Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Secrets of Spanish Florida

Premiere: 12/26/2017 | 00:00:30 |

Secrets of Spanish Florida – A Secrets of the Dead Special uncovers one story of America’s past that never made it into textbooks. Follow some of America’s leading archaeologists, maritime scientists, and historians as they share the story of Florida’s earliest settlers. It’s a story that has taken more than 450 years to reveal.

Watch Preview

Watch Full Episode

About the Episode

New documentary premieres Tuesday, December 26 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS (check local listings)

The first permanent European settlement in the United States was founded in 1565–two generations before the settlements in Jamestown and Plymouth–not by English Protestants, but by the Spanish and a melting pot of people they brought with them from Africa, Italy, Germany, Ireland and even converted Jews, who integrated almost immediately with the indigenous tribes. Secrets of Spanish Florida – A Secrets of the Dead Special uncovers one story of America’s past that never made it into textbooks. Follow some of America’s leading archaeologists, maritime scientists, and historians as they share the story of Florida’s earliest settlers. It’s a story that has taken more than 450 years to reveal.

Buzzworthy Moments

  • With claim to the east coast of the New World contested by both the French and the Spanish, a community of settlers from Spain and elsewhere arrived in 1565 and laid claim to an area that is now St. Augustine, Florida.
  • America’s original European forefathers were a melting pot of races that more closely resembled today’s population than was previously understood.
  • The discovery of 1,000 pages of manuscripts written by members of the Timucuan tribe in the late 16th century indicates that these people, who lived in Georgia and Florida, had achieved a level of literacy among indigenous peoples that has not been recognized before.
  • Nearly 125 years before the Emancipation Proclamation—in 1738—a colony of 100 former slaves had already been given their freedom and their own land in Spanish La Florida.
  • A “lost tribe” of indigenous people known as the Yamasees, survived extermination by hiding in the colony’s swamps and blending in with other tribes for generations, though their existence is still not recognized by the federal government. The documentary interviews two members of the tribe.

Secrets of Spanish Florida – A Secrets of the Dead Special is a production of Small Planet Pictures Inc., Investigative Media Group Inc. and 1186 Pictures in association with the University of Florida Historic St. Augustine Inc. and THIRTEEN Productions LLC. Narrator is Jimmy Smits. Producer/Writer is Robbie Gordon. Associate Producers are Josh Wallace, Jenny Mottier, and Jaime Greco. Director of Reenactments is Tony Haines. Director of Photography is Joe Karably. Senior Editors/Sound Design are Tony Haines and Ed Delgado. For Secrets of the Dead: Director of Programming Operations is Jane Buckwalter. Executive-in-Charge in Stephen Segaller. Executive Producer is Stephanie Carter.


Funding for this program was provided, in part, by The Lastinger Family Foundation; The Hough Family Foundation; The Weaver Family Foundation Fund, through the Community Foundation of Northeast Florida; and The Joy McCann Foundation. Funding for Secrets of the Dead is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by public television viewers.


[Wind blowing, water dripping] Narrator: This is the story of America''s past that never made it into textbooks.

Mormino: When most people were in school, you began American history at Jamestown and Plymouth Rock.

Francis: That Jamestown narrative is viewed very much in isolation that this was the first encounter between Europeans and Indians.

Landers: If you really wanted to look at the founding fathers, you''d look a lot earlier and you''d look south.

[Wind blowing] Narrator: It starts nearly a half-century before the Pilgrims landed.

Parker: The children who stepped ashore probably had their own grandchildren by the time Jamestown was founded.

Narrator: It''s a story that has taken archaeologists, marine scientists, and historians several centuries to uncover.

Halbirt: This stuff has not seen the light of day for 250 to 275 years.

I could feel the lip to it and put my hands inside, and then I realized what it was.

Alvaro: This is one of the... maybe one of the most important documents in the United States history, no?

If you read it, you go-- it''s a film.

You could make a film out of it.

Narrator: What these discoveries reveal is a very different America.

Landers: It''s multicultural from day one.

Mormino: You had Africans, you had a few Italians, Germans, Irish priests.

It really was America''s first melting pot.

Narrator: How did this history become lost?

And how does it change our thinking about race and immigration in this country to know what really happened?

Howard: If we took that as a beginning, I think we would have a very different picture of the United States Narrator: This is the rest of the story of America''s birth.

Smith: It''s just as much a part of American History as Washington crossing the Delaware or Paul Revere''s ride.

What makes you American?

Narrator: This is American history revised.

[Thunder] Narrator: They had been walking night and day struggling against fierce winds and rain that had already proven deadly.

Meide: It''s a massive storm.

No matter how hard they tried to claw their way out, they kept on being pushed back.

Narrator: 500 of them, making their way through swamps in unfamiliar terrain, passing creatures they''d never seen before.

They''re marching through, in some cases up to their waist, in some cases higher, up to their chest through flooded swampland.

During the course of the march about a hundred of his troops dropped out.

They--they didn''t make it.

Narrator: And waiting for them at the end of it all, a battle they might not survive.

Meide: And the stage is set for this really very rapid and a very bloody end game.

Narrator: This wasn''t the journey they had signed on for.

It had started as a dream to settle a new territory more than 4,000 miles across the ocean, a venture that first began in this modern-day seapo town of Avilés, in northern Spain.

450 years ago, Avilés was an important maritime center.

Hundreds of young men grew up learning how to navigate along these shores.

One of them was Pedro Menéndez, who became, over time, one of the king''s most trusted men.

Lyons: He understood the winds, the waves, and the weather better than almost anyone at the time.

Narrator: Little was known about Menéndez or his influence on American history until Dr. Eugene Lyon began combing through Spanish archives in the 1960s.

Pedro Menéndez deAvilés.

Narrator: Lyon spent 6 years in Spain, microfilming more than a million pages of archival material and another decade translating them.

Lyons: Any new document is like finding a treasure.

Narrator: What emerged is a story that radically changes our understanding of this country''s roots.

The year was 1565, and the entire east coast of what is now the United States had been claimed as Spanish territory by Ponce de Léon 52 years earlier.

It was known as 'La Florida,' and it stretched north to Nova Scotia and all the way west to the Mississippi and along the Gulf of Mexico to Texas.

King Philip II wanted to establish a strategic foothold here to prevent other countries from encroaching on Spanish land, and he wanted to deter attacks on his Spanish treasure fleets.

Pedro Menéndez had once been a captain general of those treasure ships.

He had been looking for a reason to return to La Florida to search for his lost son, whose ship had disappeared during a hurricane off the Florida Coast.

Menéndez raised his own capital, hoping to develop a colony in La Florida that would eventually become self-sufficient and export its own goods.

He convinced the King that such a venture could greatly add to Spain''s coffers.

[Gregorian chanting] But there was another reason the King wanted to start settling this new territory, and it went back more than half a century to Columbus'' first voyage.

For the Spaniards at this time, religion is the driving force.

Christ can''t come back until the whole world is evangelized.

Narrator: History books have focused on other motivations: the drive to explore the New World, the desire to plunder its riches.

But Columbus was also a fervent Christian who believed his explorations could play a role in fulfilling Biblical prophecies.

So those prophesies are saying that Christ is coming back, we have to evangelize the world, and the monarchs of Spain will, in fact, be at the forefront of the apocalypse when they retake Jerusalem.

Narrator: For the next 73 years, Spanish Conquistadors would continue to explore the east coast of North America on behalf of the Spanish Monarchy.

Not all of them shared this spiritual quest, but Pedro Menéndez did.

When he spoke to the king at court, he said, 'Such grief seizes me 'when I behold native peoples who are sunk in infidelity that I would give anything to redeem their lives and souls.'

Narrator: That resonated profoundly with King Philip, who was such a devout Catholic he''d commissioned a Basilica to be built inside his own palace.

It was specially designed so that his bedroom overlooked the altar, allowing the King to hear mass recited daily.

But there was little chance that religious missions would succeed in La Florida.

So far no one in Europe had been able to survive long term in this inhospitable land.

[Sea gulls squawking] Francis: Florida was a challenge.

There had already been 10-12 crown-sanctioned expeditions into Florida to establish permanence from Ponce de Leon forward, and no one had been able to do this.

Gannon: It was just too difficult living there, scratching out a living.

Narrator: The King offered several inducements.

Menéndez could claim 53,000 acres as his own.

He would be made Governor and 'Adelantado.'

Francis: Which literally means, 'He who goes before others.'

Narrator: The expedition would require 8 ships carrying more than 1,500 people and enough provisions to sustain the colonists until they could produce their own food and supplies.

Francis: You have tailors, hat makers, shoemakers, surgeons, and barbers.

One of the last individuals on the list is a master beer brewer.

Narrator: There would be soldiers on board to protect the settlement, 26 families, 7 priests, and a virtual melting pot of emigrants.

Francis: There were Spaniards, Portuguese, English, French we see, Flemish, Germans, and Africans.

Landers: And so it''s multicultural from day one.

Narrator: But just before the journey began, there was troubling news.

Gannon: The French had established a fort smack in the middle of Spanish-claimed Florida.

This was an insult to the King, and he became quite angry at this trespass because he had in place a treaty which recognized Spain''s right to the whole Atlantic coast.

Narrator: Suddenly, overnight, the venture turned into a combat mission.

'You are to drive them out by whatever means you see fit.'

Narrator: Fortified with hundreds more soldiers, Menéndez was now in a race to beat the French Captain, Jean Ribault, to Florida.

Ribault was headed there with supply ships to fortify Fort Caroline, the small settlement that France had just set up near the mouth of the river known today as the St. John''s.

Jean Ribault was a formidable foe.

Lyon: Very high temper, he was a great danger to the Spaniards.

Narrator: The French settlers were running out of food and adequate supplies.

Fort Caroline was barely holding on.

If Ribault did not reach there with reinforcements, the fort could be easily taken.

But of course this venture does not unfold the way that Menéndez expects it to unfold.

[Thunder] Narrator: Hurricanes struck as soon as the Spanish ships got out to sea.

