Spain Offers Covert Aid to American Colonists – 1776


    About the author

    Edward St. Germain.
    Edward St. Germain

    Edward A. St. Germain created in 1996. He was an avid historian with a keen interest in the Revolutionary War and American culture and society in the 18th century. On this website, he created and collated a huge collection of articles, images, and other media pertaining to the American Revolution. Edward was also a Vietnam veteran, and his investigative skills led to a career as a private detective in later life.


      Editor’s note
      The following is a translation of a Royal Order signed by Jose de Galvez, Minister of the Indies, to Luis de Unzaga, Spanish Governor of Louisiana. Written in Madrid, December 24, 1776. Original in the Archivo Historico Nacional, Madrid, Estado, Legajo 4224. Copy and supporting documentation at Archivo General de Simancas, Spain, Estado, Legajo 4609, No. 18 – 25. (material in parentheses added by the editor).

      “The King (Carlos III) is informed regarding documents in letters numbering 181 and 184 of 7th and 30th of last (1776) September of the Americans’ intentions delivered through General Charles Lee, major general and second in the American military command and commander in chief of the Southern District and through his agent Mr. (George) Gibson, reduced principally to solicit the establishment of systematic commerce with us and to inform that if in the event of the (American) seizure of Pensacola, as they are attempting, Your Majesty will be pleased to administer it (Pensacola). The answer regarding these items you (Luis de Unzaga) gave to General Lee has merited royal approval and His Majesty commands me to caution you very secretly that assisting the Americans in their project to capture Pensacola and the other English settlements on the right bank of that river (Mississippi), you inform them (the Americans) with the maximum caution and secrecy that the King (Carlos III) will be delighted that they may obtain it and that independence assured,the ceding that they (Americans) promise to Spain will be dealt with.

      In order to facilitate both objectives, you (Unzaga) will be receiving through the Havana and other means that may be possible, the weapons, munitions, clothes and quinine which the English colonists (Americans) ask and the most sagacious and secretive means will be established by you in order that you may supply these secretly with the appearance of selling them to private merchants, to which objectives and corresponding secret instructions will be sent and some business person that may serve as contact.

      By this same mail the corresponding secret information is given to the governor of the Havana (Diego Jose Navarro), informing him that through the monthly mail and free commerce ships that he will receive various items, weapons and other supplies that he will be sending to you without delay and that also he (Navarro) may send you then the surplus powder available in that Plaza (Havana) from the Mexico Factory and whatever muskets might be in that same Plaza in the certainty that they will be quickly replaced.

      At the order of His Majesty I inform you of everything for your information and governance, with special duty that you may take advantage of the opportunities which may occasion or present for the continuation of observations respective to these important objectives in order to transmit them to His Majesty.

      May God protect you many years.

      Madrid, 24 of December of 1776.

      Joseph de Galvez to the Governor of Louisiana.”

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