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SPANISH NORTH AMERICA.
BY JUSTIN WINSOR.
N the second volume of the present work the progress of Spanish explo
ration and settlement in North America was traced down to the withdrawal of Cortés from Mexico in 1540, and to the return of Coronado from his long and northward march in 1542. There were some intentionally brief indications given of other Spanish explorations towards New Mexico even so late as the alleged expedition of Peñalosa in 1662; while the course of maritime discovery along the Pacific coast was sketched in outline to the close of the eighteenth century, connecting it with the distinctively Arctic ventures, which are followed in the present volume in preceding chapters.1 It is the present purpose to pursue, in a condensed way, the general course of the succeeding history of the Spanish countries in North America down to the middle of the nineteenth century. We have seen how in 1535 Spain had sent her first viceroy to Mexico in Antonio de Mendoza. New Spain was under his sway until 1550, and the story of the vice-regal period begins with eliciting our sympathy, as it continued to do, for the natives, degraded beneath inhuman burdens. They were baptized by the millions, if we may believe the figures; but it may be a question if such spiritual relief, imagined or actual, was equal in beneficence to the release of death which came by other millions, as the record goes, through disease and inhumanity. The Spaniards indeed conquered provinces, established towns, and developed mines, and in all this the country seemed prosperous; but Benzoni, travelling through the country, tells us how their rapacious laws and the bondage of the Indians depopulated whole towns. It seemed, in fact, to matter little whether a tribe was an ally or an enemy; the scourge and the doom were as sure for each. The natives revolted only to intensify the horrors of their situation. It was death in the mines, and inhumanity worse than death in the fields. Las Casas, as we have seen, pleaded so vehemently that at last, by imperial cédula and by the code of the so-called new laws, remedies were established to prevent depopulation and horrors. The measures were not indeed so radical as Las Casas had wished, but still there was justice enough in them to prevent slavery for all but those then subjected to it under a legal title.
1 Ch. I and 2.
2 Vol. II. ch. 5.
3 Ante, Vol. II. p. 537.
Francisco Tello de Sandoval was sent to execute these laws, and landed at Vera Cruz in March, 1544. The ordinances soon provoked opposition
, from the Spanish owners of encomiendas 1 and from the religious orders, which were likewise interested in preserving the old conditions. These
opponents of the statutes combined to make such representations that in 1545 the laws in their obnoxious traits were revoked, notwithstanding the protests of Las Casas. In other respects the rule of Mendoza was not without success. He improved the social and external conditions of life; he subjugated and pacified distant tribes of the hostile Chichimecs in
1 The original MS. of Cortés' opinion on en- priced at £ 12. 12. O. Cf. Vol. II. p. 348, for an comiendas is noted in Stevens, Bibl. Amer., 1885, account of this institution.
Champlain's sketch in his Voyage to the West Indies and Mexico (London, 1859). The etchings of the originals in this volume were done by Mrs. C. R. Markham.
Zacatecas, and crowned his conquests here and in New Galicia by opening sources of revenue in their mines.
In 1547 Mexico was raised to an archbishopric, but Zumárraga as its prelate enjoyed his elevation for a few days only, before he died on June 3, 1548. Meanwhile Las Casas had made his final visit to New Spain, and returned to Europe to print his famous tracts at Seville in 1552-53, and to work on his Historia up to 1561.?
It is to the credit of Luis de Velasco, the second viceroy, that he did what he could to carry out the royal commands for ameliorating the condition of the natives. He saw in 1553 not only the capital city subjected to one of those great floods which occasionally devastated the town, but he witnessed also the more grateful manifestation of the founding of its University. He instituted attempts (1559), which only proved futile, to subjugate the natives of Florida ; but he was more successful in the Northwest, where new mining regions were acquired.
1 There were at this time about 15,000 Span- 2 Cf. Vol. II. pp. 308, 333, 339. iards in America, and the policy of excluding 3 On the Indian treatment, 1550-60, see Banconvicts was now begun.
croft, Mexico, ii. ch. 27. From Idæa vera et genuina of De Bry's Nona Pars (Frankfort, 1602). Cf. on the Spanish mining, Bancroft's Mexico, iii. ch. 28, on " Mines and Mining (1500-1800),” with bibliog., pp. 599-601; vi. ch. 1 (18001887); Helps' Spanish Conquest, iii. 140; and C. B. Dahlgren's Historic mines of Mexico; a review of the mines of that republic for the past three centuries. Compiled from the works of Von Humboldt, Ward, Burkart, etc. (New York, 1883).
VOL. VIII. – 13
Yucatan, which had been governed by the Audiencia up to 1562, was now disjoined from the central power, and Quijada, in 1562, began there his independent rule, and his successors continued it through periods of somewhat monotonous dissensions.2
The next year (1563) Martin Cortés, now thirty years old, the son of the conqueror, came from Spain, and with the renown of his name and the lavishness of his mode of living he soon caused Velasquez, then in power, to feel that there was a dangerous rival near the vice-regal throne. Some daring and ambitious spirits tried to use this natural prestige of Cortés to make head for a conspiracy which aimed to make Cortés king. There is no evidence that the visitor favored it, and when the betrayed leaders were executed he was only spared to be given to torture and to years of suspicions and fines.1
1 Ante, Vol. II. p. 258.
ii. 650, and citations ; iii. (1601-1708), ch. 8; v. 2 For Yucatan events see Bancroft's Mexico, 83-85. * Champlain's drawing as reproduced in his Voyage to the West Indies and Mexico (London, 1859).
By 1568 the viceroys of New Spain began to find that how to meet the maritime rapine from the European enemies of Spain was a problem not the least difficult of those which confronted them. In September of that year, John Hawkins with nine ships captured the castle of San Juan de Uluá, and then had wit enough to escape fairly well from the toils of treachery in which he was soon involved. A few years later (1572), Drake
1 Orozco y Berra's Noticia histórica de la con. 1853) is the main dependence for this conspirjuracion del Marquès del Valle 1565–68 (Mexico, acy. Cf. Bancroft, Mexico, ii. 635.