Hernán Cortés - Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca

Uncovering The New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann.

Hernán Cortés, the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, had the most Native American slaves of anyone in the world:

"Hernán Cortés died a disappointed man. After subjugating the [Aztecs], he was awarded a title -- Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca -- and given his choice of real estate in the lands he had conquered. He chose six spreads in central and southern Mexico: 7,700 square miles in total, an expanse the size of El Salvador. The biggest chunk, 2,200 square miles of temper­ate plains south of Mexico City, was where he built his thick­walled, castle-like home. An opulent place, it had no less than twenty-two tapestries, each at least fifteen feet wide; the con­queror, something of a dandy, liked to roam about his tapestries in brocaded velvet jackets and pearl-studded dressing gowns.

"Having acquired his property, Cortés threw himself with characteristic energy into a series of entrepreneurial ventures: digging silver mines; establishing cattle ranches and hog farms; panning for gold; opening a shipyard on the Pacific coast; creating a kind of shopping mall in central Mexico City; growing maize, beans, and Garrido's wheat; lending money, goods, livestock, and slaves to entrepreneurs and adventurers in return for a share of the profits; importing silkworms (and mulberry trees to feed them); and raising big stone structures as monuments to himself Sugarcane, which he began growing in 1523, was high on his list.

"Cortés might have succeeded at these enterprises if he had paid attention to them. Instead he kept looking for new kingdoms to vanquish. He marched into Guatemala. He schemed to send ships to Peru. He went to the Pacific and nearly killed himself looking for a route to China. All the while, he flagrantly disobeyed orders. Eventually he ran out of his own money and other peo­ple's patience. He returned to Spain in 1540, hoping to obtain more royal favors and positions for himself and his friends. Cortes fol­lowed the king from place to place, seeking an audience. Carlos V refused to see him. The heartbroken conquistador was unable to fathom why the sovereign might worry about creating a powerful new aristocracy of unreliable, impulsive men of action. The story, told by Voltaire but surely apocryphal, is that at one point Cortés bullied his way onto the emperor's carriage. Carlos V, annoyed, asked who he was. 'It is he,' Cortes supposedly said, 'who has given you more states than your ancestors left you cities.'

"His timing was dreadful. As he followed the court, the king was talking with Bartolomé de las Casas, a fiery Dominican priest who had just completed Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, an indictment of Spanish conduct that remains a landmark both in the history of human-rights activism and in the literature of sus­tained invective. Reading his first draft before the shocked court, Las Casas branded the conquest of Mexico as 'the climax of injus­tice and violence and tyranny committed against the Indians.' He denounced Indian slavery as 'torments even harder to endure and longer lasting than the torments of those who are put to the sword.' Troubled by Las Casas's lurid descriptions of cruelties committed in the name of Spain, Carlos V had asked his council of advisors to investigate the nation's policies toward Indians.

"As the king surely knew, the Spanish monarchy had been struggling to define its Indian policy since before he was born. His grandparents, King Fernando and Queen Isabel, had been stunned when Colón informed them that they now ruled over multitudes of people whose very existence had been previously unsuspected. The monarchs, devout Christians, worried that the conquest could not be justified in the eyes of God. Colon's new lands had the potential of enriching Spain, an outcome they of course viewed as highly desirable. But obtaining the wealth of the Americas would involve subjugating people who had committed no offense against Spain.

"As Fernando and Isabel saw it, Indian lands were not like the Islamic empires whom they and their royal ancestors had fought for centuries. Muslim troops, in their view, could be legitimately enslaved -- they had conquered most of Spain, exploited Spanish people, and, by embracing Islam, rejected Christianity. (For simi­lar reasons, the Islamic empires freely enslaved Spanish POWs.) Most Indians, by contrast, had done no wrong to Spaniards. Because American natives had never heard of Christianity, they could not have turned away from it. In 1493, Pope Alexander VI resolved this dilemma of conscience. He awarded the sovereigns 'full, free and complete power, authority, and jurisdiction' over the Taino of Hispaniola if they sent 'prudent and God-fearing men, learned, skilled, and proven, to instruct [them] in the Cath­olic faith.' Conquest was acceptable if done for the purpose of bringing the conquered to salvation.

