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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.

57 Comments Post a comment
  1. The fractions in history are endlessly fascinating Andra’s. I love this series

    January 18, 2014
    • Glad to hear it, Jim. I have so enjoyed exploring the fractions. I could do this for the rest of my life.

      January 18, 2014
  2. Some of us Americans do forget about Spain… and other places… unless they get their “historical” info from the wrong shortcuts (as usual):

    Then again, you can’t ignore the pull if the fakery of fun in this film. Anyway, I smell a movie script in this series…

    January 18, 2014
    • This is my favorite movie of all time. (I don’t know WHAT that says about me.) Mandy Patinkin is my choice to play my Spanish character, though he’d surely never agree.

      January 18, 2014
      • It is one of my favorite movies as well. I first watched wit with the girls. Our youngest was about 8 at the time and she loved this scene, and reenacted it, being Inigo Montoya. Of course, she remembered the very last words, and repeated them in innocent glee.

        I second your choice of Mandy Patinkin.

        January 18, 2014
      • I still do that scene sometimes. I can probably quote the whole movie.

        January 19, 2014
  3. Treachery abounds throughout history – especially in politics. It has, often as much or more than our good intentions, shaped who we are today.

    Excellent choice of the Waterboys.

    Oh, and speaking of Spain, congratulate MTM for me today. Today he has caught up to me. For a while …

    January 18, 2014
    • Treachery exists in both the winners and the losers. MTM spent the entire day gawking at architecture with two other architects. It was a dream birthday. (I hope. I tried very hard to make it so.)

      January 18, 2014
  4. There’s a movie here…:)

    January 18, 2014
  5. “I’ve always wondered….” enter suspense music. 🙂

    January 18, 2014
    • I hope I’ve made a few other people wonder, at any rate.

      January 18, 2014
  6. omtatjuan #

    I love history…

    January 18, 2014
  7. The history lessons are so interesting, Andra. I’m hooked!

    January 18, 2014
    • I think history is best consumed as a study of what real people did. Too often, I feel like historical people are set apart and made ‘other’ or ‘better’ than we are, and that’s what makes them inaccessible.

      January 18, 2014
  8. I LOVE the Waterboys. And I love that song a lot. (Though not as much as Fisherman’s Blues or Whole of the Moon). Keep teaching us. And e-mail me your dates! I seriously want to try to catch up with you while you’re walking the trail. (Though, knowing my luck, it will fall when my kids spring break has us running around like crazy people.)

    January 18, 2014
  9. So is this reel or unreel? If completely gen you iron, then who was successful is obvious from the fact that Americans play baseball instead of having bullfights.

    January 18, 2014
    • This story is real. At least, according to historians, it is real. I discovered it in a book I read as research for my novel.

      January 18, 2014
      • Quite remarkable stuff, indeed.

        January 18, 2014
  10. This is why writers are deemed dangerous by regimes that really don’t have the well-being of their constituents at the top of their to-do lists. The regimes who do not follow this model are rare and, perhaps, nonexistent.

    January 18, 2014
    • I wonder whether any regime has the well-being of constituents at the top of their to do lists. Ha.

      January 18, 2014
  11. maybe you can find out )

    January 18, 2014
    • It’s never possible to find out, but it’s fun to imagine. 🙂

      January 18, 2014
  12. January 18, 2014
  13. A related question is, of course, what would the situation have been if Spain had not sold the territory back to France in 1800 or if France had not given it to Spain in 1762?

    January 18, 2014
  14. You make me eager to read your book.

    January 18, 2014
    • I’m eager for people to read it, just to see how all this translates into a fictional story from the bowels of my own mind.

      January 18, 2014
  15. Currently reading about Spain’s history in California (Alta and Baja) and things could have been so much different if they had focused their energies there instead of the Philippines and South Asia. By the time the Americans and even Russians began to pop up, it was too late.

    January 18, 2014
    • Still, they retained a vast portion of the New World. My history lessons growing up were always focused on England. It was fascinating to go back as an adult and see history in a different way.

      January 18, 2014
  16. And don’t forget that the Spanish first claimed what later became Carolina (later divided between North and South Carolina.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Elena,_la_Florida

    January 18, 2014
    • Did you hear that someone is trying to say the bodies at the Gailliard are lost Spanish settlers??? (Even though the forensic results say otherwise.)

      January 18, 2014
  17. Lance #

    Love these posts

    Spain heads my list of places I want to go. I’ve been fascinated since reading Hemingway as a pre-teen.

    January 18, 2014
    • It is a bewitching place, Lance. Definitely deserves a place at the top of your list.

      January 18, 2014
  18. I’m learning a lot during this series. I knew about the Spanish holdings, but I didn’t know about the plots against Lewis and Clark. It’s like Game of Thrones!

    January 18, 2014
    • I only learned about it recently, Linda, and I was fascinated.

      January 18, 2014
    • Interesting that you bring up Game of Thrones pertaining to old world politics. Our politics now have their own versions of the Game of Thrones.

      January 18, 2014
  19. Goes to show you can’t really trust anyone, Andra… at any level – or maybe that’s just me! The thing with history is that there are so many twists and turns one can’t help but be intrigued by all that went on. Fascinated by it as well.

    January 18, 2014
  20. defensordelaverdad #

    Reblogged this on Fabián.

    January 18, 2014
  21. That post was narrated by William Dozier, the voice of Batman the TV series. 😉

    January 18, 2014
  22. Muy interesante, Andra! Gracias.

    January 18, 2014
  23. I find this so interesting, Andra! Of course we see influences of Spain all over California! You know how I can wax on and on about our Missions. LOL! You continue to provide me so much additional context and I am fascinated. I want more! 🙂

    January 19, 2014
  24. Amazing how different currents work against each other, Andra.
    I’m hoping fervently there’s a happy ending.

    January 19, 2014
    • Maybe I wrote the book to change the ending. I don’t know. So many reasons.

      January 19, 2014
  25. angela #

    Hmmm, but did Spain really have ownership? I’m rooting for the Native Americans … On a different note, your post reminds me to finish the brutal book, Blood Meridian- you may enjoy (if you don’t mind a lot of blood on ones hands) ~ a

    January 19, 2014
    • I don’t think man can ever really possess land, but that’s just me. I think the Native Americans understood that better than most.

      January 19, 2014
  26. tarakianwarrior #

    For some strange reason my comments don’t seem to publish when I comment on my iPhone. Is anyone else having this same problem?

    January 20, 2014
  27. Dang, make history come alive, Andra!

    January 23, 2014

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