12 Facts About Juan Garrido, The Great Conquistador Who Was The First African In The New World

Written by Rewindingblack

Born around 1480 in West Africa, Juan Garrido is the most prominent among the small group of African freeman who traveled to the Americas to take part in the Spanish conquest of the West Indies and Mexico in the late 15th and early 16th Centuries.  He later became an agricultural innovator and is credited with introducing wheat harvesting to the Americas.

  1. Garrido is the first documented black person to arrive in this country.
  2. He was Christianized around 1495 after moving to Lisbon, Portugal. After being baptized, he took the name Juan Garrido (Handsome John).
  3. Seeking fortune and, he joined the earliest conquistadors to the New World, making him the first black conquistador.
  4. He joined Diego Velazquez de Cuéllar and the legendary Juan Ponce de León in the colonizations of Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  5. He also participated in Hernando Cortes’ destruction of the Aztec empire.
  6. Around 1513, traveled with de León’s  on the well-known expedition to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth, this is when he became the first known African to arrive in this country.
  7. In 1522, he  was granted property on a dried out lake bed outside the former Aztec capital for the work he did with Hernando Cortes.
  8. He is credited with being “the first to plant and harvest wheat” in the New World.  His wheat production help feed  the growing number of Spanish and religious settlers in Mexico.
  9. Between 1524 and 1528, Garrido was a resident of Mexico City, where he held the position of  city bookkeeper and Crier.  Criers could function as constable, auctioneer, executioner, piper, master of weights and measures, and doorkeeper or guard.
  10. He joined Cortes in the 1530s for another expedition into lower California, in search of the mythic Black Amazons. He was rewarded for his services to Cortes with land and paid positions.
  11. Garrido married and settled in Mexico City, where he and his wife had three children.
  12. He spent his final years as a Spanish subject back in Mexico City, where he died in the late 1540s

Source: TheRoot.com and BlackPast.com

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