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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Hernandez, Vicente

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HERNANDEZ, Vicente, Spanish missionary, born in Leon, Spain, about 1480; died in Tlaltelolco, Mexico, in 1543. He was a Franciscan, and went to Hispaniola, in 1520 with Bishop Geraldini. Witnessing there the cruelties of the Spaniards toward the Caribs, which in a few years caused an almost total depopulation of the island, he took the part of the Indians, and strenuously opposed that policy. Hernandez lived several years among the Caribs, learned their language, and had gathered several thousand around his mission, when, in 1524, he was ordered to leave the country at once. He went to New Spain, and founded a convent of his order in Santiago de Tlaltelolco, for the support of which he was given fourteen Indian villages. He also established a model garden for the benefit of the Indians, and that institution, called Tepetlaxtoc, soon became celebrated, Hernandez found that the condition of the Aztecs in New Spain was no better than that of the Caribs in Hispaniola, since the Spaniards treated them as slaves. He sought the help of the pope, and in company with Betanzos, provincial of Guatemala, sailed for Rome, where he laid his complaints before the holy father in 1535. Paulus III. promulgated the celebrated bull "Veritas Ipsa" (1537), in which he reminded the conquerors that Indians are men. The persecutions ceased for a time, but the conquerors revenged themselves by persecuting Hernandez on his return in 153S. He was accused of heresy, which brought about his death.