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A Choctaw Chief and a Spanish Governor: Franchimastabe and Manuel Gayoso de Lemos


Manuel Gayoso de Lemos served as the Spanish governor of the Natchez District from 1787 to 1797. During the Gayoso administration, Franchimastabé served as a peace chief from the western division of the Choctaws. These two leaders demonstrated considerable leadership and diplomacy skills in the region during the American Revolution and immediately prior to the creation of the Mississippi Territory. The record of Franchimastabé’s life as a peace chief provides insight into the political and economic changes in the Gulf South and the lower Mississippi River valley brought about through sustained contact among Native American, European, and African cultures in the last half of the eighteenth century. Franchimastabé used trade and diplomacy as a way to secure the goods he needed to meet the expectations and needs of his people. Governor Gayoso also proved to be an excellent and popular leader of the Natchez District. Born in Oporto, Portugal, and partially educated in England, Gayoso studied and spoke several languages, a valuable asset for living and working in Natchez, and later New Orleans, given the diverse populations of these cities.

Curricular Connections

Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1 and 5

Teaching Level

Grades 7-12


  • Mississippi History Now article, “A Choctaw Chief and a Spanish Governor: Franchimastabé and Manuel Gayoso de Lemos”
  • Analysis of Leadership Chart
  • Blank maps or unlined paper to draw maps
  • Computer (optional)
  • Paper
  • Pen/pencil


The students will:

  1. Construct suitable maps to relate the boundaries of Spanish Louisiana, Spanish West Florida, Natchez, Vicksburg (Fort Nogales), Memphis (Chickasaw Bluffs), New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, the Mississippi River, the Yazoo River, and the Gulf of Mexico.
  2. Compose a compare/contrast essay.

Opening the Lesson

The teacher will ask the class the following questions:

  1. What does the word “diplomacy” mean?
  2. Can you give an example of diplomacy?
  3. What leadership characteristics are necessary when carrying out diplomacy?

The teacher can record the students’ answers to the questions on the board. At the end of the class discussion, the teacher will tell the students that they will have an opportunity to study examples of diplomacy by two colonial leaders who influenced the early history of Mississippi.

Developing the Lesson

  1. Students will create a map that includes the locations listed in the first objective above. After the students complete the maps, the teacher will ask the students why the locations on the map were important to both European and local Native American leaders in colonial Mississippi. After the discussion, the teacher will tell the students that they will study two leaders that were significant to historical events that took place at the locations listed on the map.
  2. After reading the Mississippi History Now article, students will use the attached chart to record information from the article about Manuel Gayoso de Lemos and Franchimastabé.
  3. Using a THINK-PAIR-SHARE format, students will discuss the information on their charts with a partner. Students can add more information and examples to their charts during the THINK-PAIR-SHARE activity.
  4. The teacher will instruct the students to use their charts to write a compare/contrast essay about Franchimastabé and Manuel Gayoso de Lemos. The students can work alone or with a partner for this activity. If computer access is available, students can type their paragraphs.
  5. The teacher will ask for student volunteers to share information from their essays.

Closing the Lesson

The teacher will ask the students to respond in writing to the questions below:

  1. Why did Winthrop Sargent, governor of the newly created Mississippi Territory, call Franchimastabé “a universal friend”?
  2. Do you agree with Governor Sargent? Why or why not?

The teacher will ask for student volunteers to share their responses to the questions above.

Assessing the Lesson

Extending the Lesson

  • Students can research the history of the Native American groups mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article.
  • Students can research the influences of the French, British, and Spanish on colonial Mississippi.
  • Students can research the lives of the key people mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article.
  • Along with this article, the teacher can use other Mississippi History Now articles about colonial Mississippi to create a unit of study.

Karla Smith is the Social Studies Department Chair at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jefferson Davis Campus.

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