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schemer, and a leader, and with the glory of the new discovery and the admiration of the common soldiers all his own, he was a much larger figure than the new Governor.
Three years of bickering ensued, during which Balboa bore himself well under the jealous eye of Pedrarias, now made more hostile because the King had honored the discoverer of the Pacific with the title “Adelantado del Mar del Sur y Gobernador de las Provincias de Coiba y Panama," and had directed Pedrarias to consult him in all matters of public policy. Balboa made a second journey to the Pacific, actually transported small ships in pieces across the mountains, and floated them upon the South Sea.
A truce between him and Pedrarias was patched up, on the understanding that Balboa was to marry a daughter of the Governor and be a dutiful son-in-law. An enemy of the Adelantado pursuaded Pedrarias that Balboa loved too much his Indian mistress to carry out his part of the agreement, and that he really intended to set up a separate colony on the Pacific. Pedrarias recalled him to Acla, and, after the pretense of trial, had him beheaded in January, 1519, when he was 44 years old.
Immediately after the discovery of the Pacific the work of exploration was begun. Espinoza and Pizarro visited the Gulf of San Miguel and the Pearl Islands (1515), and everywhere met the indians with a cruelty that begot cruelty, where Balboa had made friends. In the same year Badajoz pushed into the interior of the isthmus farther west, and coasted along the south shore from San Miguel Gulf to Chame. Espinoza (1516) made an incursion into the present provinces of Los Santos and Veraguas.
Soon after the execution of Balboa, Pedrarias crossed the isthmus and explored the coast from the Gulf of San
Miguel to the island of Taboga. By accident Founding of he met with Espinoza at a native fishing vilPanama. lage called Panama,* and there on August
15, 1519, he formally declared the site that of of his future capital.
*The name Panama is derived from one of the primitive languages of the aborigines. Concerning its significance various opinions are held. Some believe it was the name of a cacique who lived in chis locality at the time of the arrival of the conquistadores; some that it signifies the “land or place of the mariposas;" still others that it is cognate with the name of a tree abundant on the isthmus and especially so on the site on which was built the old city of Panama. Over all these opinions there has prevailed the one that the name “Panama" belonged to a small village of Indian fishermen on the site later known by the foundation of that city, and that it signified in the Cueva language, the one most extensively used by the
The exploration of the coast by a party in boats and one on land continued, the sea expedition going as far as Nicar
agua, while that on land explored Chiriqui, Nombre de and collected a quantity of gold from the Dios and homes of the living and the graves of the Panama. dead. In 1520, Nata was established as
outpost. Meanwhile Pedrarias established a new village on the Atlantic side, as nearly opposite Panama as he could, at the old harbor of Nombre de Dios. On September 15, 1521, Panama was made a city by royal decree, and became the seat of a bishop. The inhabitants of Acla were forced to move to the new site, and that village was abandoned and its buildings destroyed.
From Panama in the following thirty years went out expeditions that explored the isthmus from the shore to the mountain tops. Thence Pizarro and Almagro set forth on the voyages that ended in the discovery of Peru (1524). From here in 1527 went out the expedition under Serna and Corzo that, before its return, explored the Rio Grande to its source, crossed the divide at Culebra, and sailed down the Chagres to its mouth (April 3-10, 1527), thus traversing the route which the canal now follows.
“As early as 1535 vessels had begun to go westward along the coast from Nombre de Dios to the mouth of the Chagres
River, and through that river to the head of River Route navigation at a point, Venta Cruz (Cruces), and Trails. 34 miles inland, where cargo was transferred
by trail to Panama, only 18 miles distant. “Thus during the first half of the 16th century, two distinct routes were established across the Isthmus, one from Nombre de Dios overland to Panama, and the other a part water and part overland route from the mouth of the Chagres to Panama. Over these highways was carried “the wealth of Peru.” Judged in the light of that time, this wealth was great, and moreover it was sudden. Into a world accustomed to steal from itself, to live on the pillage of nearby peoples, there was thrown, within the life of a generation, a quantity of gold greater than all known of theretofore; into its hands were placed opportunities for exploiting an alien people, such as had never been imagined. And for
aborigines of Panama at this time, "abundance of fishes, or place abounding in fish." This derivation conforms with that which Pedro Arias de Avila gives in a letter written in the year 1516 to King Ferdinand and his daughter, Princess Juana: "Your Highnesses should know that Panamá is a fishing place on the coast of the South Sea, for the Indians call fishermen Panamá."-Sosa and Arce.
nearly two centuries Panama was the market place of this trade, and the trails of the Isthmus never ceased to hear the tinkle of the pack-train bells.
“These trails are still indicated on the maps as the “Camina Real,” or “king's highway" as they would be called in English. At first they were only trochas through the jungle, but before 1550 they had been paved with field rock, gathered along the route. Canal surveyors working in the jungle today occasionally run across these paved roads and find then uniformly about 4 feet in width, with no evidence of drainage, and followirg the natural lay of the land. Yet one must not forget the roads of England at that time; it was a period in which the art of road-building had fallen into neglect. In Panama the jungle may be driven back, but it can not be conquered; only by continuous occupation can cleared ground be held. The trails of the 16th and 17th centuries have long since reverted to jungle, and great trees have grown up through the pavements.
