Antonio de Ulloa

Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Giral, FRS, FRSA, KOS (12 January 1716 – 3 July 1795) was a Spanish general of the navy, explorer, scientist, author, astronomer, colonial administrator and the first Spanish governor of Louisiana. He was appointed to that office after France ceded the territory to Spain in 1763, following its defeat by Great Britain in the Seven Years' War. Ulloa's rule was resisted by the French Creole colonists in New Orleans, who expelled him in 1768 from West Louisiana.

Ulloa had already established an international reputation in science, having been part of the French Geodesic Mission in present-day Ecuador. He published an extensive record of his observations and findings on the South American trip, which was published in French in 1848 and in English as A Voyage to South America (1806). He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Antonio de Ulloa

Posthumous portrait of Antonio de Ulloa by Andrés Cortés (1856)
Posthumous portrait by Andrés Cortés (1856)
Antonio de Ulloa y de la Torre-Giral

12 January 1716
Died3 July 1795 (aged 79)
Spouse(s)Francisca Ramírez de Laredo
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, Natural History
1st Spanish Governor of Louisiana
In office
MonarchCharles III
Preceded byCharles Philippe Aubry
as French Colonial Governor
Succeeded byCharles Philippe Aubry (Acting)
Military service
AllegianceFlag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Viceroyalty of New Spain
 Kingdom of Spain
Branch/serviceSpanish Navy


Ulloa was born in Seville, Spain. His father was an economist. Ulloa entered the navy in 1733. In 1735, he, along with fellow Spaniard Jorge Juan, was appointed to the French Geodesic Mission. The French Academy of Sciences was sending this scientific expedition to present-day Ecuador to measure a degree of meridian arc at the equator.

Ulloa worked in Ecuador from 1736 to 1744, during which time the two Spaniards discovered the element platinum in the area. Ulloa was the first person to write a scientific description of the metal.[1] Ulloa is sometimes incorrectly credited with discovering platinum, because of this.[2][3] In 1745, having finished their scientific labours, Ulloa and Jorge Juan prepared to return to Spain, agreeing to travel on different ships in order to minimize the danger of losing their important samples and records.

The ship upon which Ulloa was travelling was captured by the British, and he was taken to England as a prisoner. In that country, through his scientific attainments, Ulloa gained the friendship of the men of science, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of London. In a short time, through the influence of the president of this society, he was released and able to return to Spain. He published an account of the people and countries he had encountered during the French Geodesic Mission (1748), which was translated into English and published as A Voyage to South America (1806).[4]

Antonio Ulloa y de la Torre-Guiral
Portrait by unknown artist, Art Institute of Chicago

Ulloa became prominent as a scientist and was appointed to serve on various important scientific commissions. He is credited with the establishment of the first museum of natural history, the first metallurgical laboratory in Spain, and the observatory of Cadiz. In 1751, de Ulloa was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

In 1758 he returned to South America as governor of Huancavelica in Peru and the general manager of the quicksilver mines there. He held this position until 1764.

After France was defeated by the English in the Seven Years' War, it ceded its territories west of the Mississippi River to Spain. Ulloa was appointed by the Spanish Crown to serve as the first Spanish governor of West Louisiana, and reached New Orleans, the major city and port, on 5 March 1766. The French colonists refused to recognize Spanish rule, and expelled Ulloa from Louisiana by a Creole uprising during the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768. On 28 October, as riots broke out in New Orleans, the governor and his pregnant wife were taken to a Spanish vessel.[5] The Superior Council voted that the governor leave within three days. He complied, leaving on 1 November. The revolt was ultimately crushed by forces under Alejandro O'Reilly in 1769, establishing Spanish dominance in the colony once and for all.

For the remainder of his life, Ulloa served as a naval officer. In 1779 he became lieutenant-general of the naval forces. Ulloa died at Isla de Leon, Cádiz, in 1795.


20061001 - Mitad del Mundo (busto de Antonio de Ulloa)
Bust of Antonio de Ulloa in Mitad del Mundo, Ecuador

As a result of his scientific work in Peru, Ulloa published Relación histórica del viaje á la América Meridional (Madrid, 1784), which contains a full, accurate, and clear description of the greater part of South America geographically, and of its inhabitants and natural history. (It was published in English in 1806.)

