San Miguel de Guadalupe

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North American slave revolts
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San Miguel de Guadalupe, founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón,[note 1] was the first European settlement in what became the continental United States.

Two-thirds of the 600 Spanish settlers of San Miguel de Guadalupe died before they reached the end of their three-month winter stay, most of disease. [1] They also suffered a rebellion by their African slaves and the native Guales before abandoning the site in early 1527,[2] with 100 African slaves escaping to take refuge with the neighboring Guale people. This is the first known such rebellion in the future US, with the African slaves constituting the first non-native settlers.[3][4]


Records show that in 1521, Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón, a wealthy sugar planter on Española (Hispaniola) and oidor (judge) of the royal Audencia of Santa Domingo, dispatched Francisco Gordillo northward to explore the North American continent.[5] Gordillo sailed north from Hispaniola through the Bahamas, where near the island of Lucayoneque he fell in with a caravel commanded by slave raider Pedro de Quexos (Pedro de Quejo). He was a relative of Gordillo's pilot Alonzo Fernandez Sotil.[6] They joined forces and continued to the coast of present-day South Carolina, landing at the "River of St. John the Baptist", possibly the Pee Dee River.

There they captured 70 natives to sell in Hispaniola.[7] Francisco de Chicora was baptized with the Christian name "Francisco",[8] and later served as a translator for the Spanish.[9] Ayllón took the young Native American back with him to Spain and presented him to the royal court. Francisco recounted stories about his homeland with the Chicora,[10][11] and the neighboring provinces, in what is now known as the Carolinas. "Chicora" (the name the Spanish gave to the area) was one of several Siouan-speaking territories subject to the chief Datha of Duahe (also recorded in Spanish as Duhare).[12] According to the historian Paul E. Hoffman, Francisco described the people of Duhare as "white" and having "blond hair to the heels",[13] and told of a gigantic Indian king called Datha.[14] who ruled a race of giants.[15] He also recounted there was another race of men who grew long tails.[11]

In 1523, Ayllón obtained a cédula, or royal patent, from Charles V and the Council of the Indies giving him permission to explore the Atlantic coastline of Chicora and beyond. He was given exclusive rights to establish a settlement there.[16][7] In 1525, Ayllón sent two caravels commanded by Pedro de Quexos to chart the coastline and sound its waters.[17] The slaver explored as far north as Delaware Bay.[18] He persuaded two natives from each district to return with him to Spain to learn Spanish, and thereafter act as interpreters for the colonists.

By mid-July 1526, Ayllón had organized an expedition of 600 settlers and 100 horses to found the colony. He lost one of his three ships in the river that Capt. Quexos had named the Rio Jordan; whether it was the Santee[19] or the Cape Fear River[20] is still debated by scholars.[21] The remainder of the expedition landed in Winyah Bay, near present-day Georgetown, South Carolina, on 29 September (the "Feast of Archangels"). Francisco de Chicora left and escaped into the woods. Ayllón's party proceeded 40 or 45 leagues, partly overland and partly by boat, visiting the "king" of Duahe en route, according to expedition historian Peter Martyr.

In early October, they reached another river, which they named the Guadalupe, where they founded the mission San Miguel de Guadalupe. Scholars have disputed the location of this colony, since the expedition did not relate in which direction they traveled from the Jordan (Santee). Some historians have asserted that Ayllón went north, reaching the Chesapeake Bay. Francisco Fernández de Écija, chief pilot of Spaniards searching the Chesapeake Bay for English activities in 1609,[22] claimed that Ayllón in 1526 had landed on the James River somewhere near where Jamestown was later developed.[23] Ecija also claimed the natives at the Santee had told him Daxe (Duahe) was a town 4 days to the north.

The 20th-century American ethnologist John Swanton, who studied the southeastern Indian tribes, suggested Ayllón may have gone 45 leagues to the southwest, and that the Guadalupe was the Savannah River in present-day Georgia. There the expedition would have interacted with the Guale, a chiefdom that was part of the Mississippian culture.[24] Since the early 21st century, contemporary American scholars concur that Ayllón probably developed the 1526 settlement at or near present-day Georgia's Sapelo Island. They believe that scholarly speculation suggesting that the San Miguel settlement (Tierra de Ayllón) was founded any farther to the north cannot be substantiated.[25] Archaeological attempts to locate the site have so far been unsuccessful.[26]

The colony was a failure. Ayllón died in October 1526,[3] purportedly in the arms of a Dominican friar. Two-thirds of the settlers died before the three months of severe winter ended,[1] suffering from the scarcity of supplies, hunger, malaria and other diseases.[1] A mutiny took place after Ayllón's death, with some men mistreating the local natives, who attacked the settlers.[3] The mutiny was quelled but problems continued. In the spring of 1527, Francis Gomez sailed two vessels with some 150-200 survivors to Hispaniola. One ship sank on the way, requiring survivors to crowd on a single vessel to return.[27]

Slavery and rebellion[edit]

Together with hundreds of settlers, Ayllón had brought a group of roughly 100 "seasoned", enslaved Africans and natives from Hispaniola[28] to labor at the mission, to clear ground and erect the buildings. After Ayllón's death, some of the settlers mutinied against his successor, and mistreated local Indians and slaves. The Indians attacked the settlers and the slaves rebelled, many of them escaping to take refuge with the Guale.[29] This 1526 incident is regarded as the first documented slave rebellion in North America and the surviving African slaves as the first non-native settlers.[4]

First Catholic mass in the United States[edit]

Dominican friars Fr. Antonio de Montesinos and Fr. Anthony de Cervantes were among the colonists at San Miguel de Guadalupe. They would have celebrated mass each day, making this the first place in the present-day United States in which mass was celebrated. The specific location and date of the event are not known.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In early 1521, Ponce de León had made a poorly documented, disastrous attempt to plant a colony near Charlotte Harbor, Florida but was quickly repulsed by the native Calusa. After the attack, the expedition returned to Havana, where Ponce soon died from his wounds. See Ponce de Leon Source Records.Douglas T. Peck (Summer 2001). "Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón's Doomed Colony of San Miguel de Guadalupe". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 85 (2): 183–198. doi:10.2307/40584407 (inactive 16 January 2017). JSTOR 40584407. 


