We are searching data for your request:
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.
What Do Batman and Hernando De Soto Have in Common?
Tomorrow, my AP US History students will engage in their first work as young historians. They will be analyzing the historiography and changing interpretations of the infamous conquistador: Hernando de Soto. This lesson was inspired by a Teaching American History grant trip to Washington, D.C. several summers ago, in which our cohort had the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol building.
As we entered the rotunda and gazed at the larger-than-life portraits, I was drawn to the painting entitled “Discovery of the Mississippi by De Soto” by William H. Powell. I was in the process of analyzing the painting when I noticed a strange sign off to the side that said, “This Painting Does Not Verify History.” Although all of the paintings that appear in the rotunda attempt to romanticize historical events, this was the only painting of the group that had a qualifying sign situated next to it. Obviously, the sign set off a firestorm of questions and sent me off on a historical pursuit.
What I discovered is that the story of De Soto’s expedition has changed drastically over time. I wanted my students to participate in the same historical adventure that I went on so I designed a historical inquiry lesson in which students review a selection of secondary textbook accounts of the De Soto expedition.
Importance of Historiography
Using historiography as a teaching tool fosters the development of students’ ability to conduct historical analysis and research. Compiling a chronological selection of textbook accounts over the past two centuries can help students understand how written history evolved over time. History textbooks represent our collective memory and are among the most widely read versions of history. As students compare textbooks from different time periods, they can begin to see the elements of our collective memory over time. Perspectives become more apparent, stories evolve, and some events fade and lose their significance.
I begin the lesson by projecting a chronological image set of Batman and asking students, “How has Batman changed over time?” Students usually note that Batman seems to have become more muscular, edgier, darker etc. I then ask the class “Why has Batman changed?” Typically, students will note that Batman is a reflection of society. We like our superheroes to be more muscular, cutting edge and compelling than we did a half century ago. I then transition by projecting the Powell painting of De Soto and setting the scene of the lesson. I give the class a brief background about the painting, tell them about the sign, and provide students with the main inquiry question that will launch our investigation: “How has the story of Hernando de Soto’s expedition changed over time?”
I typically divide the class into five groups and give each group one account to read. After students have read their account, they answer some brief questions:
- When do you think the account was written?
- What does the account tell us about De Soto? What adjectives does the author use to describe the type of person De Soto was?
- How does this account compare to the rotunda painting? Does it “verify” it?
Groups then report out to the entire class and I reveal the actual dates of each account. We chart how the story has changed over time, revealing that Hernando de Soto was once viewed as a chivalrous hero who stood up to incredible odds and made significant discoveries. Today, De Soto receives criticism for his failed mission and brutal encounters with Native Americans and is overshadowed by the stories of Columbus, Pizarro and Cortés.
One of the main points that I want to drive home is that textbooks, especially the American Pageant book that the AP students will be reading, are merely a representation of our current “collective memory.” They are secondary sources and need to be critically analyzed and questioned as they are read. Stories tend to change over time and adapt to fit the current mood of a society. This investigation promotes the notion that the history textbook is not the source of all knowledge, but rather just one link in a long chain of perspectives and interpretations.
Another main point that I try to drive home is that European colonization and exploration was not always successful. De Soto had assembled the largest colonization force the New World had ever seen in 1839. He landed in Florida with 600 well armed men, 200 horses, as well as an odd assortment of priests, pigs and greyhounds (used to run down slaves). We tend to read the stories of Pizarro, Columbus and Cortés and marvel at the fact that a small group of Europeans with superior weapons and diseases wiped out vast civilizations of Native Americans. The story of De Soto reminds us that many times, Native Americans fought back and destroyed European conquistadors. Had disease not taken it’s toll on the Native American societies of North and South America, European settlement of the New World would have been nearly impossible.
The lesson provides a nice segway into our unit on exploration and colonization and also allows the students to critique their textbook from the start of class. It allows young learners to take on the role of a historian and reach an enlarged understanding of a topic by critically investigating a sequence of sources.
Hernando De Soto Explorers for Kids
Hernando De Soto was a Spanish explorer. When he was a young man, he traveled to the West Indes and made a fortune in the Central American slave trade. He ran into an impoverished explorer named Pizarro. Pizarro wanted to explore high in the Andes Mountains of South America. He had heard tales of an Indian tribe with great riches. Hernando De Soto supplied ships and paid for the exploration, and accompanied Pizarro on his quest.
He was with Pizarro when they captured the Sapa Inca, the leader of the Inca Empire, high in the Andes Mountains of South America, and held the Sapa Inca for ransom. He was supposed to receive the lion's share of the riches, but he disagreed with Pizarro that the Sapa Inca should be killed. He had become friends with the Sapa Inca during his captivity. Very angry with Pizarro, Hernando De Soto returned to Spain in 1536.
While he was in Spain, he married. It took a little time, but De Soto convinced the King of Spain to assigned him control and right of exploration of a place in the New World called La Florida. He left his family and returned to the New World.
Hernando De Soto explored La Florida, and far beyond, and claimed new land for Spain while looking for riches. He was the first European to cross the Mississippi River. Unlike Champlain, another explorer to the north in Canada to whom being first was everything, being first did not interest De Soto. Collecting wealth was his mission. Hernando De Soto, no matter how rich he became, never seemed to have enough wealth. That was his undoing. He kept looking for gold and jewels, mile after mile after mile, until he had explored 4000 miles of what would become the southeastern region of the United States.
About a year after he crossed the Mississippi, he and his men swung back that way. By the time they arrived back at the river, De Soto had a raging fever. He died of it. His men buried him in the waters of the Mississippi River.
Hernando de Soto (1500?–1542)
Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer who led an expedition into the southern United States. He and his soldiers were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Arkansas. Four written accounts of the expedition provide details about his trek through the state.
De Soto was born in the Extremadura region of western Spain around 1500, but the exact date is uncertain. He probably was born in the town of Jerez de los Caballeros. The second son of Francisco Méndez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco, he had at least two younger sisters and an older brother. Although the family was of noble heritage, de Soto was poor and borrowed money to travel to the New World in 1514.
He became a soldier, participating in raids and expeditions in Panama, Nicaragua, and Peru. By 1536, he had gained fame as a cruel but successful military leader in the conquest of Native American groups in Central and South America and had become wealthy from his involvement in the sale of Indian slaves.
Returning to Spain in 1536, he married Isabel de Bobadilla at Valladolid in that November. He petitioned King Charles V for a governorship in Central America, but after complicated negotiations, the king offered him the opportunity to explore and conquer La Florida, which consisted of what is now the southern United States. In addition, de Soto was made governor of Cuba, which would serve as his base for the conquest. In 1537, he began gathering supplies and recruiting a paid army to participate in the expedition.
In May 1539, de Soto set out from Cuba with about 600 men, plus horses, pigs, and equipment. His contract with the king required him to explore the region and establish settlements and forts. After landing on the southwest coast of Florida, the crew traveled through the Southeast before crossing the Mississippi River into what is now Arkansas on June 28, 1541 (June 18 on the Julian calendar, which was used at that time).
