How is the island of Puerto Rico described?
How did the king reward Ponce de León?
Why did King Ferdinand want Ponce de León to look for new lands?
Discovery of North America
Christopher Columbus and Ponce de León’s ships landed on the island of Puerto Rico. It was a beautiful island with mountains, forests, and sandy beaches. It had good harbors for Spanish ships.
The Taino people also told Ponce de León that there was gold on the island of Puerto Rico.
When King Ferdinand in Spain heard about the gold on Puerto Rico, he asked Ponce de León to start a Spanish settlement there and send gold back to Spain. And that's just what Ponce de León did.
He brought his family from Hispaniola to Puerto Rico and started a settlement there. He also started several gold mines.
King Ferdinand was pleased with the work Ponce de León was doing. In 1509, the king rewarded Ponce de León by making him the governor of Puerto Rico.
Ponce de León was happy on Puerto Rico. But
King Ferdinand wanted him to keep exploring the Americas. The king had heard that there were other beautiful islands farther north.
And there were those stories about the magic Fountain of Youth that could make old people young again. King Ferdinand wanted Ponce de León to explore the islands and find the magic fountain.
Discovering the Continent of North America
In 1513, Ponce de León left Puerto Rico and sailed north to do more exploring for King Ferdinand. No one knows for sure now whether Ponce de León really believed in the Fountain of Youth. He probably did not think it was real. But he did want to go exploring.
For a time, they sailed past islands that had already been explored by the Spanish. Then they sailed into waters where no ships from Europe had ever been. There were no maps to help the Europeans find their way.
After almost a month at sea, they saw land ahead of them at last. This land seemed to stretch as far as they could see. Ponce de León thought that they had discovered a very big island. He did not know that he had discovered an entire continent — the continent of North America.