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The Darien Disaster

2011-07-11 | 🔗

In the late 1600s, a financier tried to start a Scottish colony in Panama. Despite English roadblocks, the Scots successfully raised funding. But the expedition faced disease, death and poor trade, taking down the settlers -- and, ultimately, Scotland.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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your favorite, shows. welcome to stuff you missed in history class from has two weeks com hello and welcome to the package. Unfair, daddy and I'm going to talk about it, and I was thinking about it. It's been a while, since we ve done a real disaster, expedition hard cash, hasn't it yeah. I think it's been since the Doktor Livingston episode. The last time I had to do a fake voice here and even then there's a little success than that mission. It simply you never expect when you packing your bags with truffles in cases of champagne trip is gonna end with your strange altering, vehicle call, not being so altering after all and stuck in the mud or that may sharks will eat your point or that in Stanley case, crocodiles,
your donkey. Now it's never any fun but listener Rich promised us highs and lows similar to that when he wrote in to suggest the Darien Expedition for an Ex podcast, and it involves the seventeenth century scottish attempt to settle Panama and it's always been somewhere in. I think our mental topical is definitely I remember, reading about it briefly and Matthew Parkers, but Panama fever. Couple years now only with researching an article on the Panama canal. So yes, it's always then sort of hanging out in our inner mental, less for sure yeah, but ritual That, while he couldn't guarantee an exclamation, the Darien Expedition was certainly in the best tradition of expedition. Pod casts a shockingly unrealistic idea of what to expect unprepared Agnes severe innovation and us strange items brought along for the trip which will go over theoretical. You really thought that therewith that explanation,
The Darien story is also a little different from some of the other expedition podcast we done the path which are often just pure advice adventure for the sake of adventure. This was more then just a person all folly- and it was definitely more than a disaster for just the people who were that was a national fiasco and it really played no small in eight century nation building. So it had far reaching consequences for sure, though, before we get, to involve into what happened Panama, we're gonna start with the primary player involve, which was Scotland yeah. The country was experiencing troubled times in the late. Sixteen hundreds there had been war famine, and poor international trade due to England, constant continental wars and alone people around this time were getting out. They were emigrating to the english colonies, but the ones who stayed behind needed some hope and with some peace with the French
the English, finally on hand in continental trade. Opening up again, it seems like global commerce was the way to go specifically bringing are you both eastern commodities to the West also enter William Patterson. He was the young Scotsmen and he had spent his youth travelling Matthew, Parker. The author I just mentioned Skype him. His part missionary part buccaneer. That gives you a good idea can a man he was in his youth, at least that he had made his fortune in business in England and in sixteen ninety four even help start the Bank of England, but his main operation at this point with promoting specula have money making schemes which some kind of the thing an ominous considering we ve already told you this package doesn't exactly work out for the people involved right. So here's how it Swell Patterson London. He meets a sailor named Lionel Wafer who tells me about a play bulgarian on the eastern side The panamanian isthmus and its
Sadly, this wonderful paradise is naturally yeah and the true beauty of the place, though, as we'll find out, was not its supposed bound tea, but in its geography yeah. So Europeans had been enchanted by the narrow strip of land between North and South America for a really long time, since I first saw it in the fifteen hundred fifteen o one in fact so. Dreams of some kind of overland, rude or maybe even a canal eventually started in fifteen thirteen. When Vasco Nunez De Balboa made his marched the Pacific and realised that he could see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean from a peek at Jerry in Pakistan thinking along similar lines. Here he was thinking if you establish ports on both sides of the isthmus than hall goods overland. You in control of this global trade Arteries- Scotland controlled therein and establish a colony there, it would
the currently thin become fabulously wealthy from all. trade levies going through because ships low down with Pacific goods would no longer have to go all the way around South America around the Cape Horn, which was not only. long inexpensive trip but a dangerous, went to my just wreck your entire ship and leave everything though. Instead, he figured people well I'd, be willing to pay a little bit too this scottish territory and take the short cut through Darien Patterson Action, took plans a step further and envisioned not just a highway like outpost with financial ties to Scotland, but a melting pot of all nationalities, races and religions. He said that whoever control the cosmopolitan censure would possess quote the gates to the Pacific and the keys to the universe, do but open these stores and trade will increase and money will be get money right, but
