Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel

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Manuel Gayoso de Lemos (mänwĕl´ gīō´sō dā lā´mōs), c.1752–1799, governor of Louisiana (1797–99). In 1787 he was appointed governor of the newly organized District of Natchez, under the orders of the governor of Louisiana. He encouraged American settlement on Spanish soil and interested a number of Americans, notably Gen. James Wilkinson, in his intrigues to separate the American West from the United States. Spanish forts were built at Walnut Hills (Vicksburg) and Chickasaw Bluffs, and alliances were concluded with the native tribes of the Southwest. By the terms of a treaty negotiated in 1795, Spain agreed to relinquish the Natchez region to the United States, but Gayoso de Lemos, on secret orders, delayed evacuation until 1798. He succeeded Carondelet as governor of Louisiana in 1797 and spent his last years in strengthening the province's defense against an expected American invasion. He was an able administrator and a man of much personal charm.