ‘The manners of the Americans’, and ‘Spanish America’. The Account was nominally dedicated to trade, and the discussion of the ‘trade of Mexico’ centres on Acapulco and ‘La Vera Cruz’. But it extends far beyond commerce to include a discussion of the discoveries’ effect on the ‘manners’ of both Amerindian and European. Indeed, its most interesting element – and the central theme of my paper – may be the Burkes’ ‘civic’ critique of the ‘corruption’ of colonizers and colonized alike. ‘No country in Europe is seen so little money. The truth is, from the time that the Indies fell into the hands of Spain, the affairs of that monarchy have been constantly going backward (i.274)’.

The Search for Nova Albion
Charles A. Hoffman, Richard J. Lundin and Clyde H. Spencer
(Archaeology International, Wondjina Research Institute, Bio-Geo Recon)

Preliminary investigations in the Bolinas Lagoon area of Marin County, CA, have revealed the possibility of a 16th Century shoreline. Further investigations, interviews with local informants and a comparison of well-logs of the area suggest that the now silted-in lagoon was much deeper and navigable in the 16th Century.

Wondjina Research Institute and Bio-Geo Recon conducted Very Low Frequency-Electro-Magnetic (VLF-EM) surveys of a small parcel of private land near Bolinas, an area of continuing scientific interest for the past 65 years as the possible careening site of the Francis Drake Expedition. It may contain the remains of a 16th Century ship, the Tello Frigate, left by Drake in 1579. Latest research suggests that this location may also be in the vicinity of the “lost” Nova Albion Colony. Local tradition has the site as a shipyard where ship’s timbers and rusty iron pieces occasionally have been found in stream cuts and bogs. Local informants report finding deeply buried copper pots and the remains of linear earthen alignments suggestive of “gun emplacements” on adjacent, upland properties.

The Study Area is one where anomalies were revealed by airborne platforms and which lies within an area interpreted by the USGS and several recent studies as possible being a 30-35 foot deep bay in the 16th Century. As such, it would have been an ideal, secure careening site for the Drake Expedition.

Through the kind services of the property owner, we were able to complete nine north-south survey transects and to record data from over 300 points. Preliminary analyses suggest several strong, deeply buried, parallel to sub-parallel, metallic conductors that extend, at least, over 50’ of strike length. The radiometric data suggest that the area of the conductors and between them have different radiometric signatures from the surrounding sediments and bedrock.

Though most of the study area is heavily vegetated, the metal detector surveys of cleared areas and along an old wagon road alignment located numerous anomalies associated with recent past use of the property. Three anomalies were excavated for ground truthing, during which round and square nails, a fused metallic mass, and a large oxen shoe were recovered.

Art as Agent of Touristic “Discovery:” The Hudson Valley
Briavel Holcomb
(Rutgers University)

The role of the artist-traveler is stimulating later tourists to visit places depicted in paintings dates back to the beginning of leisure travel in the Grand Tour of Eighteenth Century Europe. Grand Tourists from England traveled to France and Italy in search of enlightenment as well as entertainment. Developments in philosophy and science stimulated “outward-looking thought and the urge to explore and understand encouraged a new spirit in movement…Certainly, some contemporaries made a clear link between travel and the expansion of the human mind.” The Grand Tourists of Europe collected, commissioned and themselves produced art as souvenirs and investment, and their collections stimulated others to travel.

This paper focuses on what has been called the American Grand Tour of the Nineteenth Century. Rather than seeking the cradle of civilization as their European counterparts, the American Grand Tourists traveled in the Hudson Valley and adjacent locales of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and Niagara Falls seeking sublime and picturesque nature. Early scientific travelers such as Alexander Von Humboldt, artist-naturalists such as John Muir, J. J. Audubon and John Burroughs, and later painters of the “Hudson River School” replaced pre-Romantic concepts of mountain gloom, European superstitions of forest, and “puritanically mundane views of nature.” The new appreciation of the iconography of landscape portrayed sublime nature which inspired awe, wonder, and even spiritual experience. As industrialization proceeded in the Nineteenth Century, Hudson River painters had to navigate carefully “between the savagery of the ‘wild’ scenery and the mechanical clutter of the industrial river.” Artists were necessarily selective in their portrayal of scenery, just as today tourist marketing uses highly edited scenes.

