Slave Revolt Led to Failure of Spanish Colony on Sapelo Island, Georgia

Friday, February 28, 2014 - by Chuck Hamilton

While it is still Black History Month, I thought it would be appropriate to add to the information in my earlier article on the brouhaha over the multi-lingual rendition of “America the Beautiful” in Coca-Cola’s Superbowl commercial.

First, a bit of correction.  The Spanish were indeed the first European power to plant a colony in the land of the later United States of America, but their first effort was not the colony of Santa Cruz on the Alabama River founded by Tristan de Luna in 1559.

In 1526, Luca Vazquez de Ayllon established the colony of San Miguel de Gualdape at or near Sapelo Island, Georgia, with 600 settlers.  However, hardships including a harsh winter and trouble with natives led to the effort being deserted after three months.  They did, however, bequeath a lasting legacy in that they were the first to name the region Carolina, for Charles I & V of Spain and the Holy Roman Empire.

More notable were events connected to a portion of the San Miguel de Gualdape population.

A hundred of the settlers in De Ayllon’s colony were slaves brought from Africa to help build the colony.  One of the main reasons for the colony’s failure was a slave revolt.

The first slave revolt in American history.  By its first African slaves. 

Victorious, the slaves faded into the forest and from history.  There is no record of what became of them, but those who survived, wherever they ended up, are the first non-native Americans in the later United States, the remainder of the colony returning to the Spanish West Indies.

 Chuck Hamilton


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