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Maps: States of Texas

  1520s | 1720s | 1810s | 1824 | 1836 | 1850 


Spanish Missionary Settlement, 1720s

Spanish Missionary Settlement, 1720s Spain wasn't the only nation interested in Texas. In 1683, the French king funded an expedition to lands west of the Louisiana territory, which France had claimed just a year before. Sailing from the West Indies, the French explorers overshot the mouth of the Mississippi River and landed in Texas, 500 miles off course. They built a settlement at Matagorda Bay and claimed Texas for France. Karankawa Indians would destroy the French colony within four years.

Although the expedition was a disaster for France, it renewed Spain's interest in Texas. Both France and Spain fought to bring the land under their control. The Spanish built missions and worked to convert the local population to Catholicism. The king of Spain also sent families -- mostly from the Canary Islands -- to populate the land, and soldiers to defend the settlements.

Los Adaes
Mission of San Jose Spain's strategically located Los Adaes settlement blocked the French from entering Texas from the east. Domingo Ramón, a Spanish military commander, established Texas's first Catholic mission there in 1717, but French forces captured it two years later. A Spanish nobleman, José de Azlor y Virto de Vera, the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo, volunteered to fight the French and push them out of east Texas. After he succeeded, he was named governor of the region. Los Adaes was the capital of Spanish colonial Texas from 1729 until 1772.

"[Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo] suggested... that it would be a good plan for four hundred families to come from [the Canary] Islands, from the city of Havana, and from the Province of Tlascala, and be distributed in Bahía de San Antonio in all the missions, at Adaes... It seemed to him that, without these families, it would be hard to hold the province, which is one of the most valuable in America. It is very fertile in all kinds of grain, seed, and stock; and likewise rich in mines which can be worked..."
-- from the Spanish Royal Dispatch Providing for the Transportation of the Canary Islanders to Texas, February 14, 1729

Image Credit:
Courtesy of the President and Fellows of Harvard College

page created on 1.30.2004
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