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United States of De Soto

May 8, 2010

Having a good publicist is key. Just ask Hernando De Soto. De Soto was a Spanish explorer who roamed around on the American mainland. In addition to the usual European explorer activities (looking for cities of gold, enslaving the natives, etc.), De Soto was  the first European to gaze upon the Mississippi River. (He couldn’t get the spelling right so he tried to rename it “De Soto’s Stream.” Didn’t stick.)

Amerigo Vespucci, on the other hand, made a few brief voyages to  North  America. Evidently it was like a cruise ship vacation — he barely stepped off the ship. But he had an A-list publicist. The German mapmaker Martin Waldseemüller had read about Vespucci’s voyages and liked the Italian’s name. That was it, Waldseemuller called the new continents “America.”

De Soto had to settle for car company in his name. He just didn’t get the value of PR.


From → culture, jests

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