Gannon: About a quarter of the way across the Atlantic, all but 5 of those ships were either sunk at sea or driven back to port.

Narrator: Only about half of the original 1,500 passengers made it to La Florida.

The ships headed directly to Fort Caroline, but they were too late.

Jean Ribault had already beaten them there.

And so as Ribault is unloading his 3 smallest ships, the Spanish show up.

They identify themselves, they fire shots.

The 4 French ships that are offshore cut their anchor lines to escape.

Menéndez could not follow because his ships were laden with supplies and men.

Narrator: Menéndez retreated to an inlet about 40 miles south of Fort Caroline, hoping it would provide safe harbor.

But Menéndez couldn''t get his main supply ships past the shoal.

They unloaded as much as they could into smaller boats and went ashore.

And the first thing he did ashore was essentially went about the business of legally establishing the settlement of St. Augustine.

Narrator: Much of our knowledge about what happened next comes from a document that is housed here in the Archives of the Indies in Seville, Spain.

Francis: The fact that it survives is amazing.

You know, the fact that it''s even here.

Narrator: It is the original diary of one of the priests who accompanied Pedro Menéndez on the voyage.

For several centuries American historians knew nothing of its contents.

And even today, only a small number of scholars can decipher this archaic script.

Dr. Michael Francis is one of them.

'I, Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajalas, chaplain, give my word that everything said in this account is true.'


[Church bells toll] Narrator: In vivid detail, Father Lopez described the great pageantry that marked the landing.

There were trumpet salutes and the firing of cannon and flags waving everywhere.

Narrator: Menéndez christened the new settlement 'San Augustin,' or St. Augustine.

It was September 8, 1565.

Johnson: Traditionally, the Spanish representative of the king would go to the flag, plant the flag in the ground, and proclaim the land in the name of the king.

He, however, went over to Father Lopez, and knelt down and kissed the cross.

So he proclaimed the land in 'Nombre de Dios,' in the name of God, before the name of his king.

And Lopez observed the natives imitated all they saw done.

Now there''s a picture for you.

[Church bells tolling] Narrator: Father Lopez then conducted a mass of Thanksgiving, and Menéndez ordered that a meal be prepared for everyone, including the natives.

This was 55 years before the Pilgrims even arrived in Plymouth.

A few years ago Dr. Michael Gannon drew fire when he called this meal the true 'First Thanksgiving.'

There was a guy who called me from WBZ in Boston.

He said, 'While I''m talking, 'do you realize that there is an emergency meeting of selectmen at Plymouth 'to contend with this new information 'that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts?'

And then he said, 'Well, you know how you''ve become known up here in New England?'

And I said, 'No.'

He said, 'The Grinch who stole Thanksgiving.'

Ha ha!

Narrator: But while the Spanish were celebrating their new settlement, Jean Ribault was planning his next move.

He says, 'We need to stage a preemptive strike.

'We need to hit the Spanish now as hard as we can before they entrench themselves.'

Narrator: Ribault left a small number of men to guard Fort Caroline, then set out with the others on 4 ships looking for the Spanish camp.

The French show up off the bar at St. Augustine, and all of a sudden this huge storm bears down on them.

Narrator: Jean Ribault''s ships couldn''t make it over St. Augustine''s sand bar, and his surprise attack failed.

Instead, he went after Menéndez''s supply ships that were heading south, away from the storm.

The Spanish got out safely, but Ribault''s ships did not.

Gannon: And of course they were shipwrecked, all of those Frenchmen, from Daytona Beach to a point just north of Cape Canaveral.

Narrator: The ships wrecked near the coastline, and the French made it to shore.

They probably lost most of their weapons, most of their food, they try to march back to Fort Caroline.

Now unbeknownst to them, Menéndez also makes a bold move.

Turner: Menéndez figured that 'The weather''s nasty, 'I bet you that Fort Caroline is probably undermanned right now.

'This is my chance.

I need to go, and I need to take this fort now.'

[Thunder] Narrator: Some historians say it was a hurricane; others believe it was a nor''easter.

Either one could have proven lethal.

Most of the accounts allege that few of the Spaniards wanted to go, and they don''t think they can make it, and they don''t quite know how far it is, and they think that they''ll perish, and Menéndez says, 'We''re going.'

Meide: It must have been horrible in full armor, carrying your weapons.

To march through Florida wilderness during a hurricane took a lot of determination.

Narrator: It took them about two days to get there, walking throughout the night.

Father Lopez wrote, 'They arrived within a quarter of a league of the enemy''s fort, where they remained all night up to their waists in water.'

Turner: At the break of dawn, they essentially charged the gates.

Meide: They really caught the fort completely by surprise.

You know, the French never dreamed that they would face an enemy during this storm.

They figured everyone would be battered down just like they were.

The French were all asleep, and the slaughter began.

Narrator: Only a few escaped into the woods.

Menéndez and his men collected the spoils of war: food, weapons, and a chest with the French king''s orders for the fort, which violated Spain''s claim to La Florida.

Menéndez renamed the fort 'San Mateo,' left some of his soldiers behind as guards, and took the rest back to St. Augustine.

A little more than a week later, about half of the Frenchmen who had survived the shipwrecks off the coast of Cape Canaveral were trying to make their way back to Fort Caroline on foot.

But when they got to Matanzas inlet, they were unable to cross it.

And native people in that region saw that these Frenchmen were stranded there and ran up to St. Augustine to advise the Spaniards, and Menéndez went down with 50 men.

Narrator: Menéndez told the French that their fort had been destroyed, and the men surrendered.

Ribault was not among them.

Gannon: Menéndez said, 'I shall deal with you as a good captain should.'

That''s the only promise he made to them.

Narrator: Menéndez had his men bring the French across the Matanzas River by boat 10 at a time.

They were then bound and marched to a point where Menéndez had drawn a line in the sand.

Gannon: Menéndez had situated his men behind the sand dunes with daggers and spears, and when each group of 10 was brought over, Menéndez''s men set upon them and killed them.

And soon it was 20, 30, 40, 50, 60--the bodies piled up.

[Flies buzzing] Narrator: Menéndez spared a few of the French--mostly craftsmen whose skills could be put to use building the new settlement.

Lyon: Some of the men who were aboard were Catholic, and they swore to it, and Menéndez saved their lives.

Francis: He says that the total number of Lutherans killed were 111 men and that there were 14 or 15 that were taken captive.

Narrator: Father Lopez''s account ends at this point.

But another document continues the story even further.

Armada: And we''ve kept these documents, and here they are.

Narrator: Don Alvaro Armada is the Count of Guüemes and a descendant of Pedro Menéndez.

His family archive houses over a million pages of handwritten documents.

One of them is a full account of the expedition written by Gonzalo Solis de Merás, who was Menéndez''s brother-in-law.

Armada: This is one of the, maybe one of the most important documents in the United States history, no?

Narrator: It describes the fateful day two weeks after the slaughter of the first group of French shipwreck survivors, when Jean Ribault and about 200 of his remaining soldiers met face-to-face with Pedro Menéndez.

They met at the sand dunes about 14 miles south of St. Augustine.

It was October 11, 1565.

Francis: Ribault tries to negotiate safe passage back to France and then offers a, uh... An amount of money, no?

Ransom. Yeah, he offers him, yeah, a lot.

And Menéndez said, 'No.'


Narrator: Jean Ribault then recited a Psalm.

Francis: He begins to say a prayer, and after he finishes... 'Dijo que de tierra eran y que en tierra se habían devolver.'

So he''s saying to them that we are all of this earth and to this earth we shall return.

He''s saying good-bye.

So that within, in 20 years, all of this will be a tale, a story, a legend.

If you read it, you go-- It''s a film. You could make a film out of it, no?

It''s amazing, it''s amazing.

And then he looks at Menéndez, and he says... 'Que lo hice ese de ellos mandando al Adelantado.'

So he''s telling the Adelantado Menéndez, 'Do with us as you will.'

Menéndez is quite open about what happens.

Menéndez simply says, 'I could not risk keeping Ribault and the principal officers alive.'

Gannon: It was a very calculated choice.

He did not have the food that would be required to feed them.

He did not have arms sufficient to guard them.

These hordes of Frenchmen could overwhelm his forces at almost any time.

So he made a calculated decision.

Either kill these people or be killed by them.

Meide: So as many as 350 men were massacred, and that''s how we got-- get the name Matanzas Inlet, Matanzas River, that''s 'massacre' or 'slaughter' in Spanish.

Narrator: Jean Ribault''s last words-- that someday this would all be legend-- proved to be ironic.

For centuries the true story of America''s beginnings went untold.

American history textbooks do not even give it a mention.

Armada: Pedro Menéndez and the people that went with him, they are really the fathers of the--of the United States, the true fathers of the United States.

They arrived before-- before Mayflower, Jamestown, and all that.

Here are the documents, here are the documents.

[Sea gulls squawk] Narrator: The search for clues to our past continues today.

A team of maritime archaeologists is off the coast of Cape Canaveral National Seashore.

They are looking for those fateful shipwrecks that not only cost Jean Ribault and his men the conquest of the New World, but ultimately, their lives.

We have, for example, a letter from Pedro Menéndez to the King of Spain, reporting that the French ships have wrecked.

And he gives a very rough estimate of how many leagues away from St. Augustine they are.

So that kind of puts us in the general area.

Narrator: They have honed in on an area near shore, where small artifacts believed to have belonged to Ribault''s men were found.

Meide: So shipwreck survivors who made it ashore had some kind of campsite there.

There''s a lot of artifacts, there are coins dating 1550s, and there''s actually one coin that is dated 1565.

That''s the magic number.

Narrator: Ribault''s ships were carrying large quantities of iron: cannons and ammunition.

The team uses a high-powered metal-detector that penetrates deep water.

Meide: Oh, there we go.

So now--Oh, there we go!

Look at that! There''s definitely something there.

Narrator: But disappointingly, the dive on this day turns up nothing.

Meide: At night, all the coastline south of us is just dark.

And it really feels just like it must have felt 450 years ago.

You can imagine, the-- I mean, there were bodies washing ashore, there was flotsam and debris from the shipwrecks all ashore, there was probably a horrible stench.

