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CHAP. II.

State of the Colony in Hispaniola. Policy of the

Court of Spain. Attempts made by the Indians to regain their Liberty. Cruelty of the Span ards. Ovando's wise Conduct. Cuba found to be an Island. Don Diego Columbus lays claim to and obtains his Rights. Attempts to colonize America. The Reception which the Spaniards met with. Settle on the Gulf of Darien. Conquest of Cuba. Conduct and cruel Death of Hatuey. Discovery of Florida. Of the South Sea. Great Expectations formed of it. Noble Conduct and shameful Death of Balboa, Missionaries sent out. Their Zeal. Dominicans and Franciscans take different Sides. Conduct of Las Casas. Negroes imported. Origin of the African Slave Trade. Las Casas's Idea of a new Colony. Attempted. Unsuccessful. Discoveries towards the West. Yucatan. Reception given to the Spaniards there. Campeachy. Preparations for invading New Spain.

W VHILE Columbus was employed in his last

voyage, the colony in Hispaniola gradually acquired the form of a regular and prosperous society. Isabella had prohibited the Spaniards from compelling the Indians to work against their will. This retarded for a time the progress of improveInent. The Spaniards had not a sufficient number of hands either to work the mines or cultivate the soil. Several of the first colonists, who had been accustomed to the service of the Indians, quitted the island when deprived of those instru

ments,

1505.

ments, without which they kuew not how to carry on any operation. Many of the new settlers who came over with Ovando, Columbus's successor, shortly died of distempers peculiar to the climate. At the same time, the exacting one half of the product of the mines, as the royal share, was found to be a demand so exorbitant, that no adventurers would engage to work them upon

such terms. In order to save the colony from ruin, A. D.

Ovando ventured to relax the rigour of the royal edicts. He made a new distribution

of the Indians among the Spaniards, and compelled them to labour, for a stated time, in digging the mines, or in cultivating the ground. He reduced the royal share of the gold found in the mines from the half to the third part, and soon after lowered it to a fifth ; at which it long remained.

The Indians felt the yoke of bondage to be so galling, that they made many attempts to vindicate their liberty. This the Spaniards considered as rebellion, and took arins in order to reduce them to subjection. They considered them not as men fighting in defence of their rights, but as slaves who had revolted against their masters.

The'r caziques, when taken, were condemned, like the leaders of banditti, to the most cruel and ignoninious punishments. Overawed and humbled by the atrocious treatment of their princes and nobles, who were objects of their highest reverence,

the people in all the provinces of I{ispaniola submitted, without further resistance, to the Spanish yoke. Upon the death of Isabella, all the regulations tending to mitigate the rigour of their servitude wure forgotten. Osando, without any restraint, distributed Indians

among

among his friends in the island. Ferdinand,

A. D. to whom the queen had left by will one

1506. half of the revenue arising from the settlements in the New World, conferred grants of a similar nature upon his courtiers, as the least expensive mode of rewarding their services. They farmed out the Indians, of whom they were rendered proprietors; and that wretched people, being compelled to labour in order to satisfy the rapacity of both, the exactions of their oppressors no longer knew any bounds. During several years the gold brought into the royal smelting-houses in Hispaniola amounted annually to more than one hundred thousand pounds. Vast fortunes were created, of a sudden, by some ; others dissipated in ostentatious profusion what they acquired with facility. Dazzled by both, new adventurers crowded to America, with the most eager impatience, to share in those treasures which had enriched their countrymen, and the colony continued to increase.

Ovando governed the Spaniards with wisdom and justice. He established equal laws, and, by executing them with impartiality, accustomed the people of the colony to reverence them. He founded several new towns, and endeavoured to turn the attention of his countrymen to some branch of industry more useful than that of searching for gold. in the mines. Some slips of the sugar-cane having been brought from the Canary islands by way of experiment, they were found to thrive with such increase, that the cultivation of them became an object of conimerce. Extensive plantations were begun, sugar-works erected, and in a few years the manufacture of this commodity was the great occupation of the inhabitants of Hispaniola, and the most considerable source of their wealth.

The

The prudent endeavours of Ovando, to promote the welfare of the colony, were powerfully seconded by Ferdinand. The large remittances which he received from the New World opened his eyes, at length, with respect to the value and importance of those discoveries, which he had hitherto affected to undervalue. He erected a board of trade, composed of persons eminent for rank and ability, to whom he committed the admi. nistration of American affairs. But, notwithstanding this attention to the welfare of the colony, a calamity impended which threatened its dissolution. The original inhabitants, on whose labour the Spaniards in Hispaniola depended for their prosperity, and even their existence, wasted so fast that the extinction of the whole race seemed to be inevitable. When Columbus discovered this island, the number of its inhabitants was computed to be at least a million. They were now reduced to sixty thousand, in the space of fifteen years. The Spaniards being thus deprived of the instru: ments which they were accustomed to employ, found it impossible to extend their improvements, or even to carry on the works which they had already begun. To provide an immediate remedy, Ovando proposed to transport the inhabitants of the Lucayo islands to Hispaniola, under pretence that they might be civilized with more facility, and instructed with greater advantage in the Christian religion, if they were united to the Spanish colony, and placed under the immediate inspection of the missionaries settled there. Ferdinand gave his assent to the proposal ; several vessels were fitted out for the Lucayos, and forty thousand of the inhabitants were decoyed into Hispaniola, to share the sufferings which were the lot of those who lived there, and to mingle their groans and tears with those of that wretched race of men.

New discoveries were made, and new colonies formed; and by the comm.ind of Ovando, Sebastian de Ocampo sailed round Cuba, and proved with certainty that it was an island. This voyage was one of the last occurrences under the administration of Ovando. Ever since the death of Columbus, his son, Don Diego, had been employed in soliciting Ferdinand to grant him the offices of viceroy and admiral in the New World. After two years spent in incessant but fruitless importunity, he commenced a suit against his sovereign before the council which managed Indian affairs; and that court, with integrity which reflects honour upon its. proceedings, decided against the king, and sustained Diego's claim. As soon as the obstacles were removed,

A. D. Don Diego repaired quickly to Hispaniola,

1508. where he lived with a splendour and magnificence hitherto unknown in the New World; and the family of Columbus seemed now to enjoy the honours and rewards due to his inventive genius, of which he bad been cruelly defrauded. Nobenefit, however, accrued to the unhappy natives from this change of governors. Don Diego, soon after he landed, divided such Indians as were still unappropriated among his relations and attendants.

The next care of the new governor was to settle a colony in Cubagua, celebrated for large quantities of oysters which produced pearls. This became a place of considerable resort, and large fortunes were acquired by the fishery for pearls, which was Caried on with extraordinary ardour. The Indians, especially those from the Lucayo islands, were compelled to dive for them; and this dangerous

and

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