Craig Miller and Patric!: O'Sullivan

When a has been occupied by /I succession of societies with strong institutions ge"red to the achievement of explicit ge09l"aplllc/ll goals. our expectation is that relics of past imprints would be obvious in the land­ scape palimpsest. Host usually In suCh clrcumst"nces. the application of the current set of objectives and their llIIJpping onto the land are modified by o",st usage "no structure. Thus, the lines and vilt"ges of the """norial system guide the fields and hrms of lowland Bdtain's coomercia! , while the plans of Puritiln oligarchies hid out the landscape now occupied by com­ mercial horticulture and dairying in New England. The most marked lnstitutlon31 influence on the pattern of Americ3n hUm.1n geography Is postulated to be the Northwest Ordinance and the rect"ngu13r hnd system in"ugur"ted.' The system was designed for the interior lowlandS and it erased the light h"nd of Indi"n occupance there fairly thoroughly. w"s the first 3re3 where this system w"s imposed disphcing significant European coloni"l occupation. Her"(!. then. we might expect to see concrete rem­ nants of a lengthy colonial heritage showing through. as for example in C.. lifornia.· West Florida was Invested twice by Spanish and once by British imperial control (FIg.l, cover). Imperial land allocation policies with overt political aims were in operation in the "re" for considerable periods. These have. however. left little signature on the hnd. The incorporation of this in the USA successfully er"dicated the vestiges of previous occupation. heral ding the tri umph of the competithe society and "m.1n !fest desti ny~ 3nd their precursor in the Ordinance of 1785.

1698_1"163 For more th3n a century after its discovery Spain'S possession of the Gulf coast served the empire as a wilderness buffer zone. protecting from European percolation in Uorth America. The military post of Pensacola was founded in 1689 to hold the coast for Spain but it failed to establish" firm foothold of settlement. While Frenth posts along the 3nd as far east as thrived. Pensacola was conSidered one of the least desirable postings In the empire. Conditions were often desperate. as in 1704 when British r"ids from the Carolina frontier destroyed the Franciscan Apa1 ..chee missions. eliminating the only IOC31 source of food. Spanish troops were forced to depend on the French of Mobile for sustenance. The Creeks re­ sisted penetration beyond the shores of Pensacola Bay and Indian Nids. incited by the British. inhibited "griculwre. When the BritiSh occupied Pensacola. however. they "ttributed the "few paltry gardens" to "Spanish indOlence.'" The Spanish reciprocated this cultur"l "nimosity by leaving en m.1sse when the 1763 transferred florida to Britain. despite assur­ ances that "the new Roman Catholic subjects m.1y profess the worship of their religion. .. "s far (OS the hws of Great Britain permit.'" Along with the Spaniards went the remnants of the Yam.1ssee nation which had come to them seek­ ing refuge from BritiSh slave raids. This exodus left the British with a des­ erted and a paper chim to a territory in the re"l possession of powerful Indian nations. B,...,;tai,., 1'163_1'183

The British government ~cqu;red Florid3 out of a combin3t10n of tradi. tion31 mercantilist and new imperialist motives. The merc~ntilists perceived ~ mild climate similar to the v~lu,)ble colonies of Carolina 3nd 3nd perh3PS even fa,r south enough to compafi'! with the Indies. British energy would convert the s~v~ge land into plantations providing rice. indigo. cochin­ e31. and sugar. Possession of Florida would 31so provide a monopoly on trade with the . Chocktaw 3nd Cfi'!ek nations. and its sp~cious harbors would provide a base from which to capture tr3de with Spanish America." For imperial strategists. the treaty of 1763 provided Britain witll un­ disputed control of CaMda 3nd all the lMd e3st of the Mississippi with the exception of the Isle of Orleans. Thus. 3 natural boundary served also 3S a transport route connecting settlements along the frontier f~ the Gulf to country, West Florida was particul3rly important as it bounded the only frontier with the occupied by EuropeanL In addition, the land of Florida could be used to relieve l~nd hunger in the old­ er Atlantic colonies and divert aW3y from conflict with the nations of the interior. spain J183-1819