All of the hopes of these people who are really the first to come over to seek the American dream, and it all came down to this storm, this fateful storm that just dashed their hopes to pieces.

Narrator: More than a year later, a breakthrough, just south of the area the team had been searching.

News programs reported that a private treasure hunting company had unearthed 3 bronze cannons believed to belong to Ribault''s fleet.

There really is no doubt to any of the archeologists who have really looked at what has been found, that this is the Trinite or certainly one of Ribault''s ships.

So it''s a very exciting find.

So this is the, this is the canon in question.

And then here''s the 'H' with the crown above it for King Henry II.

The biggest smoking gun that has been found was a stone pillar.

Narrator: It''s a stone column like the one depicted in this 16th century etching.

The columns were used to mark territory when the French arrived in the New World.

Meide: We know a pillar very much like this one was established where Fort Caroline is, so present day Jacksonville.

And we know that Ribault loaded 6 more of these stone pillars onto his fleet.

Narrator: France has laid claim to the shipwreck and is in talks with archaeologists-- including Chuck Meide''s team-- to assist with the excavation.

Ironically, these ships have been sitting at the bottom of the ocean buried under rocket ship debris just a few miles from the place where modern-day explorers are launched into space.

Meide: They were the space shuttles of their time period.

I mean, these were the ships that were launched to explore the great unknown.

Narrator: Back on land in St. Augustine, Dr. Kathleen Deagan and a team of archaeologists from the University of Florida have recently discovered what they believe to be the location of the original Menéndez settlement, where the Spanish first came ashore.

At first we couldn''t believe it.

We said, 'No, this couldn''t have been here all this time,' and here we''ve been working for over 30 years on and off at this site.

Narrator: They found the site at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park just north of downtown.

There were hundreds of artifacts, including Spanish beads, musket balls, and uniform buttons.

It really wasn''t until some of the kind of smoking gun artifacts and archaeological deposits showed up that you would really let yourself say, this is--this is it.

Its real significance is that it''s the first place in the United States that Europeans came and stayed.

Narrator: And there''s evidence of the children who first came here as well.

Deagan: We found a little Figa amulet, which is a little clenched fist with the thumb between the fingers, and Spanish women had many of these hanging around babies'' necks to protect them against evil eye, and we just couldn''t help imagining that this was associated with the first European child born in what''s now the United States-- Martíniquo de Arguüelles.

And we have references to children being born in St. Augustine, obviously soon after people arrived.

Narrator: Dr. Susan Parker scours parish records now housed in St. Augustine to reconstruct the lives of ordinary people.

Parker: It''s just whatever you can find to try to piece them together and give a voice and a face to many people that wouldn''t have a voice and a face otherwise.

Narrator: Women and children are often missing from official accounts.

But Parker has managed to breathe life into these first families through their letters back to Spain and vital records.

Parker: I think we need to remember that it''s 42 years between when St. Augustine was founded and when Jamestown is founded.

If we look at that in a different way, that''s almost two generations.

In other words, the children who stepped ashore with Pedro Menéndez probably had their own grandchildren by the time Jamestown was founded.

Narrator: At first, the relationship between the natives and Spanish settlers was a good one.

It''s said the Timucuan Indian chief named Seloy gave Pedro Menéndez his own council house, big enough to hold hundreds of people.

Shortly after settling in, Menéndez ordered a fort to be built, then he left to start up other settlements along the east coast.

But rations and supplies soon became scarce.

By December of 1565, many of the settlers had died of hunger.

Deagan: And most of the people who came here assumed they would have a better life, they might find gold and riches, they would have their own piece of land, but none of that ever happened.

So within 6 months of arriving, most of the soldiers decided that they had had enough.

Narrator: At midnight in early March, a group of discontented soldiers mutinied.

They descended on the munitions house to seize weapons.

Deagan: They tied up the quartermaster and took off with the weaponry and some of the supplies on a ship.

But the quartermaster was able to get himself free with the help of a few other loyal soldiers, and he shot at the mutineers.

He did quell the mutiny.

Narrator: The leader of the uprising was immediately hanged for treason.

Pedro Menéndez returned two weeks later with food and additional troops.

He pardoned those wiling to swear allegiance to him.

But it wasn''t just the soldiers who were unhappy.

Evidence of burnt structures confirms another dark truth: that the good will with the Natives lasted less than a year.

The settlers had overstayed their welcome.

Deagan: The Timucua, after 9 months, attacked and burned part of the settlement, and that''s when it was abandoned.

Narrator: The settlers moved across the river to a small piece of land now known as Anastasia Island.

Very little is known about their life there.

They only stayed on the island a few years.

They returned to the mainland in 1572 and settled in a third location, where the oldest part of St. Augustine''s historical district is now located.

Halbirt: We found street deposits that date back to a late 1500s or early 1600s.

Narrator: Carl Halbirt has overseen St. Augustine''s archaeology program for more than 25 years.

It''s one of the few cities in the country that requires an archaeological dig be conducted before any new construction can begin.

Halbirt: Aviles Street is the oldest documented European street in the United States.

And Philadelphia said, 'Oh, we have the oldest street,' and I said, 'Ah, Philly can eat my dust,' you know?

I mean it''s clear we beat them by a hundred years.

Narrator: Over the years that passed, Pedro Menéndez established another settlement in modern-day South Carolina and 13 other forts along the east coast, but by 1574, nearly a decade after the first settlers had landed, only Santa Elena and St. Augustine remained.

In all of that time, Menéndez never found his son.

He returned to Spain and was preparing to command another fleet for the King, But exactly 9 years to the day after he marched his troops through a deadly storm and captured Fort Caroline, Pedro Menéndez died at home in Spain of typhus.

He was 55.

At the end, he''s a romantic.

He''s not a person who''s looking for the jewels of-- He doesn''t care about that.

When he died, he was ruined, no money, no money, he spend all the money on his adventures, and he''s not a materialist.

He'' un hombre idealista.

He''s an idealist. He catches my heart.

Narrator: Over the next two decades, St. Augustine slowly transformed into the city that Menéndez had envisioned.

And with the town''s growth came a blending of cultures.

Deagan: 20%-25% percent of the marriages recorded were between a Spaniard and a Native American.

Howard: Yes, there was a lot of intermarriage because they felt that these people were human beings just like them.

There was such a huge difference in the acceptance of that in the Spanish colonies rather than in the British colonies.

Narrator: In fact, the artifacts that have been discovered throughout the city reveal that the population in America''s first colony more closely resembled the diversity of America''s population today, not the Anglo version that''s been depicted in textbooks.

Deagan: In colonial English America, you would only see that way of life that appeared really English and very white.

In the Spanish world, it looked very different.

It was very multicultural and very integrated.

And it really was America''s first melting pot.

Narrator: St. Augustine had finally emerged as a thriving 16th-century town complete with shops, inns, and taverns, but all of that was about to end.

Suddenly one day in June 1586, a foreboding sight appeared on the horizon.

Gannon: People looked out over the inlet and saw 23 heavily armed warships, 19 auxiliary vessels, which contained 2,000 armed men.

Narrator: This was the fleet of the notorious English pirate Sir Francis Drake, known to the Spanish as a vicious foe.

Jackson: They called him El Draque, the dragon.

They thought he was in league with the devil.

Because he was this rampaging, fire-breathing, appalling monster of a man.

Narrator: The citizens of St. Augustine grabbed their valuables and fled.

[Man shouting Spanish indistinctly] Only about 80 soldiers stayed at the fort to prepare for the onslaught.

[Man shouting Spanish indistinctly] Narrator: Drake had been harboring a personal vendetta against Spain ever since he was a young man.

It happened in 1568.

His fleet had just seized a Spanish island when a storm forced them to seek refuge in its port.

They negotiated a cease-fire, but the Spaniards went back on their word and attacked.

Man: ¡Fuego!

[Cannon fire] Narrator: Drake''s ship escaped, but the others did not.

Croce: That burned in the heart of Sir Francis Drake his entire life, that he was betrayed by the Spanish and that he saw all of his friends die.

Narrator: Drake''s fury with anyone who crossed him was legendary.


Narrator: It''s said he even once ordered the beheading of his own friend.

Queen Elizabeth capitalized on that anger, turning Drake into her personal weapon against Spain.

Croce: Queen Elizabeth allowed him to do what he did best, which was plunder her enemies.

This is politics.

Narrator: Which is how St. Augustine inadvertently became a pawn in that undeclared war between England and Spain.

Drake and his men had been on their way home after looting several Spanish towns in the Caribbean when they spotted the fort.

Drake knew that attacking Spain''s first settlement in La Florida would deliver a crushing blow to King Philip and his legacy.

Drake sent his men to scout the fort, but they didn''t anticipate what was waiting for them.

Croce: Well, they''re attacked!

They killed some of his soldiers when they came on land on that island Narrator: A map published 3 years later depicts Drake''s version of what happened.

Parker: It''s the first map of any city in the U.S.

Gordon: In the very back, in the cornfield there was a little murder taking place, and you have to look carefully.

And it''s the killing of a captain, Anthony Powell, who was Drake''s kinsman as well as his best captain.

No! How?

Jackson: Drake didn''t really lose an assistant, he more lost a personal friend.

He will be avenged!

Francis: One of the accounts holds that that is what precipitated Drake''s rage.

Fire! Fire!

[Cannon fire] Gannon: Drake then landed and despoiled the city of anything of value.

Narrator: After two days, St. Augustine''s garrison had completely run out of ammunition.

A Spanish officer later described the attack in a letter to the King.

Francis: He said, 'We fought valiantly under odds that almost had never been seen.'

And then they were forced to flee with such speed that, 'We didn''t even have enough time to carry the treasury box.'

And the next morning Drake''s forces took over the garrison.

Gannon: Drake and his men burned the entire town and the wooden fort.

Everything went up in flames.

Imagine what it was like for the community and the soldiers and the governor to behold what they saw when they emerged from the woods.

It was a site of smoking ruin.

Halbirt: I think we found the archaeological evidence for Drake''s raid.

