Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Niño, Pedro Alonso

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NIÑO, Pedro Alonso, called The Negro, b. in Moguer, Spain, in 1468; d. about 1505. He travelled on the coasts of Africa, and was a companion of Christopher Columbus in his third voyage, in which they discovered the island of Trinidad, 1 Oct., 1498, the mouths of the Orinoco, and the coast that Columbus called Tierra Firme. Returning to Spain he resolved to go to the Indies on his own account in search of the gold and pearls that the Indians had in great abundance. The council of Castille gave him permission to discover new countries, on condition that he should not touch at those that had been already discovered by Columbus, and that he should keep the fifth part of his profits for the king. Louis and Cristopher de la Guerra, one a rich merchant and the other a pilot, associated themselves with Niño for the enterprise, and left the port of San Lucas toward the end of May, 1499. After a rapid passage of twenty-three days they arrived on the coast of Tierra Firme in Maracapana. They visited the gulf that Ojeda called the Gulf of Pearls, and also the islands of Margarita, Coche, and Cubagua, where they obtained a large quantity of pearls in exchange for objects of little value. Niño now sailed up the coast to Punta Araya, where he discovered the famous salt-mines that are still called by the same name. He then returned to Spain and arrived in Galicia loaded with wealth after a voyage of two months. He was accused of keeping the fifth part that belonged to the king, and the authorities arrested him and confiscated his property. He died before the termination of the lawsuit that followed.