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February 18, 2021 44 min

In 1784, King Charles III of Spain sent George Washington a token of his esteem. Knowing that Washington had long sought a Spanish donkey for his Mount Vernon estate, the king permitted a jack to be exported to the new United States. Washington named the donkey Royal Gift in recognition of its royal origin, and the donkey became somewhat of a minor celebrity when he disembarked from his ship in 1785.

As it turns out, Spanish jacks like Royal Gift were highly prized animals in the Atlantic world. And in this case the Spanish, who had supported the United States during the American Revolution, saw an opportunity to use a donkey as a way to shore up diplomatic relations with the new republic and protect their interests in North America.

On today’s show, Professor José Emilio Yanes joins Jim Ambuske to discuss his new book, El Regalo de Carlos III A George Washington: El periplo de Royal Gift.

Yanes is a veterinarian and Associate Professor at the University of Salamanca in Spain. As the title of his work suggests, it is a Spanish language book, one that makes use of manuscripts in Spanish archives to flesh out Royal Gift’s story.

We spoke last fall with the help of his friend and collaborator, Allan Winn, Jr., who it so happens is a native of Alexandria, Virginia who has lived in Spain for many years now and runs Allan School of English in Zamora.

If Spanish happens to be your mother tongue, or if you are like me and you are desperately trying to get better at it, please check out the Spanish-language version of this episode, which will appear in your podcast feed.

Before we get started, we ask that you do us a quick favor. If you like the show, please drop us a review through your favorite podcast app. We’d really appreciate. And be sure to check out our new website for the show, which we think will make it easier for you to find your favorite episodes. You can find us at

About Our Guests:

José Emilio Yanes Garcia is Superior Polytechnic School of Zamora and Associate Professor at the University of Salamanca (Spain). He is the author of El Regalo de Carlos III A George Washington: El periplo de Royal Gift (2019).

Allan R. Winn, Jr. is a native of Alexandria, Virginia who now resides in Zomora, Spain. He is the proprietor of Allan School of English. Winn assisted Yanes with translation work in El Regalo de Carlos III A George Washington and provided translation for this episode.

About Our Host:

Jim Ambuske, Ph.D., leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project.  He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.

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