Happy 450th Birthday, New World
No matter what you think of Europeans colonizing the ‘New World’ during the 15th & 16th Centuries, this September 8th will mark the 450th year when Europeans established a colony here, in North America – and this colony is still here to this day.
This colony was named after Saint Augustine, whose feast day it is on September 8th, this Spanish colony survived when so many colonies of its time failed because, of the foresight of its new governor, Pedro Menendez. There is much already said about Pedro and other Spanish conquistadors, but the results of his wise decisions have survived for 450 years, with many more to come – God willing.
Years after Pedro founded the city of St Augustine, the British tried to establish North American Colony of their own called Roanoke where they failed, and failed disastrously. But finally about 60 years after, a boatful of Pilgrims barely eked through a New England winter in Plymouth to establish a permanent English colony.
Why did St Augustine thrive so early, when others failed? First and foremost, Pedro was a successful merchant. He knew, unlike the British, that cities do not just exist because there are people living there; but rather, they survive because of commerce. Residents have to make things to sell, sell those things, and buy other things that they need. That’s what makes a city. (aka: New York City) So the first thing he did after landing, and having the First Mass in North America, and giving orders to his troops and lieutenants to build a defensive structure & city, he left his new city in search of goods and service to trade partners.
Pedro sailed for most of his first year in search of anyone he could introduce himself to; the peoples of the Bahamas lower Florida, and other Caribbean islands, anyone to discover what products they had, and most importantly, what products they needed or wanted to trade. The answers to these questions, Pedro knew, will be the salvation of his new colony. He even went as far as to marry a native girl, daughter of a chief in South Florida, in order to secure trading partners.