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The "other" Jamestown [ Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 10:32 ]
ursine1
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Redacted from an AP article by Ron Word.

Jamestown got a lot of attention this past spring celebrating the anniversary of its founding May 14, 1607, making it the oldest English settlement in the nation. Queen Elizabeth paid a visit, and so did President Bush.

But St. Augustine is the nation's oldest European city, and its 442nd birthday celebration is scheduled for 28 August to 1 September, including historical re-enactments, entertainment, and yes, a Thanksgiving feast. But this one will commemorate a feast held in September of 1565 by the Spaniards and native Timucuan Indians, when the menu likely included wild turkey, venison and salted pork stew.

Historians and officials here can't help wondering what all the Jamestown brouhaha is about. Their city was founded 42 years earlier on 8 September 1565, by Spaniard Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his expedition of 500 soldiers, 200 sailors and 100 farmers and craftsmen. Some brought their wives and children. They, not the Pilgrims, celebrated the first Thanksgiving in the New World. The first schools, hospitals and banks in what is now the United States were built here.

Not that many Americans know about it.

"We speak English and we're reared in... English historical traditions, which have tended to depreciate what the Spanish have contributed to history," said Bill Adams, the city's director of Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism. Historians have tended to "write the Spanish out of their history books or diminish their contributions. So Americans have inherited that."

"I don't know how long it will take before the Spanish people realize that St. Augustine is their Williamsburg or their Plymouth or their Jamestown," Adams said. "St. Augustine is not only the birthplace of European culture and settlement in the United States, but of Spanish culture" in North America.

In 1738, the Spanish established Fort Mose. It was the first free-black community in what is now the United States. About 100 men, women and children lived in the settlement. Most had been enslaved by the British and were given their freedom if they could escape and make their way to the Spanish territory.
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[User Picture]From: fingertrouble
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 09:04 (UTC)
In 1738, the Spanish established Fort Mose. It was the first free-black community in what is now the United States. About 100 men, women and children lived in the settlement. Most had been enslaved by the British and were given their freedom if they could escape and make their way to the Spanish territory.

That's deeply ironic since it was the English who were the first to dismantle slavery? I'm not sure at that point if Spanish had yet done same? Especially in the New World....
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[User Picture]From: fingertrouble
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 09:09 (UTC)
But you're right about the Jamestown thing, it's surprising since there were other colonies.

Also, it's classic European arrogance since there were already cities and towns in the US from the indigenous population. So it was already 'civilized' but not by the West...
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 09:49 (UTC)

It was the English who were the first to dismantle slavery?

After I did some research I found that although Spain participated in the Atlantic slave trade, but not to the same degree as Portugal initially. Later in history, Britain and Holland dominated the slave trade. The slaves were sent mostly to the New World colonies.

For example, at the conclusion of the War of the Spanish Succession, the Treaty of Utrecht gave to Great Britain a thirty-year asiento, or contract, to furnish an infinite amount of slaves to the Spanish colonies. So Spanish colonies were recipients of slaves, but Spain itself was not as heavily involved in the Atlantic slave trade.

I think the issue in the case of Florida was that the Spanish were tweaking the British by enticing slaves to escape to St. Augustine.

Spain may have formally dismantled slavery after the English, but by that time most of the Spanish empire was gone, whereas the UK held on to their colonies much later.

Chuck
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[User Picture]From: fingertrouble
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 10:35 (UTC)

Re: It was the English who were the first to dismantle slavery?

Yes Britain was involved with the slave trade (which makes the dismantling so alarming) but you're saying Spain and Portugal didn't enslave people in their colonies, such as the New World? I think this is in one regard that Britain did clean up it's act from a very dodgy past.

Also I thought Spain still had colonies? Britain only has a few small islands, which are quasi independent like the Falklands.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 11:04 (UTC)

Also I thought Spain still had colonies?

None that I kind find. Spanish territory includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands off the African coast as well as two enclave cities in Morocco: Ceuta and Melilla. both Ceuta and Melilla are integral parts of the Spanish state, whereas Gibraltar, a British overseas territory, is not considered part of the United Kingdom. The Balearic Islands and Canary Islands are separate autonomous communities like Catalunya where I live.

The UK is more complicated. It comprises the island of Great Britain, the north-east part of the island of Ireland and many small local islands. And there are fifteen other Commonwealth Realms including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica. The Crown Dependencies of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, formally possessions of the Crown, are not part of the UK but form a federacy with it. The UK has fourteen overseas territories, all remnants of the British Empire.

There is not a similar relationship between former Spanish colonies and the "mother" country as there is with the Commonwealth Realms. But Spain is generally on "good terms" with its former colonies.

Chuck
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 11:37 (UTC)

More on slave trade...

I didn't really want to discuss slavery in general, but specifically the Atlantic slave trade. Spain certainly used slaves and enslaved indigenous people, but they weren't as heavily in the business of importing slaves from Africa, they left that up to others. You can check the Wikipedia entries on slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. Also note that the entries in different languages have different contents, reflecting political and cultural point of views.

For example, I found this list of the approximate number of slaves sequestered and imported by country on the Spanish entry for slavery on Wikipedia:
Portugal 10.500.000
Gran Bretaña 8.500.000
España 4.000.000
Francia 2.000.000
EEUU 2.000.000
Países Bajos 1.000.000

This shows the biggest "offender" to be Portugal, and in fact Brasil was the destination of the largest number of slaves.

Chuck
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 12:34 (UTC)
Once this said, which makes me sort of "proud" of being a Spaniard (remember that I was educated in the revisionist version of Spain's history in which the "conquest" of America was seen as a very bad thing), let me just tell you something I have heard from a lot of argentinians:

"If we had been an English colony, we would have become like Australia. The Spanish were lazy asses and thus our country was born from señoritos and inactive classes."

My answer is:
"Oh, sure, if you had been an English colony you could have become like Jamaica or any african country. Besides, you've been independent for 200 years so it would be time to take the reigns of your own destiny instead of blaming your own ancestors."

Nevertheless, all countries are to be ashamed of their colonial systems. The Britons might have a prevalent role in Western history, but the French weren't very good either. As per Spain and Portugal, they never took real good profit of their colonies - you just have to see how those countries struggled in the 19th and 20th centuries - Other countries, like the Germans (who lost their possessions after World War I) or the Dutch have left a smaller imprint.

I'd also like to remember that the last spanish colonies (except Guinea Ecuatorial and Sahara) were simply robbed by the US: Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Cuba.

Finally (and that's my catalan point of view), Spain wasn't the empire, it was Castille until 1714. Then, of course, the other spanish kingdoms profited from America - helping the catalan industry being born.
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[User Picture]From: ursine1
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 14:01 (UTC)

The Spanish were lazy asses...

Let me just tell you something I have heard from a lot of argentinians:

"If we had been an English colony, we would have become like Australia. The Spanish were lazy asses and thus our country was born from señoritos and inactive classes."


Interesting that a number of smaller Spanish towns have been encouraging immigration from places like Argentina. I remember reading that some Argentineans returned home because they had to "work too hard" in Spain.

Spain wasn't the empire, it was Castille until 1714.

That's why I mentioned the Treaty of Utrecht in another comment.

Thanks Xavi for providing another point of view. I can't honestly provide anything but a US one.

Chuck
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[User Picture]From: gorkabear
Monday, 06 Aug 07 | 16:20 (UTC)

Re: The Spanish were lazy asses...

You are really a well of wisdom! It's great chatting with you!
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