History of Tropico, pre-Classical to Independence
Tropico was first occupied in the seventh century A.D. by Mayan priests from the city of Nim Li Punit in nearby Belize. They established a ceremonial site on the eastern coast of the island in order to pay homage to the rising sun. Following the collapse of Nim Li Punit in the eight century the temple was abandoned, though the ruins remain to this day.
From the tenth to eighteenth centuries Tropico was inhabited by a tribe of Carib people known as the Coaña. They made their living by hunting, gathering and fishing and produced trinkets from nearby gold deposits.
Tropico was first sighted by Spanish Galleons on June 6, 1501. By this time the Coaña had heard rumors of the Spanish thirst for gold and made sure to hide their trinkets from the Spanish landing party. The Spanish mistook the Tropico for a desolate jungle island. Due to the isolated position of Tropico from the rest of the Greater and Lesser Antilles it would remain unsettled by Europeans until 1670.
The Pirate Republic 1670 to 1702:
The conquest and pacification of Mexico and Central America preoccupied the Spanish in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. If they had aware of the gold deposits on Tropico the story could have been very different. As such, Tropico remained unsettled by Europeans.
In 1670 English privateer Captain William Bartels established a port from which to coordinate raids on Spanish shipping from what was then known as Bartels’ Bay. William Bartels negotiated a treaty with the Coaña in order to secure the port. The safe harbor attracted the attention of other privateers and pirates and by 1674 the bustling settlement grew into a town named Bartelstown. Bartelstown became one of the principle pirate safe havens during the Golden Age of Piracy and many of the town merchants grew considerably wealthy from legitimate and black market trade with all manners of vessels, from pirate ships to merchantmen. In 1677 the town merchants created the town council in order to manage the affairs of the settlement. Many would latter refer to this period as the Pirate Republic.
It was during this time that the people of Bartelstown named the island Tropico.
In 1681 the Spanish attempted to take Bartelstown but the merchants were able to mount a defense through coordinating counter attacks with the help of local privateers, pirates and the Coaña in the Battle of Bartels’ Bay. By 1683 the Town Council accepted protectorate status from England. The Pirate Republic continued to prosper yet this would eventually prove its undoing as petty rivalries and jealousies developed between the merchants, privateers and pirates.
The Spanish took advantage of these jealousies to take control of the Pirate Republic during the War of Spanish Succession. Captain Robert Bingham was contracted to lead a fleet of three Spanish Galleons to claim Tropico for the Spanish Crown. On September 1, 1702 Captain Robert used his contacts within Bartelstown to conquer the city in the First Battle of Bingham’s Bay. However, rather than turn the city over to Spanish he declared himself King Robert I of Tropico. Bartelstown was renamed Port Bingham and Captain Robert made plans to use the Spanish Galleons to wreck havoc throughout the Caribbean.
On December 21, 1702 Spanish Admiral Oscar Almeida de Martinez led a Spanish fleet in the Second Battle of Bingham’s Bay and took control of Tropico. Admiral Almeida exploited the same rivalries Captain Robert used in his original conquest of the island and he also exploited new ones generated by the self proclaimed “King”. Captain Robert was caught and executed for treason and Port Bingham was renamed San Tomas as the battle took place on the original feast day for Saint Thomas the Apostle.
The Spanish retained control over Tropico until their sovereignty over the island was confirmed in the 1713 by the Treaty of Utrecht.
Spanish Colonization 1702 to 1821:
In 1703 Tropico was declared an Intendencia of the Captaincy General of Guatemala. Admiral Almeida was named the Intendent of Tropico and proceeded to award his friends and family with land grants on the island. He also enforced the Spanish Mercantilist System and forbade the merchants from trading with non-Spanish vessels. This move was contrary to the agreement he had reached with the merchants prior to the Second Battle of Bingham’s Bay. In response the merchants moved to the northeast coast of the island and established an informal settlement that would become known as Puerto Bartels to later generations. From this location a black market trade with non-Spanish nations was permitted by the local authorities as it allowed the elites to obtain non-Spanish goods.
Intendent Almeida is indeed a controversial figure in Tropican history. The elites see him as a founding father that brought Christian civilization to Tropico. The majority of the people see him as a genocidal tyrant who destroyed the native Coañan culture of Tropico and brought slavery and misery to their ancestors. While the Pirate Republic viewed the Coaña as allies, the Spanish viewed them as a cheap source of labor and Intendent Almeida treated them accordingly. He immediately forced them to work in the gold mine in brutal and inhumane conditions. His actions would earn the hatred of later generations of Tropicans.
