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Early Indian Wars in Florida

Previous to the permanent establishment of the English in North America, the French and Spaniards made many attempts to get possession of various parts of the country. The coasts were carefully explored, and colonies planted, but they were soon given up as expensive, and involving too much hardship and danger. The first expedition to the coast of Florida was made in 1512, by Juan Ponce de Leon, renowned for his courage and warlike abilities. Ponce de Leon, becoming governor of Porto Rico (Puerto Rico), and hearing from the Indians that there existed a beautiful and fertile country to the northward, containing the waters of perpetual youth, resolved to attempt its conquest. He sailed from Porto Rico with three ships, and finally, reached the continent at about eight degrees thirty minutes, north latitude. Landing on Palm Sunday, Ponce de Leon gave the country the name of Florida. He explored the coast from north to south, and had several engagements with the Indians; and though he failed to obtain the youth and treasures that he sought, he returned to Porto Rico, crowned with the luster of making a great discovery. The report of the achievements of Cortez in Mexico, again kindled the ambition of Ponce de Leon; and he set out in 1521, with two of his own ships, to make a settlement in Florida. But the Indians advanced against him; most of his men were killed, and himself so badly wounded, that he died a few days after his return to Cuba. Another expedition, under Vasquez de Ayllon, attempted to form a settlement, in 1524. The Indians on the coast...

Coosa Tribe

Coosa Indians. A small tribe, now extinct, which lived about the mouth of Edisto or Combahee River, South Carolina. Its name is preserved in Coosaw and Coosaw-hatchee rivers. According to Rivers1 they lived northeast of Combahee River, which separated them from the Combahee tribe. They appear to be identical with the Couexi of the Huguenot colonists (1562) and with the Coçao of Juan de la Vandera s narrative of 1569. They were hostile to the English in 1671; in 1675 the “great and lesser Casor” sold to the colonists a tract lying on Kiawah, Stono, and Edisto rivers; there is also record of a sale by the chief of Kissah” in 1684. They are mentioned as Kussoes in the South Carolina trade regulations of 1707, and last appear in 1743, under the name Coosah, as one of the tribes incorporated with the Catawba but still preserving their own language. It is possible that, like their neighbors the Yamasi, they were of Muskhogean stock. If not, they may have been Uchean rather than cognate with Catawba.FootnotesRivers, Hist. South Carolina, 94,...

The Late Slave Raiding Period 1705-1721

This is the period when Native Americans increasingly became the pawns of France and Great Britain in their struggle over North America. For a quarter of a century, France had formally claimed all lands within the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio River Basins, based on the explorations of LaSalle. With the founding of the first capital of the Province of Louisiana, Mobile, in 1702, France also claimed the basin of the Mobile-Alabama-Tallapoosa-Coosa-Etowah-Coosawattee River System. At the same time, France recognized the claim of the Kingdom of Spain to the Chattahoochee-Flint River System all the way to what is now the northeastern tip of Georgia. Unlike Great Britain, France thoroughly explored the major rivers in their claimed territories prior to establishing colonies. The Province of Louisiana extended eastward to the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Thus, the French claimed all of what is now Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, western North Carolina, plus about a third of what is now Georgia. After the War of Spanish Succession ended, English, French and Spanish troops could not directly oppose each other (for awhile!) – but their respective Indian allies could. Neutral tribes were punished by being subject to slave raids from either the French or the English allies. The French in Louisiana used Native American slaves on plantations in the Mississippi Delta; sent surplus slaves to sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and also used them as forced laborers for public works throughout their colonies. Almost all the drainage canals that allowed the creation of the new provincial capital of New Orleans were dug Chitimacha slaves. The Chitimacha’s had initially been hospitable to the French,...

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