Secrets of Spanish Florida | Full Episode | Secrets of the Dead | PBS
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Cancio knew their only salvation was to form an alliance with the Indians. But that would not be easy. Imagine what it must have been like for a native to see this ship with its huge black hull, white bearded men. It would be like an alien spaceship coming down, in your backyard.
So naturally they fought it off in these places. And while the explorers saw natives as savage…the Spanish seemed equally barbaric to the Indians.
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On these expeditions when they're hungry they eat shoes. And they eat horses. And they eat saddles. I mean- and they eat each other. But inKing Carlos-the-fifth issued new laws, ordering that Native people who lived in the Americas were to be treated humanely.
So by the time St. Augustine was founded, enslaving natives was prohibited. There's a shift from conquest by the sword to conquest by the Gospel. And the king now wants pacification. One of the most famous of the Franciscan friars in the 16th and early 17th century was Francisco Pareja. He learned their language, eventually he wrote a grammar of the language, a dictionary of the language.
And wrote out the prayers of the Catholic church so that a typical Timucuan could read it. A recent study of Timucuan Teh-MOO-kwan manuscripts have led to the realization that not only did these Natives read Spanish, but they also wrote in their native tongue.
We have about a thousand pages of Timucua. Timucua is the first indigenous written grammatical language in the United States. Flagler College Professor of Religion Dr. Timothy Johnson has been working with other scholars to compare the Spanish and Timucua teh-MOO-kwa versions of seventeenth century religious writings.
There is a whole series of what are called superstitions in the Confessionario and the priest is supposed to ask the Timucua are you doing this? Are you doing that? Uh protected the children from a wolf, you know? These are what they call good medicine. Literacy among many of the indigenous peoples. These Natives were also highly advanced in their knowledge of agriculture. Governor Cancio capitalized on that knowledge, using the Timucua to cultivate the savannahs and make them arable.
According to documents in the Archives of the Indies, corn production increased more than three times what it had been in the entire decade before he arrived. This is one of the two wooden chests carrying St.
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Javier says it revolutionized agriculture in northern Spain. Fully one year before Jamestown was founded, the settlement of St. By the time Jamestown was founded, St. Augustine was a community of shops and homes. But the arrival of the English in Jamestown in changed everything. Philip III handed the Empire over to bureaucrats, who questioned the convenience of keeping garrisons like in St. Unlike his father, who had routed out the French when they had violated Spanish sovereignty here forty years earlier, [sound of metallic sword] Philip- the-third decided not to challenge the establishment of Jamestown.
It was too costly and his soldiers were too involved with wars in Europe. King Philip III issued an edict that there was no more going up and down the coastline putting out fires. And really there never was any need to worry about Jamestown.
It was never a threat to Spanish Florida. The Jamestown colony may not have posed much of a threat by itself, but England did. Shortly after Jamestown, other settlements began. Spain could not put out all of those fires Narrator: It was May 29th, A French physician named Pierre Piques pee-kaywho had recently been forced to leave St. Augustine in shame, was on a ship headed to Havana. He was about to get his revenge. He and the Governor have become very acrimonious towards each other.
The Governor apparently has a number of women that he is spending time with, inappropriately, according to the records.
And the Governor orders him to leave the town. Piques realized he had valuable information that could not only spare his life, but could also serve to retaliate against the Governor. He asked for an audience with Searles. He told the pirates that a large quantity of silver bars had recently been recovered from the wreck of a treasure ship off the coast and it was being held for safe keeping in St. And he's feeling vengeful and so he gives Searles all the information he has about how the best way to get into St.
Augustine, what the timing would be, and so he helps them get into the town. Searles knew that no one at the fort would suspect that this Spanish supply ship had pirates on board.
And that was his Trojan horse. He came in on a different ship, not on a pirate ship but on this treasury vessel under disguise. They attacked at midnight People were asleep - they like to catch them literally in their beds. There was chaos in the streets as people tried to escape. Official reports describe what happened to one 18 year old girl named Estefania es-teffa-KNEE-ahwho ran out of her house carrying her baby sister.
Her story appears in reports to the Crown. Historians say it puts a face on the viciousness of the attack.
When the carnage ended, 60 people were dead and 70 had been taken hostage. The Governor negotiated a trade and many of those hostages were returned. But Searles kept the Natives and Africans as his spoils…then headed to the Caribbean to sell them as slaves.
When Spain heard of this, the Crown realized it could no longer risk losing La Florida to foreign invaders and outlaws. It pushed the Spanish crown into appropriating more money to build a new fort. That's why the Castillo de San Marcos was built.
It is now the oldest masonry fort remaining in the US. It was a major turning point in the history of the southeast this strong fortress. They were about to find out whether this new fortress would hold.
And so with the settlement of Charleston, that now made a English settlement that was close enough to launch an attack on St.
The missions were easy prey- the Natives living there were unarmed. The friars had an issue giving firearms to the natives. Keeping firearms away from the natives is a way of keeping them pure, keeping them from harming one another, keeping them from committing murder, essentially. The British on the other hand, issued guns to any Natives who would fight on their side.
It was the only chance they had of possibly staying safe. And the food that they brought with them would help keep the soldiers fed. It had to be terrible in there. Fifteen hundred people crammed inside the Castillo? On November 10th,the gates of the Castillo were shut.
As the English got within range of the fort, the Spanish fired on them, and the exchange began. It misfired, [cannon fires and explodes, men cry out and groan in pain] killing the gunner and two other men. Five more were wounded. The governor realizes very quickly that the houses that are closest to the fort will provide a place for the English to shoot. The siege continued for the next 52 days. The first child that's born there is actually born to a- um- a Native American woman and a black slave a few days after the siege starts.
