Early American History
Encounters in the Americas
"Fountain of Youth"
Key Concepts
The King of Spain offered gifts of money called grants to explorers who promised to lead expeditions into North America. The Spanish King believed that North America held more gold and silver than was found in Middle America and South America.

Ponce de Leon had sailed with Columbus on his second voyage to the New World. For a time, he had lived on the island of Hispaniola. Later, he explored and conquered the island that is today known as Puerto Rico. The King of Spain made him the Governor of Puerto Rico.

From the Indians, Ponce de Leon heard about a special fountain on the island
of Bimini. The fountain was said to make old people young again. It was
called the "Fountain of Youth." Ponce de Leon sailed north to find the island of Bimini. He didn't find the island, but he landed on the mainland. The mainland is the main part of the continent. He landed near what is today the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Ponce de Leon named the mainland "La Florida," which in Spanish means "filled with flowers."

Ponce de Leon tried to start a settlement in Florida, but he and his men were
attacked by the local Indians. Ponce de Leon was killed. He is known as the
first Spaniard to step onto the mainland of North America, or what is today the United States.
The Spanish Move into Florida
Haiti/Dominican Republic
La Florida
Ponce de Leon, 1513
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Additional Information

Florida - In 1521, the King of Spain commissioned Ponce de Leon to begin a colony on the "Island of Florida." He set out from Puerto Rico with two ships, 200 men, and 50 horses. Ponce de Leon didn't find gold or the Fountain of Youth. During an encounter with some Native peoples, he was shot in the thigh with a poison arrow. His men brought him to Cuba where he died of the wound.

gold and silver - El Dorado is Spanish for the "Golden One." There was a
Spanish legend that somewhere in America was El Dorado. It was said to be a place where gold was as common as sand. For many years, the Spaniards searched for El Dorado.

Ponce de Leon - Ponce de Leon was a relative of the Spanish King. When he was a boy, he was a page in the King's court. He knew Columbus. He sailed to the New World with Columbus as an adventurer. Ponce de Leon became rich in Puerto Rico on gold, slaves, and land. Some say he was bloodthirsty and cruel, but he gave away most of his money to charity.

mainland - Ponce de Leon wanted to find the Fountain of Youth that the Indians told stories about. He thought it was on an island north of Cuba. In
1513, Ponce de Leon began to explore what he thought was an island. He did not realize that he was exploring the unknown continent of North America.