Narrator: Carl Halbirt believes the city imploded, collapsing into a thick layer of ash.

Halbirt: We found a burned deposit that dates to the 16th century.

We''re not talking about just a little lens; we''re talking about a lens about two inches thick of carbonaceous material.

And within that carbonaceous material were just lots of broken pottery.

Narrator: But the reason why Drake burned St. Augustine is still a matter of debate.

According to the Governor''s official account, Drake made off with the entire hoard of silver and gold from the treasury box.

[Laughing] Or so the Governor claimed.

This was his story.

Narrator: And that was Drake''s story as well.

But two years later a former soldier told the King of Spain a different story.

Francis: He said that the 4 royal officials took all of the money out of it and filled it with lead.

He claims that the governor distributed the money amongst his cronies and their allies.

Narrator: Some believe that this was the real reason Drake burned down the town.

Drake: You Spanish Bastards!

Narrator: But we may never know Because historians believe Drake would have never admitted he''d been tricked.

After the attack ended, Drake returned to England to his opulent estate, a former monastery known as Buckland Abbey.

Lambert: Drake sets himself up as, as a gentleman, and makes himself into the iconic English hero of the 16th century.

Jackson: Yes, the pin-up boy, so to speak.

He was accorded almost God-like status down in, uh, down in Plymouth.

Narrator: The collateral damage left in his wake was overlooked back home.

Documents in the National Archives at Kew, England, show that Queen Elizabeth not only sanctioned these acts of piracy, she funded them as well.

Turner: Right here''s the name, Francis Drake.

And the Elizabeth Bonaventure and the aide and the sum £20,000.

So the queen was a stakeholder in this adventure.

She made a lot of money out of this.

Just to give one example, during Drake''s circumnavigation of the world, her share of the profits was £300,000.

That was a huge amount of money.

Narrator: The sacking of St. Augustine was barely a notch in Drake''s belt in terms of monetary gain, but it was a huge strategic victory.

Drake''s attack forced the Spanish to shut down Santa Elena a settlement about 220 miles to the north.

Some historians say this decision was a pivotal one: it weakened Spain''s foothold in North America.

The refugees from Santa Elena poured into St. Augustine, which was already struggling to survive.

A stunning new archaeological discovery buried under the streets of modern-day St. Augustine was recently unearthed when the city needed to lay underground utility lines.

Halbirt: There''s the arm bone. And there''s the vertebra.

Narrator: Carl Halbirt believes these remains might be linked to a period of starvation that followed Drake''s raid.

I''ve been here in St. Augustine for 25 years.

During that 25 years, we''ve literally uncovered hundreds of thousands of items that people used every day.

What we have now are the actual people who used those items.

These are the people who enabled the city to survive.

Narrator: But they were barely holding on.

The governor of St. Augustine turned to a Timucuan tribe just out of town for help.

They were led by a chieftain-ness named Doña Maria, who was also a Catholic.

According to a later account to the king, Doña Maria provided enough corn to save the town from starvation.

Francis: And she received all kinds of honors and privileges from the Spanish crown.

She was an ally. She was a loyal ally.

Narrator: Back in Spain, King Philip was anxious to finally put an end to the English curse.

Holed up in his bedroom above the altar at El Escorial, he hatched a plan to conquer England.

[Wind blowing, waves crashing] In 1588, just two years after Drake''s raid on St. Augustine, Philip sent his armada to claim England and return it to the Catholic Church.

But the 'Invincible Armada' was defeated, and one of the key leaders of the battle against Spain was none other than the queen''s pirate, Francis Drake.

In 1595, a Spanish admiral named Gonzalo Méndez de Cancio finally defeated Drake.

In doing so he would become a key figure in the future of St. Augustine.

[Ballvé Speaking Spanish] Translator: He is my 12th grandfather on my father''s side.

Narrator: Javier Cancio-Donlebún Ballvé still has the document his ancestor found that was crucial in bringing Drake down.

Francis: This is a list of instructions captured on Francis Drake''s ship.

The original from 1595.

Narrator: It was Drake''s plan for an attack on Spanish-held Puerto Rico.

The information helped Cancio plan a counterattack.

This became Drake''s last battle.

He died of fever and was buried at sea just a few months later.

[Speaking Spanish] Translator: This heroic deed was very popular in Spain and even the great poet Lope de Vega composed a poem based on this event.

Narrator: Gonzalo Méndez de Cancio was now Spain''s iconic hero.

He had defeated his country''s archenemy.

Cancio was appointed governor of St. Augustine.

But when Governor Cancio arrived in St. Augustine, he reported that the city was on the verge of ruin.

Cancio knew their only salvation was to form an alliance with the Indians.

But that would not be easy.

As far back as the late 1400s, slave traders from Spain, Portugal, and England had been capturing Indians in Mexico and the Caribbean and selling them, causing a deep mistrust of Europeans.

Now, imagine what it must have been like for a native to see this ship with its huge black hull, white, bearded men.

It would be like an alien spaceship coming down in your backyard.

So naturally they fought it off in these places.

Narrator: And while the explorers saw natives as savage, the Spanish seemed equally barbaric to the Indians.

Francis: On these expeditions when they''re hungry, they eat shoes.

And they eat horses. And they eat saddles.

I mean, and they eat each other.

Gannon: And then you have Hernando De Soto, who is a moral monster in the way in which he treated aboriginal peoples, and he maimed and killed his way north through Florida, cutting off Indians'' ears and noses and sending them back, saying this will happen to everybody unless you give me and my men safe passage.

Narrator: But in 1542, King Carlos V issued new laws, ordering that Native people who lived in the Americas were to be treated humanely.

So by the time St. Augustine was founded, enslaving natives was prohibited.

There''s a shift from conquest by the sword to conquest by the Gospel.

And the king now wants pacification.

Narrator: By the late 1500s, nearly two centuries before their famous missions in California, the Spanish had already built a system of missions throughout La Florida.

Gannon: One of the most famous of the Franciscan friars in the 16th and early 17th century was Francisco Pareja.

He learned their language, eventually he wrote a grammar of the language, a dictionary of the language.

And wrote out the prayers of the Catholic church so that a typical Timucuan could read it.

This is how the opening sentences of the Lord''s prayer sounded in Timucuan.

[Reading in Timucuan] It has a kind of musical charm to it, but this was the Timucuan language in sound but written out in Spanish consonants and vowels.

The Indians are using books, they''re learning how to read and write, and this is a time when some children in great European cities don''t even have books.

Narrator: A recent study of Timucuan manuscripts have led to the realization that not only did these Natives read Spanish, but they also wrote in their native tongue.

Johnson: We have about a thousand pages of Timucua.

Timucua is the first indigenous written grammatical language in the United States.

Narrator: Flagler College Professor of Religion Dr. Timothy Johnson works with other scholars to compare the Spanish and Timucua versions of 17th-century religious writings.

Johnson: And interestingly enough, sometimes the translations don''t always match up.

There is a whole series of what are called superstitions in the Confessionario, and the priest is supposed to ask the Timucua, 'Are you doing this? Are you doing that?'

One, for example, says, 'Do you take the antlers of the deer 'and, praying, believe that you will then be able to catch another deer as part of this devil''s ceremony?'

So that''s the Spanish, but the Timucua leaves out every reference to the devil.

Gentle: The conflict came amongst a lot of tribes when friars would try to define what the devil was, this disagreeable spirit that has been identified as the devil could be that same spirit that have came into our village and protected us from a bear.

Protected the children from a wolf.

You know, these are what they call good medicine.

Narrator: It''s believed these Timucuan books were written in the late 1500s.

So we''re talking about a level of literacy that simply up to this point in time has not really been recognized, literacy among many of the indigenous peoples.

Narrator: These Natives were also highly advanced in their knowledge of agriculture.

Governor Cancio capitalized on that knowledge, using the Timucua to cultivate the savannahs and make them arable.

[Ballvé speaking Spanish] Translator: It was swampland, a mosquito-infested area that couldn''t grow much of anything.

According to documents in the Archives of the Indies, corn production increased more than 3 times what it had been in the entire decade before he arrived.

Narrator: This is one of two wooden chests carrying St. Augustine''s first export: corn seed.

Javier says it revolutionized agriculture in northern Spain.

Fully one year before Jamestown was founded, the settlement of St. Augustine had already made a major contribution to Spain''s economy.

Gannon: By the time Jamestown was founded, St. Augustine was a community of 120 shops and homes.

Narrator: But the arrival of the English in Jamestown in 1607 changed everything.

King Philip II had died, and his son had taken over.

[Speaking Spanish] Translator: Philip III handed the empire over to bureaucrats, who questioned the convenience of keeping garrisons like in St. Augustine.

Narrator: Unlike his father, who had routed out the French when they had violated Spanish sovereignty here 40 years earlier, Philip III decided not to challenge the establishment of Jamestown.

It was too costly, and his soldiers were too involved with wars in Europe.

Gannon: The Spanish king Philip III issued an edict that there was no more going up and down the coastline putting out fires.

And really there never was any need to worry about Jamestown.

It was never a threat to Spanish Florida.

Narrator: The Jamestown colony may not have posed much of a threat by itself, but England did.

Gannon: Shortly after Jamestown, other settlements began.

Spain could not put out all of those fires.

Narrator: For the next 50 years, Spain turned its energies largely to Latin America and the western part of what''s now the United States.

That allowed England to gain a foothold in the U.S.

from Massachusetts to the Carolinas.

[Thunder] By the mid-1600s, the vulnerability of the only Spanish settlement left on the east coast was about to become tragically apparent.

It was May 29, 1668.

A French physician named Pierre Piques, who had recently been forced to leave St. Augustine in shame, was on a ship headed to Havana.

He was about to get his revenge.

Parker: He and the governor have become very acrimonious towards each other.

The governor apparently has a number of women that he is spending time with, inappropriately according to the records.

Narrator: Some of the governor''s paramours had shared confidences with Piques, who was indiscreet about what he learned.

Parker: And the governor orders him to leave the town.

