Page:A page of American history (1905).djvu/5

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distant. Mexico herself was yet panting and heaving with the effects of her own struggles and in no condition to aid, while the United States was in the delirium of the gold fever, and besides, events were gradually shaping themselves that, later, were to lead to the war of the rebellion. "Thus it was that when the "Sovereign State of Yucatan" was called upon to witness the death struggle between her white and her red-skinned children, she vainly called upon the outside world for aid and was finally compelled to rely upon such efforts as her patriotic sons could make.

It was during this life and death struggle between the two races that a page of American history became intercalated in the history of Yucatan, and though so saved, yet practically lost. It is the purpose of the writer to restore this page, a stirring record of deeds of valor and bizarre bravery of a band of American citizens, to its proper place in American annals. That we may see clearly and with understanding read this page, we must have before us a synopsis of the events leading up to the actions that it records.

From 1506 to 1519, various Spanish adventurers, Solis, Cordoba, Grijalva, and Cortes, had skirted the coasts of Yucatan and had at various times sought to make the land their own. Each time the assembled natives, well drilled, well armed for those times, and well led, received them so sturdily that the adventuresome strangers were very well content to betake themselves to their ships again while they were yet able, the more so as it at last became apparent that the conquest, even when made, offered them but little glory and still less gold, two things greatly sought for by these Castilian adventurers. Finally, in 1527, the hidalgo, Francisco de Montejo, came and spied out the land. By some occult process of reasoning he found it good. He struggled mightily at the task but died before he could prove his reasoning good, and his son took up the task that his father had turned over to him some time previous