In this period, from the year 1534 to 1536, studies were made, under the direction of the Governcr of Panama in
compliance with a royal decree of February Panama 20, 1534, of a route for a canal across the isthCanal. mus by the Rio Grande and Chagres rivers.
The cost was declared prohibitive. Nearly a century later (1616 to 1619) when the plan was again discussed, this time for a canal by the Atrato and Tuyra Rivers, it was deemed bad policy because the way would be equally open to the vessels of Spain and those of its already active enemies. There is a story that the clergy of the court of Philip III discouraged the project as a direct insult to God, who had placed the isthmus where it is. The writer has been unable to trace this story to its origin, but it sounds as though it were manufactured in New England.
The Government of Castilla del Oro (golden Castile), or of Terra Firma, as the Isthmus of Panama was called,
was vested during this period in a Governor, Government. or an official who acted in that capacity. Un
der him were the governors of the various outposts, and the city and village officials. The courts were in the Audience of Panama, which had four judges, cne of whom was President. This president acted as governor of Castilla del Oro much of the time.
*Porter's Progress of The Nations.
In the earliest days of the isthmus the governors were the captains of expeditions sent out froni Spain or the West Indies. Their rule was over a set of unruly adventurers, largely soldiers of fortune, and they exercised it as a military commander would. From the time of Pedrarias the Governor was supposed to act according to fixed laws, but the local conditions made him in reality a military chieftain, who had either to rule as a dictator or not rule at all. There was justification for the hard rule of Pedrarias in this, although nothing would justify his lack of wisdom in ruling with cruelty.
From the very beginning the local government was beset with internal quarrels, such as that between Pedrarias and Balboa, and with external trouble, such as the revolution in Peru, and the attacks of the Indians and the cimarrones, as the escaped negro slaves were called. Among these was the rebellion against Pedrarias carried on in Nicaragua by Fernandez in 1526, and put down with a stern hand by the Governor. The civil war in Peru was felt in Panama by the taking of that city and further maltreatment of its inhabitants on two distinct occasions, 1545 and 1546. An uprising of Spaniards from Nicaragua under the Contreras brothers. in 1550 resulted in the capture of the city and the maltreatment of the inhabitants. It will be seen from this that nothing but a military government would have been possible in a country that, inside of fifty years, had on its hands three well developed revolutions against the royal authority, in addition to the usual troubles with the aborigines.
One of the original ideas of colonization was to divide the conquered country into large estates and assign to each
lord of the manor a certain number of slaves. Indian Slaves This idea was not new, but only an application Liberated. of the plan of conquest carried out in Europe.
It is probable that the Indians of Panama were in no worse fortune under their Spanish masters than the Saxons in England were during the early years of the Norman occupation. Inevitably the practice led to grave abuses, and at an early date, thanks to the efforts of missionaries, laws were passed forbidding the abuse of slaves. These laws were not obeyed, however, and at the instance of Las Casas (the strongest and noblest figure in American colonial history) the King in 1549 decreed the freedom of the Indian slaves. Those of Panama were set at liberty and given lands for their own cultivation. The slaves from Venezuela were
given the island of Otoque, the Nicaraguans the mainland near Chame, and the remainder island of Taboga. In each settlement a church was erected and tools were distributed for farming.
One of the means taken to alleviate the condition of the Indian slaves was the importation of negroes from Guinea.
Sosa and Arce say that negroes had been Negro Slaves. brought to the isthmus in the earliest days
as body servants, and that before the founding of Panama there were a number of them working in the fields and mines. From time to time these slaves would escape into the interior of the country, and by the middle of the 16th century they had formed little bands that waylaid pack-trains, and made incursions into the isolated settlements. They mixed with the Indians, and increased rapidly in numbers. Throughout the subsequent history of the new country they are known as “Cimarrones.” By their help pirates and contrabandists harassed the isthmus. They were a large factor in the abandonment of Panama as the great trade route.
In spite of all its trouble the city was growing, because there was wealth in Peru and in Panama, and adventurers
or pioneers braved the dangers of the new Growth of country, its diseases, and the turbulent semiPanama. camp life for the sake of money. Before 1550
the cathedral in the old city had been built, a wooden structure, and the foundations had been laid of the Church of Our Mother of Mercy. The city had about 3,000 free inhabitants, and there were 2,000 more in Nombre de Dios and the surrounding outposts.
Period of the Great Trade (1550-1750.) In this period came the rise and decline of Panama's trade. There were three main causes for the decline-Spain's own decadence, the attacks of English and French on the commerce of the Indies, and Panama's inability to turn to internal development, as the trans-isthmian trade decreased.
It was only by chance that Spain became the first great 'colonizing nation. She was not prepared for the work,
and did not learn. The wealth of Peru and External Mexico was used in waging wars for the supAffairs. pression
of political and religious inde
pendence, wars against France and England, in which she had nothing to gain and in reality did lose