The explorers were the first Europeans to set foot in Arkansas. The four known accounts of the expedition describe the Indians they encountered in the next two years. Scholars have long debated the actual route, but archaeologists have discovered small brass bells and other Spanish artifacts at a few archaeological sites—evidence of the expedition.
Three detailed narratives of the expedition were written by survivors Rodrigo Ranjel, Luys Hernández de Biedma, and an unnamed Portuguese soldier. The fourth was written forty to fifty years later by Garcilaso de la Vega from interviews with survivors and appears to have many fictional additions. Although these accounts are biased, together they give a fairly complete picture of de Soto.
The most valuable aspect of the accounts is the portrayal of the Indian groups the expedition encountered. Until the time of de Soto’s death in 1542, the narratives mention the following names of Indian chiefs, towns, and provinces in Arkansas: Aquixo, Casqui, Pacaha, Quiguate, Coligua, Calpista, Palisema, Quixila, Tutilcoya, Tanico, Cayase, Tula, Guipana, Autiamque, Anoixi, Quitamaya, Anilco, Ayays, Tutelpinco, Tianto, Nilco, and Guachoya. Typically, the explorers used the same name to refer to a chief, the town where the chief lived, and the region under his control. Because the names were unfamiliar to the Spanish-speaking explorers, their spellings vary in the different accounts, but they are assumed to be reasonable approximations of the names as spoken by the Indians. They are the first recorded names of anyone living in Arkansas.
Relations with most Indians of Arkansas were relatively cordial, but de Soto and his soldiers thought nothing of torturing and killing those who refused to cooperate. His primary aim was the gaining of riches, and present-day Indians in Arkansas and other Southern states view him as a murderer.
After traveling around the state for almost a year, de Soto led his expedition back to the Mississippi River, somewhere in southeast Arkansas. By that time, he and most of his entourage were disillusioned and tired of the difficult journey and the battles with Indians over the past three years. The gold and other riches they sought were not to be found, and approximately half of the original 600 men had been killed since landing in Florida. None was more disappointed than de Soto, and he sent an exploratory party down the Mississippi to see whether it was feasible to build boats and sail to Mexico. When the men returned a week later, having failed to find the Gulf of Mexico, de Soto fell ill. He apparently was afflicted with some kind of fever and died at a place called Guachoya, likely modern-day Lake Village (Chicot County), on May 31, 1542 (May 21, 1542, Julian calendar).
De Soto’s death presented difficulties for the expedition members, in part because he had convinced local Indians that he was an immortal “Son of the Sun.” The soldiers explained that he had risen into the sky and then buried his corpse under cover of darkness. Within days, it was obvious that the Indians had noticed the freshly dug soil and were suspicious. Fearing desecration of his corpse and the consequences if the Indians confirmed de Soto’s mortality, the soldiers dug up the body at night, weighted it down, and dumped it into the Mississippi River from a canoe. A little over a year later, the survivors built barges and sailed down the Mississippi, after first trying to travel to Mexico by land.
The de Soto expedition was ultimately a failure. When he arrived in Arkansas, he still saw himself as a gallant conqueror, but, by the time of his death, his spirit was broken.
For additional information:
Childs, H. Terry, and Charles H. McNutt. “Hernando de Soto’s Route from Chicaca through Northeast Arkansas: A Suggestion.” Southeastern Archeology 28 (Winter 2009): 165–183.
Clayton, Lawrence A., Vernon James Knight Jr., and Edward C. Moore, eds. The De Soto Chronicles: The Expedition of Hernando de Soto to North America in 1539–1543. 2 vols. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.
Duncan, David Ewing. Hernando de Soto: A Savage Quest in the Americas. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
Hudson, Charles. Knights of Spain, Warriors of the Sun: Hernando de Soto and the South’s Ancient Chiefdoms. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1997.
Schaeffer, Kelly. “Disease and de Soto: A Bioarchaeological Approach to the Introduction of Malaria to the Southeast US.” MA thesis, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, 2019.
Young, Gloria A., and Michael P. Hoffman, eds. The Expedition of Hernando de Soto West of the Mississippi, 1541–1543. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.
Jeffrey M. Mitchem
Arkansas Archeological Survey
This entry, originally published in Arkansas Biography: A Collection of Notable Lives, appears in the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas in an altered form. Arkansas Biography is available from the University of Arkansas Press.
Links on Hernando De Soto - History
Hernando de Soto was born circa 1500 in Extremadura, Spain, to parents who were both ''hidalgos'', nobility of modest means. The region was poor and many people struggled to survive young people looked for ways to seek their fortune elsewhere. He was born in the current province of Badajoz. Three towns—Badajoz, Barcarrota and Jerez de los Caballeros—claim to be his birthplace. He spent time as a child at each place. He stipulated in his will that his body be interred at Jerez de los Caballeros, where other members of his family were buried. A few years before his birth, the Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon conquered the last Islamic kingdom of the Iberian peninsula. Spain and Portugal were filled with young men seeking a chance for military fame after the defeat of the Moors. With Christopher Columbus's discovery of new lands (which he thought to be East Asia) across the ocean to the west, young men were attracted to rumors of adventure, glory and wealth.
