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Juan Ponce de León

Juan Ponce de LeónBorn: 1460
Birthplace: San Tervás de Campos, León, Spain
Died: 1521
Location of death: Havana, Cuba
Cause of death: War
Remains: Buried, San Juan Cathedral, San Juan, PR

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: Hispanic
Occupation: Explorer

Nationality: Spain
Executive summary: Sought the Fountain of Youth

In 1513 Juan Ponce de Leon, who had been with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage and had later been governor of Puerto Rico, obtained a royal grant authorizing him to discover and settle "Bimini" -- a fabulous island believed to contain a marvelous fountain or spring whose waters would restore to old men their youth or at least had wonderful curative powers. Soon after Easter Day he came in sight of the coast of Florida, probably near the mouth of the St. Johns river. From the name of the day in the calendar, Pascua Florida, or from the fact that many flowers were found on the coast, the country was named Florida. De Leon seems to have explored the coast, to some degree, on both sides of the peninsula, and to have turned homeward fully convinced that he had discovered an immense island. He returned to Spain in 1514, and obtained from the king a grant to colonize "the island of Bimini and the island of Florida", of which he was appointed adelantado, and in 1521 he made another expedition, this one for colonization as well as for discovery. He seems to have touched at the island of Tortugas, so named on account of the large number of turtles found there, and to have landed at several places, but many of his men succumbed to disease and he himself was wounded in an Indian attack, dying soon afterward in Cuba.

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #2024 (20 cents, issued 12-Oct-1982)

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