Finely detailed map of the island of Juan Fernandez, from the 1751 German edition of the official account of Ulloa's expedition.
Antonio de Ulloa (1716-1795) was a Spanish general, explorer, author, astronomer, colonial administrator and the first Spanish governor of Louisiana. Ulloa entered the Spanish Navy in 1733. In 1735, Ulloa was appointed as a member of the French Geodesic Mission, a scientific expedition which the French Academy of Sciences was sending to Ecuador to measure a degree of meridian arc at the equator, led by Pierre Bouguer.
From 1736 to 1744, Ulloa participated in the French Mission, during which time he discovered the element platinum. In 1745, on his return to Spain,the ship upon which Ulloa was travelling was captured by the British, and he was taken as a prisoner to England. During his time in England, he gained the friendship of several leading scientists, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. In a short time, through the influence of the president of this society, he was released and was able to return to Spain.
Upon his return, he published an account of his travels in South America, Relacion Historica del Viage a la America Meridional . . . Ulloa went on to become a prominent scientist and was appointed to serve on various important scientific commissions. He is to be credited with the establishment of the first museum of natural history, the first metallurgical laboratory in Spain, and the observatory of Cadiz.
From 1758 to 1764, he served as governor of Huancavelica in Peru and the general manager of the quicksilver mines there. In March 1766, he became the first Spanish Governor of West Louisiana. The French colonists refused to recognize Spanish rule, and de Ulloa was expelled from Louisiana by a Creole uprising during the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768.