Today in History
December 13, 1577
English explorer Francis Drake sets sail from Plymouth harbor with five ships and 166 men. His mission, commissioned by Queen Elizabeth, is to explore the Pacific coast of South America under Spanish domain. Drake succeeds in passing through the Straits of Magellan, but upon entering the Pacific the remaining three ships in his fleet encounter severe storms that sinks one and separates another vessel, which heads back to England after losing contact, leaving the flagship, the Golden Hind, to continue the expedition. Drake plunders the Spanish colonies on the Pacific coast, sails as far north as present-day Vancouver, and crosses the Pacific to Indonesia, adding spices to the treasures in his hold. Nearly three years later, in 1850, he returns to England, where Queen Elizabeth personally knights him several months later aboard his ship. Drake is the first Englishman to circumnavigate the world.
Today's Feature History Article
Westward the corsair of England's empire made his way, plundering Spain for Queen and country; now modern moralists are nibbling at his fame
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