De Soto returned to Spain in 1536, with wealth gathered from plunder in the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. He was admitted into the prestigious Order of Santiago and "granted the right to conquer Florida". His share was awarded to him by the King of Spain, and he received 724 marks of gold, and 17,740 pesos. Von Hagen, Victor W., 1955, "De Soto and the Golden Road", ''American Heritage'', August 1955, ''Vol.VI, No.5'', American Heritage Publishing, New York, pp.102-103. He married Isabel de Bobadilla, daughter of Pedrarias Dávila and a relative of a confidante of Queen Isabella. De Soto petitioned King Charles to lead the government of Guatemala, with "permission to create discovery in the South Sea." He was granted the governorship of Cuba instead. De Soto was expected to colonize the North American continent for Spain within 4 years, for which his family would be given a sizable piece of land. Fascinated by the stories of Cabeza de Vaca, who had survived years in North America after becoming a castaway and had just returned to Spain, de Soto selected 620 Spanish and Portuguese volunteers, including some of mixed-race African descent known as Atlantic Creoles, to accompany him to govern Cuba and colonize North America. Averaging 24 years of age, the men embarked from Havana on seven of the King's ships and two caravels of de Soto's. With tons of heavy armor and equipment, they also carried more than 500 head of livestock, including 237 horses and 200 pigs, for their planned four-year continental expedition. De Soto wrote a new will before embarking on his travels. On 10 May 1539, he wrote in his will:
De Soto's exploration of North America
In May 1539, de Soto landed nine ships with over 620 men and 220 horses in an area generally identified as south Tampa Bay. Historian Robert S. Weddle has suggested that he landed at either Charlotte Harbor or San Carlos Bay. He named the land as ''Espíritu Santo'' after the Holy Spirit. The ships carried priests, craftsmen, engineers, farmers, and merchants some with their families, some from Cuba, most from Europe and Africa. Few of the men had traveled before outside of Spain, or even away from their home villages. Near de Soto's port, the party found Juan Ortiz, a Spaniard living with the Mocoso people. Ortiz had been captured by the Uzita while searching for the lost Narváez expedition he later escaped to Mocoso. Ortiz had learned the Timucua language and served as an interpreter to de Soto as he traversed the Timucuan-speaking areas on his way to Apalachee. Ortiz developed a method for guiding the expedition and communicating with the various tribes, who spoke many dialects and languages. He recruited guides from each tribe along the route. A chain of communication was established whereby a guide who had lived in close proximity to another tribal area was able to pass his information and language on to a guide from a neighboring area. Because Ortiz refused to dress as an ''hidalgo'' Spaniard, other officers questioned his motives. De Soto remained loyal to Ortiz, allowing him the freedom to dress and live among his native friends. Another important guide was the seventeen-year-old boy ''Perico'', or Pedro, from what is now Georgia. He spoke several of the local tribes' languages and could communicate with Ortiz. Perico was taken as a guide in 1540. The Spanish had also captured other Indians, whom they used as slave labor. Perico was treated better due to his value to the Spaniards. The expedition traveled north, exploring Florida's West Coast, and encountering native ambushes and conflicts along the way. De Soto's first winter encampment was at ''Anhaica'', the capital of the Apalachee people. It is one of the few places on the route where archaeologists have found physical traces of the expedition. The chroniclers described this settlement as being near the "Bay of Horses". The bay was named for events of the 1527 Narváez expedition, the members of which, dying of starvation, killed and ate their horses while building boats for escape by the Gulf of Mexico. From their winter location in the western panhandle of Florida, having heard of gold being mined "toward the sun's rising", the expedition turned northeast through what is now the modern state of Georgia. Based on archaeological finds made in 2009 at a remote, privately owned site near the Ocmulgee River, researchers believe that de Soto's expedition stopped in Telfair County. Artifacts found here include nine glass trade beads, some of which bear a chevron pattern made in Venice for a limited period of time and believed to be indicative of the de Soto expedition. Six metal objects were also found, including a silver pendant and some iron tools. The rarest items were found within what researchers believe was a large council house of the indigenous people whom de Soto was visiting. The expedition continued to present-day South Carolina. There the expedition recorded being received by a female chief (''Cofitachequi''), who gave her tribe's pearls, food and other goods to the Spanish soldiers. The expedition found no gold, however, other than pieces from an earlier coastal expedition (presumably that of Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón.) De Soto headed north into the Appalachian Mountains of present-day western North Carolina, where he spent a month resting the horses while his men searched for gold. De Soto next entered eastern Tennessee. At this point, De Soto either continued along the Tennessee River to enter Alabama from the north (according to John R. Swanton), or turned south and entered northern Georgia (according to Charles M. Hudson). The route that Swanton proposed in 1939 is still generally accepted by most archaeologists and by the U.S. government as the route of the de Soto expedition.. De Soto's expedition spent another month in the Coosa chiefdom, believed to have been connected to the large and complex Mississippian culture, which extended throughout the Mississippi Valley and its tributaries. He turned south toward the Gulf of Mexico to meet two ships bearing fresh supplies from Havana. Along the way, de Soto was led into ''Mauvila'' (or ''Mabila''), a fortified city in southern Alabama. The Mobilian tribe, under chief Tuskaloosa, ambushed de Soto's army. Other sources suggest de Soto's men were attacked after attempting to force their way into a cabin occupied by Tuskaloosa. The Spaniards fought their way out, and retaliated by burning the town to the ground. During the nine-hour encounter, about 200 Spaniards died, and 150 more were badly wounded, according to the chronicler Elvas. Twenty more died during the next few weeks. They killed an estimated 2,000-6,000 warriors at Mabila, making the battle one of the bloodiest in recorded North American history. The Spaniards won a Pyrrhic victory, as they had lost most of their possessions and nearly one-quarter of their horses. The Spaniards were wounded and sickened, surrounded by enemies and without equipment in an unknown territory. Fearing that word of this would reach Spain if his men reached the ships at Mobile Bay, de Soto led them away from the Gulf Coast. He moved into inland Mississippi, most likely near present-day Tupelo, where they spent the winter. In the spring of 1541, de Soto demanded 200 men as porters from the Chickasaw. They refused his demand and attacked the Spanish camp during the night. The Spaniards lost about 40 men and the remainder of their limited equipment. According to participating chroniclers, the expedition could have been destroyed at this point, but the Chickasaw let them go. On May 8, 1541, de Soto's troops reached the Mississippi River. De Soto had little interest in the river, which in his view was an obstacle to his mission. There has been considerable research into the exact location where de Soto crossed the Mississippi River. A commission appointed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935 determined that Sunflower Landing, Mississippi, was the "most likely" crossing place. De Soto and his men spent a month building flatboats, and crossed the river at night to avoid the Native Americans who were patrolling the river. De Soto had hostile relations with the native people in this area. In the late 20th century, research suggests other locations may have been the site of de Soto's crossing, including three locations in Mississippi: Commerce, Friars Point, and Walls, as well as Memphis, Tennessee. Once across the river, the expedition continued traveling westward through modern-day Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. They wintered in ''Autiamique'', on the Arkansas River. After a harsh winter, the Spanish expedition decamped and moved on more erratically. Their interpreter Juan Ortiz had died, making it more difficult for them to get directions and food sources, and generally to communicate with the Natives. The expedition went as far inland as the Caddo River, where they clashed with a Native American tribe called the Tula in October 1541. The Spaniards characterized them as the most skilled and dangerous warriors they had encountered. Carter, Cecile Elkins
''Caddo Indians: Where We Come From''.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001: 21. This may have happened in the area of present-day Caddo Gap, Arkansas (a monument to the de Soto expedition was erected in that community). Eventually, the Spaniards returned to the Mississippi River. De Soto died of a fever on May 21, 1542, in the native village of ''Guachoya'' (historical sources disagree as to whether de Soto died near present-day McArthur, Arkansas, or in Louisiana) Charles Hudson (1997)
Page 349-52 "Death of de Soto"
on the western bank of the Mississippi. Louisiana erected a historical marker at the estimated site. Before his death, de Soto chose Luis de Moscoso Alvarado, his former maestro de campo (or field commander), to assume command of the expedition. At the time of death, de Soto owned four Indian slaves, three horses, and 700 hogs. De Soto had encouraged the local natives to believe that he was a deity, specifically an "immortal Son of the Sun," as a ploy to gain their submission without conflict. Some of the natives had already become skeptical of de Soto's deity claims, so his men were anxious to conceal his death. The actual site of his burial is not known. According to one source, de Soto's men hid his corpse in blankets weighted with sand and sank it in the middle of the Mississippi River during the night.
