White Servitude in Colonial South Carolina

By Warren B. Smith | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
White Servants as a Measure of Defense

THE THIRD REASON FOR IMPORTING servants was for protection. The Spanish in Florida looked upon the constant southerly extension of English settlements in the late seventeenth century with as jealous an eye as they had viewed the French attempts of a century earlier. While actual hostilities did not break out until the opening of the eighteenth century, the loss of runaway servants and Negroes, rivalry in the Indian trade, and the unsettled state of affairs in their respective mother-countries all contributed to the suspicion with which the Carolina and Florida settlements regarded each other. Moreover, danger was always to be apprehended from the Indians, whether incited by Spanish intrigue or not.

Considerable effort was put forth for a time to maintain friendly relations with the neighboring tribes. In June 1682 the Lords Proprietors were forced to "forbid any person to take up land within two miles, on the same side of a river, of an Indian settlement." Those who did take up lands near Indian settlements were to help the Indians "fence their corn that no damage be done by the hogs and cattle of the English."1 The Lords Proprietors considered the Anglo-Indian society as a whole, but by 1690 the major power in the colony had passed into the hands of a group of merchants who were primarily interested in commercial profits to be earned in the fur and skin trade. Thus, the question of Indian relations became of paramount importance and the occasions for friction greatly increased.

The administrations of Governors Archdale and Blake were generally peaceful and prosperous; but the latter's successor, James Moore, who came to office in 1700, adopted an aggressive policy toward both the Spaniards and the Indians. The rupture between England and Spain led to an invasion of Florida from Carolina. The governor was unsuccessful in this, but followed the campaign with a more successful war against the Indians. In 1712-1717 two

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