Hernando de Soto sailed and explored for Spain. After a successful career in the New World, including a stint in the army of conquistador Francisco Pizarro, he explored what is now the southern United States, including Florida, Georgia and Arkansas.
Though born into a poor family in Spain, Hernando de Soto found success in the New World, achieving military fame in Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras before joining Pizarro's conquest of Peru. Rich from his success, he felt the need to continue his travels. He liquidated much of his fortune and outfitted 10 ships, which he and his crew of 700 sailed to the southern part of the North American continent. Though he died on his journey, he discovered much new land for the Spanish crown. Unfortunately, his explorations also roused Indian sentiment against Europeans and began the spread of diseases that eventually killed many of the indigenous people.