Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VELAZQUEZ, Diego de, Spanish officer, born in Cuellar about 1460; died in Santiago, Cuba, in 1532. He was of noble birth, had served in the wars against the Moors, and came to this country in Columbus's second voyage in 1493, where he took part in the conquest of Hispaniola, and was left by the adelantado Bartolome Columbus in charge of the government during his expedition to the interior in 1497. Nicolas de Ovando, who became governor in 1502, also favored Velazquez, and the latter took an active part in the subjugation of the provinces of Jaragua and Higuey. He founded the towns of Jaquimo (Jacmel), Maguana, and Azua, was appointed substitute by Ovando, and soon was one of the principal settlers of the colony. When Diego Columbus, the new governor of Hispaniola, resolved in 1511 to conquer the island of Cuba, he selected Velazquez as commander of the expedition, which consisted of four vessels with 300 men, and the latter landed toward the end of the year in the port of Palmas, bringing in his retinue Bartolome de las Casas and Hernan Cortes. He found but little resistance except from the cacique Hatuey (q. v.), a fugitive from Hispaniola, who was soon captured and burned at the stake. In February, 1513, he founded the first town at Baracoa, and with the re-enforcement that was brought by Panfilo de Narvaez he conquered Camaguey and soon subjugated the whole island, founding, in November, 1513, the town of Bayamo, and in the following year Trinidad, Santo Espiritu, Puerto Principe, and Santiago de Cuba, where he established his government on account of its proximity to Hispaniola. Soon the fame of the riches of the island attracted numerous adventurers, and Velazquez began to distribute land and Indians among his followers. On 25 July, 1515, he founded on the banks of Mayabeque river the town of San Cristobal, which in 1519 was removed to the present site of Havana. In the same year he sent the treasurer, Miguel Pasamonte, to Spain with a map of the island (which still exists in the archives of the Indies), and to solicit further privileges. To occupy the surplus of adventurers, he approved an expedition under Francisco Hernandez de Cordova to capture slaves in the Bahamas in 1517, who, impelled by contrary winds, accidentally discovered Yucatan. The favorable reports about that country encouraged Velazquez to send an expedition for its conquest, and on 1 May, 1518, a fleet under Juan de Grijalva left Santiago de Cuba and visited the Mexican coast from Cape Catoche to Panueo river. The news of the rich country, which Grijalva despatched to Cuba by Pedro de Alvarado, incited Velazquez to form a new expedition for its conquest, the command of which he gave, after much hesitation, to Hernan Cortes. Afterward, mistrusting his lieutenant's intentions, he sought to prevent his sailing, but his emissaries arrived too late in Havana. When he heard that Cortes had sent commissioners to Spain to obtain the title to the newly discovered country, he sent a powerful expedition under Panfilo de Narvaez in March, 1520, to capture Cortes and take charge of the government in the name of Velazquez. After the unfortunate result of Narvaez's expedition, Velazquez intended to march himself, but his age and the small-pox, then desolating the island, prevented him from executing his design, and disappoint-meat at Cortes's success contributed to the sickness of which he (lied.
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