Remember When A Chunk of the U.S. was Owned by Spain? Rasko
Today, I found this nifty timeline of Hispanic influence in the United States, and while I hope to be able to spotlight individuals who've made history, I was sidetracked from that idea over one particular fact on the timeline. The oldest European settlement in the U.S. is St. Augustine—one of those facts the teacher mentioned once and you vaguely remember, but people consistently talk about Jamestown Virginia, instead. As presidential candidates continue to argue about immigration and conveniently ignore the fact unless you are of only Native American descent, you are also an immigrant (I'm looking at you Donald Trump), I thought it was the perfect time to refresh that part of U.S. History the teacher rushed through to get back to English U.S. History.

The U.S. started with the 13 colonies of America, all of which were English settlements (hence their common enemy). Although these colonies created the beginning of the U.S., both the Spaniards and the French had colonies in what we now consider the continental U.S. (I'm sure you remember the Louisiana Purchase). The Spanish settlement of St. Augustine, founded in 1565, was the first European settlement in the U.S.1 Southwestern states such as California, Texas, and the self-explanatory New Mexico, were all apart of Mexico and settled by the Spanish originally. These states became part of the U.S. after the Mexican War.2 Although the U.S. was founded in 1776, Arizona and New Mexico didn't become part of the U.S. until 1912.3 Yet, New Mexico was stolen—might as well keep it honest—from the Tewa people in 1560 and Santa Fe is the oldest capital city in the U.S.4 Needless to say, there has been a Spanish/Hispanic/Latino presence in the U.S. since the beginning of colonization.

While the borders may have changed over time, the cultural history of the people who make up the nation should never be forgotten. The U.S. was never a homogenous nation; before colonization there were at least 561 of Native American tribes.5 Before the American Revolution, these tribes along with Africans (also from various tribes), Spaniards, and many others were present throughout the continental U.S. We have always been diverse. Like other minorities, much of this history is glanced over without much thought. Honestly, I don't know if I learned about the history of the Southwestern states in class or out of curiosity after watching Zorro (the TV series, not the movies). It is extremely important to value not only the contributions of individuals from all backgrounds in the history and shaping of our country but the presence of different cultures in the country before it was the nation of today. Spanish and Hispanic (I'll leave the post on terminology to someone from the Hispanic or Latino community, for now see this) culture have been a vital part of the U.S. from the very beginning and played an instrumental role in shaping where we are today.


  1. Centanni, Evan. "What Was the First Settlement in the U.S.?". Demand Media. 2015
  2. "Mexican-American War". A&E Television Networks, LLC. 2015
  3. "States Ranked by Date that State Entered the Union". Drexel University. IPL2. 2008
  4. History of Santa Fe. Wiley Studios. 2013
  5. "Frequently Asked Questions". US Department of the Interior Indian Affairs. 2015


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