...led the first Europeans deep into America in 1540. At age 39, DeSoto was rich from Incan gold and wanted to colonize North America. To do so he planned to open a passage to trade Spain's New World fortunes with China, the finest market in the world.
DeSoto's three year search for that sea, and enough gold to lure more settlers to his planned American colony, was well recorded by his volunteers between Florida and Lake Michigan (reported to be a sea by natives), then on to his death in Arkansas. His army fled across Texas toward Mexico, Spain's nearest outpost on the continent, but returned for want of food. They built boats then escaped down the Mississippi River.