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Biographies Unit Biographies

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado 1510–1554
Spanish Conquistador and Explorer

Francisco de Coronado was born in Spain. In 1535, he traveled to New Spain. There, he fought American Indians and claimed their land for Spain. His success led to his being appointed governor of the frontier province of New Galicia in 1538.

In 1540, the ruler of New Spain sent Coronado to lead a large expedition in search of gold riches in North America. The expedition was made up of more than 300 Spanish soldiers and several hundred enslaved American Indians, as well as many horses and herds of cattle, sheep, and pigs.

For two years, Coronado roamed what is now the Southwest region of the United States in search of gold. His travels took him as far north as present-day Kansas. He never found any treasure. His soldiers, however, were the first Europeans to see many landmarks, including the Grand Canyon.

In 1542, Coronado returned to New Galicia and took up again his duties as governor. His expedition was seen as a failure. He did no more exploring but his findings helped future European explorers in North America.

Comprehension Check

What was Coronado looking for in North America?

Critical Thinking

Why was Coronado's expedition seen as a failure?