Bernardo de G31vez's ,'eacquisition of the s~tlsfled Spain's long-standing objective of an unbroken rim of possession around the Gulf. Combi ned under the Capta I ncy·Genera1 of Loui s i ana and Wes t Flori da. these two provi nces provi ded Hex ico' s defense aga ins t the encroachment of i ndi vi dua1 i s­ tic frontiersmen loosely associated with a newly establiShed republican govern­ ment. In West Florida there was the complication that the population and settl£!ment landscape were of BritiSh origin. This occasioned a radical dep.. r­ ture from the principles of colonization followed for over 200 ye3rs in the "Recopilaci6n de las Indias." By the Treaty of San LOI'enzo, 179S. West Florida suffered its first loss of territory to the . In 17S1 de Galvez had conquered the entire BritiSh province whose northern boundary since 1764 had been the paral. leI of 32"28'N. In the treaty of 1783 Britain agreed that Sp"in would "fi'!tain" West Florid" "s " conquered province but. at the same time, ceded to the United States her claim to lands extending south to the 31st p"rallel. This cession to the United St"tes. therefore. included much of the territory Which Sp"in possessed by conquest. In the years which followed the United St"tes and the State of Geol'gia disputed jurisdiction over this strip while S!'ain fi'!tained de factC'l control. The most fertile lands of the province were in the disputed territory. There. in the valleys of the Tensaw district north of Hobile B"y and along the Mississippi and its b"yous in the west, " majority of the former British subjects hold chosen to remain on their land. Writing to Galvez. Gover­ nor General Mir6 reported that m,,~of the BritiSh from Mobile and Pensacola had migrated to the rich lands of the . 6 Even before Anglo·Ameri­ cans were permitted to settle in West Florida offici"lly, the population Of the U"tchez area consisted "lmost entirely of people who had settled in British West Florid.. before and during the . M"ny of the pl"nt"tion families who later controlled Mississippi were descended from settlers of the Bri ti sh period. The Bri ti sh sett lements In clearings sea ttered ami ds t the for­ est were insulated from Spanish cultural influence "nd "voided Spanish efforts at assimi lalion. With Napole"n's sale of to the United States, an Anglo-Ameri­ can wedge replaced the keystone of Spain's arch over the Gulf. West Florida became "n outlier not a bulw"rk. It was clear, to the of West Florid" "t least, that this was merely a first step "S southern states clamored for access to the Gulf down ....est Florida'S rivers.'

2 • •

The beginning of the nineteenth century found Baton Rouge the least secure of the province's districts. The Mobile and Baton Rouge districts were ceded from French Louisiana to Britain in 1763 and became part of British West Florid.... The United States exploited an arrt>iguity in the Louisiana Pur­ chase agreement to lay claim to these districts. With the relocation of the provine",] government from to Pens,,"cola in 1803, Baton Rouge be­ came the most remote district surrounded on three sides by the united States. The residents of ttlis most populous section were 40S French, 40% Anglo-Alneri­ can "nd only 20% Spanish. In 1810 the United States fOf'llented a re~l1ion in the distr"icl." In rapid succession the free and independent state of West Florida was proclaimed; it seceded from the Spanish province; annexation by the United States was requested and the area was admitted as the "" of Louisiana. In 1813. the United States pressed its claim to the with troops under . All that remained of West Florida was the land east of the . encompassing the town of Pensa­ cola and the military outpost of San Narcos. By the Adams-Onh treaty of 1819. both East and West Florida were sold in their entirety to the United States.

Colonial La>ld Policy and Practice Bl'itil.lh West Floridn. The first substantial settlement of the area took place as a latter- day and unique BritiSh colony west of the Appalachians. In desi9nin9 the land policy for the colony. administrators were conscious of the need to pop­ ulate it quickly. It was intended to distribute land only to permanent set­ tlers and to attract small farmers who could not get land in older colonies. The governor was discouraged from offering large tracts and creating a class of absentee landlords rather than a permanent establishment of middle class owner~occupiers.· The wilderness, Spain's protection in florida for 160 years. was now Britain'S enemy. The more quickly West florida could emerge from its fringe of British settlement, the sooner its inhabitants would satisfy mercantilist demands for raw materialS and become selfsupporting. contented. loyal British subjects. No sooner was the Treaty of PariS signed. and even before British troops landed. then speculators rushed to Pensacola to buy what improved land there was from evacuating Spaniards and Indians. The treaty guaranteed the right of the Spanish to sell their estates within a year and a half of the treaty's ratification. but all sales made before the arrival of occupying for­ ces were eventually invalidated to ensure crown control of land distribution. to In the early days the governor and council's attention was concentrated on the existing fabric in Mobile and Pensacola. Rural development progressed slowly spreading around the shores of the bay." Inrnigration was not encouraged by the unhealthy reputation which reports gave Pensacola as swampy and fever­ ridden and Mobile as a "graveyard for Britons."" The first years of develop~ ment were given to draining swamps. building up Pensacola and Mobile and con­ necting them by road as trade centers with the Indian nations. As a western defense. a chain of forts was built from Natchez to along the Missis­ sippi. As settlement around the initial foci consolidated. the emphasis shift~ ed to more distant portions of the colony. especially to the Natchez country where were planned at Natchez. Manchac and Dartmouth at the of the lberville and Amit Rivers. Despite the precautions taken to discourage large accumulations of land. speculation was rife in the colony. Officlals acquired vast tracts under grants by mandamus, family right, purchase right. an