  1. ^ a b c James Ciment (17 September 2016). Colonial America: An Encyclopedia of Social, Political, Cultural, and Economic History. Taylor & Francis. p. 1177. ISBN 978-1-317-47416-6. 
  2. ^ Jane Landers (2006). Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America. UNM Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8263-2397-2. This despite the fact that in 1526 a joint uprising of native Guales and African slaves imported from Santo Domingo destroyed the Spaniards' first settlement in what would later become the United States of America, San Miguel de Gualdape. Only 150 of the original 500-600 settlers who had left Hispaniola returned, no doubt with horror stories of the Indo-African rebellion. 
  3. ^ a b c Walter B. Edgar (1998). South Carolina: A History. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-57003-255-4. 
  4. ^ a b Dorothy Schneider; Carl J. Schneider (14 May 2014). Slavery in America. Infobase Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-4381-0813-1. 
  5. ^ Jerald T. Milanich (14 August 1996). Timucua. VNR AG. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-55786-488-8. 
  6. ^ John Reed Swanton (1922). Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Government Printing Office. p. 32. 
  7. ^ a b Kevin Starr (13 October 2016). Continental Ambitions: Roman Catholics in North America: The Colonial Experience. Ignatius Press. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-68149-736-5. 
  8. ^ David Gordon Bennett; Jeffrey C. Patton (2008). A Geography of the Carolinas. Parkway Publishers, Inc. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-933251-43-1. 
  9. ^ Margaret Salazar-Porzio; Joan Fragaszy Troyano; Lauren Safranek (30 May 2017). Many Voices, One Nation: Material Culture Reflections on Race and Migration in the United States. Smithsonian Institution. p. 400. ISBN 978-1-944466-11-4. 
    - Anna Brickhouse (2014). The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945. Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-19-972972-2. 
  10. ^ David J. Weber (14 May 2014). Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-300-15621-8. 
  11. ^ a b Lawrence Sanders Rowland; Alexander Moore; George C. Rogers (1996). The History of Beaufort County, South Carolina: 1514-1861. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-57003-090-1. 
  12. ^ Paul E. Hoffman (15 December 2015). A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century. LSU Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-8071-6474-7. 
  13. ^ Paul E. Hoffman (15 December 2015). A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century. LSU Press. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-8071-6474-7. 
  14. ^ Peter O. Koch (13 March 2009). Imaginary Cities of Gold: The Spanish Quest for Treasure in North America. McFarland. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-0-7864-5310-8. 
  15. ^ Edward McCrady (1897). The History of South Carolina Under the Proprietary Government, 1670-1719. I. Heritage Books. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-7884-4610-8. 
  16. ^ John Reed Swanton (1922). Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Government Printing Office. p. 34. 
  17. ^ John Reynard Todd; Francis Marion Hutson (1935). Prince William's Parish and Plantations. Garrett & Massie. p. 1523. 
  18. ^ Thomas Joseph Peterman (1996). Catholics in Colonial Delmarva. Cooke. p. 3. 
  19. ^ Paul E. Hoffman (15 December 2015). A New Andalucia and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century. LSU Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8071-6474-7. 
  20. ^ William S. Powell (20 January 2010). North Carolina Through Four Centuries. Univ of North Carolina Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8078-9898-7. 
  21. ^ Walter H. Conser, Jr. (4 September 2006). A Coat of Many Colors: Religion and Society along the Cape Fear River of North Carolina. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-8131-3830-2. 
  22. ^ Peter Cooper Mancall (2007). The Atlantic World and Virginia, 1550-1624. UNC Press Books. pp. 534–540. ISBN 978-0-8078-3159-5. Retrieved 3 March 2013. 
  23. ^ Magri, Francis Joseph. "Diocese of Richmond", The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. Retrieved 23 November 2013
  24. ^ John Reed Swanton (1922). Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Government Printing Office. p. 41. 
  25. ^ David J. Weber (2014). Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale University Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-300-15621-8. 
  26. ^ Between The Waters, "The Search for San Miguel de Gualdape", Making History Together, 5 May 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
    - Karen L. Paar, "San Miguel de Gualape", South Carolina Encyclopedia
  27. ^ Charles A. Grymes, "The Spanish in the Chesapeake Bay", Virginia Places
  28. ^ Jane Landers (2006). Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America. UNM Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8263-2397-2. 
  29. ^ Margaret F. Pickett; Dwayne W. Pickett (15 February 2011). The European Struggle to Settle North America: Colonizing Attempts by England, France and Spain, 1521-1608. McFarland. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-7864-5932-2. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  30. ^ Schroeder, Henry Joseph. "Antonio Montesino", The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Retrieved 23 November 2013

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