Bernardo de Gálvez, Man of the Enlightenment
This unusual young man rose from being a member of small-town Spanish nobility to become Governor of Louisiana, victor over the British during the American Revolution and finally Viceroy over all of New Spain. His military abilities in helping General Washington and the American troops at Yorktown have overshadowed his amazing interests in music, theater, environmentalism, city planning and the new philosophies of the eighteenth century. His death when just barely 40 deprived the world of a man who had already made a mark on the society of Spain, both Old and New, as well as the very young United States.
Named Honorary Citizen of the United States
He is a timely topic because, due to the efforts of many people throughout Florida, Louisiana and Texas, he was named the 8th Honorary United States Citizen in December of 2014. His portrait, thanks to the amazing efforts of Don Manuel Olmedo Chec, of Malaga, Spain, and Teresa Valcarce Graciani, of Washington, D. C. now hangs in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Room in the U.S. Capitol. Contact your Senator for a tour to see the portrait.
Statues to Bernardo de Gálvez in Pensacola, FL and Galveston, TX
Several historical groups are working hard to install statues in honor of Bernardo de Gálvez. The statue at Pensacola honors Bernardo’s victory over the British forces at Pensacola during 1781 in the middle of the American Revolution. His success in capturing Fort George and defeating the British did not directly help General George Washington win at Yorktown, but it certainly kept the British from using their forces along the Mississippi and in the Gulf from opening a second front against General Cornwallis. Additionally, it was Spanish funds that helped outfit the French fleet under Admiral Rochambeau and enabled him to blockade the British at Yorktown.
The Galveston statue is being sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution, Bernardo de Gálvez Chapter and Patrick Henry Chapter. They are currently seeking funding to pay for the statue and its plinth. Although Gálvez never actually set foot on the island, since he was Viceroy of New Spain in Mexico at the time, he did order a cartographic study of the Gulf of Mexico by José de Evia in 1785. To honor his popular and much-loved Viceroy, Evia named the bay La Bahía de Galveztown. The island was named San Luis, a name it retained into the 1800s. The new government of Mexico established the Port of Galveston in 1825 under the new Liberal Constitution of 1824, and it has retained that name to the present.