problem was, while Patterson had been to the Caribbean and had travelled there, he had never actually been too Panama and their reports coming back. The terrain and the climate, especially weren't, exactly act, He was hearing about these NICE valleys the kind of the kind of terrain its to imagine just cut Neuro through in and hauling goods. The Darien region in reality is really hot. Its humid there's dense for us. There are mangrove swamps and their low mountain. So it's difficult in pretty every way you can think of. Yet it is a paradise, but it's a paradise and fauna jaguars oscillate my favorite, your favorite animal, showing up and Ariane and there the giant and eaters harpy eagles american crags things like that, but it's not a paradise and the way Lionel Wafer described it. In fact,
the Darien region is such a tough place to live as actually believed to have been always the sparsely populated, and it still is today so it doesn't. It that may sound like the best spot, to send a few shortfalls of scottish immigrant, another haired scottish emigrants. Now it does that, although this parliament thinks that it sound like a great idea, even though it seems too good to be true to set up a colony, the parliament back, the scheme and allow the creation of the company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, which is quite a mouthful in June. Sixteen ninety I've. Now, though, they had to raise the money to build the ship's stock them in and just get the materials they need she's, start trade and and start at the colony. Unsurprisingly, though, the English and the English Back EAST India Company, where it really thrilled by the idea of this new potential rival in color trade they weren't thrilled at all. In fact, english investor
who had put money into the new scottish company early on were forced to withdraw end the ambassador of the English in basque, in HOLLAND, even threatened to embody go merchants that traded with this new company, though the english word, throwing up any roadblocks, they could to try to put the lock down on the thing for even got yeah, and you think that would be a bad omen that it's funny those that English opposition actually seem to only make the Scots more Gung ho about this entire plan that only subscriptions sword and in six time. The rich and the poor alike raised four hundred thousand pounds together, half of the country's capital but even then, even with all of this support and in the Us- and there was an early glitch accompany member named James Smith, ran off with seventeen thousand
Pounds earmarked for both construction and Patterson, of course, being in charge of this new company, was sort of under suspicion. But nobody could prove that he was involved. He even pay back nine thousand pounds of his own money, but he was still kind of tainted by scandal and he lost his position at the head of the funny and was forced to travel just as a simple settle one of the methods and that kind of Our leadership issue that was gonna proved to be a major. Problem down the road, yes to their troubles, right off the bat that still plans marched on there were five ships built Hamburg in Amsterdam. Their names were Caledonia, the Saint Andrew, the unicorn, the dolphin and the endeavour they were stopped with medical supplies for fifteen hundred people. For two years it included food like biscuits, beef, pork prunes and they brought along tobacco pipes cloth and of brandy
rum and that they also rather than some pretty unnecessary items, two didn't they Sarah yeah wig, I mean you will not think you'd need wigs, were two Panama, but they were expecting therewith them stylish living in their futures than they also brought items to trade with the local Indians like heavy scottish claw, and mirror than combs cause, they heard that the native people had really long, hair in and were kind of vein about. It and they even brought fifteen hundred english language Bible thinking. They would be able to sell those, though again, kind, of a bad sign here. If this is your packing less on July 12th. One thousand six hundred and ninety eight in Scotland, with all of those one thousand two hundred column, on board and people were so desperate to go to join them. mission which, which was full and there weren't? Any faith is left that stowaways had hidden them. on the ship than had to be expelled, but they think
it was a real big to do. The whole city turned out celebration for the country people thought this was gonna, he's gonna make Scotland which is so wild it did not even know where they were going now. At the time they didn't, with the exception of Manlike Patterson, most of the people on board didn't know the destination like they did not know where they were failing to. It was contained the destinations contained in a sealed packet and it wasn't and until Madeira, and at that point it was revealed to be a place called go in Ireland on the coast of dairy Anne felt. Even then, have a name, but there still not exactly sure what to expect their the three month voyage to yeah and it's kind of treasure. I mean forty three die on routes which was supposed to be fairly typical, unfortunately, for a journey at this time, that's true, they landed November. Third, at a spot, they named Caledonia Bay. It was fortunate
