Episode 196: Alejandra Dubcovsky, Information & Communication in the Early American South

We live in an age of information. The internet provides us with 24/7 access to all types of information—news, how-to articles, sports scores, entertainment news, and congressional votes.

But what do we do with all of this knowledge? How do we sift through and interpret it all?

We are not the first people to ponder these questions.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, an Assistant Professor at Yale University and author of Informed Power: Communication in the Early South, takes us through the early American south and how the Native Americans, Europeans, and enslaved Africans who lived there acquired, used, and traded information.

This episode originally published as Episode 082.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Alejandra Dubcovsky, Associate Professor at University of California, Riverside and author of Informed Power: Communication in the Early South, leads us on an exploration of the early American south and its information networks.

During our exploration, Alejandra reveals details about Native American peoples who lived in the early American south prior to European arrival; When and how the Spanish established a settlement at Saint Augustine; And, how understanding early American information networks can help us reconstruct how people in the early south lived and interacted with one another.


What You’ll Discover

  • Overview of the early American south and the peoples who lived within it
  • Cahokia and Mississippian civilization
  • What historians know about information exchanged between Native American peoples
  • Spanish arrival in North America
  • Spanish settlement at Saint Augustine, Florida
  • Native American assistance and resistance of the Spanish
  • How Native Americans in Florida knew about the Spanish in 1513
  • How the Spanish acquired information about Native Americans
  • French settlement in Florida
  • Native American use of the rivalry between France and Spain
  • Information Native Americans shared with the Spanish and French
  • The fate of the French Fort Caroline
  • English settlement in the southeast
  • How the English established trade networks with Native American peoples
  • Trade in South Carolina
  • The role of information messengers
  • Information and communications networks of African slaves
  • The Stono Rebellion of 1739


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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if the Spanish had not captured and ended the French settlement at Fort Caroline in 1565? How would the continued presence of the French in Florida, have altered Spanish, English, Native American, and enslaved African relationships and communication networks?

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