Francisco Vasquez de Coronado was a Spanish explorer during the great exploration age of the early 16th century. He is the explorer who is credited with discovering the great plains of Kansas as he traveled through was would become the US Southwest. It wasn’t for the love of exploration that drove Coronado. He was in search of wealth as the governor of New Spain.
1. Treated As An Invader
Coronado was not warmly welcomed by the various local tribes during his quest for wealth. A fierce battle in 1540 with the Pueblo tribe even left him wounded. He wouldn’t be dismayed from his journey to find El Dorado, the gleaming city of wealth, and continued on. The only thing that stopped his quest was, in fact, the story of a city made from gold called Quivira.
2. A Cold Winter’s Night
Coronado really did make it to the city of Quivira. The only problem was that there wasn’t any gold there. They didn’t have any precious metals at all. The exploration party would winter along the Rio Grande and then head toward Mexico.
3. A Profound Discovery
Coronado may not have been able to find riches, but he did find the Grand Canyon. Although others had likely seen it before his party did, Coronado is credited with its discovery. This wouldn’t be enough to appease those in Spain or in New Spain, however, as his trip was considered a failure because there was no wealth.
4. The Start of a New Battlefield
Coronado was able to hold onto his position for another two years despite his failure to find new wealth. In order to remove him from office, charges of atrocities against the tribes his expedition had fought were finally leveled against him. This drove him out of office and he wound up spending the rest of his life as a minor government servant in Mexico City.
5. A Family Man
Although Coronado did not live to see his 50s, he and his wife still had 8 children over the years. He would be transitioned into what was called a “humiliating” government position, but this also allowed him to spend more time with his family.
Francisco Vasquez de Coronado would pass away in 1554, having only taken the one major expedition. Considering the wonders that he was able to see on that one journey, his life is proof that the perspectives people have of personal accomplishments can change over time – even when the first impression is quite negative.