Hernán Cortés, with his coat of arms on the upper left corner. 16th c. Attributed to the Master Saldana. Museo Nacional de Historia. Chapultepec Castle.

"The Spaniards who actually went to the new lands, though, had little interest in evangelization. Although often personally pious, they were more concerned with Indian labor than Indian souls. CoIón was an example. Despite being fervently, passion­ately devout, he had appalled Isabel in 1495 by sending 550 cap­tured Taino to Spain to sell as galley slaves. (Galleys were still common on the Mediterranean.) Colón argued that enslaving prisoners of war was justified -- he was treating the Indians who had attacked La Isabela as Spaniards had long treated their mili­tary enemies. In addition, he said, the Indians' fate would deter further rebellions. Isabel didn't agree. Slowly growing angry, she watched shackled Taino trickle into the slave markets of Seville. In an outburst of fury in 1499 she ordered all Spaniards who had acquired Indians to send them back to the Americas. Death was the penalty for noncompliance.

"The queen seems mainly to have been outraged by the pre­sumption of the colonists -- they were disobeying instructions and enslaving the wrong people. But she also must have known that the monarchs hadn't addressed the fundamental problem. On the one hand, the pope had justified Spain's conquest because it would allow missionaries to convert the Indians -- a goal unlikely to be accom­plished if they were enslaved in large numbers. On the other hand, the colonies were supposed to contribute to the glory of Spain, a task that could not be accomplished without acquiring a labor force. Spain, unlike England, did not have a well-developed system of indentured servitude. And unlike England it did not have mobs of unemployed to lure over the ocean. To profit from its colonies, the monarchs believed, Spain would have to rely on Indian labor.

"In 1503 the monarchs provided their answer to the dilemma: the encomienda system. Individual Spaniards became trustees of indigenous groups, promising to ensure their safety, freedom, and religious instruction. In fine protection-racket style, Indians paid for Spanish 'security' with their labor. The encomienda can be thought of as an attempt to answer the objections to slavery raised by Adam Smith. By restricting the demands on Indians, the monarchs sought to reduce the incentive for revolt -- a benefit to the Spaniards who employed them.

"It didn't work. Both Indians and conquistadors disliked the encomienda system. Legally, Hispaniola's Indians were free peo­ple, their towns and villages still governed by their native lead­ers. In practice the rulers had little power and workers were often treated as slaves. Encomenderos (trustees) loathed negotiating with Taino leaders, which required more tact and delicacy than they typically wished to muster. When native workers didn't feel like showing up -- why would they, if they could avoid it? -- they vanished into the countryside, where their whereabouts were concealed by relatives, friends, and sympathetic Indian leaders. For their part, the Taino came to view the system as little but a legal justification for slavery. Under the law, Indian Christians were entitled after baptism to be treated exactly like Spanish Christians, who could not be enslaved. But colonists argued the contrary; Indians were, in effect, less human than Europeans, and thus could be forced to work even after they converted.

"Cortés, conqueror of Mexico, may have had more unfree Indi­ans than anyone else in the world. In addition to owning three thousand or more indigenous slaves outright, his estate forced as many as twenty-four thousand laborers a year to work as trib­ute (they were sent by their home villages for a week at a time)."

1493: Uncovering The New World Columbus Created
Author: Charles C. Mann
Publisher: First Vintage Books
Copyright 2011 by Charles C. Mann
Pages: 382-386

From Acorns To Oaks - Early Aviation in Southern California

How many know that in 1910, mighty Martin Marietta got its start in an abandoned California church? That's where Glenn L. Martin with his amazing mother Minta Martin and their mechanic Roy Beal constructed a fragile biplane that Glenn taught himself to fly.