In collaboration with Jorge Juan mentioned above, he also wrote Noticias secretas de América, giving valuable information regarding the early religious orders in Spanish America. This work was published by David Barry in London, 1826.[6]

Ulloa is the namesake for the meteorological term "Ulloa's halo"[7] (also known as "Bouguer's halo"), which an observer may see infrequently in fog when the sun breaks through (for example, on a mountain) — effectively a "fog-bow" (as opposed to a "rain-bow").[8] A fog-bow is defined as "an infrequently observed meteorological phenomenon; a faint white, circular arc or complete ring of light that has a radius of 39 degrees and is centered on the antisolar point. When observed, it is usually in the form of a separate outer ring around an anticorona." [9]


  1. ^ Larrie D. Ferreiro (20 August 2013). Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World. Basic Books. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-465-02345-5.
  2. ^ Yanes, Javier (12 January 2016). "Antonio de Ulloa: the Discoverer of Platinum?". Knowledge Window. OpenMind. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  3. ^ Aristizábal-Fúquene, Andrea (2015). "El platino: contribuciones sociohistóricas y cientifícas desde el siglo xviii. Parte I" [Platinum: Scientific and Socio-historic Contributions from the 18th Century]. Educación Química (in Spanish). 26 (2): 146–151. doi:10.1016/j.eq.2015.04.009. ISSN 0187-893X.
  4. ^ Antonio de Ulloa, John Adams translator (1806, edition 4) A Voyage to South America Archived 5 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Biodiversity Heritage Library
  5. ^ Whitaker, Arthur P. (May 1935). "Antonio de Ulloa". Hispanic American Historical Review. 15 (2): 155–194. doi:10.2307/2506293. JSTOR 2506293.
  6. ^ Antonio Ulloa and Jorge Juan (1826 edition) Noticias Secretas de America, HathiTrust
  7. ^ Paul Murdin (25 December 2008). Full Meridian of Glory: Perilous Adventures in the Competition to Measure the Earth. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-387-75534-2.
  8. ^ Fred Schaaf (1983). Wonders of the Sky: Observing Rainbows, Comets, Eclipses, the Stars, and Other Phenomena. Courier Corporation. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-486-24402-0.
  9. ^ Tricker, R.A.R.. An Introduction to Meteorological Optics. 1970. pp. 192–193

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainVentura Fuentes (1913). "Antonio de Ulloa" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links

Preceded by
Charles Philippe Aubry
Spanish Governor of Louisiana
Succeeded by
Charles Philippe Aubry (acting)
1716 in science

The year 1716 in science and technology involved some significant events.

1735 in science

The year 1735 in science and technology involved some significant events.

Action of 14 September 1779

The Action of 14 September 1779 was a minor naval engagement between the British Royal Naval frigate HMS Pearl and the Spanish frigate Santa Mónica off the Azores during the Anglo-Spanish War.The Spanish Navy had been patrolling the Azores since July with a small squadron of ships under of Lt. Gen. Don Antonio de Ulloa, with his flagship Fenix, ships of the line Gallardo, Diligent and San Julián, and the frigates Santa Maria and Santa Mónica.On 14 September, Pearl, Captain George Montagu while cruising off the Azores in the early hours of the morning chased a large ship which turned out to be Santa Mónica under the command of Don Miguel de Nunes.At 09:30am, Pearl caught up with Santa Mónica and commenced action. After fighting for two hours, Santa Mónica had become severely damaged and had 38 men killed and 45 wounded; de Nunes therefore struck her colours. Santa Mónica was a new ship, mounting 26 long 12-pounder guns on her main deck, and two 4-pounders on her quarter-deck, with a crew of 271 men. Santa Mónica in addition was larger than Pearl. Pearl was little damaged except in her rigging; she had suffered a loss of 12 men killed and 19 wounded. Ulloa was acquitted in a court martial back in Cadiz in October back because of the loss of Santa Mónica.The British Royal Navy took Santa Mónica into service as HMS Santa Monica. She wrecked on Tortola on 1 April 1782.

