I became interested in Spain’s involvement in the American Revolutionary War when in 2001, I was appointed the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) Ambassador to México and Latin America. Both the SAR and the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) have recognized Spain’s assistance for many years, and many members of both societies are descendants of Spanish soldiers who participated in the conflict.
It soon became apparent to me that Spain and Gálvez had both been short changed in recognition for their efforts in our cause for freedom. In the next few years I researched Spain’s involvement and wrote several articles which were published in the National Genealogical Society’s Magazine and in the SAR Magazine. I wanted the public to know that Spaniards living in what is now Texas participated in the cause by herding long horn cattle from the San Antonio area to feed General Bernardo de Gálvez’ troops in Louisiana.
On Columbus Day each October, US citizens honor Christopher Columbus, but the Italians have hijacked the holiday. Discovery of the New World would not have been possible at that time without the financial support of Ferdinand and Isabella, joint monarchs of Spain. They were a great couple, who defeated the Moors and drove them from Spain. During their reign they united Spain and centralized power in the crown. They insured that the peoples of the New World became Christians. Through their wisdom Spain became the first world power, and a vast, wealthy empire. Their vast military dominated the world for the next 150 years. I have a slight prejudice in favor of Ferdinand and Isabella, as they are my 23rd great grandparents.
Since my research has proved that Spain was just as important an alley as France, I started examining the reasons that could have precipitated the oversight of Spain’s support.
I suspect that most Americans believed that Spain started the Spanish American War by sinking the USS Maine in Havana harbor. Recently, evidence has come forth that the explosion on the Maine was accidental, but there has never been an apology issued to Spain, nor any attempt made to adjust the results of that war.
Some may resent Spain’s position of neutrality in the First and Second World Wars. Some historians look down on Ferdinand and Isabella because of the Inquisition. The insidious “Black Legend” criticized Spain for the Inquisition, yet this was a function of the Catholic Church, and not the Crown.
Also the Black Legend contended that Spain was crueler to American natives than other colonial powers. To the contrary, Spain was the only colonial power to pass laws for the protection of Native Americans. In 1512, the Laws of Burgos forbad the mistreating of indigenous people and it also limited the powers of landowners. In 1542, Spain passed a new law to further protect the natives. Even though there were Spaniards in America who mistreated the natives, these two laws reflected the intent of the Spanish colonial government of the time to protect the rights of the native population.
Ed Butler and wife, Robin, meet Crown Prince Felipe
No matter the reason for this historical slight, hopefully after reading this book, readers will understand the extent of Spain’s assistance and give credit where credit is due.
After my first article about Spain’s involvement in the American Revolutionary War, I received a letter of thanks from His Royal Majesty Juan Carlos I de Borbón, King of Spain. A copy of the letter from the king is attached as Appendix A. Subsequent letters from the royal family are attached as Appendix B, C, and D.
In May 2010, my wife Robin and I led a group of SAR members and their wives, many of whom were members of DAR on a tour of Spain.
We were granted a private audience with Crown Prince Felipe The SAR and DAR chapters of Spain; and a large group of the Order of the Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez joined us. At that time I presented Crown Prince Felipe with the SAR International Medal.
Following the formal ceremonies, Crown Prince Felipe called me aside. He said:
“I want you to write a book about Spain in the American Revolutionary War. Then, I want you to write a screen play and make a movie. I would like to see Antonio Banderas play the part of Gálvez”.
I told the prince that I could write the book, but I had no experience with writing a screen play, and that it would be up to Hollywood to make a movie and they would select the stars.