Contemporary tourism advertising frequently urges the consumer to explore and discover places that are even highly developed destinations, though they may be new to the tourist. Nineteenth Century Grand Tourists were encouraged by landscape depictions which suggested untouched nature, wilderness and “unexplored” lands – perhaps especially if the comforts of civilization were not too distant! Today, it can be argued that tourism has sometimes helped destroy the sublimity of the early 19th Century Hudson landscapes, but tourists continue to seek some of the same environmental qualities depicted in paintings of the period.

The Perception of Mexico in Elizabethan England
Lourdes de Ita
(Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo)

This paper is on the first English images of the first English images of New Spain (Mexico) acquired during the Sixteenth Century and disclosed during the Elizabethan period by the geographer Richard Hakluyt in his ‘Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation made by sea or over lande in the compasse of these 1600 yeeres’ published twice in 1589 and in 1598-1600.

The compilation, translation and research work of the Richard Hakluyt cousins related to America and particularly to Mexico published in ‘The Principall Navigations…’ show the importance that English gave to the New Spanish viceroyalty at the end of the Sixteenth century.

In Hakluyt’s work we find the testimonies of three different groups of British travelers who arrived in Mexico during the second half of that Century: Merchants, travelers and those 114 men and boys put on short in Tampico after the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa in 1568.

The purpose of this paper is to give a general scope of those travelers, their testimonies to Richard Hakluyt, Hakluyt’s own edition of the materials, and the image of Mexico in Britain derived of the experiences of all these men.

The Manila Galleons and California:
The Search for Good Galleon Ports in Baja California
Rodrigue Lévesque
(Lévesque Publications)

The search of good ports along the west coast of California, suitable for the layover of the Manila galleons, which were on their way every year during the winter months, was made necessary by the obvious need for refreshing their crews. The existence of potable water was a major concern. Galleons relied mainly on rain during their long crossings of the northern Pacific…

The history of land-based exploration to find and map such ports is intimately linked with the history of the Jesuit missions, and was the result of a standing order from the King of Spain.

· Father Ugarte was the first one to go looking for such a port, in 1706, unsuccessfully.
· The next expedition, in 1716, led to the discovery of Magdalena Bay, but no potable water.
· Fr. Guillén re-visited the same bay in 1719, but he found no water source either.
· In 1721, Fr. Sistiaga discovered a large bay in lat. 28º (Vizcaino Bay), but no watering place.
· The expedition led by Fr. Taraval in 1732 discovered some islands, including Cedros Island, but his main concern was the conversion of Indians.
· The expedition of 1751 was led by Fr. Consag, who carried an astrolabe, and explored a short stretch of coast, between 28° and 30º; again, no suitable port was found.

There were no more such expeditions after that. In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from all Spanish colonies and their missions transferred to the Franciscans, who later extended them to Upper California.

This paper will explore the problems encountered by the early missionary explorers, the need for military escorts, lack of proper equipment and knowledge of cartography, etc. Today, there would still not be any good ports between San Diego and Cabo San Lucas, were it not for water that comes from deep wells (fossil water) in the middle of the deserts of Baja California. History shows that no galleon ever stopped (willingly) anywhere between San Francisco and the Capes; however, the author has uncovered a mystery: That of the galleon San Francisco Xavier, which approached this coast in December 1704, or January 1705, and was wrecked; there were no known survivors.

Fernando Consag (1703-1759): 
Little Known and Appreciated Jesuit Explorer of Baja California
Russell M. Magnaghi
(Northern Michigan University)

Throughout the Americas, members of the Society of Jesus have been known as thorough explorers who have left detailed chronicles of their travels. One Jesuit in Baja California, Fernando Consag has the distinction of being the greatest Jesuit explorer on the peninsula, even rivaling renowned and over popular Eusebio Kino.

Father Consag was born in Varasdia, Croatia in 1703 and was educated and ordained as a Jesuit. In 1730 he arrived in Mexico and two years later he was sent to barren and relatively unexplored Baja California.