Narrator: But before Piques'' ship reached Havana, it was captured at sea by a pirate ship led by the English-sympathizer Robert Searles.

Piques realized he had valuable information that could not only spare his life, but could also serve to retaliate against the Governor.

He asked for an audience with Searles.

He told the pirates that a large quantity of silver bars had recently been recovered from the wreck of a treasure ship off the coast, and it was being held for safe keeping in St. Augustine.

Parker: And he''s feeling vengeful, and so he gives Searles all the information he has about how the best way to get into St. Augustine, what the timing would be, and so he helps them get into the town.

And you better not be lying!

Narrator: Searles knew that no one at the fort would suspect that this Spanish supply ship had pirates on board.

Croce: And that was his Trojan horse.

He came in on a different ship, not on a pirate ship, but on this treasury vessel under disguise.

Parker: They attacked at midnight.

People were asleep.

They like to catch them literally in their beds.

[Screaming] [Gunfire] Narrator: There was chaos in the streets as people tried to escape.

Official reports describe what happened to one 18-year-old girl named Estefania, who ran out of her house carrying her baby sister.

Parker: And one of the pirates shoots, and the ball from his gun kills the child in her arms and actually lodges into Estefanía''s chest.

Narrator: Estefania survived.

Her story appears in reports to the Crown.

Historians say it puts a face on the viciousness of the attack.

When the carnage ended, 60 people were dead and 70 had been taken hostage.

The governor negotiated a trade, and many of those hostages were returned.

But Searles kept the Natives and Africans as his spoils.

They headed to the Caribbean to sell them as slaves.

When Spain heard of this, the Crown realized it could no longer risk losing La Florida to foreign invaders and outlaws.

Parker: It pushed the Spanish crown into appropriating more money to build a new fort.

And that''s why the Castillo de San Marcos was built.

Narrator: It is now the oldest masonry fort remaining in the U.S.

Parker: It was a major turning point in the history of the southeast, this strong fortress.

Narrator: They were about to find out whether this new fortress would hold.

In 1702, English colonists from South Carolina launched their first attack on Spanish Florida.

Leading the onslaught was Carolina Colony governor James Moore, who felt the Spanish presence in La Florida stood in the way of English expansion.

Parker: And so with the settlement of Charleston, that now made a English settlement that was close enough to launch an attack on St. Augustine from land.

Narrator: Half of Moore''s troops set off by sea, the rest marched south through the backcountry, preying first on Spanish missions along the way.

Gannon: All of a sudden here comes a rampaging army of Englishmen and Indian allies to kill them and crush them and by the most violent means possible.

Narrator: The missions were easy prey, the Natives living there were unarmed.

Sheppard: The friars had an issue giving firearms to the natives.

Keeping firearms away from the natives is a way of keeping them pure, keeping them from harming one another, keeping them from committing murder, essentially.

Narrator: The British, on the other hand, issued guns to any Natives who would fight on their side.

As troops got within a few days of the fort, a baptized Choctaw woman overheard Moore''s plan to attack.

She managed to send word to St. Augustine.

Governor José de Zúñiga knew that his soldiers were no match for the English troops from South Carolina.

Provisions hadn''t arrived in months.

The men were getting just two servings of bread a day.

Zúñiga ordered everyone in the city to take shelter inside the Castillo.

It was the only chance they had of possibly staying safe.

And the food that they brought with them would help keep the soldiers fed.

Some 1,500 people descended on the fort and began setting up camp inside its walls.

Parker: It had to be terrible in there.

1,500 people crammed inside the Castillo?

Narrator: On November 10, 1702, the gates of the Castillo were shut.

There was no way to know whether they''d be taken captive or killed at the end of it all.

All they could do...was wait.

The town looked deserted.

Parker: Everybody''s in the fort, and the town''s really free for them to walk into.

Narrator: As the English got within range of the fort, the Spanish fired on them, and the exchange began.

The Spanish artillery was so out of practice that they failed to hit anything.

Sheppard: Spain''s economy had collapsed in the 1600s.

The Spanish soldiers were still armed with matchlocks that De Soto''s soldiers had used in the 1530s and 1540s.

So they''re behind the times.

Narrator: In fact, the first casualties in the Castillo weren''t caused by their enemy, but instead by over-zealous Spanish soldiers who loaded too much ammunition into an old, cracked cannon.

It misfired, killing the gunner and two other men.

5 more were wounded.

To keep the British from taking cover close to the fort, Zúñiga made a radical decision.

Parker: The governor realizes very quickly that the houses that are closest to the fort will provide a place for the English to shoot.

And so he orders about 30 houses burned that are closest to the fort.

Narrator: The siege continued for the next 52 days.

Parker: And of course life goes on inside the Castillo.


Parker: We know that there are two or three children born during the siege.

The first child that''s born there is actually born to a, um, a Native American woman and a black slave a few days after the siege starts.

Narrator: Moore''s army proved weak, and morale was low.

The Castillo seemed to be impenetrable.

What made the fort so resistant to artillery fire?

This is what is expected to happen when a cannon ball strikes the wall of a stone fort.

It shatters violently, the fragments will fly off... Narrator: Dr. Ghatu Subhash has conducted compression experiments on the unique stone used to build the Castillo, known as coquina.

His team at the University of Florida''s Department of Mechanical Engineering want to understand why the fort was able to withstand artillery fire while other structures could not.

Subhash: The principle behind why it withstood so elegantly and majestically is simply coquina was able to absorb energy locally, not sending the energy to global region, which is fracture.

Narrator: The coquina walls are composed of compressed shell fragments bonded together over thousands of years.

It''s all a tunneling effect, so the ball comes, material ahead of it is being crushed, crushed, crushed, crushed.

That''s all.

Narrator: The tiny shells crumble, absorbing impact, so bullets and cannonballs sank into the Castillo rather than shattering the walls.

Coquina is a material unique to just a few regions of the world.

St. Augustine is one of them.

They just got lucky. They just got lucky.

Narrator: As the days wore on, the English began to blame General Moore for their failure to take the fort.

Parker: The British start arguing among themselves because the British invaders have put a lot of their own money into this venture.

Narrator: But conditions inside the Castillo were becoming dire as well.

Food was running scarce.

Parker: That''s one of the things you do with a siege, is ultimately you can starve them out.

If you can''t bombard them out, you know, you can just wait them out.

Narrator: The Governor sent out messengers, hoping one of them would reach Cuba.

Parker: He''s hoping that he can send someone in a small canoe down the tidal creeks.

Can you imagine taking a canoe out into the Atlantic Ocean?

Narrator: Amazingly, his plan worked.

Suddenly 4 Spanish warships from Havana appeared on the horizon.

[Cheering] Narrator: The siege was finally over.

But before Moore''s army retreated, they set fire to the remaining buildings in town.

It would take decades for the town to fully recover.

Parker: No food, no homes.

It''s late December and almost January, so, you know, it''s not even a good time really to grow food.

Narrator: But while the people of St. Augustine were slowly piecing their lives back together... [Thunder] James Moore was back in South Carolina, plotting revenge.

Gannon: He suffered the loss of his pride.

He was treated as a contemptible person.

Narrator: Private citizens in the Carolinas had invested money in Moore''s raid, hoping to acquire Spanish Florida for the British.

They lost a lot of money, the backers of this expedition.

So he decided to make up for it somehow.

Blount: It was stealing people.

The Native Americans could be rounded up, they could be walked back to Charles Town, and sold in the slave markets.

And that was where the money was.

It was in the slavery business.

Indians increasingly have to choose whether to become victims or to participate in the slave trade as slave raiders, and so the Yamasees and the Lower Creeks in particular, they have become very active slave raiders.

Gentle: We did not understand the concept of what they identified slavery as.

I think that if our people had known that this would have turned out the way it did, they wouldn''t have assisted.

Narrator: Over the next two years, Moore and his raiders stormed Spanish missions throughout the interior of La Florida.

Gannon: There he burned and maimed and killed.

It''s a disaster.

Narrator: Most of the survivors of these mission raids were captured and taken back to South Carolina.

According to his own report, James Moore took over 4,000 natives-- mostly women and children-- to sell into slavery.

Gannon: The historian of this period, John Hann, said that this was the largest slave raid in the history of the country.

And that''s how he redeemed himself, with all these slaves, all this income.

There is a term, and it''s-- It''s almost--it is an insult for a native person, to say, 'They act as if they have no family,' because kinship is humanness... [Screaming] Buford: ...because obviously they would never treat another human like that if they knew what it was to love and to hold something sacred.

So in our eyes, they were less than human.

Narrator: Moore and his allies viciously killed over a thousand people during his raids.

Blount: Well, it was terribly brutal.

People were burned alive, uh, people were disemboweled, flayed, crucified.

Christianized Indians and the friars might be nailed to the cross.

It was genocide. It was 'ethnic cleansing.'

History is written by the victors.

So whoever tells the story is obviously going to tell it from their perspective.

And there is an indigenous voice that really hasn''t been told.

In one document there''s a whole list of chiefs that were killed, which include women.

Narrator: Dr. Timothy Johnson has been studying eyewitness accounts of the genocide that occurred at these missions.

Johnson: People are given the chance to deny their faith.

They would stand up, even watching and knowing full well what was coming their way.

And so they''re really quite inspirational, the stories of what people would do in the face of death.

[Gregorian chanting] Narrator: The Vatican has begun the process of canonization for some 82 Native Americans and missionaries killed for their beliefs during these raids.

Johnson: And the Vatican said we believe that there are justifiable grounds.

He''ll declare these people 'Servants of God.'

Narrator: By 1706, the Spanish missions in La Florida had been almost completely obliterated.

It dealt a demoralizing blow to Spanish Catholics.

But it was also a crippling setback for St. Augustine.

The missions had been its bread basket.

But as the town slowly rebuilt, the British began to turn their gaze again on the Spanish presence to their south.

La Florida was a threat to the British way of life, particularly on the issue of slavery.

As far back as the days of the conquistadors, Africans had been an accepted and integral part of everyday life in Spanish America.

Probably the first African American to this part of the world was on missions here scouting with Ponce de Leon.