Return of the expedition to Mexico City
Effects of expedition in North America
Many parks, towns, counties, and institutions have been named after Hernando de Soto, to include:
Chronicles (in English translations)
Content is Copyleft
Website design, code, and AI is Copyrighted (c) 2014-2017 by Stephen Payne
An Epic Journey into the New World
In May 1539, Conquistador Hernando de Soto’s army of soldiers, hired mercenaries, craftsmen, and clergy made landfall in Tampa Bay. They were met with fierce resistance of indigenous people protecting their homelands. De Soto’s quest for glory and gold would be a four year, four thousand mile odyssey of intrigue, warfare, disease, and discovery that would form the history of the United States. Read More
The Return of the De Soto Rancho!
De Soto Fishing Rancho returns! Free Fishing Clinics throughout the Summer. Call 941-792-0458 ext. 105 for details.
Ranger Led Kayak Tour July Tour Signups
Join us for free Ranger led kayak tours! Signups begin June 2nd for July 2,3,4,16,17,18,30,31 & Aug. 1 call 941-792-0458 ext. 105 to RSVP
Join us on YouTube for Ranger Programs
Join us on Facebook and YouTube for Ranger programs on fishing, history, and nature.
Hernando de Soto
"AN OLD PORTRAIT OF HERNANDO DE SOTO (ca. 1500-1542). Engraving from Retratos de los Españoles Illustres con un Epítome de sus Vidas, Madrid, Imprenta real, 1791." Caption, translated from Spanish: "HERNANDO DE SOTO: Extremaduran, one of the discoverers and conquerors of Peru: he travelled across all of La Florida and defeated its still invincible natives he died in his expedition in the year 1543 in his 42nd year of age."
Hernando de Soto is more known for being a conquistador. He helped conquer many lands in parts of Central and South America, including those of the Inca Empire. But he was also an explorer. De Soto explored and mapped parts of nine states in the southeastern part of the United States. His explorations took him from present day Florida up to North Carolina, and west of the Mississippi River. History recognizes his great achievement of being first recorded European to discover and cross the Mississippi River.
Hernando de Soto’s exact date of birth is unknown. He was born sometime between 1496 and 1501 in Jerez de los Caballeros, Spain. This was a small town in the Estremadura region. His parents were Francisco Mendez de Soto and Leonor Arias Tinoco. They were thought to have been of minor nobility, meaning they were neither rich nor poor. 1 Hernando had an older brother named Juan, and two younger sisters: Catalina and Maria. Young Hernando would have received a standard education that included subjects like math and history. His parents hoped he would become a priest or lawyer, but de Soto had more interest in adventure. 2 Hernando would need to learn a trade because his brother Juan, being the eldest son, would inherit their parent’s land and money when the died. Hernando would get nothing. In 1514, Hernando was sent by his father to the port city of Seville, Spain. Here, young de Soto began working for a man named Pedro Árias Dávila (he was also known as Pedrarias Dávila). Under Dávila, Hernando de Soto would get his first opportunity to sail to distant places for adventure. In 1514, de Soto joined Dávila’s expedition to the New World.
Also on this journey was another man who would become famous for his explorations of the Southwest United States – Francisco Vásquez de Coronado. 3 Dávila had been appointed the new governor of Darién, Panama in what would become Central America. This land had been previously conquered by the conquistador Vasco Nuñez Balboa. Dávila’s crew set sail April 11, 1514 with a fleet of 20 ships and about 200 people. 4 They crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed in the rainforests of Central America. It took about two months to get there. These areas were already inhabited by native people who had previously encountered Spaniards. These encounters usually resulted in the Spanish soldiers enslaving and killing the natives, so the native people feared them. Hernando de Soto would also partake in deadly invasions. Hernando led many raids against the indigenous people, and his reputation as a brave soldier grew. He became a captain by 1520. As Dávila’s representative, de Soto was allowed to explore Central America in search of treasure and land. Among the areas he explored in the 1520s were modern day Costa Rica and Honduras. De Soto conquered Nicaragua in 1524, and was soon was made the alcade – or mayor – in León. But de Soto was not satisfied for long. He still wanted more adventure. This opportunity came was he learned that Francisco Pizarro was planning an exploration of the northwestern Pacific coast of South America. 5
In 1530, Hernando de Soto signed on with Pizarro’s expedition to explore more of Central and South America. De Soto departed Nicaragua in 1531 and soon joined joined Francisco Pizarro in Peru. At this time, the land was inhabited by the Inca Empire. Over the next several years, de Soto would play a heavy role in the conquering of the Inca civilization. Not only did the Spaniards have superior weapons, but plagues and diseases infected the Inca, causing their army numbers to fall. They captured Atahualpa, chief of the Incas, and Pizarro picked de Soto as his representative to the Inca ruler. Atahualpa had great wealth, so to gain his freedom he gave de Soto and the Spaniards much silver and gold. But Pizarro executed him anyway, and they kept the riches for themselves. De Soto received the third largest portion of wealth, after Francisco Pizarro and his brother Hernando. 6 After this, de Soto marched onto and conquered the Inca capital city of Cuzco. He was the first European to enter this city. 7 He captured the city, and claimed many of the riches for himself. Now a very wealthy man de Soto sailed from Peru in 1535, reaching Spain once more in 1536.
During his time in Spain, he married Isabel de Bobilla, daughter of Pedrarias Dávila. Despite having a new wife and a home in Spain, de Soto grew restless. He wanted to be a governor like Pizarro. He petitioned Emperor Carlos V for lands in either Ecuador, Guatemala, or Colombia. All three requests were denied. But the crown soon granted him the right to go and conquer and govern the territory La Florida. This area would eventually become the state of Florida we know today. For the next few years, de Soto and his men would go on to explore what would become the southeastern United States. De Soto departed Spain on his flagship San Cristóbal in April 1538. He took with him about 600 men, and numerous horses, dogs, and pigs. De Soto had been granted governorship of Havana, Cuba. They stopped there to take control of the colony. The expedition sailed for La Florida May 18, 1539 and landed near modern day Tampa Bay on May 25. 8 The began moving north, and then northwest. They stopped at the Apalachee town of Anhaica – near present day Tallahassee – in early fall. They stayed here through winter. It would be several months before de Soto’s expedition would continue onward.
They began their journey of exploration once more in spring 1540. When de Soto and his team set off again, they moved more north east towards present day Georgia. After this came what would become the Carolinas. They soon crossed the Appalachian Mountains into present day Tennessee and traced the Tennessee River Valley. Finding no gold, they turned south, heading into present day Alabama. They arrived at a town called Mobila (near present day Mobile) where they fought with the natives who lived there. 9 Afterwards, they turned northwest out of Alabama and into present day Mississippi. Here another battle took place in which the Spaniards fought off the natives. Soon after, they made camp, and spent the winter in Mississippi. They continued on several months after, and in May 1541, de Soto and his men came upon the Mississippi River. They built rafts and crossed the river. Hernando de Soto and his expedition became the first Europeans to see and cross the mighty Mississippi River.