but deceiving leave the beginning of a short dry season when they got there. So things seemed ok. At first, a Patterson wrote Our situation is in one of the best and most defensible harbours. Perhaps in the world. The country is helpful mainly fertile and the weather is temporary, so of attitude right at the get go and the law calls were nice to the Cunha and the chuckle were friendly and helpful and they like to fly the cross of Saint Andrew on their canoes to so they seemed on board with what was going on here. They were getting along that things started to go bad pretty quickly and their first choice of a building site. at all suitable Patterson called. It quote, a mere morass, neither fit to be fortify nor planted, nor indeed, for men to lie upon. We were clearing
making huts upon this improper place near two months, in which time experience the schoolmaster of fools. Convinced our masters that the place now called Fort Faint Andrews was more proper place for them at the fort say they started to build new Edinburgh, and by that point, though, there was major trouble because rainy season had started and, of course, rain brought bugs and disease and by March of that year, two hundred colonists were dead and the death rate, eventually increase to about ten people per day, felt their dropping like flies in the weather. In heat and a climate and to add to that situations. Food was scarce. Despite the large suppliers they had brought with them Roddy and because of the damp and they're just wasn't enough of it. There was no
strong leadership and lots of in fighting, and basically they just lost hope. At that point, they lost their spirit, gathers and account from a young gentleman who was on the trap named Roger Oswald, and he described his expert said Jerry living off of less than a power of multi flower a week and hears here's what he had if it pretty much sums up all the points we just man when boy with a little water. Without anything else, big maggots in worms must be skimmed off the top. Yet for all the short allowance, every man, let him never be so weak daily turned out to work by daylight whether with the hatchet or wheelbarrow piggyback shovel for hammer or any other instrument. The case required in so continued until twelve o clock and at two again and stay till night, sometimes working all day up to the head. Bands of the breaches in water at the trenches and shoulders have been so
with carrying burdens that the skin has come off them and grew full of boils. The men were sick and obliged to stay within no victuals for him. That day our councillors, all the while lying at their ease, sometimes divided into factions and being swayed by particular interest ruined the public, our bodies, pined away and grew. So am I threatened with such allowance that we were like so many skeletons, so it wasn't quite the gates to the Pacific and possessing the keys to the universe that Patterson thought it would be, and even basic non overland trading was not going according to plan, so they weren't able to make money either, for example, and surprisingly, the Indians did not want to buy lots of scottish cloth or combs, an english colonies in the West Indies and in North America were actually forbidden by London to communicate with this, let alone trade with them. So they were frozen out in only a few traders in Boston and New York were willing to trade food, for
ash and obviously of your trading for cash. That's not a long time pollution. So we have to ask: why do they just come down so hard on trade for this new company, the east. Anything was obviously still a third point that the main issue here with maintaining diplomatic relations with Spain cause. Yes in a dish, two overlooking the climate of Darien in its mosquitos and the difficult terrain, the expedition promoters had just completely the fact that Spain already laid claim to Panama, powerful Spain, with all of it, armies and ships. Whoops big mistake: so by June, survivors had sort of pact at an Patterson, wife,
fun had both died and the party failed to Jamaica and then to New York, leaving ships and dad behind along the way some of the ships crash. I think some were sold off and really the only one that made it back home to Scotland, with the college on yeah yeah virus in New York or described as looking quote rather like skillets than and being starved, but for word to get back to Scotland at the settlers had abandoned the colony. The company had actually sent more people out there, so so rule more ships were sent out to Darien and they met with numerous disasters along the way. But when the new settlers finally arrived in November, eighteen. Ninety nine, what they found there obviously was an abandoned colony and again a terrible time. There was no leadership decent goods to trade, and they want GINO again they came to this question. Should we stay or should we go back home and there was a man named James buyers who took control and had folks vote to keep five?
