Dramatic chromolithographic image of Hernando De Soto's discovery of the Mississippi River, in May 1541.
Based upon a painting by Norman Powell, this remarkable image depicts a scene rich tapestry of Europeanized images of De Soto and his band of Spanish soldiers, as they encounter the Mississippi River for the first time in 1541.
The dramatic image includes Native Americans making food offerings and extending a peace pipe, while the religious portion of De Soto's entourage plants a cross on the spot. The image includes what also appears to be a shirtless African in the foreground, hauling the cannon forward.
The scene commemorates De Soto's reaching of the Mississippi River on May 8, 1541, south of present-day Memphis, Tennessee . After building flatboats, de Soto and his 400 ragged troops crossed the great river under the cover of night, in order to avoid the armed Native Americans who patrolled the river daily in war canoes. From there the conquistadors headed into present-day Arkansas, continuing their fruitless two-year-old search for gold and silver in the American wilderness.