In 1710 sugar production was introduced to Tropico with major sugar farms introduced on the eastern coast of the island, Tropican rum became a highly prized commodity in the Caribbean. By 1715 Tropico was one of the most prosperous of the Spanish colonies in the new world and Intendent Almeida had grown extremely wealthy. He used the island’s wealth to establish four forts on the island. Castillo San Tomas and Castillo Alto were established at the mouth of the renamed San Tomas Bay. Castillo Del Sol was established on the southeast coast of the island to protect the sugar plantations and Castillo Almeida was established on the southwest coast of the island. Castillo Almeida would serve as the seed from which the city of Almeida would grow. Many of the planters established private residencies on the southwest corner of the island and on 1718 the city of Almeida was founded.
By 1720 the native population had been decimated. A few managed to escape to Puerto Bartels where they intermarried with the descendents of the Pirate Republic. Their descendants would go on to intermarry with the Spanish and African populations of the island creating the Tropican people. By 1720 the genocidal policies of Intendent Almeida had taken their toll on the Coaña so he turned to a new evil, slavery. In 1725 the African slave trade became almost as profitable as the gold mining and sugar production industries and the horrors endured by the population would have long lasting effects on Tropican society.
When Intendent Almeida passed away in 1724 the basic aspects of Colonial Tropican society had been established. The King of Spain retained ownership of the gold mine while a few wealth Criollos owned the sugar plantations and rum production. The vast majority of the island was held as slaves while a few hardy pioneers earned a living in the black market trade in Puerto Bartels. Little would change in Tropic until 1821 when Mexico gained independence from Spain.
The Struggle for Independence 1811 to 1823:
Antonio Vazquez de Salinas was born on April 9, 1779 to Joaquín Vazquez and Marie Salinas. His mother was a Peninsular who Joaquín met while touring Spain. The Vazquez family was one of the richest families on Tropico and Antonio Vazquez was born into a life or privilege but his mother found life in the Caribbean limited. In 1790 she and Antonio took a year tour of Europe during the height of the French Revolution. From May to July they toured France and they were in Paris for the Fête de la Fédération celebration on July 14th. Antonio was exposed to the ideals of the Enlightenment which would shape his political views and goals. Then in 1800 he toured the eastern coast of the United States while seeking to sell his families sugar to the Americans.
On May 5, 1808 Napoleon forced the Bourbons to abdicate and placed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish thrown. The Peninsular War triggered a constitutional crisis in Spanish America. In 1810 the Criollos established the Junta of San Tomas in the name of Ferdinand VII of Spain. General Antonio Vazquez was named the Commander in Chief of the Tropican forces. He was motivated by his desire to abolish slavery and staged a coup taking command of the Junta of San Tomas.
In response the conservatives requested the support of Spanish forces from New Spain. In 1811 a Spanish Fleet attacked and took control of San Tomas. General Vazquez fled to the United States in order to organize to support for Central American independence. In 1816 he published a pamphlet, The Case for Independence that was instrumental in gaining the support of American intellectuals.
In 1819 he returned to Tropico to lead a guerrilla war against the Spanish.
In 1820 the Spanish Liberals gained control of Spain, a move which caused the Criollos in Mexico to support independence. On September 27, 1821 Agustín de Iturbide marched into Mexico City and on September 28, 1821 the Mexican Empire was declared. On September 15, 1821 the Captaincy General of Guatemala issued the Deed of Declaration of Independence and was subsequently annexed by the Mexican Empire.
Following the dissolution of the Mexican Empire Tropico joined the Federal Republic of Central America on July 1, 1823.
The Federal Republic of Central America 1823 to 1838:
General Vazquez was proclaimed as the first governor of the State of Tropico. His first action as governor was to once again abolish slavery on Independence Day, September 15, 1823. As governor he enacted his plan to liberalize Tropican society. The Catholic Church was disestablished as the State Church, free secular education was provided to all Tropicans and a plan of land reform was initiated that threatened the power or the Criollo elite.
In 1825 the Criollo elite in Almeida initiated a plan to stage a revolt against Governor Vazquez in support of the Catholic Church. Vazquez caught wind of their plans and staged an attack on their forces on May 12, 1825 in the Battle of the Cities. His forces launched their attack from the high ground and managed to defeat the conservative forces. The victory was the high point of his administration.
Following his victory in the Battle of the Cities the Catholic Church managed to use its influence over the Tropican peasants to erode Governor Vazquez’s support. As popular unrest grew Vazquez’s rule became more arbitrary.
His hold on power was finally lost following Nicaragua’s succession from the Federal Republic on November 5, 1838. The conservatives used this opportunity to seize power on December 1, 1838. A coup was staged and Governor Vazquez was arrested and executed. A consultative junta was established and General Diego Rivera was named El Supremo of the junta. On December 21, 1838 the junta succeeded from the Federal Republic of Central America and declared the Republic of Tropico.
The State of Tropico was remembered as time of liberal rule and progressive promise for the people of Tropico. This period of Tropican history would go one to inspire future generations of Tropican progressives.
"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." A quote from you know who...