Later Years and Death
After the crossing, the expedition headed into modern day Arkansas. They would spend the next year in Arkansas looking for gold and other mineral riches. Finding none, they soon returned across the Mississippi River. It was not long after the return crossing the de Soto was struck with a fever and fell deathly ill. He never recovered. Hernando de Soto died May 21, 1542. 10 His crew continued on without their fearless leader, eventually reaching a Spanish settlement in New Spain (present day Mexico). 11
Hernando de Soto’s expedition was one of the most elaborate efforts made by the Spanish to explore the interior of North America. De Soto’s and his men were the first to thoroughly explore most of the southern half of the modern United States. He is credited as being the first European to discover and cross the great Mississippi River. It is important to note the unfortunate negative impact made by the Spanish explorer. The indigenous peoples encountered by de Soto and his men were exposed to European diseases such as measles, smallpox and chickenpox, for which they had no immunity, causing massive loss of life amongst the Native Americans. Nevertheless, de Soto’s records and maps not only greatly added to Europe’s knowledge of the New World but also provided information on the practices and culture of Native Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans.
You May Also Find These Documents Helpful
The Mystery Of Capital By Hernando De Soto Essay
. In his great book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (1941, 2000), Hernando de Soto said, “Much of the marginalization of the poor in developing and former communist nations comes from their inability to benefit from the six effect that property provides.” They are: (1) fixing the economic potential of assets, (2) integrating dispersed information into one system, (3) making people accountable, (4) making assets fungibles, (5) networking people, and (6) protecting transactions (de Soto, 2000:49-62). De Soto (2000:62-63) said, “The six effect of an integrated property process mean that Westerners’ houses no longer merely keep the rain and cold out. Endowed with representational existence, these houses can now lead a parallel life, doing economic things they could not have done before.” In his great book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time (2005), Jeffrey Sachs said, “De Soto argues that security of private property, including the ability to borrow against land, represents the true ‘mystery of capital.’ The poor in most of developing world hold their assets, such as housing and land.” And then Sachs (2005:321) criticized, “The problem of de Soto’s analysis, however, is that it relies on a single factor – the lack of titles and deeds – to.
Hernando De Soto Narrative Report Essay
. 1538, February Entry 1 I have been recruited by Hernando de Soto. This could finally be the job my family and I need. However, it is not the job that I had been hoping to claim. Nevertheless, my family needs the fortunes that we need to keep thriving. My recruiter, Hernando de Soto, does not have the best looks as his eyes discomfort me. I have high hopes for this expedition as we have well over 700 men, 10 ship, and enough food to last us through the harshest of winters. I will very much miss my family so I shall spend as much time as I can before my departure for the New World. 1539, June Entry 2 It has been 2 weeks since we have reached the lands of the New World. Our leader Hernando has been trying to trick the natives in believing that he is a god so that we may get gifts and slaves in exchange. It seems that however how hard he tries to trick them, they seem to not believe him. 1541, June Entry 3 I seem to have slightly injured in the battle of a native village I shall not begin to worry about a slight cut into my skin of my right shoulder, however, I will still make sure that it does not become infected. During that battle, the smell of blood was so potent that many of us were forced to close out nostrils due to the sharp smell. I was still very lucky compared to the other soldiers, one soldier, who was a friend, had a fatal attack which was struck upon his lower abdomen, that attack.
Mystery Research Paper
. Who Built the Pyramids? Pyramids: Who Built Them? The Great Pyramids at Giza is the oldest monument on the list of the Seven Wonders of the World. There are several theories or believes behind the construction of these massive stone sculptures. However, after researching hard workers not slaves constructed these pyramids seems realistic compared to aliens or out of this world forces building these pyramids. These pyramids were built in 2570 BC, by ancient Egyptians and are located at Cairo, Egypt in Africa. The main purpose of the pyramids were to preserve the pharaohs and temples for their gods. The “air shafts” in the pyramids actually pointed toward Orion’s belt which believed to guide the deceased to a promised life. Many believe it took 20000 men 20 to 40 years to complete construction. The pyramids were built by taking 2 to 70 ton blocks of granite to the workshop, measuring the blocks, shaping the blocks, and placing the blocks into the body of the pyramid which completes the core. Then, place the limestone blocks on the top of the structure (workers started putting the blocks on top and then worked their way down muddy slopes). This process repeated until completion. The Great Pyramid is the largest of the three pyramids built for the fourth dynasty Egyptian King Khufu. The pyramid of Khufu used an estimated 2.3 million blocks to build and it stands 450 feet and it covers approximately 13 acres. In front of the Great Pyramid are three small pyramids.
Essay about The Mystery
. The Mystery It was Halloween night and I was throwing a Halloween party. My two friends Ella and Rachel were staying the night. I couldn’t wait because we were going to tell scary stories. Rachel started she told the story of the hand. Ella sat a thought for a minute when it hit her the story of the girl that got murdered a hundred years ago. She told us we would have to go to the grave yard to make it fun. We arrived at the grave yard a spent a half hour looking for the grave of Mary Louise. We started to get suspicious were was her grave. We thought for a second maybe she was not killed. We started to investigate first by going to her rich fiancés Henrys grave. We decided that it was getting creepy so we went back to my house to get some sleep. I dreampt the whole night long of where her grave was. As the sun came up to break the shadows of the night we rose form our slomber for a new adventure. I decided the best place to go was the haunted house on the top of the hill the home to Mary Louise. The door crept as Ella slipped through the little gap in the old door. The first place we went to was Mary Louise`s bedroom where we found the diary to this beautiful girl the first page of the diary read 12/03/1913 Dear diary I like Henry but I love Francis Ward we have been secretly dating but I am afraid that Mother and Father might find out. Love your friend Mary Louise xxxxxx. We looked for her last diary entry but it was ripped in half so I decided that.
A Mystery Essay
. Chloe, the “perfect” queen bee of Rosewood Day rules the school with her four best friends, Jasmine, an artsy kooky, independent girl, Kim, a die-hard swimmer and who is fiercely protective of Chloe, Amanda, who is desperate to be perfect and popular at all costs, and Carter, an ambitious A+ student, the only one of the group ever to stand up to Chloe. When their best friend and leader disappeared at the night of their 7th grade sleepover, the girls are devastated but also secretly relieved to be rid of the girl who uncannily discovered all their darkest secrets. Three years later, the group of friends has grown apart. Jasmine has returned from her two year trip to Iceland. Amanda has totally transformed and is now the most popular girl in school along with the former geek Holly. Kim is going for a swimming scholarship, and Carter has become ultra-competitive with her flawless sister Bethany. Later in the story Chloe’s body is found, and as horrified as the girls are, they think that their secrets are finally safe. Soon after, they begin to receive messages from a mysterious person known as –M. The threats turn to blackmail as M brings out all their brutal memories and dirty secrets. Chloe Each one with a secret, so scandalous and wrong I think I’ll keep it But only two can keep a secret if one is dead You think the truth is this big shiny disco ball of purity Then go ahead and try it. See what it gets you. Telling the truth to the wrong.
