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this period of his life, however, the fickle goddess turned her back upon him forever. Pedrarias, the Governor of Darien, had long been jealous of Balboa's successes, and this feeling culminated into one of intense hate. While fearing to withhold his consent to the South Sea expedition, he was busy planning the while how to frustrate it. The news of a great Indian empire far to the south had filtered through to the Spanish camp, and stirred Balboa to accomplish what his able but unprincipled lieutenant, Francisco Pizarro, later carried out. Pedrarias was well aware of Balboa's ambitious plans, and this knowledge did but serve to put an edge to his jealousy and hate.
With but a farce of a trial, and condemned of being a traitor to the Crown on evidence of purely an ex parte character, Balboa, in the year 1517, in the forty-second year of his age, met death by the headsman's and thus ended the life of one of the greatest explorers of the New World. Balboa maintained his innocence to the very last, defying his accuser and murderer, Pedrarias, who occupied a window only ten feet distant from the scaffold where the execution took place.
In view of Balboa's great achievement.. history has passed lightly over his faults, among which avarice and cruelty were the most prominent; but taking into account the general customs of the age in which he lived, the difficult and exasperating circumstances and emergencies
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he had to contend with and overcome, it cannot be gainsaid but that he was an exceptional man; an intrepid, cunning and resourceful warrior whose ultimate success and wonderful discovery conquered for him a lasting place in the world's history. Besides, his latter sufferings, imprisonment and death on the scaffold on an unjust charge, were, no doubt, ample atonement for his sins.
Founding of Old Panama.
Pedrarias, incompetent, treacherous, and cruel, continued in high favor with the king whose coffers he kept well supplied with gold and treasure wrung from the enslaved and oppressed natives who died by the thousands on accoumt of not being physically adapted to the work. It was this terrible decimation of the Indians that prompted some time later a prominent Catholic bishop to suggest the importation of negroes from Africa, thus saving the Indian from complete extermination, but at the same time. inaugurating the system of slavery that afterwards spread over the greatest part of two continents.
In 1515, Diego de Albites and Tello de Guzman formed part of an expedition that crossed to the Pacific side of the Isthmus and arrived at a hut of a poor fisher, at a point called by the Indians Panama, from the abundance of fish and sea shells found there. Here in 1519, Pedrarias founded the city of Old Panama, giving it Indian name. In 1521, by order of Emperor Charles V., the title of "Muy noble y muy leal" was bestowed on the place, and the government, bishopric and colonists of Santa Maria la Antigua del Darien removed thereto. This was only accomplished after great privation and suffering, it being estimated that no fewer than 40,000 Spaniards perished in this trans-Isthmian hegira during the ensuing thirty years. The court-of-arms given to the new city consisted of a yoke, a bunch of arrows on a gilded field, with two ships underneath, a star, castle and lions. The
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city became the seat of the first court of the Real Audiencia, which obtained in the Spanish possessions in
America from 1535 to 1752.
In 1525, a Catholic priest named Hernando Luque celebrated solemn mass in the Cathedral at Old Panama, taking communion with two Spanish explorers and men-atarms, Francisco Pizarro and Diego Almagro. He broke the holy bread into three pieces, taking one, and giving the other pieces to the two men. The significance of this act was no other than the solemnization of a contract between all three to conquer the countries to the South. They shortly afterwards manned several vessels and sailed down the coast, reaching at last the "golden" Peru. Pizarrro's flag used in his conquest is a treasured relic today in the archives at Bogota.
Early Trans-Isthmian Routes.
Some time after the settlement of Old Panama, an attempt was made to establish land communication from Nombre de Dios, at that time the principal port on the Atlantic, to the new city on the Pacific. A road was finally constructed between the two places, which crossed the Chagres River at Cruces. For a part of the way the road was paved, evidences of which remain to this day. Later small vessels commenced to sail from Nombre de
Dios to the mouth of the Chagres, then up that stream to Cruces, where the cargoes were transferred to the backs of mules. Nombre de Dios was abandoned at the end of the sixteenth century in favor of Porto Bello, known to be one of the best havens on the entire Isthmian coast, south of Chiriqui Lagoon, to which even the steamers of the present day resort when an unusually strong norther is blowing at Colon. Nombre de Dios had long been known as a graveyard for the Spaniards, and its decay was of little moment.
After the conquest of Peru, and the development of the gold mines in the Darien, Old Panama sprang rapidly into prominence, All the golden treasure of the West Coast was poured into her lap to be sorted for shipment
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to the mother country. Porto Bello likewise became an important post, and was the scene of great fairs up to the time of its capture by the Pirates under Henry Morgan.
THE RAIDS OF THE BUCCANEERS.
The attack and pillage of Porto Bello, the capture of Fort San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagres River,