When I started the second year of my anniversary posts, I had promised myself that I was going to make some of them really short. I don’t need to write 500 or 600 words about everything. But it goes totally against my whole conception of having a blog. I hate it when people produce blog posts that are 90% quotes. I understand: readers seem to like this. But to me, it’s just a new form of plagiarism. Just the same, one sentence posts that link somewhere else strike me as lazy. So I find myself forever at least writing a couple hundred words.
When I noticed that on this day back in 1513, Juan Ponce de León first made sight of Florida, I wanted to make a complete post out of one sentence, “On this day in 1513, the slave trade started in Florida.” But I went back and checked what I wrote last year. It was, Anniversary Post: Western Discovery of Florida. But it went along with that great image on the left that I did in Photoshop.
Anyway, here’s some of what I wrote last year, which I think is pretty good:
Ponce was of noble birth. So after there were no more wars to fight at home, he signed up on Columbus’ second voyage to the New World. After about a decade of roaming around spreading disease and probably just outright murdering local peoples, he found himself in Hispaniola where he was put in charge of killing the local people who, for some reason, had a problem with being enslaved. As a result, Ponce got into the slave owner aristocrat business himself.
Anyway, enslaving populations to mine for gold can only keep a man’s attention for so long. So at the urging of the King of Spain, he went off looking for other lands and more people to “exploit.” And that’s how he discovered Florida. The native people they met there seemed to have quickly figured out that Ponce and company were not to be trusted. Hostilities erupted. After eight months of exploring, they returned Puerto Rico. Then Ponce went back to Spain and then back to Puerto Rico. But don’t worry, this story has a happy ending.
In 1521, Ponce put together an expedition of a couple hundred men to go back to Florida to colonize the place. The Calusa people attacked them, leading to Ponce being mortally wounded. The expedition retreated to Cuba, where Ponce died. Of course, it isn’t that happy a story, because eventually the Calusa were wiped out. I’m not saying that they were wonderful people or anything. But at least they didn’t travel all over the world enslaving people.
Today we morn this important moment in the European slave trade.
There really is something wrong with human beings.