An Interview with Hernando De Soto
The following is an interview with Hernando De Soto by Francisco Penzon, a reporter for the Andora Herald in 1541.
Penzon: Today Im with a very special man named Hernando De Soto.
De Soto: Hi.
Okay, lets get started, when were you born?
Where were you born?
In Barcarrota, Spain.
Did you do anything besides explore?
Yes, I was a military leader in Central America and Peru.
What did you do on your first expedition?
I helped Francisco Pizzaro conquer the Indian tribe known as the Inca in Peru in 1532.
Did you sail anywhere else?
Yes, after destroying the Inca, I went back to Spain and asked Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor, if I could search Columbia and Ecuador with an army. I didnt get to because the Emperor thought Id conquer all of South America, so he offered to make me the mayor of Cuba and gave me permission to search Florida. I accepted this responsibility. I had heard that there was gold in the southern part of Florida, seven golden cities to be exact. The next day I sailed to Florida with over 1,000 men, some horses, and enough food for all the men.
When was this?
In early 1539.
How did it start?
On May 30, 1539, I landed at Tampa Bay where I searched for some Indians to help me and my army make peace with the natives. Instead I found a Spaniard named Juan Ortiz who had been on an expedition and got captured by Indians 10 years before. He helped me make peace with an Indian tribe.
When I told the chief about the gold, he said it was further north. The next day my army and I left to go north. Three years later I still had not found the golden cities. During those long years I had been in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi, where I was the first Spanish explorer to lay eyes on and cross the Mississippi River. While on the other side of the Mississippi River, I journeyed through Arkansas, Oklahoma, and the northern part of Texas.So how did it feel being the first Spanish explorer to look at and cross the Mississippi River?
It felt good. I just want to know why they didnt call it the De Soto River?
I do not know. Well folks, thats all for today, it was a pleasure having you here today Mr. De Soto.
Well, thanks for having me.
Editor's Note: Hernando De Soto died of the flu while going to a sea fort in the Gulf of Mexico.