People make history, and history makes people, giving us the culture, geography, politics, language and context in which we live in the present. But who determines the history that we are told in our current world, and how much more history is untold?
While there are many well-known North Americans in the history of the American Revolutionary War, there are also many unknown North Americans, Spanish and Latinx who helped to win this difficult rebellion that we almost lost.
Spain’s King Carlos III secretly authorized financing for the North American rebels at the start of the war in 1776, by funding half of the trading company Rodrigue Hortalez et Cie, with his nephew, the French King. This money, a small fortune to the cash-strapped colonists, bought desperately needed military supplies for the struggling Continental Army. When Spain declared war against the British in 1779, Spanish commander Matías de Gálvez fought grueling battles in the heat of the Nicaraguan jungles that diverted British troops from fighting against the Continentals. The Battle of Yorktown in 1781, one of the last opportunities that we had for a military campaign with French assistance, was funded with an emergency collection of silver and gold from the people of Havana, Cuba, organized by Spanish agent Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis.
The unnamed and unknown are central to our history. The Cuban, Mexican and Spanish sailors smuggled ships full of gunpowder, guns, uniforms, and supplies to the colonies and to New Orleans for the Continental Army. Skilled and hard-working Mexican miners fueled the boom in silver mining that provided the wealth to the Spanish treasury that funded the supplies to the Continental Army. Spanish soldiers fought against the British Army in battles from Mobile, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida. The twenty-seven men and one woman loaned silver pesos to the empty Treasury in Havana to fund the payroll and supplies for Americans at the Battle of Yorktown.