Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda (1494, Aldeacentenera
Aldeacentenera is a village in the province of Cáceres and autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain.-References:...

 – 1520) was a Spanish
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

Exploration is the act of searching or traveling around a terrain for the purpose of discovery of resources or information. Exploration occurs in all non-sessile animal species, including humans...

 and cartographer
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

. His map marks the first document in Texas history
History of Texas
European conquistadors first arrived in the region now known as Texas in 1519, finding the region populated by various Native American tribes...



The Spanish thought there must be a sea lane from the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

 to Asia. In 1517 and 1519, Alonzo Alvarez de Pineda had led several expeditions to map the western coastlines of the Gulf of Mexico, from the Yucatan Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

 to Rio Panuco, just north of Veracruz
Veracruz, Veracruz
Veracruz, officially known as Heroica Veracruz, is a major port city and municipality on the Gulf of Mexico in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The city is located in the central part of the state. It is located along Federal Highway 140 from the state capital Xalapa, and is the state's most...

. Ponce de Leon
Ponce de León
-People:* Juan Ponce de León, a Spanish explorer of the Americas and first Governor of Puerto Rico* Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the son of Juan Ponce de León II, and early settler of Ponce, Puerto Rico...

 had previously mapped parts of Florida, which he believed to be an island. Alaminos's expedition eliminated the western areas as being the site of the passage, leaving the land between the Rio Panuco and Florida to be mapped.

Alaminos persuaded the governor of Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Francisco de Garay
Francisco de Garay
Francisco de Garay was a Spanish Basque conquistador. He was a companion to Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World and arrived in Hispaniola in 1493. Here he attracted attention when he encountered a large gold nugget worth four thousand pesos.- Jamaica:From 1514 to 1523...

, to finance an expedition to search the remainder of the Gulf. Garay outfitted four ships and placed them under the command of Alvarez de Pineda. He left Jamaica in early 1519 and sailed west to follow the northern coastline of the Gulf. At the western tip of Southern Florida, he attempted to sail east, but the winds were uncooperative. Instead, Alvarez de Pineda sailed west from the Florida Keys
Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a coral archipelago in southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about south of Miami, and extend in a gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of the inhabited islands, and on to the uninhabited Dry...

 to hug the Gulf Coast.
On June 2, 1519, Álvarez de Pineda entered a large bay with a sizable Native American settlement on one shore. He sailed upriver for eighteen miles and observed as many as forty villages on the banks of the large, deep river he named "Espíritu Santo". Long assumed to have been the first European report of the mouth of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

, the description of the land and its settlement has led many historians to believe he was describing Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay
Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in the United States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the...

 and the Alabama River
Alabama River
The Alabama River, in the U.S. state of Alabama, is formed by the Tallapoosa and Coosa rivers, which unite about north of Montgomery.The river flows west to Selma, then southwest until, about from Mobile, it unites with the Tombigbee, forming the Mobile and Tensaw rivers, which discharge into...


Álvarez de Pineda continued his journey westward. There is no reliable evidence that he ever disembarked on the shores of Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

, but he anchored off of Villa Rica de la Veracruz shortly after Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés
Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, 1st Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca was a Spanish Conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile in the early 16th century...

 had departed. Cortés returned on hearing of Alvarez de Pineda's arrival. Alvarez de Pineda wished to establish a boundary between the lands he was claiming for Garay and those that Cortés had already claimed; Cortés was unwilling to bargain, and Alvarez de Pineda left to retrace his route northward. Shortly thereafter, he sailed up a river he named Las Palmas, where he spent over 40 days repairing his ships. The Las Palmas was most likely the Rio Grande.

The expedition established the remainder of the boundaries of the Gulf of Mexico, while disproving the idea of a sea passage to Asia. It also verified that Florida was a peninsula instead of an island, and allowed Alvarez de Pineda to be the first European to see the coastal areas of western Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, lands he called "Amichel." His map is the first known document of Texas history
History of Texas
European conquistadors first arrived in the region now known as Texas in 1519, finding the region populated by various Native American tribes...

 and was the first map of the Gulf Coast region of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...



After the repairs were made, the ships returned to Jamaica, presenting Garay with a map of the entire Gulf Coast "in more or less accurate proportions." Historian Robert Weddle believes that Alvarez de Pineda and many of his crew remained behind as settlers. In January 1520, Diego de Camargo set sail from Jaaica with supplies for the colony on the banks of the Panuco. On arrival, he found the Huastec tribe attacking the village. He was able to evacuate 60 colonists, but the remainder, including Alvarez de Pineda and his mother, Nina, were killed.(the hostiles had attacked them in Jamaica)
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