Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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CORDOVA, Pedro de, clergyman, born in Spain in 1460 ; died in Santo Domingo in 1525. He entered the Dominican order and embarked with two other Dominicans for Santo Domingo in 1510. His austere life commended the veneration of the Spaniards, as well as of the Indians. In conjunction with his companions, he established schools in every part of the island for the natives and the children of the colonists. But when he attempted to free the Indians from the slavery to which the Spaniards had reduced them, he became the object of bitter hatred. The feeling was increased when he refused to censure a monk who had preached sermons against the cruelty of the colonists. He then set out for Spain, and laid the wrongs of the Indians before the great council and the king. Some regulations were made for bettering their condition, but, knowing that these would be futile as long as the natives were portioned out among the colonists, he demanded permission for himself and his brethren to leave the island and preach the gospel in parts of America where the Spaniards had not formed settlements. This permission was refused by the king, who, however, made him a member of the royal audience of Hispaniola, capital of the island of Santo Domingo. He returned to America, bringing with him fourteen friars from the convent of Salamanca. In 1512 he laid the foundations of the convent of Santa Cruz, in Santo Domingo, the first convent of the Dominican order erected in the New World. Between 1514 and 1519 he dispatched three bodies of missionaries to
Venezuela, and all of them perished at the hands of the natives. In the same year Pedro de Cordova accompanied a body of colonists to the island of Santa Marguerita. The islanders received them so favorably, and showed so much disposition to embrace Christianity, that he sent the vessels back to Santo Domingo for new colonists. No sooner, however, were the ships out of sight than the natives rose and massacred all the Spaniards, with the exception of Pedro de Cordova and another, who escaped to the shore, where they found a boat. On returning, he resumed direction of the convent of Santa Cruz. The pope named him grand inquisitor of all the Indias, and at his instance Charles V. founded the Royal University of Hispaniola.
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