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Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo
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    (1499-January 3, 1543)
    Born in Portugal
    Spanish Conquistador, navigator
    Sailed on the 'San Salvador' flagship
    Extensively traveled across the West Coast of North America (1542)
    First European explorer to navigate the coast of present-day California
    His namesake high school has since become the main shooting location for Glee.
    He sired three daughters with an indigenous woman he took for his common-law wife.
    A heated international debate continues to rage among historians as to what his real nationality was (Portuguese, Spanish, or 'Other').
    Because no chronicle of his birth is known to exist, it will likely remain a mystery, although most have settled on his birthplace as Portugal.
    He was a subordinate to Hernando Cortes during his conquest of Mexico (likely participating in acts of ethnic cleansing).
    He was a direct beneficiary of the encomienda system which enslaved the Indigenous natives, helping to break up families and place the men into slave labor and giving the women/girls to his crew (presumably for sex).
    He came into possession of his fleet only because the Spanish viceroy had it seized from the previous owner (he was killed after having a horse fall on him during a Native riot).
    For all the ground his fleet covered, they still failed to sight the San Francisco territory, which would remain undiscovered for another 250 years.
    He died after stepping out of his boat, stumbling over a jagged rock and splintering his shin (the wound became infected and developed gangrene which proved to be fatal).
    Because he died during the expedition, his discoveries were largely unappreciated, with his location names being discarded by later explorers (for example, the port he names San Miguel was changed to San Diego sixty years later).
    He fought as a captain of crossbowmen during his time with Cortes.
    He established himself as a leading citizen in the Guatemalan town of Santiago, during the 1830s.
    He left behind the first written testimonies describing the west coast of North America.
    He penned a report to the Spanish crown describing an earthquake's destruction of Santiago, in 1840. The report is the first known piece of secular journalism to come out of the New World.
    The Governor of Guatemala selected him to build and provision ships to explore the Pacific because of his skills as a leader and businessman.
    His fatally shattered his limb came when he was coming ashore to help his shipmates in a skirmish with island natives.
    Although he died mid-voyage, his crew pressed on as far north as Oregon, before turning back for Mexico in the face of heavy winter storms.
    His achievements didn’t begin to be fully recognized until the late 18th-century.
    He is honored every September 28th, in the State of Califorina, officially called ‘Cabrillo Day.’
    His achievements are memorialized at the Cabrillo National Monument, operated by the National Park Service in San Diego (commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913).
    The Maritime Museum of San Diego built a full-sized, thoroughly researched, replica of his ‘San Salvador’ flagship (unveiled in September 2015).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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