Man Darien and send the rest to Jamaica and onto home, and he ran his them trouble. There was a mutiny one man was executed and finally, this. in fighting was put to a start by the Spanish. The Spanish got set up with the situation and attacked and by the way, in the saddle. Man other stayed behind a fire and obviously the poor Darwin Colonies, were no match for the Spanish, the Spanish, soon black hated the porch and force the colonists to surrender march. Eighteen, seventeen hundred, but fortunately for the Scots finish manner was pretty generous. He gave them two weeks to pack up supply then, and scavenger food get what they could together, but or they got out, but the settlers returned home in there weren't many of them, since many had obviously died, were considered
pariahs, relayed by their own countrymen. The company had lost the life savings of much of the country, and people held them responsible for that yeah. According to scottish parliament, it was about the cost of one quarter of Scotland's liquid assets that they lost souls plea big deal and scarlet so deeply indebted at that point that they could no longer, they no longer have the resources to compete with England. Instead, the country does This parliament and in seventeen o seven join the ACT of Union with England. part of that act. England paid Scotland's debts, they pay three hundred ninety eight thousand pounds and that was to be managed by the Eventual Royal Bank of Scotland, which, somewhat surprisingly, Patterson, actually helps organised I guess he was good it at starting banks, but I am surprised that he allowed to man this amount of money again, but still
Many Scots held the English responsible because of all those early roadblock than the freezing out, nor that of according to be see history. Some historians consider this strong dislike to have been a factor in the century. Jacobite rebellions, there's still a few traces of the scottish settlement that are left today. There is a spot of land called Scots point and small traces of the settlement. Can Found it Caledonia Bay. They were actually first discovered in nineteen seventeen I said then, Sir reclaimed by the by nature, but a few little point here and there and it still really remote. Only a few airstrips are there too settlements and Ariane and Through measure of this difficult terrain, the pan can highway that runs from Alaska. Argentina only has one GAB Darien, though it makes it impossible to drive a car between the two continents, though
Pretty wild story with Scotland and and their investment. Here and reminded me a lot of what comes about two did you later, when the French tried to build a canal at Panama? Again, there was sort of Us Subscription public Subscription, alot of national pride and total disaster. In that case, tens of thousands of people died, trying to build the canal in the climate dying of yellow fever and malaria, and just kind of an interesting click all story, almost a good adventure, but an ill fated one and a bad packing led story, I should say maybe a backpack he was now maybe a successful tread starts with a successfully pact Monterrey. You could live by. I think that brings us to listen to listener. I'll be mail is
Hannah and she wrote about our unforgettable fires at the thought she wanted to share some trivia with us about the great fire in San Francisco and here's what she had to face. It turns out that, although we are firmly in earthquake country here in the Bay area in nineteen o six, it was far more common for people to have fire insurance than earthquake insurance after the disaster. like many to report or a quick damage as fire damage so that they could get reimbursed today. We assume that most of the damage was caused by the fires and the record since phase out, but it is almost impossible to tell her sure since so many claims were falsified by people trying to recover their lives in the chaos quake, though, I thought that was the really interesting point in Canada. Give reminder of how even good records, which there are lots of good records on the fence, is go fire aren't a hundred per cent. Reliable. Now, thanks for setting that went in and of
if you want to email of any more failed expedition, POD Cas ideas or just disaster signs that doesn't have to be a total failure and it doesn't have to be an explanation and everybody who writes in apologises for not having a deal that the examination I know we promise were interested in other things beside buried body. If you have any good suggestions, please email that history podcast, that has the forks dot com, were also on Twitter, missed in history and we're on Facebook. And if you want to learn a little bit more about the area of the world we just talked about, we have an article called how the Panama Canal works on our website. You can look it up searching for Panama Canal on our homepage, which is that W W W dont how stuff works, dotcom restored a check out our new video podcast stuff from the Future Joint House,
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