Deagan: There were free black people here from the beginning of the colony onward.

Francis: These were people who helped build the early garrisons, they built residences, they did work that was critical for the survival of the community.

They weren''t working out, for example, on sugar plantations.

Narrator: The Spanish did have slaves, but slavery under the British was not the same.

Under English law, a slave was property-- or chattel-- without any legal or civil rights.

[Screaming] Narrator: Slaves could be bought, sold, and punished... or even killed.

Although the Spanish bought and sold slaves, too, the law recognized slaves had legal rights.

Francis: Slaves could, for example, purchase their own freedom.

Slaves families could not be separated by law.

Parker: They marry, and their marriages appear in the church records, so these were considered official marriages.

So we have to be careful not to say that somehow Spanish slavery was good slavery, better than English slavery.

Uh, it''s still slavery.

At the same time, Spanish laws that govern slavery were fundamentally different.

Narrator: Spanish slaves could own property, sue their owners in court, and both men and women could even petition the king.

One of the largest differences was the belief that Africans were human beings who had souls.

Whereas the British did not believe that at all.

They were just savages and, you know, beyond redemption.

Landers: Which is why people ran from that system to seek some sort of sanctuary among Spanish people usually.

Narrator: Ever since the late 1600s, Spanish Florida was becoming a sanctuary for African slaves who fled from British plantations.

Francis: Long before there was an underground railroad that ran north, there was an underground railroad that ran south.

Narrator: La Florida started granting asylum to slaves after a small group escaped by canoe from the Carolinas in 1687.

They asked Governor Diego de Quiroga for asylum, saying they wanted to become members of the true faith, Catholicism.

The Spanish, who had founded La Florida in part to convert the New World to Christianity, could hardly refuse.

King Charles II decreed that because these people had adopted the Catholic Doctrine, they should all be set free and given anything they needed.

Francis: And of course that then initiates waves of runaway slaves from the Carolinas, from Virginia, you see in the record some slaves from as far north as New York.

The British were very much afraid of Spain''s sovereignty in Florida accepting people and allowing them to gain their freedom.

Narrator: In fact, Spain''s open-door policy was not just a vehicle to save more souls for the Catholic Church, it was also a way to destabilize the plantation economy of the British Colonies.

Francis: The planters were particularly concerned that if waves of runaway slaves make it to St. Augustine, all that''s going to do is encourage more runaway slaves, and that will in the end dismantle the entire system.

Narrator: Around this time a young Mandingo child was captured in West Africa and taken to the Carolinas to work the plantations.

Eventually he was given the European name Francisco Menéndez.

Jones: The ship arrived in the Carolinas with less than 3/4 of its human cargo.

So aboard that ship, most of the slaves that were captured from Mandingo in West Africa were dead.

To imagine surviving that cramped inner space, smaller than this chair.

You know, it takes an extraordinary will to live when you see others dying around you.

And how you do that at 8 or 9 I don''t know.

Narrator: As he grew into manhood, Francisco Menéndez became indispensable to his British owners.

He could not only do the work of several men, but he also learned to speak several languages.

When he first escaped to Spanish La Florida in the early 1700s, Menéndez sought refuge with various Indian tribes living in the backwoods to the north.

Jones: What he learns in the 3 years living in the wilderness is how to move through the forest without harm, hurt or danger, sound or footprint, how to track and hunt, but he also learns during that time how to master British firearms.

Narrator: In 1715, Menéndez proved himself a fierce warrior, fighting the British alongside Natives in a conflict known as the Yamasee War.

The Yamasees had once been allies with the Carolina colony.

But the British slave raiders had begun to turn on them.

And they''re watching their own family members or friends become slaves Gentle: It forced us to a situation where all the head warriors came together and were talking about war.

[Whooping] Narrator: Francisco Menéndez knew the enemy well and proved to be a valuable fighter for the Yamasees.

When the war was over two years later, Menéndez headed to St. Augustine.

Escaped slaves had been living in St. Augustine for nearly a half century now, and they had become an integral part of the community.

In 1738, Governor Manuel de Montiano gave them their own land and chose Francisco Menéndez, now a free man, as its leader.

The community was located about a mile and half outside of the city.

It was called 'Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose,' or as it''s known today, 'Fort Mose.'

It was the first legally sanctioned free Black community in what is now the United States.

This was 125 years before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Landers: That experience is not like anything we learn in our African American history textbooks, so they usually miss a whole century and a lot of different experiences if you think of it only as an enslaved plantation experience.

Narrator: The new fortified settlement had its own church, and was comprised of skilled blacksmiths... carpenters... boatmen, and farmers.

Landers: This was a rough frontier; I don''t mean to glamorize it by saying people were made free here.

Sometimes the food supplies would be disrupted, sometimes there were epidemic diseases.

It''s not easy, but it''s at least the possibility of everybody living freely, having property, not worrying that their children are going to be sold away from them.

Howard: I think that the United States is richer, its history is richer because it demonstrated that African and European people could live together, could benefit from each other''s skills, and that as a beginning, I think we would have a very different picture of the United States.

Narrator: The location of Fort Mose at the edge of town was an important defensive move-- there was no better soldier to defend St. Augustine than a man who did not want to become enslaved again.

The militia at Fort Mose would soon be tested.

A year after the town was established, the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies erupted in South Carolina.

In response to this revolt, King George II ordered Georgia''s troops to take St. Augustine and end the practice of harboring runaway slaves.

Howard: They were adamant that this place had to fall, so they had to be wiped out.

Narrator: General James Oglethorpe had founded Georgia and had been its first Governor.

Although he was actually against slavery, he''d been anxious to take La Florida away from the Spanish for years.

King George commanded Oglethorpe to, 'Spare no personal danger,' in exacting revenge on those slaves who had fled their owners.

When Governor Montiano heard that the English were coming to avenge the slave owners, he feared for the safety of the people at Fort Mose.

Parker: So he orders them to abandon Mose and to come into St. Augustine for their protection, because he figures they''ll either be all killed and/or captured, and so they come into St. Augustine and the British just walk right into Fort Mose and take over.

Narrator: But 16 days later, the Spanish, the Black Militia, and the Native allies returned.

They caught the British by surprise at daybreak and easily retook the fort.

The British called it 'The Battle of Bloody Mose.'

Jones: There''s a quote by Shakespeare.

'Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.'

Francisco Menéndez-- greatness was thrust upon him.

Narrator: As many as 75 British soldiers were killed.

Oglethorpe and his men retreated.

Francis: Some of the stories that came out after Mose that the English claimed the Black Militia did, had created this view among the English that they committed all kinds of atrocities.

And they used this as powerful propaganda as well.

This is what happens if these slaves escape and this is what they do to people.'

Narrator: Though they had won back their land, the village of Mose had been completely destroyed in the battle.

Francis: The free blacks from Mose move into St. Augustine, and they live in St. Augustine, and they''re property owners in St. Augustine, and they become a critical part of the city''s fabric.

Narrator: They stayed in St. Augustine for the next 12 years.

Francisco Menéndez went to St. Augustine with the others, but when the King of Spain didn''t compensate him for his service, Menéndez signed on to a Spanish ship that was attacking English settlements.

Francis: He''s eventually recaptured by the English and fully admits who he is.

Narrator: Menéndez acknowledged that he had been the leader of the Battle of Bloody Mose, and his English captors became incensed.

Landers: And they torture him brutally because they believe the whole Spanish-Negro conspiracy.

Jones: And they gave him a beating with a whip, and in between they brined him in a salt, pickled him.

Francis: So he was placed in a solution, that effectively eats away at his skin.

It would''ve been beyond enormously painful to experience that.

They just decided to sell him as part of the loot that they took on the ship.

And they take him to the Bahamas, and he''s sold back into slavery.

Narrator: It is not known whether Spanish governors negotiated his freedom or he ran away, but once again Francisco Menéndez miraculously escaped slavery.

He returned to St. Augustine and led his people back to rebuild Fort Mose.

By 1763, St. Augustine had been the Spanish stronghold in La Florida for nearly 200 years.

During that time the town had fended off every attempt by the British to conquer it.

But ironically, it took just a single stroke of the pen for all of that to change.

It happened at the end of the Seven Years War, when Spain was faced with the possibility of losing its valuable port in Havana.

It chose, instead, to give up La Florida to the British.

For the people of St. Augustine, this was an unimaginable twist of fate.

it meant certain death or enslavement for La Florida''s free blacks and natives.

There was only one choice.

The Spanish are leaving, and they take everybody that wants to go with them.

And so by February of 1764, 3,019 people had left St. Augustine for Havana.

Every single Spaniard, with the exception of 3 families, all of the free blacks, the entire city was depopulated.

Everybody left.

Narrator: As the Spanish ships sailed away from St. Augustine, the first legally sanctioned free black community in the United States disappeared with them... into the horizon.

Meanwhile, more than 4,000 miles away, the British empire was celebrating the dawn of a new era.

For the first time since Spanish conquistadors claimed La Florida 250 years earlier, all of the Atlantic Coast of North America was finally under the control of Great Britain.

We all know about the 13 British colonies, but at the time of the Revolution, there weren''t 13 British colonies; there were 15.

Nobody knows that hardly.

Narrator: England divided the Spanish territory into two royal colonies: East and West Florida, making them the 14th and 15th British colonies in North America.

West Florida had a difficult time attracting settlers.

The presence of some 28,000 natives living near the Mississippi made the British wary of moving there.

Stepping in to govern the colony of East Florida was a British aristocrat named Colonel James Grant, heir apparent of Ballindalloch Castle in the Scottish highlands.

Grant was literally 'of the manor born,' growing up on this 10,000-acre estate in Speyside.

He left his comfortable life here to fight for his country when he was 24.

Russell: He was a very great military man.

He was obviously very bright.

He had a great estate.

He had lots of servants to look after him, and he needn''t have done that.

He could''ve stayed here on the estate and done nothing.

Narrator: Grant left the lush rolling hills of Scotland for the relentless heat and sandy soil of East Florida, hoping to transform this unmanageable territory into a viable British trade colony.

