The Spanish Convoy of 1750
Heaven's Hammer and International Diplomacy

James A. Lewis

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene Allen Smith, Series Editors
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"Presents the tale of several vessels in a Spanish convoy wrecked by a hurricane along the Virginia/North Carolina coastline. Solidly grounded in the most current academic trends such as transnationality, international relations, pirates and their booty, disaster and its aftermath, and compelling personal stories of survival."--Sherry Johnson, Florida International University

"At its basic level, this is a history of a neglected and important event in colonial Latin American and British North American history. Yet it is also a powerful story of personal survival and demonstrates how a seemingly isolated August 1750 hurricane impacted the diplomatic relations of Spain and Britain, with legal consequences stretching into the twenty-first century."--Gene Allen Smith, Texas Christian University

Spanish flotas (convoys) traversed the Atlantic throughout the colonial period, shuttling men and goods between the Old and New Worlds. In August 1750, at the height of hurricane season, a small convoy of seven ships left Havana for Cádiz.

A fierce storm scattered the ships from North Carolina's outer banks to Maryland's eastern shore. Spanish merchants, military officers, and sailors struggled to survive, protect their valuable cargo, and, eventually, find a way home. They faced piracy, rapacious English officials, and discord among crew and passengers (including dozens of English prisoners).

Two and a half centuries later, the discovery of the wreckage of the convoy's flagship, La Galga, set off a legal battle between Spain and American treasure companies over salvage rights.

James A. Lewis, professor of history at Western Carolina University (retired), is the author of Neptune's Militia and The Final Campaign of the American Revolution.

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"Much of the joy of writing history is in the hunt. This short volume not only makes the chase exciting but serves as an appropriate historiographical model for how to tell the tale and use and cite archival material correctly to convince the reader that it is history and not fiction."
--Florida Historical Quarterly

"An enjoyable read with strong scholarship and an often humorous narrative. Lewis connects the worlds of modern salvage companies--and, as he infers, their more than passing resemblance to pirates of centuries past--and their subjects in a scholarly study that lets the intriguing events of 1750 speak."
--International Journal of Maritime History

"Packed with interest, facts, ideas and edification. A Very valuable work of maritime and geopolitical history."
--Baird Maritime

"Offers a compelling snapshot of 18th-century maritime history in the Atlantic world with a very pertinent contemporary relevance."
--International Journal of Nautical Archaeology v 39, iss 1

"An incredible work of research." "Lewis' narrative-style chronology appeals to a general audience, while his extensive note section delights historians."
--Nautical Research Journal

"It is not just oil spills and piracy that complicate the lives of mariners and their descendants. Maritime history is very much world history as this excellent book makes abundantly clear."
--Ships and Shipping

Delivers an animated, thoroughly researched tale of the Spanish treasure fleet's tragic encounter with an Atlantic hurricane off the coast of Georgia in the late summer of 1750, and the plight of both its survivors and wreckage against the backdrop of mid-eighteenth century Ango-American geo-politics and twenty-first century international law and diplomacy. Lewis writes with a passion and vibrancy that ushers readers back to the grand old era of the historical narrative.
--The Northern Mariner/le marin du nord

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