It has often been told how Douglas Aircraft started operations in 1920 in a barbershop's backroom on L.A.'s Pico Boulevard. Interestingly, the barber-shop is still operating.

The Lockheed Company built the first of their famous Vegas' in 1927 inside a building currently used by Victory Cleaners at 1040 Sycamore in Hollywood.

In 1922, Claude Ryan, a 24 year old military reserve pilot, was getting his hair cut in San Diego, when the barber mentioned that the 'town's aviator' was in jail for smuggling Chinese illegals up from Mexico.

Claude found out that if he replaced the pilot 'sitting in the pokey,' that he would be able to lease the town's airfield for $50 a month - BUT he also needed to agree to fly North and East - BUT not South!

Northrop's original location was an obscure So California hotel. It was available because the police had raided the hotel and found that its steady residents were money-minded gals entertaining transitory male hotel guests.

Glenn Martin built his first airplane in a vacant church, before he moved to a vacant apricot cannery in Santa Ana. He was a showman and he traveled the county fair and air meet circuit as an exhibitionist aviator From his exhibition proceeds, Glenn was able to pay his factory workers and purchase the necessary wood, linen and wire. His mother, Minta and two men ran the factory while Glenn risked his neck and gadded about the country. One of his workers was 22-year old Donald Douglas [who WAS the entire engineering department]. A Santa Monica youngster named Larry Bell [later founded Bell Aircraft which today is Bell Helicopter Textron] ran the shop.

Another part of Glenn Martin's business was a flying school with several planes based at Griffith Park, and a seaplane operation on the edge of Watts where his instructors taught a rich young man named Bill Boeing to fly. Later, Boeing bought one of Glenn Martin's seaplanes and had it shipped back to his home in Seattle. At this same time, Bill Boeing hired away Glenn's personal mechanic. Later, after Boeing's seaplane crashed in Puget Sound, he placed an order to Martin for replacement parts.

Still chafing from having his best mechanic 'swiped,' [a trick he later often used himself] Martin decided to take his sweet time and allowed Bill Boeing to 'stew' for a while. Bill Boeing wasn't known to be a patient man, so he began fabricating his own aircraft parts, an activity that morphed into constructing entire airplanes and eventually the Boeing Company we know today.

A former small shipyard nicknamed 'Red Barn' became Boeing Aircraft's first home. Soon, a couple of airplanes were being built inside, each of them having a remarkable resemblance to Glenn Martin's airplanes .. that, interestingly, had its own remarkable resemblance to Glenn Curtiss' airplanes.

A few years later, when the Great depression intervened and Boeing couldn't sell enough airplanes to pay his bills, he diversified into custom built speed boats and furniture for his wealthy friends.

After WWI, a bunch of sharpies from Wall Street gained control of the Wright Brothers Co in Dayton and the Martin Company in L.A. and 'stuck them' together as the Wright-Martin Company.

Wright-Martin began building an obsolete biplane design with a foreign Hispano-Suiza engine. Angered because he had been out maneuvered with a bad idea, Martin walked out .. taking Larry Bell and other key employees with him.

From the deep wallet of a wealthy baseball mogul, Martin was able to establish a new factory. Then his good luck continued, when the future aviation legend Donald Douglas, was persuaded by Glenn to join his team.

The Martin MB-1 quickly emerged from the team's efforts and became the Martin Bomber.

Although too late to enter WWI, the Martin Bomber showed its superiority when Billy Mitchell used it to sink several captured German battleships and cruisers to prove it's worth. He was later court martialed for his effort.

In Cleveland, a young fellow called 'Dutch' Kindelberger joined Martin as an engineer. Later, as the leader of North American Aviation, Dutch became justifiably well-known.

Flashing back to 1920, Donald Douglas had saved $60,000, returned to L.A. and rented a barbershop's rear room and loft space in a carpenter's shop nearby. There he constructed a classic passenger airplane called theDouglas Cloudster.