J fertile land from the reach of sincere settlers. The situation became so serious that the London government forbad Governor Chester to ma~e grants in 1773. This ban, however. was lifted as West Florid

In practice politicians and a~inistrators lost sight of the clear and explicit intent calculated to fit West Florida into the imperial scheme. After directing the British defense of Pensacola. General Carrbell expressed his disgust with this loss of vision

Spanish Wsst FLoroido.

The set t 1ement pol i cy wh i ch evo1ved after 1783 represented "n unprece­ dented liberaltzation of Spain's colonial doctrine. This modification began in Louisiana with Governor O'Reilly's efforts to fend off Anglo-.tVneric"n "d+ vances by attracting non_Spanish. but nonetheless Cathol ic. innigrants. Dis­ 1'1 aced Acadians. SOIl ss and German CathaIIcs were encouraged to sett1e in Louisiana. Land was granted free to each newly "rrived fltmily in pr

4 •

11II1I19r.1nt5 were directed to settle contiguouSly In the interests of defense "nd political and SOCilll coherence. The intent was to create a population permanently attached to their land. These efforts to establish a hUlIIiln bar­ ricade between MelCico and the United Stlltes ",ned because the politic,,] tur­ moil of Napoleonic:: wars retarded European imnigration; because the United States proved a more powerful magnet for illl'lligrants; and because of the short time given Spanish officials to do much before the advance of the republic overcame them.

Th8 Dismemoo",",,",t Or WBet F'Z.o:t"idc.

The three territorial acquisitions which b.-ought West Florida into the possession of the United States were among the e"rliest extem;ions of its new national land policy. The factors which shaped that policy were quite in­ dependent of the conditions In British and Spanish West Florida. The obje.;­ tives underlying the formation of the I\IJlerican land system were peculhr to the unprecedented repub1ican poli tics of a nascent na t i on wi th a seemi ngly linlitless supply of land. Though the West played no part in this development. the subsequent application of the land settlement system de­ vised, overwhelmed all prior influences in the region's human landscape. American land policy resulted from the compromise of two diametrically opposed goals. Jefferson was intent on co1oni:zing the interior. Hamilton sought revenue to payoff the war debt and insure the surviv",l of the new government. and the public domain was the obvious asset with which to resolve the nation's financhl problem. On the contrary, Jefferson projected the fron­ tier attitude proclaiming that, "By selling land you will disgust them and cause an avulsion of them from the coomon union. They will settle the land in spite of everybody.,,'7 In this he identified the inertial force which could not be turned aside by laws. AccOlllllOd",tlng the desire to "make the government secure and great throuVh tI'e spread of people over mi 11 ions of ",cres of the gre"'t central valley'" to the desperate need for revenue, the Congress pro­ duced the Ordi"",nce of 1785. This provided the legal framework for the evolu­ tion of the Gulf Coast landscape which obliterated colonial West florida. Not only the township system of rectangular surveys, to which all prior claims had to be reconciled and which shaped the allotment of the public do­ main, but also the piecemeal acquisition of the territory by the United States served to bury the traditions of the <;olony. The pieces were variously distrl+ buted between Louishna. Hississippi, and Florida. After dispersal of over two thirds of West Florid", to three other states. the re"""inder was o<;cupied and merged with the former colony of . Appli<;ation of the national land pol1<;y to that combined Florida territory retarded the growth of the est",blished colonial settlements ",nd opened the previously unsettled lands of Middle Florida to a burgeoning ilTJfligration which soon surpassed the older settlements in both population and political power. eclipsing the <;olon­ ial identity.

The GBOrgW CB8sion 1802

The United States claimed the strip of land lying north of the 3ht par­ allel on the grounds th",t the treaty of 1785'" with Great Britain named the old~ er boundary of West Florid", at 3l oN as the southern limit of her cession. This included the lush lands of the Natche:z and Tombi9bee districts. Spain relinquished her chim in 1795 by the Treaty of San Lorenzo but remained in possession for three more years as the States of Georgia and disputed ownership of the acquisition. In 1802 Georgia finally ceded her col­ onially derived western lands to the federal 90vernment, and the . as it had been dubbed, be<;ame part of the pub1 ic domain. This cession required the United States to accept the burden of adjudicating a

5 morass of land claims made under British. Spanish and Georgian jurisdiction. As late as lB44 the Supreme Court was still sorting the mess out."


Spain's retention of the land and granting of claims subsequent to 1803 presented particular problems of incor~ration into the United States land system. The tangle was fin"lly settled in favor of accepting the grants of the do f"ctn goverMEnt by an Act of Congress passed in 1860, amended in 1867 and extended in 1872. 2 •

TlUJ PlorU:kl 'I'r6aty 1819 The remaining portion of West florida. fnom Pensacola two hundred miles east to the fort of San Marcos (St. Marks), was obtained along with East Florida (Fiq. 2). The land east of the Perdido and south of 31 Q N was acquired



Fig. 2. F10dda 'I'errltory 1822_1845

6 - with recognition of the full prior sovereignty of Spain. This last part of West Florida to enter the public domain thus e~periel'lced a slIlOottler transition. A board of commiSSioners was appointed in 1822 to deal with existing claims and finished its work by 1826. The only exception was Colin Hitchel 's claim to over 1,250.000 acres," This stemmed from an Indian cession made to the trading firm of Panton Leslie and Company in recompense for tribal debts. This firm had served the colonial government by managing Indian affairs and the claim had been condoned by the Spanish administration. The area inCluded the port Of Apalachicola and a Supreme Court decision in favor of the appel­ lant scared the inhabitants into shifting their activities onto the undisputed public domain, founding the community Of St. Joseph."

The Su~veyo~ Gene~al. Robe~t Butle~. began subdividing the public do­ main in the nea~ wilde~ness region which had been practically devoid of [u~o­ pean settlement since the Franciscans we~e driven out. West Florida's ident­ ity on the political map vanished when East and West Florida we~e me~ged into the Florida Te~~itory in 1822. Nevertheless the trlldition of two sepa~ate p~ovinces ~emained a strong force in politics th~oughout the territo~i"l peri­ od. While confi....."tion of prior claims held up occup"tion of previously set­ tled areas, the opening of the West Florida public lands between the Suwannee and Apalachicola gave rise to a third region. f\iddle Florida. whose geographic and economic distinction was recognized by its 1824 designation as a sepa~ate judicial district. The area. with Tallahassee as its foclls. attr"cted many settlers when Florid,,'s first public land sale made it "vailable in the Spring of 1825. "It was soon apparent that Middle Florida was to be the center of the Territory in every sense __ economic. socl"l, and politiclil as well as geogr"phlcal -- the ["st "nd West, while retaining some of their mutu"l dis­ trust, promptly transferred most of their jealousy to Middle Florida." In a j)QIl in "'"y of 1837, residents of Wosr-torn ["st Florida "nd agricul­ tur"lly poor West Florida joined in opposition against the majority vote from Middle Florida which advocated Florida's as one unified Territory. The c"use for territor;"l

7 The struggle against West Florida's political union with East Florida continued even after Florida was granted statehood in 1845, for the anneltation Issue was renewed In the 1850's and again during the reconstruction period following the War Between the States when Ahbama's attempted annexation of Flori da terri tory wes t of the Apal achi coIa Ri ver was nearly rea1 ized.

The theme of the Chief negotiator's address was that cession of west Florida to Alabama would be mutually advantageous. He point· ed out that the geometrical outlines of both states would be im­ proved and that the homogeneity of the peoples of each would be in­ creased. His trump card was the argument that annexation would facilitate the prosperity of West Florida. Once the cession h"d t"ken place, he envisioned the coal and Iron of finding its world outlet through the port of Pensacola which would become one of the world's great clties. u Ttle terms of cession were agreetl upon by bottl states with Alabama offering to pay $1.000.000 in exchange for the territory. Though a referendum in West Florida proved a majority of the population favored anneltation the movement was eventually defeated. In 1874, Alabama abandoned the attempt, and likewise of separate Floridas was forgotten.

It appears that in the last resort what was important was the demand for cotton of industrial England and New England, which created Middle Florida and overwhelmed the political significance of West Flor1da. In historical terms, the traces of centuries were wiped away in short order. West Florida's piecemeal incorporation into the United State, the settlement of prior claims, and especially, the national land system dismembered the colony and expunged the traces of imperial objectives "nd efforts from the landscape. The ves­ tiges "re only to be seen in place and motel names, a few empty bottles, clay pipes. buttons, "nd 10,,11 foundations housed in museums, "nd signs set up by the Beauregardus chapter of the Colonial Dames celebrating events strangely out of keeping with the current state of their setting. The streets of Pensacola do reflect Spanish design "nd lines of trees show up on air-photos. following COlonial boundaries cutting "cross the squ"re fields of today. There are some road alignments coincident with their colonial originals."? In general, however, little remains in the org"nization of the land to tell of the 1mperial put. ...

I. IUldegard II. Johnson, Order upon the Land: The U.S. Routangular Land SJ.Il"Voyand ths Upper Hiss'iss'ipp'i Count..y (: Dltford Univ. Press, 1976). 2. David Hornbeck. "Meltic"n-American L"nd Tenure Conflict in ," Jour-nat of Ceog>'O.p"y 75 (1976): 209-21.

3. Lieut Col. Prevost to Secretary at War August 6,1763 in Mississippi Provincial A:rc"i..... s ed. Rowland Dunbar (Nashville: Brandon Printing Co., 1911) Vol. 1. p. 136.

4. Journal of the Assembly of West Florid", November 10, 1766. West Florida Pape..e (miscellaneous documents) S. Johnson, British West Ft.o..idc. 1163-1?83 (New Haven: Yale University Press. 1943), p. 187.

6. Josph B. Starr, "Tories, Dons and Rebels: The American Revolution ;, British West FIorida,M (doctoral diss. The , 1976) , pp. 392-93. • •

7. J~mes A. Robertson, ed., lQuisiana. Undsr ths Rule of Spain, France. and the lJI'liUld States. 1785_1807. (. 1911). Vol. 2, p. 332.

8. WoJcluma Wajohi. Inurvel1tiOl'l in Spanish Ploridaa, 1801_1813: A Stwiy in JBffezotJ(m,ian FONlign Polioy (: Brandon Press. 1976), Chapter II; and James A. Padgett. "The Documents Showing that the U.S. Ultimately Financed the West Florida Revolution of 1810," Louisiana Hiswrical Qual'tB1'Zy 25 (1942): 943-70. 9. Starr, "Tories. Dons and Rebels," p. 61. 10. L. Gold, "The Transfer of Florida from Spanish to BritiSh Control 1763-1765," (doctoral diss., State University of Iowa, 1964), p. 153.

11. Johnson. OMs.. "'PO/'I tM Land. pp. 29-30. 12. Robert R. Rea. "'Gravey"rd for Britons' west Florida 1763-1781," Florida Histo"f'iaaZ Quapte..ty 48 (1969): 345-64.

13. Robert f. Gray n£l1a:s Durnford, 1739-1794, En9ineer, SOldier, Administra­ tor," (master's thesis, , 1971), note 49.

14. Starr, "Tories, Dons and Rebels." liP. 355-6

15. Re9ulations of O'Rellly. Amel"iC(ll1 Sto.t.. 1'ap

16. Gilbert C. Din. "The IriSh Missions to West Florida." Louisiana Hieto1'!l 12 (1971): pp. 315-34.

17. Quoted in Benjamin H. Hibbard, A Hietory of tM Pt.

23. Dorothy Dodd, Plcrida Becomes" Stat.. (Tallahassee, 1945), p. 36. 24. Ibid, p. 37. 25. Hugh C. 8.... iley. "Alab.... ma and West Florida Annex.... tlon." Ftoroida Histol"ico.l. {lual'tSl'l.y 35 (l957): p. 219.

26. Ibid, p. 221.

27. Burke G. V.... nderlllll, "The Alachu.... Trail: A Reconstruction.~ Plcrida Historical. ~tBrt~ 55 (1977); pp. 423-438.