. It was Thursday when I go the call from the police department I used to work for, the told me there was a kidnapping and they needed immediate help. The first thing I did when I got there was listen to the 911 call of the incident. “ 911 what’s your emergency?” “ I just witnessed my daughter being kidnapped by a man with a beard and a Red Sox baseball hat on in a red volvo!” “Ma’am, what is your daughter name, age and what does she look like?” “Her name in Rachel, she is 15 and has medium length brown hair and was wear blue jeans with a pink t-shirt” “ Ok ma’am we are sending sending help now.” I went to the the scene of the crime. There I talked to the mother, Michelle, and investigated the place where she was taken. There I found a very different kind of tire track pattern, an empty box of Pall Mall cigarettes, and a receipt to Ace Hardware, he bought a wooden chair and some rope also he paid with cash. I bagged it all up and took it back to the police department where they looked for fingerprints and unfortunately found none. After, I started looking on our past kidnapping criminals how have recently been released from jail but I could not find any that connected to the family or the girl. I was at a stand still and did not know where to turn so I went to bed. I woke up the next day no further in my investigation than I was when I first started. I decided to go back to the crime scene. Driving through the neighborhood Rachel was kidnapped in I noticed something very.
Essay on Hernando de Soto
. Hernando de Soto was born in 1496 in Spain and died on May 21, 1542 in de Soto County, Mississippi.. He was a Spanish Explorer. His mission was to conquer and settle in the unknown territories. He participated in the conquest of Panama and took a role with the Spanish in the conquered of Peru. He lead the largest expedition that would later become the Southeast United States and the Midwest United States. He was made Governor of Cuba by Charles V. He lead an expedition from Spain to Florida from 1538 to 1542 and landed on the Florida coast near Tampa Bay in 1539 now known as Bradenton, Florida. This adventure took him half way across the continent in search of gold, silver, and jewels. Which they never found. Hernando de Soto was wounded in battle with the Native American's in 1541. He continued his journey in looking for treasures and this took him to Mississippi, in which he was the first white man to see and cross the Mississippi River. He then traveled to Arkansas and Oklahoma. He never found treasures there so he turned and headed back to the banks of the Mississippi River in Desoto County. There he died and was buried in the river so that the Native Americans would not learn of his death. De Soto's view of this expedition was a "deadly disaster". They found no gold nor prosperity and founded no colonies. He caused aggressive.
European Exploration and Colonial PeriodFort Toulouse In 1540, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his forces first set foot in what is now Alabama. His arrival marked the beginning of a dramatic cultural shift in the Southeast. From the mid-sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, Spain, France, and England vied for control of the region. Native American groups used trade and warfare to play one group against the other, with varying degrees of success. By 1820, Spain, the last of the three contenders, had yielded to the United States. Native American groups, by and large, were in the process of being forced off their lands by the federal government at the urging of white settlers. Hernando de Soto Route Map In a province of the Mabila Indians controlled by Chief Tascaluza, an elaborately plumed chieftain refused Soto's request for bearers and was kept hostage during Soto's stay. Capture of a town leader would become Soto's standard method of ensuring cooperation from the town's inhabitants while he and his men travelled through tribal territories. Understandably, such a tactic aroused great resentment at one point two Spaniards were slain in an ambush while building rafts to cross the river. Soto held Chief Tascaluza responsible. On the morning of October 18, 1540, Soto's troops reached the Mabila tribal capital, a palisaded town, presided over by Chief Tascaluza. An encounter between a Spanish officer and a Mabila inhabitant turned violent when the officer perceived that the Indian did not offer him due respect, ending with the Indian's arm being severed. In the melee that followed, Soto's men set fire to the town and burned both the town and many of its occupants. Fernández de Biedma, King Carlos I's agent for the expedition, recorded in his journal, "We killed them all either with fire or the sword." Soto then continued on to new conflicts in Mississippi, pursuing the legendary gold-filled town of El Dorado until his death on the Mississippi River on March 21, 1542. Senkaitschi, Yuchi Leader After a long period of disinterest in the northern Gulf Coast, the Spaniards resumed their explorations in 1686 in an effort to find and destroy a French colony established by Robert Cavelier de La Salle somewhere on the Gulf Coast. In February, a voyage captained by Juan Enríquez Barroto ran the coast from the Florida Keys and dropped anchor off Mobile Point. The men then spent two weeks exploring Mobile Bay. This expedition was followed by that of Marcos Delgado, who was charged by the Spanish governor of Florida with finding the French colony, believed to be located on the lower Mississippi River. Delgado's force marched past Apalache, then turned away from the coast, hacking its way through tangled wilderness past present-day Dothan, Houston County, and the Spring Hill neighborhood of Mobile County. The men reached a Chacato Indian town called Aqchay along the Alabama River near present-day Selma, Dallas County, then travelled upstream to the Alabama Indian towns of Tabasa and Culasa. After spending time in Yuchi, Choctaw, and Cherokee towns, Delgado made contact with Mabila chiefs. He claimed to have effected peace among the various tribes before turning back. Fort Maurepas Diagram A storm prior to his return to France emphasized to Iberville the need for a more secure anchorage. After additional exploration, his men found a deeper passage between present-day Dauphin Island and Mobile Point that had been overlooked on the initial reconnaissance. Iberville had left orders for further exploration of the Mobile River with a view to relocating the Fort Maurepas settlement farther inland. His younger brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, second in command of Fort Maurepas, explored the Mobile and Tombigbee rivers, seeking a suitable site. He settled on a location approximately 25 miles inland on a bluff on the Mobile River's west bank. He then oversaw construction of Fort Louis de La Louisiane, which stood from 1702 to 1711, when the colony relocated to present-day Mobile. During this period, Henri de Tonti, who had been La Salle's lieutenant in Illinois, made peace overtures to leaders of nearby Tomeh, Choctaw, and Chickasaw Indian towns in an effort to counter a growing English influence. The early French presence in the region was recorded in some detail in ship's carpenter André Pénigaut's Annals of Louisiana from 1698 to 1722. Fort Tombecbe, 1737 Additional surveys were carried out by Thomas Hutchins and Bernard Romans. Hutchins, assisting the chief engineer of the British army in North America, began work in 1766. He inspected military installations at Mobile and Pensacola. Romans charted and mapped the coasts and offshore islands of British West Florida, traveling northwest on horseback from Mobile to Chickasaw country in Mississippi. He later recounted his travels in a book that included maps of the region as well as drawings of the region's flora. In 1776, botanist William Bartram made a solitary trip from Tensaw Bluff to the Tombigbee River and the bluff that held the ruins of what he identified merely as "the old French fort," evidently the short-lived Fort Tombecbe established by Bienville among the Choctaw. Bernardo de Gálvez In May 1779, Spain entered the Revolutionary War on the side of the American colonies. Bernardo de Gálvez, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, overran British posts along the Mississippi River and reclaimed Mobile and Pensacola. It was from his efforts that Spain was able to reclaim the territory east of the Mississippi, which it had lost previously to Great Britain. In 1783, Spain formally organized its colony of West Florida (Florida Occidental in Spanish), with garrisons throughout the contemporary Southeast sites in present-day Alabama included Fort Confederation in Livingston, Sumter County, and for San Esteban in St. Stephens, Washington County. Gálvez's forces experienced repeated maritime disasters, resulting in part from a lack of accurate maps. While attempting to enter Mobile Bay, for example, his flagship and five other vessels grounded on a sandbar. Such incidents doubtless influenced his call for a new coastal reconnaissance—a task given to José de Evia, an experienced pilot who had taken part in the capture of Mobile. Reaching Mobile Bay in May 1784, Evia visited Mobile Point and Dauphin Island, where he observed the ruins of the French fort. By the time his task was finished in 1786, he had surveyed the coast between the Florida Keys and Tampico, Mexico.
