Conference Proceeding: Sephardic Translators and Anglo-Iberian Diplomacy in Colonial Charleston

From the arrival of the first English settlers in Carolina in 1670 to the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the hostile relationship between England and Spain cast a perpetual shadow over the development of Colonial Charleston. In response to the constant fear of being invaded by their neighbors in Spanish Florida, the government of South Carolina erected an ever-evolving ring of expen-sive fortifications around the capital town and kept a watchful eye on military activities in St. Augustine. The government required trustworthy translators to assist with diplomatic missions between the two adversaries and Charleston's early Sephardic Jews were consistently drafted for such services. Similarly, the opening of Portuguese markets to South Carolina rice in the 1730s led to a considerable economic boom for the young colony, and Sephardic "linguists" again played an important assisting role. Through such activities, Charleston's earliest Jews used their unique cultural skills to contribute effectively to the preservation and success of their adopted home.