All the Things
This miniseries was inspired by Kate Shrewsday’s post here: http://kateshrewsday.com/2014/01/06/dragon-slayers-and-knuckerholes/ Read the first post in the miniseries here: http://andrawatkins.com/2014/01/14/dungeons-and-dragons/, the second post here: http://andrawatkins.com/2014/01/15/the-long-way-home/ and the third post is here: http://andrawatkins.com/2014/01/17/the-figure-in-the-carpet/.
Americans forget about Spain. We like to remember our defeat of the British that secured the nation-hood of the original thirteen colonies. We don’t recall that Spain claimed what is now Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. In a few weeks, I will spend several nights in Natchez, Mississippi in the former home of the Spanish colonial governor.
We remember the Alamo (because we won), but we don’t much discuss that Texas and the American Southwest were Spanish holdings. For a time, even the Louisiana Territory belonged to the Spanish crown.
Those Spaniards took Christopher Columbus’ 1492 claim seriously. Oh yes, they did. They did all the things they had to do to claim an entire hemisphere. They blocked the port at New Orleans to American goods. They stirred up unrest in the pioneer territories of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. They hung around when Napoleon bought and then sold Louisiana.
They paid their spies well.
And their most valued spy told them that Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were threats to their holdings west of the Mississippi River.
How would he know?
Because that spy was also the head of the United States Army. He reported directly to President Thomas Jefferson. He was Williams Clark’s superior officer during his stint in the army, and he preceded Meriwether Lewis as governor of the Upper Louisiana Territory.
Maybe he saw Lewis as a threat, because in the early days of 1804, he advised his Spanish benefactors of the expedition. He gave them notes on the route. While he explained the expedition’s stated purpose, he warned the Spanish that a successful trip would endanger their holdings from Texas westward.
The Corps of Discovery had to be stopped.
And his solution was to have the Spanish hunt them down and kill them.
The Spanish government sent three separate search parties into the Great Plains. They fanned out all along the Missouri River. How would our country be altered if the Spanish found their targets? If they destroyed the Corps? And when the Spaniards didn’t, did the spy try to finish the job himself?
I’ve always wondered.