Monday, August 3, 2015

North American’s European Birthday

Love it or hate it, but this September 8th will mark 450 years ago, when the Europeans established a colony here, in North East Florida named after Saint Augustine of Hippo (North Africa) whose feast day is on September 8th.  And this colony was successful when so many of its time failed because of the foresight of its new governor, Pedro Menendez. There is much written about Pedro, but the results of his decisions have reverberate for 450 years, with many more to come.  Not only did his decisions result in the first Spanish outpost in North America, but it survives to this day. This cannot be said for other colonies of its period.  But why did others fail?

Many years later, when the British tried to establish North American Colonies of their own in Roanoke  and Jamestown they failed, some failed disastrously, but why? But finally 60 some odd years after St Augustine’s founding, a handful of Pilgrims barely eked through a New England winter in Plymouth to establish a permanent English colony in the new world. So why were the Spanish so successful all those years earlier?

First and foremost, Pedro was a planner and a merchant. He knew, unlike the British, that cities do not just exist because there are people living there; rather, they thrive because of commerce. You have to make things, sell things, buy other things to make a city. So after landing, having the First Mass in North America, and giving orders to his troops and lieutenants to build a defensive structure, he left his new city in search of tradeing partners.  Pretty forward thinking, don’t you think?

Pedro sailed for months stopping and introducing himself to the peoples of the Bahamas, lower Florida, and other Caribbean islands, to find what they had, and most importantly, what they needed or wanted to trade. Because he knew, it was the answers to these questions that will the salvation of his new colony. He even went as far as to marry a native girl, daughter of a chief in South Florida, in order to secure trading partners.

This September marks the 450th anniversary of this lovely little colonial town, come see what it has to offer.



 

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