He was best known for three explorations he made in 1746, 1751, and 1753. In the course of the first of these explorations he and his Spanish and Native companions sailed up the east coast of Baja from Loreto to the delta of the Colorado River. It was his diary which told the world that Baja California was not an island.

His other two expeditions were more modest and sought new mission locations on the west and east sides of the peninsula. On all of these occasions he returned with knowledge of the environment and the Native people. Some of the diaries and reports have been published in Spanish and translated into English.

It is unfortunate that despite the significance of his work, he has received spotty coverage by California historians and as a result has remained the least recognized Jesuit explorer by these historians. 

Religion as a Survival Strategy in Los Naufragios and 
In the Film Cabeza de Vaca by Nicolás Echevarría
Tania de Miguel Magro
(SUNY Stonybrook)

In this paper I analyze the different images of the explorer Cabeza the Vaca in his account Los Naufragios and in Nicolás Echevarría’s film, Cabeza de Vaca. My starting point is the different aims and the importance of religion in each of them, according to their historical and cultural moments, separated by almost 500 years.

Religion is one of the clues to interpret Los Naufragios and the movie. Alvar Núñez uses religion in his text as a legitimating and narrative strategy. His book was completely conceived to convince the Spanish King about the relevance of his venture, in order to achieve a governor appointment for himself. The expedition’s failure, made it impossible to allege the existence of great bellicose deeds; Alvar’s only possible contribution to the Crown was to know a territory (including the languages of its inhabitants) unknown for anyone else and having pacify and prepare for the conversion into Christianity thousands of indigenous people. Among all the strategies employed to show himself as the perfect candidate, his self-portrait as a saint-prophet guided by God is probably the best and stronger one.

But, Echevarría’s interlocutor is a very different one. His work is conceived for the public on both sides of the Atlantic, descendants of colonizers and “colonizeds,” 500 years later. Cabeza de Vaca’s story (or history) is very appropriate to the post-colonial tendencies of its moment, because it rescues the voice of the other (or the others, the indigenous other and the unsuccessful conquistador other). The time gap allows the director to criticize the atrocities of the Conquer, something impossible for the 16th century willing to be Spaniard governor, but which is an almost mandatory element for any of the Quinto Centenario (Fifth Centenary) events. The film doesn’t attack religion directly, but the exaggerated fanaticism of most conquistadors. It also amplifies the importance of indigenous rituals. Alvar Núñez is a character who allows dialogue (a key- word in the Quinto Centenario), but who could not talk because his contemporary fellow countrymen didn’t want to listen to him. The last words of Cabeza de Vaca in the film, “Por qué?” (why?), imply more than a personal tragedy. 

Non-Traditional Armies in New Spain During the Hapsburg Viceroyalties
And Their Service in Exploratory Expeditions
Miguel Mathes
(Orden Mexicana del Aguila Azteca; El Colegio de Jalisco)

At the time of the conquest of New Spain, Spanish military organization followed medieval organizational patterns established in the thirteenth century. These patterns were well entrenched and were only occasionally modified during the rule of the House of Hapsburg in Spain, 1517-1700.

Two aspects of the organization of “men of war” were substantially altered to adapt to overseas expansion and to permit the maintenance of Spanish military superiority in the New World in spite of numerical inferiority. The first of these, “embarked infantry” involved the use of land soldiers aboard ships and their relationship to “men of the sea” and the naval artillery. The second involved the incorporation of native Indian forces into Spanish land armies and the use of native weaponry by Spaniards and of European weaponry by Indian allies.

This paper will discuss the traditional organization of Spanish military forces during the centuries before discovery and colonization of the New World, initial changes in organization during the first decades of exploration, and the more radical changes brought about by policies of colonization in the Americas and specifically in New Spain prior to the Bourbon reforms and military modernization in the eighteenth century.

These alterations and adaptations to situations in New Spain will be treated through examples of “embarked infantry” in the actual conquest of Tenochtitlan in 1521 and the expeditions of exploration to the Californias by Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1596 and 1602, and Isidro de Atondo y Antillón in 1683-1685. Regarding the land forces, again the actual conquest in 1519-1521, subsequent post-conquest expansion, and the great overland expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and into Kansas between 1540 and 1542, the settlement of Coahuila in 1580-1600 by Francisco de Urdiñola, and the reconquest of New Mexico by Diego de Vargas, 1692-1703 will be examined.

From the ‘Age of Reconnaissance’ to the ‘Corps of Discovery’
Carol Medlicott
(University of California Los Angeles)

Because intelligence collection and geographical discovery share the same epistemology of reconnaissance, it is possible to rethink geographical exploration as a type of intelligence collection activity. Several instances from the ‘Age of Reconnaissance’ are instructive. Additionally, in an American context, Lewis and Clark’s ‘Corps of Discovery’ offers an excellent exemplar. A clear culmination of Enlightenment scientific ideals, the Corps of Discovery also aspired to negotiate a challenging geopolitical and security terrain on behalf of President Thomas Jefferson. A general epistemology of reconnaissance, which is shared between geographic and intelligence discourses, sustained the Expedition.

A British Explorer’s Tour Across the Continent of New Spain in 1793:
The Journal of Lt. William Robert Broughton
Jim Mockford

In 1793 British explorer Lt. William Robert Broughton left San Blas on horseback accompanied by the Spanish naturalist, Jose Mozino for a two-month journey across Mexico. The author’s research on the original and unpublished manuscript, “The Journal of a Tour Across the Continent of New Spain from St. Blas in the North Pacific Ocean to La Vera Cruz in the Gulph of Mexico by Lieut. W.R. Broughton in the year 1793 Commander H.M. Brig Chatham” is presented in this paper. Broughton’s journal describes scenes of San Blas, Tepic, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and he notes the people he encountered in 1793. He also carried with him the most important new compilation of cartographic information held by an individual in 1793, the charts and dispatches of Captain George Vancouver’s famous North Pacific Expedition.

European knowledge of the North Pacific would become nearly complete with the charts and maps of the Pacific and Northwest Coast of America that Vancouver had completed during his voyage of discovery and in joint Anglo-Spanish explorations the Northwest coast. Broughton’s own contributions to the Vancouver expedition will be noted including the charting of the interior of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound, the Broughton Archipelago in the Inside Passage of British Columbia, and his 100 mile expedition by long boat up the Columbia River. (A selection of these maps will be shown in slide format.) The author will also note the role Broughton played in the meetings held between Captain Vancouver and Spanish Commander Juan Francisco Bodega y Quadra involving the negotiations of the Nootka Sound Controversy. It was the offer of assistance from Quadra that made it possible for Vancouver to send his lieutenant back to England via New Spain. Broughton’s successful return from his tour across New Spain with reports from Vancouver to the British Admiralty was rewarded with his promotion to Commander of HMS Providence on which he returned to the Pacific as the last British exploring expedition of the 18th Century. 

Defining the Northern Frontier:
Lafora and Urrutia’s Map of Northern New Spain (1769) in the Library of Congress
Anthony Mullan
(Library of Congress)

This is a well-executed, detailed map of the Internal provinces of New Spain (Northern Mexico and Southwest United States) prepared as a result of the 1766-1768 expedition to survey the presidios and defenses of Northern New Spain under the command of the Marqués de Rubi. This map includes administrative boundaries, pictorial representation of relief and selected European and Native American towns and settlements, fortifications (presidios), mines, missions, haciendas, Native American nations, rivers, streams, lakes, coastlines, and coastal features. The map is composed of four sheets that when placed together measure approximately 4 ½ by 10 ½ feet. The sheets are numbered separately: “Primera Parte” extends from the Gulf of California to Texas, “Segunda Parte” extends from West Texas to the Louisiana border, “Tercera Parte” extends from the Gulf of California to Nueva Galicia, and “Quarta Parte” extends from Nueva Galicia to the Gulf of Mexico. While minor variations appear in the title of each sheet, all sheets fit together to form the comprehensive map. Except for “Tercera Parte” which indicates that it was copied by Don Luis de Serville, all of the sheets were the work of Urrutia and Lafora alone. This map should be considered in the context of the seven or eight variants existing in other libraries in North America and Europe. Among them are those housed in the Huntington Library (San Marino, CA), the Manuel Orozco y Berra Map Library (Mexico City), the National Archives and Records Administration (Washington, DC), the British Library, and the former War Ministry Library (Madrid). Most of these were executed in either 1769 to 1771. The Lafora and Urrutia maps were drafted with primarily military and defensive aims in mind. The variant copies reflect an evolution in strategic and military planning by Rubi, Lafora, and various juntas de guerra over a short period between the late 1760’s and the early 1770’s. The earliest maps including the one at the Library of Congress have a salient common feature: a prominent red line along the thirty degree parallel with a note reading “Paralelo De 30 [grados] ô Linea de Defensa Proyectada.” This note apparently reflects then current Spanish thinking regarding what was the heartland of Hispanic America. The earlier maps (1769) also show locations of existing presidios. However, in a later variant housed in the British Library (1771), there is no line drawn along the 30 degree parallel. In this map, locations of existing presidios are shown, as well as they are future locations of 13 presidios – in addition the map contains a list of presidios to be transferred. A reason for these modifications will be proposed. 