A couple of years later, Claude Ryan bought the Cloudster and used it to make daily flights between San Diego and Los Angeles. This gave Ryan the distinction of being the first owner/operator of Douglas transports. Claude Ryan later custom built Charles Lindbergh's 'ride' to fame in the flying fuel tank christened: The Spirit of St. Louis.

In 1922, Donald Douglas won a contract from the Navy to build several torpedo carrying aircraft. While driving through Santa Monica's wilderness, Douglas noticed an abandoned, barn-like movie studio. He stopped his roadster and prowled around. That abandoned studio became Douglas Aircraft's first real factory.

With the $120,000 contract in his hand, Donald Douglas could afford to hire one or two more engineers. My brother, Gordon Scott, had been schooled in the little known science of aviation at England's Fairey Aviation, so he hired Gordon.

My first association with the early aviation pioneers occurred when I paid my brother a visit at his new work place. Gordon was outside on a ladder washing windows. He was the youngest engineer. Windows were dirty. And Douglas Aircraft Company had no money to pay janitors.

Gordon introduced me to a towhead guy called Jack Northrop, and another chap named Jerry Vultee. Jack Northrop had moved over from Lockheed Aircraft. And all of them worked together on the Douglas Aircraft's world cruiser designs. While working in his home after work and on weekends, Jack designed a wonderfully advanced streamlined airplane. When Allan Loughead [Lockheed] found a wealthy investor willing to finance Northrop's new airplane, he linked up with Allan and together, they leased a Hollywood workshop where they constructed the Lockheed Vega. It turned out to be sensational with its clean lines and high performance. Soon Amelia Earhart and others flew the Vega and broke many of aviation's world records.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending time with Ed Heinemann who later designed the AD, A3D and A4D. He told me how my Dad would fly out to Palmdale with an experimental aircraft they were both working on. They would take it for a few hops and come up with some fixes. After having airframe changes fabricated in a nearby machine shop, they would hop it again to see if they had gotten the desired results. If it worked out, Mr. Heinemann would incorporate the changes on the aircraft's assembly line. No money swapped hands!

In May 1927, Lindbergh flew to Paris and triggered a bedlam where everyone was trying to fly everywhere. Before the first Lockheed Vega was built, William Randolph Hearst had already paid for it and had it entered in an air race from the California Coast to Honolulu.

In June 1927, my brother, Gordon, left Douglas Aircraft to become Jack Northrop's assistant at Lockheed. While there, he managed to get himself hired as the navigator on Hearst's Vega. The race was a disaster and ten lives were lost. The Vega and my brother vanished. A black cloud hung heavily over the little shop. However, Hubert Wilkins, later to become Sir Hubert Wilkins, took Vega #2 and made a successful polar flight from Alaska to Norway. A string of successful flights after that placed Lockheed in aviation's forefront.

I went to work for Lockheed as it 26th employee, shortly after the disaster, and I worked on the Vega. It was made almost entirely of wood and I quickly become a half-assed carpenter.

At this time, General Motors had acquired North American consisting of Fokker Aircraft, Pitcairn Aviation [later Eastern Airlines] and Sperry Gyroscope and hired Dutch Kindelberger away from Douglas to run it. Dutch moved the entire operation to L.A. where Dutch and his engineers came up with the P-51 Mustang.

Interestingly, just a handful of young men played roles affecting the lives of all Americans ..... as it initiated the So California metamorphosis, from a semi-desert with orange groves and celluloid, into a dynamic complex, supporting millions.

Although this technological explosion had startling humble beginnings, taking root as acorns in - a barber shop's back room - a vacant church - and an abandoned cannery - but came to fruit on as mighty oaks.

Donald Douglas was in Santa Monica Rotary when I joined in 1966.

Ron Scott

Source: Denham S. Scott, North American Aviation Retirees' Bulletin.