Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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FOUCHER, Jean, explorer, born in Cambrai, Flanders, in 1508; died in Entre Rios, Uruguay, in 1567. He was in the expedition that accompanied Sebastian Cabot when that navigator, after going up the Parana River, discovered the Paraguay. He fixed his abode at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, where he earned a hard living as a pilot for several years, but returned to his native country in 1529. He intended settling at Cambrai, and was studying for the bar, when he learned that the Spanish government intended colonizing the banks of the Paraguay. He immediately went to Spain and offered his services to the chief of the expedition, Don Pedro de Mendoza, who engaged him as pilot to guide his fleet up the La Plata. The expedition, which left Seville 24 August 1534, comprised 14 ships, carrying 2,500 Spaniards of both sexes and of all ages, 150 Flemish, and 76 horses. Don Pedro de Mendoza landed 7 November at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata,, and set to work forthwith to build the City of Santa Maria de Buenos Ayres. Foucher, who had acquitted himself with zeal of his duties as pilot, received as a reward the mission of exploring the interior of the country.
He set out, 14 June 1538, across the country of the Guaranis, where he built a fort. He afterward crossed the countries of the Samococes and the Sibococes warlike Indians, who disputed his passage step by step and penetrated as far as the Cordilleras of Peru. He surprised and defeated the Payaguas Indians in November 1538, destroyed their villages, gathered the bones of Ayolas and his companions who had been massacred there nine months previously, and gave them decent burial. Foucher returned to La Plata in the spring of 1539, and was chosen aide-de-camp by the governor, Don Alvaro Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, in 1548.
Foucher, who had all the qualities for a successful colonizer, and thoroughly understood the Indian nature, decided that they would be easily won over by kindness, and would make useful auxiliaries. He succeeded in imparting his views to the governor, who thenceforward treated them with great humanity, and defended them from the exactions of the other Spanish captains. This caused discontent among the latter. A conspiracy was formed, and Don Alvaro and Foucher were arrested by their own officers, judged, deposed, and sent back to Spain in 1544. The council of the Indies took cognizance of the affair, and Don Sandoval, the president, after hearing Foucher, acquitted him, gave him an indemnity, and empowered him to return to Paraguay, which he did in 1545. The governor, Don Domingo Martinez de Irala, received him favorably, and employed him in explorations. Foucher reduced several Indian tribes to subjection, and established them in the territory of Entre Rios, of which he had been made governor in 1546. The popular affection for him is evident from the Indian songs that have been collected and preserved since his death.
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