Images de page
PDF
ePub

knife,” Menéndez wrote to Philip, “judging it to be necessary to the service of the Lord Our God, and of Your Majesty. And I think it a very great fortune that this man be dead ... . he could do more in one year than another in ten; for he was the most experienced sailor and corsair known, very skillful in this navigation of the Indies and of the Florida Coast.”.

Some there were, of course, among his officers at St. Augustine, and among the nobility in Spain, who condemned Menéndez for his cruelty and for slaying the captives after having given his oath for their safety. But Barrientos, a contemporary historian, holds that he was “very merciful” to them for he could “legally have burnt them alive

He killed them, I think, rather by divine inspiration.” And Philip's comment, scribbled by his pen on the back of Menéndez's dispatch, was: “As to those he has killed he has done well, and as to those he has saved, they shall be sent to the galleys.". And he wrote to Menéndez, “We hold that we have been well served.”

The name of Menéndez is popularly associated in America almost solely with this inhuman episode. But the expulsion of the French was only an * Lowery, Florida, p. 200.

* Lowery, Florida, p. 206.

incident in a work covering nearly ten years, during which time Menéndez proved himself an able and constructive administrator, as well as a vigorous soldier, and laid the foundation of a Spanish colony on the northern mainland which endured.

Menéndez was a dreamer, as are all men of vision, and he pictured a great future for his Florida — which to him meant the whole of northeastern America. He would fortify the Peninsula to prevent any foreigner from gaining control of the Bahama Channel, that highway of the precious treasure fleets; he would ascend the Atlantic coast and occupy Santa Elena, where the French had intruded, and the Bay of Santa María (Chesapeake Bay), for, since one of its arms was perhaps the long-sought northern passage, the bay might prove to be the highway to the Moluccas, much endangered now by the activities of the French. The other extremity, on the Pacific, it was hoped, might be discovered by Legazpi, who shortly before had started on his way to conquer the Philippine Islands. This accomplished, then away with France and her Bacallaos (St. Lawrence) River, which, after all, Cartier and Roberval had found untenable. To approach Mexico, Menéndez would occupy Appalachee Bay, and plant a colony at

Coosa, "at the foot of the mountains which come from the mines of Zacatecas and San Martín,” where Francisco de Ibarra was at this very moment engaged in carving out the Kingdom of New Biscay. Finally, Menéndez had great hopes of economic prosperity, for silkworms, vineyards, mines, pearls, sugar plantations, wheat and rice fields, herds of cattle, salines, ship timber, and pitch would make Florida not only self-supporting but richer “than New Spain or even Peru."

Vast and unified in vision were these contemporaneous projects of Philip and his men, embracing the two oceans and reaching from Spain to the Philippine Islands. The tasks of Menéndez in La Florida, Ibarra in New Biscay, and Legaspi in the Philippines were all but parts of one great whole, and Florida, said Menéndez, with a twentieth-century contempt for distance and a Spanish disregard of time, “is but a suburb of Spain, for it does not take more than forty days' sailing to come here, and usually as many more to return.

Within two years Menéndez had established a line of posts between Tampa Bay and Santa Elena (Port Royal) and had made an attempt to colonize Virginia. But this work had not been done without setbacks. Disease and the adventurer's

dislike of manual labor — the same enemies that so nearly wrecked the English settlement at Jamestown several decades later - played their part in hampering the growth of the Florida settlements. When the colonies might perhaps have been in a degree self-supporting, it was still necessary to import all their supplies. Over a hundred colonists died at St. Augustine and San Mateo (Fort Caroline); the attitude of others was fairly expressed in the statement of some deserters, that they had not come there to plow and plant but to find riches and, since no riches were to be found, they would no longer live in Florida “like beasts." From the principal settlements over three hundred men absconded; one hundred and thirty belonging to St. Augustine seized a supply ship and made off in it. But Menéndez's forces were strengthened by over a thousand colonists from Spain. The foothold in Florida had been won.

Meanwhile Menéndez had turned to inland exploration. While at Santa Elena in 1566, he sent Juan Pardo with twenty-five men "to discover and conquer the interior country from there to Mexico." Menéndez aimed to join hands with the advance guard of pioneers in New Biscay. Going northward through Orista

at forty leagues Pardo apparently struck the Cambahee River. Turning west he visited Cufitachiqui, where De Soto had dallied with the ' a quarter century before. A few days later he was at Juala, on a stream near the foot of the Alleghanies. The mountain being covered with snow, he could not proceed, so he built a stockade, called Fort San Juan, and left there a garrison under Sergeant Boyano. Going east to Guataré (Wateree), he left there a priest and four soldiers, and returned by a direct route to Santa Elena. He had thus extended the work of De Soto by exploring a large part of South Carolina and adding considerably to the knowledge of North Carolina.

Conversion of the natives was an essential part of Menéndez's scheme to pacify and hold the country. He had, as yet, no missionaries; so he detailed some of his soldiers to the work, and, in 1566, by much urging, he induced Philip to equip and send three Jesuits to Florida. The three were Father Martínez, Father Rogel, and Brother Villareal. Their mission began in disaster. Father Martínez was killed by Indians and the other two withdrew temporarily to the West Indies. On their return, Menéndez established Father Rogel with a

« PrécédentContinuer »