During the three centuries of European occupation, Alabama had been claimed by three different nations, each of which contributed to the exploration of its territory. As the eighteenth century drew to a close, so did the era of European rule. Within two decades, the territory would be ceded to the United States, which would then determine its future course.
Bartram, William. The Travels of William Bartram. 1791. New York: Dover, 1951.
Hernando de Soto & Property Rights
Hernando de Soto thinks that formal property rights are the key to prosperity and that the government must clearly define and enforce specific private ownership rights. De Soto’s thesis is that government must be efficient at clarifying the legal ownership rights for all real estate and businesses to make it easier to buy and sell them because that will encourage more investment.
In poor nations, it is typically extremely expensive to set up a legal business that can then obtain credit and that limits the ability of entrepreneurs to expand which prevents them from being able to accomplish economies of scale. It is also impossible to sell a business if it isn’t a formal legal entity. Small businesses usually dominate poor nations and that makes poor nations less efficient because in business, small is ugly.
Furthermore, governments cannot tax property if there isn’t clear ownership and they cannot tax informal business income. De Soto argues that a lack of clear property rights prevents governments from collecting taxes and generating revenue to spend on the public welfare. Poor people get stuck in an underground economy which often gets managed by extralegal mafias or tribal governance that are undemocratic and inefficient.
“The existence of such massive exclusion generates two parallel economies, legal and extra-legal. An elite minority enjoys the economic benefits of the law and globalization, while the majority of entrepreneurs are stuck in poverty, where their assets–adding up to more than US$ 10 trillion worldwide–languish as dead capital in the shadows of the law.”
De Soto claims that poorly defined property rights make a natural disaster worse:
Two recent natural disasters …grabbed our hearts – the tsunami that ravaged 11 countries on the shores of the Indian Ocean, history’s worst, and the hurricane …Katrina that inundated the city of New Orleans. Images from both regions were tragically similar: demolished buildings, floating corpses, stunned survivors, and water, water everywhere. There was one profound difference. In New Orleans, the first thing authorities did to secure the peace and assure rebuilding was to salvage the city’s legal property records that would quickly determine who owned what and where, who owed what and how much, who could be relocated quickly, who was creditworthy to finance reconstruction…
In Southeast Asia, there were no such legal records to be found, because most of the tsunami’s victims had lived and worked outside the law.
[With] the floodwaters still high, New Orleans’ custodian of notarial records, Stephen Bruno, rushed to the courthouse basement where the city’s property records were stored, hauled them out of the water and packed them into refrigerator trucks that ferried them to Chicago, where they were expertly dried. The restored documents were quickly sent back to New Orleans – 60,000 volumes now archived under armed guard…. “Abstractors” …are painstakingly going through the documents that will produce the legal tools for designing and financing the city’s recovery, allowing bankers, insurers and realtors to identify owners, activate collateral, raise financing, access secondary markets, make deals, close contracts, as well as make it profitable for utilities to pump energy and water into neighborhoods – the entire legal infrastructure that is needed to keep a modern economy in gear.
Such a scene was impossible after the tsunami of December 2004 sent …waves the size of buildings onto beachfront property from Indonesia and Thailand all the way to Sri Lanka …killing more than 270,000 …In Banda Aceh, Indonesia, 200,000 homes were washed away, most of them built without property titles. When the water receded from Nam Khem, Thailand, a well-connected tycoon rushed in to grab the valuable beachfront. The survivors of the 50 families that had occupied the shore for a decade protested, but they didn’t have legally documented property rights…
That is the case with the majority of people in the developing and ex-Soviet world, where legal systems are inaccessible to most of the poor.
Life in the extralegal world is at constant risk.
An earthquake rocked Pakistan …leaving ,000 people dead. When a similar sized quake hit the Los Angeles area in 1994, 60 people died. The difference? …inadequately constructed housing …built outside the law ignoring construction codes.
But what poor homeowner …has any incentive to invest in safer housing and reinforced concrete without evidence of secure, legal ownership and the possibility of getting credit?
Governments are powerless to enforce legal codes when most people operate outside the law.
Typically, [rich] governments promote …private property to increase property taxes. In the extralegal economy, people may pay bribes, but no one pays taxes. Where will the [government] money for reconstruction come from? Private property in the United States is likely to be covered by insurance – an estimated $30 billion worth for Katrina. In Sri Lanka, only 1 percent of the 93,000 tsunami victims were covered.
In the developing world, few people have an official address, never mind the kind of legal title to their assets required by insurers. In the developing world, neither capital nor credit will venture where there are no clear property rights. …for developing countries without an adequate legal property system, peace itself is on the line – as was the case in the United States before more widely accessible legal property law gradually turned violent squatters into noble pioneers.
Before that, squatters had threatened to burn George Washington’s farms unless he gave them title. …That’s where developing countries are today.
The bloodshed can be stopped. Livelihoods and businesses could be reconstructed in the developing world. But first the poor must be legally empowered.
We take the law for granted but without legal documents, people do not exist in a market. If property, business organizations and transactions are not legally documented, they are fated to remain forever uninterpreted and society cannot work …Legally created titles and stock certificates generate investment clear property records guarantee credit documents allow people to be identified and helped company statutes can pool resources for recovery mortgages raise money contracts solidify commitments.
Four billion of world’s six billion people do not have this ability to create wealth and recuperate from disaster. Their constant tragedy is to live without the benefit of a single rule of law. …Only if the poor themselves are legally empowered will they be in a position to turn the next tsunami into just another storm.
