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Spanish Impact on America Between 1492 and 1504 a sailor from Genoa named Christoforo Colombo better known as Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic on behalf of Spain convinced to his death that he had discovered a shortcut to Asia not a New World Within a few years though adventurous nobles and mercenaries began to explore large portions of what became Spanish America with the hope of gaining a fortune and establishing themselves as powerful and independent As early as 1540 Spanish conquistadors such Hernando de Soto and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led expeditions from Florida to the Mississippi Valley and through what is now Arizona New Mexico Texas and Oklahoma Though they often left a path of violence as well as the covert attack of infectious diseases the conquistadors also grafted Spanish culture to the landscape St Augustine established in 1565 became the first European city in North America Santa Fe founded in 1609 became the second-oldest European city in the present-day United States In their search for gold the conquistadors overpowered Native American nations and established outposts for military control followed by Catholic missionaries and eventually large ranches and farms throughout Central America For most of the colonial period much of what is now the United States belonged to Spain Spanish culture has left a lasting imprint upon American ways of life Spains colonial presence lasted more than three centuries much longer than either Englands or Frances and its possessions were much more far-reaching Although the Spaniards failed to establish a firm colonial presence in North America there are many reminders of Spanish America from Florida to the Pacific coast Much of the physical geography and plant life of the Southwestern region retain their Spanish names Horses and cattle introduced to America by Spanish caballeros became as much a part of the frontier traditions of the American Old West as Indian tribes and buffalo herds In addition examples of Spanish
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