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“S” is for Santa Elena

“S” is for Santa Elena. Founded in 1566 by Pedro Menéndez de Avilé on present-day Parris Island, Santa Elena was the northernmost settlement in the Spanish province of La Florida. Fear that the French might claim the excellent harbor at Port Royal Sound, led Menéndez to select the Parris Island site. Santa Elena was the capital of La Florida for much of its ten years of existence, during which time the growing settlement conducted political and religious outreach to the native population in a broad area. The Spaniards’ demands upon the Indians to supply food for the colony led to armed conflict and the destruction of the town. It was immediately rebuilt, but in 1586 the king of Spain ordered the thriving settlement abandoned. Santa Elena and its fortifications were destroyed and its residents relocated to St. Augustine.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.