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After two large treasure fleets were wrecked in the channel in 1550 and 1553, Spanish authorities sought to establish a post that could serve as a haven from hostile craft and storms. Thinking naturally focused on Port Royal Sound, known to the Spaniards as Santa Elena, which provided a good harbor. In 1557 King Philip II therefore placed Florida under the jurisdiction of the viceroy of New Spain and directed that it be settled. Plans called for an expedition to the northeastern Gulf Coast from which it would then proceed overland to Santa Elena.

Hopeful that the area might produce tropical products, relatively certain that it would provide bases for attacking Spanish vessels, and envisaging the possibility of using it as a refuge Page 6 for Huguenots in the event that things went badly for them in France, the admiral of France, Gaspard de Coligny, commissioned Jean Ribault to plant a colony on the southern coast of North America. In 1562 Ribault entered the sound at Santa Elena, to which he gave the name it still bears, Port Royal. There he built a small fort, Charlesfort, and, leaving volunteers to man it, returned to France for supplies and reinforcements.

Archaeologists and anthropologists now recognize that, despite their linguistic variation, Indians of the southeast shared a common culture. Accordingly, though almost nothing is known about some of the smaller coastal tribes of South Carolina, like the Abbapoola, their social organization and cosmology were probably similar to that of the Creeks and Cherokees, and much has been learned about these larger groups. Moreover, the Carolina Indian trade involved not only the Creeks and the Cherokees but also, at one time or another, most of the major tribes in the huge area from the southern Appalachian Mountains to the lower Mississippi Valley.

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Arlington National Cemetery by Bob Temple


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