The Little Known Scientific Accomplishments of the
Seafaring Chontal Maya from Northern Yucatan
Douglas T. Peck
(Independent Historian)

The precocious Chontal Maya centered in the northern Yucatan were far ahead of their contemporary neighbors in the arts and science including writing, mathematics, and public architecture. This study shows that the seafaring and mercantile oriented Chontal Maya were also a worldly element of the Maya civilization who traveled and spread their cultural influence not only throughout continental Mesoamerica, but ventured across the seas in exploration voyages to the islands of the Caribbean and to the shores of Florida. Consistent with this accomplishment, the Chontal Maya had developed naval engineering, metallurgy, tool design, and woodworking and ship building capabilities that enabled them to construct the large composite seaworthy vessels required. Their accomplishments in mathematics and astronomy also enabled the Contal Maya to develop a sophisticated method of celestial navigation for their long overseas voyages.

This is contrary to current consensus among Maya scholars who view the Maya as largely sedentary and introverted people with only crude log canoes and no knowledge or interest in the world beyond their own known continental borders. This narrow view was initially given impetus by the fact that Spanish explorers were firmly established in the northern Caribbean for nearly a quarter of a century without obtaining knowledge of the Maya civilization only a few days sail to the west. However, this study presents documentary and archaeological evidence that indicates there was pre-Columbian contact between the Maya on the Yucatan and the Indians of the Caribbean and Florida which could only have been accomplished in planned voyages by people of substance in large and seaworthy vessels.

White Space on Various Late Eighteenth-Century Maps of Northern New Spain:
An Exploration of Their “Silences”
Dennis Reinhartz
(The University of Texas at Arlington)

Frequently, what is not on maps, and why it is not, can be as significant as what is to more fully comprehending the maps. In one of his seminal essays, “Silences and Secrecy: The Hidden Agenda of the Cartography in Early Modern Europe” (1988), the historian of cartography J. B. Harley referred to some of these absences on maps as “silences.” They also routinely appear as and simply are called “white space.” These silences and/or white space on maps often are based on ignorance or secrecy, but sometimes their presence reflects more complex motivations on the parts of cartographers.

To further the understanding of the concepts of cartographic silences and white space and equally the relevant maps themselves, several late eighteenth-century manuscript and printed maps of northern New Spain from the collections of the University of Texas at Arlington, The British Library, and elsewhere are examined in this presentation. In this regard, for example, a close comparison between the closely related manuscript Mapa General Ychonographico de la nueba Colonia Santander …(1759) at least partially by Fray Francisco José de Haro under the direction of Agustin López de la Cámara Alta and Esta Mapa comprende todas las billas y lugaares de españoles haci como las Missiones de indios y presidios existents en la Provincia Nuevo Santander …(c. 1770) also by Haro is particularly revealing. So too is an in-depth look at various pertinent Derroteros from the period like those by José de la Baracanda (c. 1778) and Juan Agustín Morfi (1778).

‘Nowhere to Somewhere’ – 
Images of a Strategic Sliver of Land in South Central Africa, the Caprivi Zipel
William R. Stanley
(University of South Carolina)

A creation of international politics and otherwise unrecognizable except for its boundary rivers, the Caprivi Zipel has undergone profound image transformations in a politically changing Africa. The paper provides a temporal picture of a strategic region from different perspectives and different times.

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