The Second Voyage - Colony Founded in Hispaniola

No time was lost in fitting out a second expedition to the new world. On the morning of the 25th September, 1493, Columbus left the bay of Cadiz with three large ships and fourteen caravels, loaded with everything necessary to found a colony, and manned not with despondent sailors, as the first fleet had been, but with eager and joyous adventurers, with young and bold cavaliers. In the fleet were several enthusiastic priests, who embarked with the intention of spreading Christianity among the benighted heathens of the new lands.

Steering farther south than in his last voyage, the first land which Columbus made was one of the Caribbee, or Leeward Islands, to which he gave the name of Dominica. It was discovered on the 2d of November, 1493. After cruising for about three weeks among these islands, giving names to several of the largest, among which may be mentioned Porto Rico, and everywhere discovering traces of that savage and warlike disposition which the Haytians had attributed to the Caribs, he bent his course to the north-west, anxious to learn the fate of the little colony which he had left at Hispaniola. Anchoring off the coast of La Navidad, he was surprised and alarmed to find none of the Spaniards on the shore to welcome him, and to receive no return-signals to the shots which he fired announcing his arrival. He soon learned the dreadful truth. Not a man of the thirty-eight he had left remained alive - they had all fallen victims to their own imprudence and licentiousness. A mystery hung about their story which was never fully cleared up; but it appeared, from the accounts of the natives, that as soon as Columbus had departed the men had begun to range through the island, committing all sorts of crimes, and losing the respect of the Indians; that at length one of the five chieftains of the island, named Caonabo, had attacked the fort, and put them all to death; and that Guacanagari and many of his subjects had been wounded in trying to protect them. With this account Columbus was obliged to be content, although some of his officers questioned its truth, and suspected Guacanagari of having been concerned in the massacre of their countrymen.

A second colony was immediately founded under better auspices. The plan of a city was marked out; and in a short time the building was sufficiently far advanced to afford protection to all who intended to remain on the island. To this rising city, Columbus gave the name of Isabella, in honor of the queen of Castile. Even thus early in the history of the colony, however, symptoms of discontent broke out. Many of the Spaniards were attacked by the diseases incident to a new climate; others, and especially such as were of noble families, began to complain of the hard labor imposed upon them. They had imagined that, on reaching the new world, they would find lumps of gold lying on the soil ready to be gathered, and mines of diamonds which it would be necessary to open, in order to grow rich; and when they found that what gold the island contained was only to be obtained by industry, and that the principal value of the new country consisted in the fertility of its soil, and its readiness to yield abundant produce to the patient cultivator, they could not conceal their disappointment and dislike to the ambitious foreigner, whose false representations, they said, had lured them from their homes. To banish these gloomy thoughts from the minds of the colonists, Columbus, as soon as the settlement of Isabella was in tolerable condition, employed himself and his men in expeditions into the interior of the island, especially to the mountainous district of Cibao, where gold was said to be obtained in large quantities.

Returning from a long expedition into the interior in the end of March 1492, Columbus found the colony of Isabella in a most flourishing condition. The only drawbacks to the satisfaction of Columbus were the illness of many of the colonists, their growing discontent, and the symptoms of ill-will which the natives began at length to manifest towards the Spaniards. Still, as there was no appearance of any interruption to the tranquillity of the colony, Columbus resolved to undertake a voyage of discovery through the Archipelago, with a view to reach the great Indian continent, of which his imagination was still full. Leaving, therefore, his brother Diego to govern the Island, with the assistance of a council of officers, and intrusting the command of a body of soldiers to Don Pedro Margarita, he sailed from Hayti on the 24th of April 1494. For five months he sailed in various directions through the West Indian Archipelago in quest of the imaginary Cathay or Cipango; discovering nothing of consequence, how ever, except the island of Jamaica. The weather was tempestuous; and it was only by incessant care on the part of the admiral that his fleet was kept afloat. At length, wearied out with his labors, he was attacked by a violent fever, which terminated in a sort of lethargy or paralysis of all his faculties; and his officers, despairing of his life, returned to Hispaniola in the month of September.