Here was this subtropical region that suddenly they had that might potentially allow them to grow some sort of fruits or vegetables they would have to go elsewhere for.

Narrator: Many of the missing pieces of the story of British Florida were hidden in the attic turret of Ballindalloch Castle, buried among thousands of other papers that had been stored there and forgotten for centuries.

In the 1970s, Grant''s descendants asked the Scottish National Archives to inventory what was there.

A decade later, Dr. Dan Schafer was allowed access to the papers and began methodically reconstructing the history of British Florida.

Schafer: 'This country, I am convinced, is totally unknown...' Narrator: Grant''s letters describe East Florida as completely undeveloped, and since only 3 families remained after the Spanish left St. Augustine, Grant had no one to help him harness the wilderness beyond town.

How are you going to develop a province when there''s nobody here?

Narrator: Grant began by offering free land to successful plantation owners in other colonies.

Schafer: He would say, 'We have better climate, we have better everything than you have there, come here.'

Well, if they come in to St. Augustine and find a dismal place and have a terrible time, they''re not going to come.

So, he lit up--ha ha-- their nightlife.

To the king!

Smith: He was a bachelor, and he had one of the largest collections of wine in this area, and by this area, I''m talking about North America.

He had 3 slaves who were trained in French culinary arts, and he threw a party probably 4 or 5 nights out of the week Schafer: Yeah, he was quite a party guy.

Every month he would do an inventory of the governor''s cellars.

Narrator: Those inventories, along with Grant''s letters, are now housed in the National Registry of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Schafer: 'During his first year in office, 'beverages drunk from the governor''s cellars 'tallied 86 gallons of Madeira wine, '76 gallons of Tenerife wine, '1,200 bottles of claret, '519 bottles of port.

'Captain Rainesford went home speechless.

'Unusual for that captain.

'De Brahm, the surveyor general, once again got drunk.

'Mr. Roe''s daughter, poor girl, got half drunk.

Mrs. Sharp sung as did Mrs. Box.'

Women, singing off key: ♪ They do as they will ♪ Schafer: 'Neither of them well.

'Captain Southerland was hobnobbed, but he got home sober.'

Narrator: Grant''s marketing plan worked.

Investors poured in, establishing plantations ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 acres.

Schafer: I think you''d probably find few examples of more successful governors than he was.

Narrator: But along with that plantation economy came the British form of chattel slavery, which they introduced into colonial Florida for the first time.

Schafer: 'Success in Florida, my lord, 'will not be achieved until this country is brought to that rich and plentiful state by the labor of slaves.'

Smith: Everything changed when the British came in in 1763.

There was no longer slave sanctuary for British slaves to run away to from Carolina and Georgia.

And that''s why East Florida was overwhelmingly a slave plantation economy.

[Sea gulls squawk] Narrator: In the meantime, in Cuba, the Spanish free blacks who had left before the British arrived were not faring well.

Within 6 years of their departure, 20% of that group had died in Havana.

Landers: These are the books of the burials of the people of color in Ceiba Mocha.

Narrator: For the past several years, Dr. Jane Landers has been tracking the fate of the residents of Fort Mose.

You can track epidemic disease through these burial records and see that so many people are buried on the same day.

And sometimes they''ll even tell you of what disease.

Narrator: Landers and her graduate students from Vanderbilt University are digitizing the records.

Landers: As you can see, especially from the other book that we''re working on there, they''re very fragile.

They''re old.

They''re disappearing as we''re talking and filming here today.

Some of them look like lace.

Climate is a problem. It''s hot and humid.

Bugs are a problem, so you''ll see worm paths through the paper.

Fires occasionally.

Narrator: In addition to disease, the stress of leaving everything behind had taken its toll, not only on the free blacks from Fort Mose, but also on the natives who had sailed with them.

There were 89 Timucua and Guale Indians who left with the Spanish, and within 6 years, more than half of them had died.

Narrator: And as for Francisco Menéndez, about a year after he and his family arrived in Cuba, the trail goes cold.

Landers: You can see when they give up their homestead because you can see them making payments, and at some point, they sort of disappear off of that account book.

Narrator: So far Landers has been unable to find his grave in any of the church cemeteries in Cuba.

We may never know what happened to him.

[Bell tolling] Back in East Florida, illness forced Governor Grant to return to England for medical care.

A new leader was appointed, Colonel Patrick Tonyn, who stirred up opposition almost immediately.

Smith: He was the nastiest person I''ve ever read a letter from.

Such a vindictive nature that he had and so self-serving, I find it really hard to like the man.

Narrator: Tonyn drew resistance from several of Grant''s friends, including one who publicly insulted Tonyn''s wife.

Smith: He announced, 'I will not allow my wife and daughters 'to interact with Mrs. Tonyn.

I knew her in Scotland, and she was a whore.'

The gauntlet was thrown immediately, and Tonyn never forgot, he never forgave.

Narrator: The colonists believed they were entitled to elect representatives to a local House of Assembly.

It was 1775.

Tonyn viewed such demands as disloyalty to the Crown.

Tonyn lost even more ground when he began to mistreat the 3 domestic slaves he had promised to purchase from Grant.

Schafer: Alexander, who Governor Grant had trained to be a prize baker for all these great affairs, dinners that he was having, was punished by putting an iron mask around his head that padlocked in the back.

Narrator: Alexander and the two other slaves eventually ran away to the woods.

When Grant heard about this, he insisted that they be given sanctuary at his own plantation.

'You are publicly to make it known 'that Governor Tonyn has nothing to do with them, that they have nothing to fear.'

Which is a most remarkable thing.

To rebuke the other governor publicly was a remarkable thing to do.

Narrator: But by this time, Tonyn and the rest of the British colonies had bigger problems to contend with.

The American Revolutionary War had begun.

As unrest boiled to the north, Tonyn kept a watchful eye on his citizenry.

Smith: He was here to keep this colony safe for king and country.

Narrator: East Florida had only been under British rule for a few years.

Tonyn was not about to disavow his loyalty.

The colony of West Florida also didn''t rebel.

It had gone through 6 governors and interim administrators in little more than a decade.

Davis: I think that East and West Florida have been written out of the historical narrative because they remained loyal to the British crown during the Revolution, and so they just don''t quite fit into that story of the American patriots.

Narrator: Much has been written about the conflicts fought in the 13 colonies and the help the rebels got from the French.

But little is known about the pivotal role that battles along the Mississippi and Gulf Coast played in turning the tide of the Revolutionary War or the vital part Spain had in supporting the American cause.

Smith: It''s just as much a part of American history as Washington crossing the Delaware or Paul Revere''s ride.

Narrator: As iconic as the steeple of the Old North Church, this unfinished tower on the Cathedral in Málaga, Spain, stands in silent tribute to the part it played in the American fight for freedom.

[Garcia speaking Spanish] Translator: Because the money the Málaga Town Council was to use to finish this tower was sent instead to help fund the American War of Independence.

Narrator: During the Revolution, Spain secretly funneled money to the Americans through this man: Bernardo de Gálvez, a native of Málaga who was the Governor of Spanish-held Louisiana.

By 1777, Gálvez had sent an estimated $70,000 worth of medicine, weapons, and ammunition to the American rebels.

But in 1779, when Spain declared war on Great Britain, Gálvez was free to openly defend the American cause.

He gathered recruits from Mexico, free blacks from Cuba, Native Americans, Spanish soldiers, Germans, and Acadian French.

Stringfield: Gálvez had a huge army--huge.

And it was one that was multicultural in its makeup, multiethnic.

Narrator: By 1780, the British had taken Charleston and blockaded the port cities along the east coast.

Lambert: The British war effort in the War of Independence is entirely based on the sea.

And eventually they capture key port cities, basically to control the economic life of the colonies.

So the British are saying, 'We hold Charleston. If you want to trade, you trade through us.'

Narrator: Gálvez knew the Mississippi was a vital route that circumvented the British blockade.

He led attacks on the British forts along the gulf, taking Baton Rouge, Natchez, and Mobile.

But Pensacola was the most formidable British bastion on the coast.

The Battle of Pensacola lasted two months, one of the longest conflicts in the American Revolution.

And in taking Pensacola, this was the big prize.

He effectively shut down anything that could have happened from the British front, along the Gulf Coast, up the Mississippi.

He''s brilliant.

This was a pivotal event in the American fight for independence.

Narrator: The importance of that battle has not been fully acknowledged in textbooks.

Gálvez''s siege greatly affected the number of troops and ships the British sent just two months later to Yorktown, the final battle in the War of Independence.

Lambert: And after the loss of Yorktown, the British recognize there is no way back from this.

We have enough power to defend the West Indies, the Sugar Islands, the Caribbean trade, or to carry the war on in America.

And it''s a no-brainer.

Smith: Back at that time, sugar was the oil of the day.

Sugar afforded empire.

So the British West Indies were the most crucial lands in the British Empire at this time.

Narrator: Loyalists began fleeing the colonies as the Revolutionary War was winding down.

East Florida became a haven for as many as 12,000 refugees.

Most history books have largely ignored those thousands of loyalist families forced to leave their homes because of the war.

But the remains of a ship believed to be transporting Loyalists to safety paint a very human picture of what those families experienced.

Meide: Remember, these people were living through just perilous times.

A war was raging around them, they were about to lose their country.

They had fought for king and country, and now all the sudden they have to gather their families up.

Narrator: It was New Year''s Eve 1782.

A fleet of 16 British ships filled with refugees from Charleston was sitting off the coast of St. Augustine, hoping to cross the bar.

They needed to get into the harbor before American privateers attacked.

Pirates were out there trying to pick off ships.

And we know the very fleet that our ship was a member of was being chased by privateers.

St. Augustine had a reputation for being the most dangerous inlet in North America.

And as they sailed in, you could see the wooden remains of shipwrecks jutting out on either side of the channel where ships had been lost before.

You know, 'The chances of getting across are terribly slim, and we''re all probably going to die.'

They knew, like, 'This isn''t the time 'to try to get into St. Augustine.

We''re going to wait until we have a better tide.'

And there''s a nor''easter blowing.

