In 1733, General James Edward Oglethorpe officially established the colony of Georgia, and within three years had fortified the coast southward toward St. Augustine. Although this region, originally known as the provinces of Guale and Mocama, had previously been under Spanish control for more than a century, territorial fighting had emptied the region of Spanish missionaries, soldiers, and their Indian allies. Spanish officials maintained that the long history of Spanish authority over the territory guaranteed Spain the right to defy and repel the English intruders. By 1739, with diplomatic negotiations failing and the potential for war imminent, King Philip V requested that Don Manuel de Montiano, Governor of Spanish Florida, provide him with every document from both governmental and ecclesiastical sources that would demonstrate prior Spanish presence and control over the region. Original documents and translations were delivered within the year and safely filed for future use--then forgotten. With the outbreak of open war six months earlier, the diplomatic utility of the documents had passed.
For over 250 years, the documents languished safely in the Archive of the Indies in Seville until recognized, recovered, translated, and published by John Worth. Within this volume, Worth brings to light the history of the documents, provides complete translations and full explanations of their contents and a narrative exposition of the Spanish presence along the Atlantic coast never before fully understood. David Hurst Thomas provides an introduction that places Worth's translations and his historical overview into the context of ongoing archaeological excavations on the Georgia coast. With the publication of this volume, one of the least known chapters of Georgia history is finally examined in detail.