The Man Who Changed How We Think About American History

History Imagined

Fountain of youthFor many students, the study of American History begins with Columbus wandering mistakenly into the New World, followed by a dash around eastern North America with French and English explorers, and finally settles firmly into the founding of Jamestown and Anglo-America. They may get a smattering of information on the Spanish and Portuguese explorers, as well. Most people know the story of Ponce de Leon’s fruitless searches in Florida for the Fountain of Youth, which in the best spirit of entrepreneurialism, is now touted as a tourist attraction in St. Augustine.1 fountain of youth_0

Students of Texas history get a somewhat more fulsome treatment of Spanish explorers, especially Cabeza de Vaca. It is part of the state curriculum. De Vaca was among the remnants of Pinola de Narvaez’s Florida expedition. Starving and fearing imminent demise, they were making for the Mexican coast on crude, hastily constructed rafts when a hurricane blew them ashore…

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