The Castillo seemed to be impenetrable. What made the fort so resistant to artillery fire? It shatters violently, the fragments will fly off… Narrator: The principle behind why it withstood so elegantly and majestically is simply coquina was able to absorb energy locally, not sending the energy to global region, which is fracture.
The coquina walls are composed of compressed shell fragments bonded together over thousands of years. It's all a tunneling effect, so the ball comes, material ahead of it is being crushed, crushed, crushed, crushed.
The tiny shells crumble, absorbing impact, so bullets and cannonballs sank into the Castillo rather than shattering the walls. Coquina is a material unique to just a few regions of the world.
Augustine is one of them. They just got lucky. As the days wore on, the English began to blame General Moore for their failure to take the fort. The British start arguing among themselves because the British invaders have put a lot of their own money into this venture. But conditions inside the Castillo were becoming dire as well. Food was running scarce. If- if you can't bombard them out, y'know you can just wait them out. The Governor sent out messengers, hoping one of them would reach Cuba.
He's hoping that he can send someone in a small canoe down the tidal creeks. Can you imagine taking a canoe out into the Atlantic Ocean? Amazingly, his plan worked. Suddenly four Spanish warships from Havana appeared on the horizon. The siege was finally over. It would take decades for the town to fully recover.
No food no homes. But while the people of St. Augustine were slowly piecing their lives back together, [storm sounds] James Moore was back in South Carolina, plotting revenge. He suffered the loss of his pride.
He was treated as a contemptible person Narrator: They lost a lot of money, the backers of this expedition. So, he decided to make up for it somehow. Native Americans could be rounded up; they could be walked back to Charles Town, and sold in slave markets.
And that was where the money was. It was in the slavery business. Indians increasingly have to choose whether to become victims or to participate in the slave trade as slave raiders and so the Yamasees and the Lower Creeks in particular they have become very active slave raiders. We did not understand the concept of what they identified slavery as.
Over the next two years, Moore and his raiders stormed Spanish missions throughout the interior of La Florida. Most of the survivors of these mission raids were captured [Gunfire] and taken back to South Carolina.
According to his own report, James Moore took over natives- mostly women and children- to sell into slavery. The historian of this period, John Hann, said that this was the largest slave raid in the history of the country. And that's how he redeemed himself with all these slaves, all this income. So in our eyes, they were less than human. Moore and his allies viciously killed over a thousand people during his raids. Well it was terribly brutal. People were burned alive, um people were disemboweled, flayed, crucified.
Christianized Indians and the friars might be nailed to the cross. So whoever tells the story is obviously going to tell it from their perspective. Timothy Johnson has been studying eyewitness accounts of the genocide that occurred at these missions.
People are given the chance to deny their faith.
They would stand up even watching and knowing full well what was coming their way. Uh, the stories of what people would do, um, in the face of death. The Vatican has begun the process of canonization for some 82 Native Americans and missionaries killed for their beliefs during these raids. By the Spanish missions in La Florida had been almost completely obliterated. It dealt a demoralizing blow to Spanish Catholics.
But it was also a crippling setback for St. Augustine; the missions had been its bread basket. La Florida was a threat to the British way of life…particularly on the issue of slavery. As far back as the days of the conquistadors, Africans had been an accepted and integral part of everyday life in Spanish America.
Probably the first African American to this part of the world was on missions here scouting with Ponce de Leon. There were free black people here from the beginning of the colony onward. These were people who helped build the early garrisons, they built residences; they did work that was critical for the survival of the community.
They weren't working out, for example, on sugar plantations. The Spanish did have slaves, but slavery under the British was not the same. Under English law, a slave was property- or chattel- without any legal or civil rights. Although the Spanish bought and sold slaves too, the law recognized slaves had legal rights. Slaves could, for example, purchase their own freedom. Slaves families could not be separated by law. They marry, and their marriages appear in the church records so these were considered official marriages.
So we have to be careful not to say that somehow Spanish slavery was good slavery, better than English slavery, uh, it's still slavery At the same time, Spanish laws that govern slavery were fundamentally different.
Spanish slaves could own property, sue their owners in court, and both men and women could even petition the King. One of the largest differences was the belief that Africans were human beings who had souls. Whereas the British did not believe that at all.
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One of my favorite details in all of Floyd Bennett Field is the insignia on the roof: Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia pushed hard for the airlines to switch to Floyd Bennett, offering waterplane service directly to Manhattan seen below — what an amenity!
However, at the time, passenger travel was a luxury, and in fact most air travel was centered around freight and postage. Over its 9 years of operation as a commercial airfield, numerous important and record-breaking flights left from Floyd Bennett — see the very impressive and often amusing list here.
The Floyd Bennett historic district consists of the Administration Building, as well as a number of hangars and repair shops. The below picture taken in offers a better idea of the layout — the Administration Building is in the center, surrounded by hangars. Two of the hangars have been beautifully maintained and repurposed as a sports and events center: In fact, one wonders if Hangar 8… …is the hangar in the background of this picture featuring Amelia Earhart at FBF note the arched corner: Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the remaining buildings, which are all in pretty terrible states of decay.
The man in the picture? Interestingly enough, the degradation has revealed just how many entities have called these hangars home over the years, as seen in the overlapping signage: Above the door… …a very cool rising sun motif… Meanwhile, at the roof, the same insignia seen in steel on the gates: Unfortunately, as bad as those hangars are, these are even worse: This is the former garage and maintenance shop… Inside the entrance: At some point, I think this also was used by a police operation, perhaps the United States Park Police.
Inside, your standard municipal color scheme: Room after empty room: Old parking spaces marked on the ground: I love finding old sidewalks in overgrowth: Inside one of the larger rooms — note the enormous National Parks sign on its side: Same room, different angle: Another building, its roof collapsing: