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Florida: As a British Colony

A History of Florida


Florida exchanged for Havana. In the war known in American history as the French and Indian War, lasting from 1754 to 1763, Spain took part with France against England. At the end of the war France gave up to England all her possessions east of the Mississippi except New Orleans and a very small piece of land near the month of the river. New Orleans and the small piece of land with it had been ceded by France to Spain the year before with all the territory west of the Mississippi that France had claimed. England's territory now stretched from the great river to the Atlantic. She was anxious to add Florida to her possessions, and easily arranged to get it from Spain in exchange for Havana, captured by the English the year before. So it was that Florida became a British colony.

Spaniards Leave. The treaty provided that none of the Spanish who remained in Florida should be disturbed in the exercise of the Catholic religion, and that all private property should be respected. But the Spanish inhabitants were not pleased with this change of government, and every one from Pensacola and all but five from St. Augustine left on the transports provided to take them to Cuba or to Mexico.

Describe the feelings existing between the colonies. What territorial transfers in the South resulted from the French and Indian War? What territory was then held by each of the three European nations connected with Florida history? What transfer of Florida wag then made? How did Havana become an English possession?

East and West Florida. One of the first acts of government by the English was to divide the colony into East and West Florida. East Florida lay between the Atlantic Ocean and the Apalachicola River. West Florida extended from the Apalachicola to the Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain, and north to latitude 31°; but the northern boundary was afterward made latitude 32° and 28 minutes, thus taking in nearly the southern half of what are now the States of Alabama and Mississippi.

Growth and Prosperity. To encourage the settlement of the new territories, the English government gave generous land grants to officers and soldiers who had served in the war. Reports of the country's natural wealth and advantages were published in England so that settlers, great number of men, might be induced to come out. Some came from South Carolina or Georgia, others from England, and a colony of forty families came from Bermuda. Good public roads were made, indigo, sugar cane, and fruits were cultivated, lumber was shipped, and the Floridas prospered as they had never done before.

What provisions regarding the inhabitants were in the treaty? How many Spanish citizens remained" What new boundaries and divisions were established for Florida? What were the two northern boundaries of West Florida?

Assemblies Called. Best of all, for people whose liberty was dear to them, the governors were directed to call general assemblies as soon as possible, to make laws for the colonies. In the meantime the governors were, with the advice of the councils, to establish courts.

The Turnbull Minorcan Colony. In 1767, a Scotchman, Dr. Andrew Turnbull, one of the governor's council, formed a company to bring out settlers from Minorca and other islands of the Mediterranean to cultivate the vine, fig, olive, and indigo. His idea was that they would succeed well in cultivating plants like those at their own homes. Fifteen hundred colonists were brought out from Italy, Greece, Smyrna, and Minorca, and a colony called New Smyrna was founded at Mosquito Inlet. The passage of the colonists was paid, and they were to be furnished with food and clothing for three years. During that time they were to work for the company, and at the end were to receive enough land for their support.

What was done to encourage immigration? With what result? What industrial progress resulted? What political liberty was planned? What was the plan of the Turnbull colony? Where was it planted? Who were the colonists? What were the terms of their coming?

All went well for a while, then trouble arose. The colonists declared that the contract had been broken. They said they had been cruelly treated by the company and had suffered for want of food and clothing. An insurrection broke out among them, but was soon crushed and two of the leaders were put to death. Nine years after the founding of the colony, a few of the Minorcans—as all the colonists were now called—went to St. Augustine, laid their wrongs before the government, and begged for release. During the years of slavery and misery their number had been reduced to six hundred. The matter was looked into by the government, and they were released from all obligations to the company. They all moved to St. Augustine, where portions of land in the northern part of the city were given them.

A Royal Colony during the Revolution. Revolution Florida was a new colony and had been so well treated that she had not the same causes for complaint against the mother country that the older colonies had. She remained under British rule through the Revolutionary War, and gave refuge to many English sympathizers f from Georgia and South Carolina. Yet there must have been a few who were for the cause of independence, for in 1776 the governor of East Florida called oil the militia to join the royal forces to repel invasion and to prevent any more men from joining their "tretorous neighbors."

What was the cause of trouble? What was the outcome? Where did the colonists go? What was a chief reason for Florida', not joining the Revolution?

Wile the astonishing news of the Declaration of Independence reached St. Augustine, the people rushed in wild excitement to the public square and burned Hancock and Adams in effigy.

During the next two years several thousand loyalists moved from Georgia and South Carolina into Florida, and there was bitter feeling among the colonies. An invasion of Florida was planned, but not carried out, and though an expedition was fitted out at St. Augustine to invade Georgia, this also failed. Later in the war other expeditions were planned on both sides, but were not carried out.

Spanish Conquest of West Florida. In 1779 war was declared between England and Spain, and in August the governor of Louisiana invaded West Florida and took the forts on the Mississippi. The next March, after a strong resistance, he took Fort Charlotte on Mobile River, then prepared to attack Pensacola. General Campbell was in command at Pensacola with a thousand men, and besides there were two garrisoned forts. But the Spanish were superior in strength, and on May 9, Campbell and his troops marched out and gave up their arms. Spain now held West Florida from Pensacola west to the Mississippi River.

Florida exchanged for the Bahama Islands. When the Revolutionary War ended and the American colonies became independent States, England ceded East and West Florida back to Spain in exchange for the Bahama Islands.

What was her relation to the neighboring colonies? What was the occasion for the invasion of Florida by the Spanish? Enumerate the results of the invasion.

The treaty was signed September 3, 1783, and the English colonists who had made homes for themselves in the new country were given eighteen months to remove with their property. It happened, however, that a few English did remain and all the Minorcans. Some who had come into the colony from Georgia or South Carolina returned to their old homes. The rest were taken on transports furnished by the British government to seek homes in England, Nova Scotia, or the Bahamas.

Excerpt from Part One, Chapter 11, "Florida a British Colony" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


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