There are excessive regulations on entrepreneurs in poor countries that prevent them from establishing legal businesses and only legal businesses can write legal business contracts, apply for bank loans, buy business insurance, copyright a brand, or be sold. In Lima, Peru, in 1983, Hernando de Soto registered a business legally without using any of his political connections and he tried to avoid paying bribes except that it was absolutely unavoidable twice.
Peruvian elites normally use their political connections to obtain business licenses and other advantages. Most Peruvian businesses are part of the informal sector where there is constant danger of being shut down by police for operating a business without the necessary permits. Small, informal businesses pay no taxes, but they also have to pay extra bribes to police and/or “protection money” to local mafia to keep from being shut down for operating without the legal permits.
Hernando de Soto’s research team followed all necessary bureaucratic procedures in setting up a one-employee garment factory in the outskirts of Lima. The factory was in a legal position to start operations 289 days and $1,231 later. The cost amounted to three years of wages—not the kind of money the average Peruvian entrepreneur has at his or her disposal. “When legality is a privilege available only to those with political and economic power, those excluded—the poor—have no alternative but illegality,” writes Mario Vargas Llosa in the Foreword to de Soto’s (1989) book.
De Soto did the same process in Tampa, Florida, where it only took two hours to obtain a permit to open a small business. The process took over 1,000 times longer in Peru. Why would someone in Peruvian society want onerous restrictions on entrepreneurs to prevent them from being able to start new businesses? Peruvian elites own legal businesses and they do not want new competition. A World Bank study found that incumbent businesses in Mexico saw their incomes drop 3% after the government simplified business registration because increased competition lowered prices. Workers also gained a 3% increase in employment and the number of businesses increased 5%.
Ideology may help explain why onerous business regulations developed. Liberals may have been overly willing to think that business regulations were benign due to an ideological bias whereas incumbent business owners tend to be conservatives, and they are happy to have these regulations that benefit them by limiting potential competitors. Incumbent business elites have a pro-entrepreneur ideology because they see themselves as being successful entrepreneurs even though in reality they dislike new entrepreneurs who could become their competition. Because of de Soto’s work, publicizing the insanity of regulations that only benefit a small group of elites, the World Bank established the Doing Business Project in 2002 to measure the cost of pro-elite regulations around the globe that protect incumbent business. They have succeeded in getting reforms merely by merely doing a bit of social marketing and publicizing the absurdity of the regulations. Within the first five years, there were 193 reforms in 116 countries.
De Soto pioneered an interesting ideological niche. He is a conservative who uses free-market language to promote greater government involvement in distributing property rights to the poor. He has promoted land reform and greater equality without using those terms. ‘Land reform’ is usually a hot-button concept that is generally associated with the far left, but de Soto has gotten conservatives to enthusiastically embrace his version of land reform. Leftist land reformers typically want to redistribute land from rich elites to their poor tenants. De Soto noticed that there are vast amounts of land (he claims US$ 10 trillion worth) in poor nations without any clear legal title. Rather than stepping on the toes of rich landowners, de Soto only wants to redistribute the ownership of the unowned (or government-owned) land to the poor tenants who live and work on it. This is why de Soto has been much more politically successful than liberal land reformers.
De Soto points out that a financial crisis, like the one we had in 2008, creates problems due to the same sort of dynamics that keeps poor countries poor: ill-defined property rights.
Why does ownership matter so much?
Ownership means that I have something to lose. If you’re a banker, it means that you’ve got collateral. It also means that I’m credible, so you can give me credit. When you think about it, whether it’s ownership, whether it’s credit, whether it’s capital, whether it’s identification, none of the things that make a modern economy are possible without property.
How does this relate to the financial crisis?
The enormous amount of derivatives that had poured into the market—there are close to $600 trillion of these papers around—are also not recorded in a global or centralized manner, or in a manner that allows you to begin to quantify them. [Former SEC Chairman Christopher] Cox thought that maybe the toxic part of all of these assets was $1 trillion to $2 trillion. [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner told us there’s maybe $3 trillion or $4 trillion. Nobody really knows, so in a way [they’ve created an] informal or shadow economy. This unidentified paper is the source of uncertainty and the credit contraction.
So they’re unidentified in the same way that ownership of, say, a slum in Peru or Africa is unidentified.
That’s right. We have worked in places like Tanzania and Egypt and Ethiopia. When you go visit a home there you don’t find justification for it through the books. In other words, it’s not centrally available information. When you talk about shadow economies in many places, it’s not only the economy of gangsters. It’s also economies that are legal in every respect except for the fact that the paper, which backs up the ownership or the evidence that something exists, is not easily and publicly available. That creates the shadow.
Has the subprime mortgage market become a shadow economy?
Subprime mortgages are not a shadow economy. But what happened is that a lot of these mortgages got repackaged into securities. Then they became collateralized debt obligations and some of these mortgages were sliced and diced and put into tranches. When some of these mortgages went sour and people started defaulting on their payments, then of course a lot of the securities tied to them also started defaulting. But when you try and trace who’s ultimately responsible for the value of that paper, you couldn’t find it. That’s the part of the market that has become the shadow.
ill-defined property rights in the subprime mortgage sector caused a meltdown. Does the same happen in the developing world?
Yes. That shadow hopefully is a temporary condition in the United States and in Western Europe. And it might pass in a year or 10 years, but it will pass. That passing condition that’s occurring now in developed countries, that’s a chronic condition in developing countries. We’re always chronically in credit crunches—because you don’t know who owns what, nobody dares lend to somebody else. Bringing the law to emerging markets is possibly the most important measure that can be taken to help these countries become rich. Look at the Iranians, look at the North Koreans—they’re building nuclear plants. Look at the computer—they’re being built in northern India. The issue isn’t the expansion of technology. We can all get it, borrow it, buy it or steal it. The issue is how do you get a legal system that allows people to cooperate so as to create more complex systems and objects.
So at this point, a Wall Street banker in a $10,000 suit is encountering basically the same problem that Nairobi slum dwellers have had to deal with for decades or more.
Absolutely. The difference, however, is that in Nairobi they are still struggling to understand that a property system is the best way that they can do things. In the United States, every piece of land, every house, every automobile, every airplane, every manuscript for a film, every patent is written up and recorded and described. There’s only one thing in the United States which is not recorded in such a way and that’s derivatives. We’re only talking about 7 percent of the subprime market being in default, yet it is causing a major contraction in your economy. You’re not getting your credit flowing because you don’t know what is where and who it belongs to.
I am a big fan of de Soto’s work, but more private property rights aren’t always better. Slavery is a form of property right that is particularly pernicious. We are better off both morally and economically because of banning that kind of private property partly because slavery creates excessive inequality. One of the key reasons de Soto’s work has been beneficial for development is that he has focused on issues that will create greater equality of property rights. Rich elites have always gotten government help protecting their property rights. Even though de Soto doesn’t talk much about equality, he really cares about the disadvantaged and he promotes more equality of property rights. He wants poor people to get the same kind of government assistance in defining and protecting property that rich people have always gotten in every nation.