Battle of Manila Bay

The Battle of Manila Bay (Filipino: Labanan sa Look ng Maynila Spanish: Batalla de Bahía de Manila), also known as the Battle of Cavite, took place on 1 May 1898, during the Spanish–American War. The American Asiatic Squadron under Commodore George Dewey engaged and destroyed the Spanish Pacific Squadron under Contraalmirante (Rear admiral) Patricio Montojo. The battle took place in Manila Bay in the Philippines, and was the first major engagement of the Spanish–American War. The battle was one of the most decisive naval battles in history and marked the end of the Spanish colonial period in Philippine history.

Charles Philippe Aubry

Charles-Philippe Aubry or Aubri (died February 17, 1770) was a French soldier and colonial administrator, who served as governor of Louisiana twice in the 18th century.

Don Antonio de Ulloa

Don Antonio de Ulloa may refer to:

Antonio de Ulloa, a Spanish general, explorer, author, astronomer, and colonial administrator.

Don Antonio de Ulloa, a Spanish Navy cruiser that fought at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.

Jorge Juan y Santacilia

Jorge Juan y Santacilia (Novelda, Alacant, 5 January 1713 – Madrid, 21 June 1773) was a Spanish mathematician, scientist, naval officer, and mariner.

Louisiana Rebellion of 1768

The Rebellion of 1768 was an unsuccessful attempt by Creole and German settlers around New Orleans, Louisiana to stop the handover of the French Louisiana Territory to Spain, as had been stipulated in the 1762 Treaty of Fontainebleau.

The rebellion aimed to force the new Spanish Louisiana Governor Antonio de Ulloa to leave New Orleans and return to Spain but his replacement Alejandro O'Reilly was able to crush the rebellion, execute five of its ringleaders and firmly establish Spanish law in the territory.

Nicolas Chauvin de Lafreniere

Nicolas Chauvin de Lafreniere Jr. (the younger), (died 26 October 1769) was Attorneys General of Louisiana. He was one of the ringleaders of the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768, the others being Joseph Milhet, Jean-Baptiste Noyan, Pierre Caresse and Pierre Marquis. The rebellion succeeded in driving Antonio de Ulloa, the Spanish Governor of Louisiana out of New Orleans.

He was a son of Nicolas Chauvin, Sieur de La Frenière, the elder, born 1675 in Montréal, died 1748 in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.However, the ringleaders, including Lafreniere were later arrested and subsequently executed on 26 October 1769 by firing squad.According to the book A History of Louisiana (1909):

It was found that there was no hangman in the colony, so the condemned prisoners were ordered to be shot. When the day of execution came, hundreds of people left the city. Those who could not leave went into their houses, closed the doors and windows and waited in an agony of sickening dread to hear the fatal shots. Only the tramping of soldiers broke the deathlike stillness which brooded over the crushed and helpless city. At three o’clock on a perfect October afternoon in 1769, the condemned men were led to the Spanish barracks. Lafreniere, it is said, gave the order to fire. A volley of muskets broke out on the still air, and five patriots went to their death, — the first Louisianians to give their blood for the cause of freedom.

Pedro Peralta y Barnuevo

Pedro Peralta y Barnuevo (Lima, 26 November 1663-30 April 1743) was an Enlightenment-era Peruvian mathematician, cosmographer, historian, scholar, poet, and astronomer, and was considered a polymath. He was rector of University of San Marcos in Lima.

Peralta's parents were Spaniard Francisco Peralta Barnuevo and Magdalena E. Rocha Benavides from Lima. He was the brother of José de Peralta Barnuevo, Bishop of Buenos Aires.

He studied Roman and canonical art and law at the University of San Marcos, from which he obtained the degree of doctor in canons and laws (1680-1686). Subsequently, he obtained the title of lawyer before the Royal Court (1686). He mastered Latin, Greek, French, Portuguese, Italian, English and Quechua, and had in his library works that reveal an all-embracing curiosity: grammar, poliorcetics, astronomy and metallurgy, among others. Upon the death of his father, he inherited from him the position of royal accountant of the Court of Audit. He also received income from his wife's landed estates.He became rector of the University of San Marcos in very difficult circumstances for the University in 1715 and 1716. He was a member of the Académie des sciences of Paris, because of his decision to collaborate in a very important Franco-Spanish geodesic expedition, and the head of the expedition, begun in 1735, was the French naturalist and geographer Charles Marie de la Condamine. It was sought (and was done after long and very careful work), determine the length of the meridian arc, and numerous observations of the nature of that area were also carried out. Spaniards Antonio de Ulloa and Jorge Juan participated as principals.


