he Pilgrims fled from England to Holland in 1607.
When Spain threatened to invade Holland, the Pilgrims decided to flee again.
They considered sailing to
, as they heard of its tropical climate.
Of Plymouth Plantation
"Some ... had thoughts and were earnest for
alleged that the country was rich, fruitful, and blessed with a perpetual spring ..."
Why did the Pilgrims change their minds?
They were reminded of how close
the "Spanish Main," the area of the Caribbean Sea controlled by Spain
, and how Spanish soldiers massacred the French settlement of
Fort Caroline, Florida.
Spain had claimed
Juan Ponce de León's
exploration in 1512, reputedly looking for the
Fountain of Youth.
Ponce de León named it
as he explored it during the season of Pascua Florida
In the following years, Spaniards explored and attempted settlements:
explored the Tampa Bay area;
Francisco Hernández de Cordova
explored southwest Florida;
Alonso Álvarez de Pineda
mapped the Gulf of Mexico coast;
set sail to circumnavigate the globe;
Ponce de León
attempted a settlement near Charlotte Harbor;
Pedro de Quejo & Francisco Gordillo
landed at Winyah Bay;
conquered Aztec Mexico;
Pedro de Quejo
explored Amelia Island to Chesapeake Bay;
explored the South Carolina coast and attempted the settlement of San Miguel de Gualdape near Sapelo Sound, Georgia. As Dominican friars accompanied them, historians speculate the first Catholic Mass was celebrated in what what would be the United States;
Pánfilo de Narváez
landed near Tampa Bay with 400 settlers. After eight years of long marches through swamps and shipwrecked rafts on the Texas coast, only five survived. Four returned to Mexico and
was a captive of the Indians for 12 years;
conquered Peru's Inca Empire;
Hernando de Soto,
who had helped Pizarro conquer the Inca, landed in Tampa Bay. De Soto found
who related rumors of gold in Apalachee.
seized Indians as guides. crossed Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, before dying in 1542 near the Mississippi;
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado
looked for the Seven Cities of Gold, exploring Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, viewing the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River;
Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo
sailed up the coast of California;
Tristán de Luna y Arellano
attempted to settle Pensacola Bay;
Angel de Villafañe
attempted to settle Santa Elena (Port Royal Sound).
Indian attacks, tropical storms, hunger, diseases, and failure to find gold, resulted in the failure of Spanish settlements.
Unfortunately, during this period, some Spanish conquistadors raided Indian villages, capturing and enslaving hundreds of natives.
The dominant aspect of these Spanish conquests convinced the Pilgrims not to attempt to settle near Spanish-controlled territories, as Pilgrim Governor
"... but to this it was answered, that it was out of question ...
If they should there live, and do well, the
would never suffer them long, but would displant or
overthrow them, as he did the FRENCH in FLORIDA.
had attempted a settlement in
in 1564 on the banks of
St. John's River.
Though earlier, in 1534, French explorer
mapped the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, the French
the first French settlement
in area of present-day United States.
was founded by
French Protestant Christians
Why did the French Huguenots sail to Florida to attempt a settlement?
They wanted to escape the
Wars of Religion
which had been ravaging France for over a century.
During this era in Europe,
whatever a king believed, his kingdom had to believe
There was little freedom of conscience, as governments dictated the religious beliefs of citizens and persecuted those believing differently.
Due to his hateful contempt for the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V of Spain
King Francis I
did the unimaginable -- he made an alliance with the
Muslim Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent
This was the first time a European monarch made such an alliance with a Muslim power, resulting in calls being made for
to be excommunicated.
was originally tolerant of Protestants, but he soon turned to aggressively persecute them, having thousands killed in the
Massacre of the Waldensians of Mérindol
Religious persecutions increased in France with battles and tragedies such as the
Massacre of Wassy in 1562,
St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572
, instigated by the queen consort
Catherine de' Medici.
Edit of Nantes in 1589
provided some relief until it was officially revoked by
King Louis XIV
who resumed persecution with the
Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685.
Government persecution against
for their religious beliefs increased after the
assassination of King Henry IV
on May 4,
became the French king in
, he had as his Chief Minister,
consolidated State power, crushed dissent, confiscated lands, and laid the ground-work for the creation of
an absolute monarchy in France
destroyed the castles of the princes, dukes, and lesser aristocrats so they could not rebel.
imposed burdensome taxes, censored the press, and had such a broad network of internal spies spying on citizens that it is considered the origin of the modern secret service.
Arresting and executing his political rivals,
was portrayed as a power-hungry villain in Alexandre Dumas'
The Three Musketeers
strengthening of the French state led to the absolute rule of
Louis XIV -- the "Sun King,"
who is credited with saying
"It is legal because I wish it"
; and "L'État, c'est moi" (
"I am the state"
reigned over 72 years (1643-1715), longer than any major monarch in European history.
power led to the eventual bankrupting and decline of the powerful
Spanish-Austrian Habsburg Dynasty
Holy Roman Empire
During the Europe's religious wars, indefensible injustices were committed by both sides.
Though millions tragically died in these wars, the numbers are dwarfed when compared with the hundreds of millions killed in atheistic genocides, socialist/communist purges, racial expulsions, ethnic cleansings, and Islamic jihads.
and their attempt at seeking religious freedom in America,
Rep. Charles E. Bennett
sponsored a bill on September 21, 1950, to establish the
Fort Caroline National Memorial.
Rep. Charles E. Bennett
recited the history:
"The 425th anniversary of the beginning settlements by Europeans ...
and finally to
in 1822 ...
... Three small ships carrying
Rene de Laudonniere
anchored in the river known today as the
"On June 30, 1564, construction of a triangular-shaped fort...was begun with the help of a local tribe of
Home for this hardy group of Huguenots ... their strong religious ... motivations inspired them."
The French Christian Huguenots
in Florida set a day of Thanksgiving and offered
the first Protestant prayer in North America
on JUNE 30, 1564:
"We sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God, beseeching Him that it would please Him to continue His accustomed goodness towards us."
related the colony's unfortunate end:
existed but for a short time ...
... captured ... the fort and ... slaughtered most of its inhabitants in September of 1565."
Spanish Governor of Florida, Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés
, then founded
St. Augustine, Florida
, in 1565 -- the first
settlement in North America.
Other early settlements were:
Colony of Jamestown;
Colony of Quebec;
Colony of New Amsterdam (New York); and
Colony of New Sweden (Delaware & New Jersey)
Adam Smith wrote in
The Wealth of Nations
, by virtue of the first discovery,
claimed all America as their own
, and ... such was ... the terror of their name, that the greater part of the
other nations of Europe were afraid
to establish themselves in any other part of that great continent ...
... of their
... put it out of their power to obstruct any longer the settlements of the other European nations.
In the course of the 17th century ...
English, French, Dutch, Danes, and Swedes
... attempted to make some settlements in the new world."