It''s a recipe for disaster, really.

And there they are waiting off shore, and the captain finally dares to cross the sandbar.

Bam! The ship is run aground.

Surf is pounding on the ship.

It''s coming to pieces.

All their possessions are spilling out into the sea.

Only, I mean, just within less than a mile of safe refuge, their hopes and dreams are being dashed to pieces just like the ship that they thought was their salvation.

Narrator: Divers have pulled up a flintlock pistol, two loaded Brown Bess muskets, 6 cannons, and the intact ship''s bell.

But the most remarkable artifact was one that instantly transported Chuck Meide back to the final moments of the ship''s demise.

Meide: And I could feel the lip to it and put my hands inside, and then I realized what it was.

Narrator: It was a cooking pot, which led the archaeologists to a chilling revelation.

We had the remains of the last meal that was prepared in that pot.

This is something that has not seen daylight in, as it turns out, 228 years.

So that''s a pretty special thing.

I mean you''re the first person to touch it.

The last person to touch it did so under very different circumstances, probably in those chaotic moments in the middle of this tragedy when this ship was wrecking and was going to be lost forever.

Narrator: More than a year later, the Revolutionary War was over.

The British period in Florida had lasted merely 20 years.

In the short time the English had been there, the Loyalists had turned a barren land into a viable trade area.

But they were about to lose it all.

As a reward for Spain''s contributions to the American cause, East and West Florida became Spanish territory once again.

Among those chosen to draft the Second Treaty of Paris was Bernardo de Gálvez, the Spanish hero who had defeated British troops along the Gulf Coast.

And now that the territory was back in Spanish possession, many of those survivors who had fled to Cuba to escape British rule returned.

Most of them were just children when they''d left.

But even though the British were gone, slavery in the new United States remained.

Runaway slaves began heading to Spanish Florida again, hoping for asylum.

Landers: And Thomas Jefferson is our Secretary of State, and he writes to the Spanish government and says, 'If you still want to be friends with us, you will shut down this sanctuary and this policy.'

Spain agrees.

Spain is under a lot of duress at this point, rebellions all over its wide empire.

Narrator: So in 1790, Spain reversed its century-old edict offering sanctuary for runaway slaves.

Landers: They have to post announcements everywhere that no longer will we receive and free runaway slaves.

The royal policy was now officially closed.

Thanks to Thomas Jefferson.

Narrator: Slaves still ran south, but this time they sought refuge with Seminole Indians in the backwoods of Spanish Florida.

Indian tribes took in these escaped slaves and let them live as allies.

They became known as 'Black Seminoles.'

And most of the time their autonomous communities were formed in very inhospitable areas, in swamps where it was difficult for the slave catcher to come and get them again.

Narrator: Adding to tensions with the United States, the Spanish began offering inducements to move to its colonies.

Cusick: You know, no taxes, a fair amount of land.

Originally they wanted people to convert to Catholicism, but they dropped that provision.

They said, 'Now all you have to do 'is you have to take an oath of loyalty to the king, the Spanish King.'

Narrator: For those who doubted the United States would succeed, it was an attractive offer.

Cusick: Florida was trading like wildfire with Great Britain, and that angered a lot of the Georgians.

They were like, you know if you look at the Spanish side of the St. Mary''s River, it''s all full of British ships, and if you look at our side of the St. Mary''s River, there''s nobody.

Narrator: Moreover, Americans worried that their southernmost border was not well protected.

That St. Mary''s river that divides Georgia and Florida today, that was an international border at the time.

In the late 1700s and 1800s, you couldn''t stop people from coming in and out of Florida or Georgia.

And sometimes they were coming to seek revenge on someone they had a long-standing grudge against.

Schafer: So that whole area was almost like a no man''s land.

Georgians raided, and Floridians raided back.

[Gunfire] Narrator: It was a time of complete lawlessness.

I think Florida was always the wild, wild west.

I think we could have taught the west how to be the wild, wild west.

Narrator: And the beginning of the 19th century brought more trouble.

In 1800, Spain lost Louisiana, which bordered the Florida colonies to the west.

It remained a French colony until Louisiana was purchased by the United States 3 years later.

On the world stage, the Napoleonic Wars had taken a devastating toll on Spain, which could no longer send much aid to its colonies.

The volatile tensions between the U.S. and Spanish Florida came to a head just before the war of 1812.

As America was preparing to declare war over trade restrictions, they feared that the British, now allies with Spain, would stage troops in St. Augustine.

So we need to seize these Spanish port towns now before we have the British Navy sailing into them.

Narrator: Unhappy that East and West Florida had become Spanish colonies once again, many Americans felt it was time to seize the territory for the United States.

Former Georgia Governor George Mathews created a private army and headed to Florida.

He called his group the 'Patriots.'

In March 1812, this force of more than 200 men seized the East Florida port of Fernandina on Amelia Island.

And the very next day, they raise the American flag, and they ask the American Army and the American Marines to come take control of the town, which they do.

Narrator: It was known as the 'Patriot War,' and it''s one of the most overlooked events in early 19th-century history.

With Fernandina secured, the 'Patriots' headed south to capture St. Augustine.

News of the Patriots'' move against Spanish Florida took the Madison administration by surprise.

President Madison did not want to provoke Spain.

He refused to publicly support the seizure.

But U.S. government does not make a move to pull the troops out.

American officers were given the instructions, 'Kill the cattle,' because that way the Spanish forces can''t drive them in to town and use them for food.

And people said that for miles around St. Augustine, there was just a stench of dead, rotting animals.

Narrator: Meanwhile, the Patriots looted and burned the homes of anyone sympathetic to Spanish rule.

Incensed by the destruction throughout the area, the Seminoles and Black Seminoles took up arms.

They stormed the plantations occupied by the Georgia Patriots and destroyed them, liberating hundreds of plantation slaves who then joined their ranks.

They combined forces with a militia of about 60 free blacks from St. Augustine, led by a 6-foot carpenter and former slave known as 'Big Prince Whitten.'

The raiding party waited at a place called Twelve Mile Swamp.

When American troops sent out a convoy to get supplies, Whitten and his men ambushed them.

[Gunfire, horse neighs] Cusick: And the American commander, when he find out that that has happened, retreats.

Narrator: It was another victory for the people of Florida, but it would be the final victory for Spanish Florida.

The attack at Twelve Mile Swamp only fueled America''s anger.

Newspapers and politicians in the southern states called for these native and black militias to be punished.

Howard: They could not have blacks with guns.

And giving hope to people on the plantations that they, too, could join them and get their freedom.

Narrator: Just 6 years later, General Andrew Jackson led a retaliatory attack known as the First Seminole War.

It was 1818.

No longer a dominant European power, Spain could not keep its territory from constant conflict.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams demanded that Spain either control its Florida colonies and their defiance on the issue of slavery or cede the territory to the United States.

Cusick: All the trouble that came from the War of 1812 destabilized the area so much, it made the acquisition of Florida, the transfer of Florida to the United States, I think it made it inevitable.

Narrator: In February 1821, the Adams-Onís Treaty made Florida a territory of the United States.

When the Spanish give up Florida in 1821, almost immediately the Americans begin to turn to the problem of Indians and how to get them out.

Narrator: The Native population that had thrived in the region for 12,000 years before the Europeans arrived was now nearly extinct.

A small remaining group of Apalachees migrated to Louisiana.

The Yamasees, who had long been believed to be extinct, had scattered throughout Florida and South Carolina to survive.

To be Indian in Florida was dangerous, so they would hide themselves.

Buford: So that''s where the swamp became our friends.

But it kept us alive, and it kept us here today.

Gentle: So we became known as 'The hidden people,' because that''s what we did.

We hid mostly amongst other tribes.

Narrator: And as for the hundreds of escaped slaves known as the Black Seminoles, most of them fled to the Bahamas.

Howard: Because the United States brought their form of slavery and ideas about black people right down into Florida.

Narrator: For the second time, the once-thriving Free Black and Native communities of Spanish Florida disappeared from the landscape, and from American history.

[Chanting in Native American language] Bossey: And we''ll see moments in the 19th century as white Americans are trying to make all Indians extinct, that they begin to say, 'We see here the last of the Yamasees.'

So it leads to this notion that they are gone, that they have become conquered, right?

But they didn''t.

Buford: My nation continues as long as I keep telling these stories and keep telling our histories to our people.

And the purpose of my life is to continue these stories and continue to tell the history of the Yamasee people, that we''re still here.

They did not kill us. They did not kill us.

Narrator: It will take until the year 2055 before the American flag will have flown over the first permanent settlement in the United States as long as the Spanish flag flew over it.

Meide: We, as Americans, kind of inherited the English version of this story.

And so we didn''t really get the full story.

Armada: I think it''s time that we put in the minds and in the hearts of the American people and the Spanish people that we went along for a huge period that make us brothers in terms of history, no?

Halbirt: St. Augustine really is a microcosm of U.S. history when you think about it.

I mean, you have the Native Americans, you have the Spanish, you have the British, you have the Americans, this whole cornucopia of differences that occur in this one small area that measures probably no more than 10 square miles in area.

This is how America started.

I think that if we could project St. Augustine as an example of what the United States started as, then I think that would create a whole different atmosphere in this country.

Johnson: I think it''s very important to recognize that at a certain period of time in American history, there was a place where different groups came together and were able to live with each other despite or because of their incredible diversity.

Meide: Will school kids in Boston and Virginia learn about the Spanish who were here before the other founding fathers that we know of?

I don''t know. That remains to be seen.

Parker: I would like the rest of the United States to accept it as part of the history.

It''s not an anomaly, like, 'Oh, that''s Spanish.'

Meide: At the very base of it, it''s a pretty good story.

You know, it has all these great implications for, wow, this is a history that we have forgotten or underappreciated, but, man, at the foundation of it, it''s just a great story.

Turner: It''s good to have a narrative of persistence, you know?

We will survive. We will be strong.

We will have problems.

We may even have our towns burned down from time to time.

But we will rebuild, and we will carry on.

That''s a powerful story for any country to have.

It''s a powerful narrative.