Chapter 5, Section 1: (Main Idea—Europe sets goal of finding new trade route to Asia)
End of 1400s, Christopher Columbus convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to fund expedition to find a new trade route to Asia. He believed that by sailing west he could easily reach Asia.
Columbus set sail from Spain on August 3, 1492. He thought he had reached the Indies of Southeast Asia when land was spotted on October 12. He had truly only reached the Bahamas.
Columbus made 3 more voyages but never found a route to Asia. Columbus was accused of abusing and even killing thousands of native Tainos. The Spanish monarchs withdrew their support of Columbus, but other European explorers and colonists followed his lead.
Chapter 5, Section 2: (Main Idea—Spanish Explorers realized that Americas could provide greater riches than those to be found through trade with Asia. After Columbus, adventurers searched the new lands for wealth.)
End of 1400s and early 1500s, Spanish explored and established settlements in the newly discovered Americas. Finding some gold and silver, and hearing stories of civilizations that had great riches, they realized that is Spain claimed the land Spain would become the most powerful nation in Europe.
In 1526, King of Spain granted land of Florida to Panfilo de Narvaez and gave him permission to conquer all the lands between Florida and Mexico. Narvaez traveled by land planning to meet up with his ships down the coast. He never found his ships, and the explorers build rafts to sail to Mexico. All but 80 drowned. The survivors landed at Galveston Bay. They were the first Europeans to reach what is now Texas.
Native Karankawas tried to help them, but within 6 years all but 4 explorers had died. One of the survivors was the second in command, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca. The 4 survivors traveled across Texas to a Spanish frontier outpost. On their travels, they heard tales and then, they returned to Spain and retold the tales of the seven cities of gold called Cibola.
The viceroy of New Spain commissioned Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to search for Cibola. Seven cities of gold were never found, but land as far west as modern-day Wichita, Kansas, was claimed in the name of the King of Spain.
In 1539 another expedition, led by Hernando de Soto failed to find Cibola, but they did explore the interior of the continent.
Because great riches were not found, Spain lost interest in North America. For more than 100 years there was very little European activity in Texas—except for a few small groups of missionaries that visited. In 1682 the Spanish founded the first Christian mission in Texas, Corpus Christi de la Ysleta, near what is now El Paso.
Chapter 5, Section 3: (Main Idea—French explorer, La Salle, although not really successful, was seen as competition by Spain. Interest in Spanish exploration and settlement of Gulf Coast is renewed.)
From 1681-82 French explorer La Salle traveled down the Mississippi to its mouth claiming land in honor of the French King Louis the 14. He named the land La Louisiane in honor of the King. He knew land could be used to keep an eye on and possibly control Spain’s activities in the area.
La Salle set out from France with 4 ships, 300 colonists, and 100 soldiers to find the Mississippi. He was unable to find it again, and some colonists went ashore at Matagorda Bay. La Salle sailed inland on the Lavaca River and built Fort St. Louis in what is now Victoria County.
The colony was a failure. All but 13 colonists died. Seven went to the French colonies in Canada, while 6 French children were adopted and raised by the Karankawas.
Even though La Salle’s colony failed, it did make the Spanish realize that the French might possibly try to take control of the Americas. The Spanish renewed their efforts to colonize Texas.
Chapter 6, Section 1: (Main idea—Big rivals, Spain and France both wanted to claim and colonize Texas. Spain controlled land to the west, and France controlled land to the east. Each country had to establish permanent settlements in Texas to keep its rival out.)
Once Spain learned that La Salle had established Fort St. Louis, they sent an expedition to destroy the fort. They only found ruins of the fort. During and after the search for the fort, they explored East Texas and visited with the Caddoes calling them Tejas. Catholic priest took Caddoes friendliness as a sign that they wanted to become Catholic. Ten missions were established between 1690 and 1693.
Spanish realized that Native Texans were not willing to give up way of life to help support the missions, and the Spanish abandoned the missions and the first attempt to colonize Texas.
Spain paid little attention to Texas for about 20 years. The French, however, established two important trading posts in Biloxi, Mississippi and Mobile, Alabama.
Father Hidalgo was concerned about the Native Texans that had been baptized in the Spanish missions and then abandoned. He sent a letter to the governor of Louisiana in 1713 asking him to send French priests to Texas. The governor sent French explorer St. Denis. The Spanish didn’t know he was supposed to be there, so they arrested him for crossing into Spanish territory. Realizing the French might try to colonize East Texas, the Spanish established a series of new missions. After explaining that he was working for Father Hidalgo, St. Denis was appointed guide of the expedition to colonize East Texas.
In 1719, war broke out between France and Spain. When French Louisiana heard about it, they sent 7 soldiers to take the Spanish mission at Nacogdoches. The soldiers looted the mission and stole the livestock, including several chickens. The chickens squawked, the commander was thrown from his horse, and ultimately embarrassed. Soldiers ran to his aid and the Spanish captives escaped. A friar made it to a nearby presidio and reported that a large French force was invading. The Spanish decided they would not be able to defend themselves, and they abandoned all of East Texas. Without even trying, the French had chased out the Spanish. This incident was called “the Chicken War.” This event showed that the Spanish presence in Texas was very weak.
Chapter 6, Section 2: (Main Idea—Embarrassed by the events of “the Chicken War,” Spain decided they would take back East Texas. Additional colonist and soldiers were brought to Texas to support mission and presidio life. By better occupying Texas, Spain finally emerged the victor over France in colonizing Texas.
After “the Chicken War,” Spanish governor, Aguayo, decided to demonstrate control of Texas. The abandoned missions were reopened, and the Spanish built even more missions and presidios. By spring of 1721, Spain had 10 missions and 4 presidios on the frontier. Texas was established.
Aguayo knew that the Spanish needed more settlers to populate the new colonies and to help them grow. In 1731, 15 families were sent from the Canary Islands to begin new lives in Texas. These families eventually became the elite (wealthy/powerful) of San Antonio.
Relationship between the Spanish and French colonies became more peaceful. The Spanish focused on missionary work and building colonies in the region. The French focused on developing trade with the Native Texans, but they did not try to settle the region.
Chapter 6, Section 3: (Main Idea—With France no longer a threat to Spanish colonization, Spain could establish more missions and settlements in Texas. However, Native American groups challenged the Spaniards’ claim to the land in the north and west. Spain needed fewer, stronger colonies to protect its claim.
In 1745, even the Tonkawas living near the San Gabriel River in central Texas needed help from the Spanish to protect them against their enemies the Comanches. Three Spanish missions and a presidio were built within 5 years to aid those in need. But, the missions failed and were almost destroyed by Apaches. By 1757 Spain abandoned these settlements and the missions were relocated.
Expansion to South Texas was much more successful. Between 1748 and 1755, 15 missions were founded allowing 6000 people to settle in 20 towns between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River. Many colonists established ranches of which their families still own today.
Expansion to the North had been difficult. Therefore, Spain attempted to settle the northwest after attempting to make peace with the Native Texans in that region. The Apaches were willing to accept mission life if the Spaniards would help them defeat their enemy, the Comanches and the Wichitas. In 1758, a large group of Comanches attacked the mission killing 8 of the Spaniards and burning the buildings. After a 2nd attack, the Spaniards looked for revenge, but they were defeated and driven out by the Comanches.
Between 1764 and 1767 King Carlos III sent the Marques de Rubi to inspect the northern frontier. Rubi recommended that all the colonies in Texas move closer to San Antonio and that Spain should form an alliance with the Comanches and the Wichitas to defeat the Apaches. The King accepted these recommendations. By 1780, a fragile peace had been worked out on the Spanish frontier.