Platinum is a chemical element with the symbol Pt and atomic number 78. It is a dense, malleable, ductile, highly unreactive, precious, silverish-white transition metal. Its name is derived from the Spanish term platino, meaning "little silver".Platinum is a member of the platinum group of elements and group 10 of the periodic table of elements. It has six naturally occurring isotopes. It is one of the rarer elements in Earth's crust, with an average abundance of approximately 5 μg/kg. It occurs in some nickel and copper ores along with some native deposits, mostly in South Africa, which accounts for 80% of the world production. Because of its scarcity in Earth's crust, only a few hundred tonnes are produced annually, and given its important uses, it is highly valuable and is a major precious metal commodity.Platinum is one of the least reactive metals. It has remarkable resistance to corrosion, even at high temperatures, and is therefore considered a noble metal. Consequently, platinum is often found chemically uncombined as native platinum. Because it occurs naturally in the alluvial sands of various rivers, it was first used by pre-Columbian South American natives to produce artifacts. It was referenced in European writings as early as 16th century, but it was not until Antonio de Ulloa published a report on a new metal of Colombian origin in 1748 that it began to be investigated by scientists.

Platinum is used in catalytic converters, laboratory equipment, electrical contacts and electrodes, platinum resistance thermometers, dentistry equipment, and jewelry. Being a heavy metal, it leads to health problems upon exposure to its salts; but due to its corrosion resistance, metallic platinum has not been linked to adverse health effects. Compounds containing platinum, such as cisplatin, oxaliplatin and carboplatin, are applied in chemotherapy against certain types of cancer.As of 2018, the value of platinum is $833.00 per ounce.

SS Joys

The Joys was a steamboat that sank in Lake Michigan off the coast of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, United States. In 2007 the shipwreck site was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Solar eclipse of June 24, 1778

A total solar eclipse occurred on June 24, 1778. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is larger than the Sun's, blocking all direct sunlight, turning day into darkness. Totality occurs in a narrow path across Earth's surface, with the partial solar eclipse visible over a surrounding region thousands of kilometres wide.

The total eclipse was visible in a path across Mexico, southeastern United States, and ended across northern Africa.

Spanish cruiser Don Antonio de Ulloa

Don Antonio de Ulloa was a Velasco-class unprotected cruiser of the Spanish Navy that fought in the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American War.

Spanish sloop Jorge Juan

Jorge Juan was a Jorge Juan-class sloop of the Spanish Navy which was sunk off Cuba during the Spanish–American War.

Velasco-class cruiser

The Velasco class of unprotected cruisers was a series of eight cruisers built during the 1880s for service with the Spanish Navy. They were named for famous Spaniards of the past.

William Bowles (naturalist)

William Bowles (1705 – 25 August 1780), was an Irish naturalist.

Bowles was born near Cork.

He gave up the legal profession, for which he was destined, and in 1740 went to Paris, where he studied natural history, chemistry, and metallurgy. He subsequently traveled through France, investigating its natural history and mineral and other productions.

In 1752, having become acquainted with Don Antonio de Ulloa, afterwards admiral of the Spanish fleet, Bowles was induced to enter the Spanish service, being appointed to superintend the state mines and to form a collection of natural history and fit up a chemical laboratory. He first visited the mercury mines of Almadén, which had been seriously damaged by fire, and the plans he suggested were successfully adopted for their resuscitation. He afterwards traveled through Spain, investigating its minerals and natural history, living chiefly at Madrid and Bilbao.

He married a German, Anna Rustein, who was pensioned by the king of Spain after her husband's death. Bowles is described as tall and fine-looking, generous, honourable, active, ingenious, and well informed. His society was much valued in the best Spanish circles. He died at Madrid on 25 August 1780.

First French Louisiana (1682–1762)
Spanish Louisiana (1762–1802)
Second French Louisiana (1802–1804)

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