Situado and sabana : Spain's support system for the presidio and mission provinces of Florida. Anthropological papers of the AMNH ; no. 74

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[New York] : American Museum of Natural History ; Athens, Ga. : Distributed by the University of Georgia Press
This is an analysis of the mixed support system by which Spain maintained an economically unprofitable but strategic presidia! colony on the contested east coast of North America for two centuries. The system was an open-ended one which combined private enterprise, royal subventions and drafted labor, the relative share of each fluctuating as a function of the changing levels of external pressure, whether of threat or opportunity. The Peripheries Paradigm that emerges from an examination of the 17th-century Spanish Southeast is dynamic and essentially secular, little resembling the Borderlands Paradigm derived some 70 years ago from a study of the isolated mission presidios of the 18th-century Southwest. Spanish or Indian, the inhabitants of the presidio and mission provinces of Florida knowingly pursued their individual interests across an international arena. The captaincy general of Florida passed through five distinct support phases between its founding in 1565 and its cession to the British in 1763, an interval that historians call the First Spanish Period. In the first phase, the colony was founded as a cooperative venture between the Crown and a private conqueror, as Philip II reinforced the expedition of Pedro Menendez de Aviles in order to eliminate a rival colony of Frenchmen. When it became clear that corsairs and Indian resistance would prevent the Spanish from exploiting the inland centers of Southeastern population and production and thus becoming self-sufficient, the king institutionalized a set of annual treasury transfers, the situado, to meet the presidio payroll and other expenses. In the second phase, Franciscan missionaries supported by royal stipends began to provide the colony with a hinterland, starting on the Atlantic coast with the provinces of eastern Timucua and Guale. Soldiers ensured that the Indian lords of the land would fulfill their sworn contracts of conversion, trade, mutual defense, and allegiance, and the Crown rewarded the chiefs' obedience with regular gifts. They in turn acted as brokers of the sabana and repartimiento systems, transferring provisions and labor from Indian towns to the Spanish presidio and convents and from Indian commoners to Spanish and Indian authorities. When, in the 1620s and 1630s, Spain's wars with the Dutch made delivery of the situado uncertain, soldiers and Franciscans again moved forward, expanding the hinterland to take in the Gulf coast provinces of Apalache and western Timucua. In this third phase the colony acquired new sources of native support and enlarged its slim financial base by the sale of provisions to the rapidly growing city of Havana. In the 1680s, as the amount of non-Spanish shipping in the Atlantic rose sharply, external pressures reached dangerous levels. English and French pirate attacks became seasonal, while Southeastern Indians beyond the Spanish sphere of influence gained access to firearms and began raiding the Christian towns for Indian slaves and altar ornaments. Spain's response was to strengthen the presidial center at the expense of the peripheries. During the building of the Castillo de San Marcos, in this fourth phase, increased royal investment and a rising population in St. Augustine encouraged the growth of cattle ranches in central Florida. Mounting demands for labor, provisions, and local defense fell on a native population that was already reduced by epidemics and fugitivism. In the early 1700s, Indian commoners took advantage of Florida's war with Carolina to abandon their towns and chiefs altogether. The Spanish retained effective control only of St. Augustine, which became an entrepot of intercolonial trade. During the fifth phase, which ended with the colony's cession in 1763, the mixed support system was back where it started, depending on a mixture of royal subsidies and private enterprise: the situado and the sea. The laborers had walked out of the model.
249 p. : ill., maps ; 26 cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 214-234) and index.