Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South
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The Florida and the Caribbean Open Books SeriesIn ntb, the University Press of Florida, in collaboration with the George A. Smathers Libraries of the University of Florida, received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mel lon Foundation, under the Humanities Open Books program, to repub lish books related to Florida and the Caribbean and to make them freely ava i lable through an open access platform. e resulting list of books is the Florida and the Caribbean Open Books Series published by the Li braryPress@UF in collaboration with the University of Florida Press, an imp r int of the University Press of Florida. A panel of distinguished schol ars has selected the series titles from the UPF list, identied as essential r e adin g for scholars and students. e ser ies is composed of titles that showcase a long, distinguished history of publishing works of Latin American and Caribbean scholar ship that connect through generations and places. e breadth and depth of t h e list demonstrates Floridas commitment to transnational history and regional studies. Selected reprints include Daniel Brintons A GuideBook of Florida and the South (b), Cornelis Goslingas e Dutch in the Caribbean and on the Wild Coast, (b ), and Nelson Blakes Land into WaterWater into Land (bt). Also of note are titles from the Bicentennial Floridiana Facsimile Series. e series, published in b in commemoration of Americas bicentenary, comprises twenty-ve books regarded as classics, out-of-print works that needed to be in more librar ies and readers bookcases, including Sidney Laniers Florida: It s S ce n ery, Climate, an d H istory (b) and Silvia Sunshines Petals P lucked from Sunn y Climes (bt). Tod ays readers will benet from having free and open access to these works, as they provide unique perspectives on the historical scholarship
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is book is reissued as part of the Humanities Open Books program, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Introduction EAST and West Florida did not support the patriot cause during the American Revolution. These newly acquired provinces remained loyal to the British Crown and were thus related to the Revolu tionary South not as allies but as antagonists. American histori ans dealing with the Revolution tend to emphasize the conflict be tween the thirteen colonies and the mother country. This was indeed a civil war as far as America was concerned, but it was part of a worldwide conflict. France, Spain, and Holland were also involved, and there was fighting on all of the great oceans of the world and in the West Indies, the Mediterranean, Africa, and elsewhere. France and Spain supported the Revolution not out of sympathy for repub licanism but because these two powers were seeking revenge and hoped to restore the balance of power which England had upset in 1763. The American Revolution, from their point of view, was just another phase in the great wars which Europe and her far-flung colonies had been waging for two hundred years. France had supported the American cause almost from the be ginning. She was a secret ally at first, but in 1778, France openly declared war on England. Spain followed suit the following year. The American colonists were delighted. They had everything to gain from these alliances. The combined Franco-Spanish navies equaled or outnumbered Britain's fleet. The colonists desperately needed military supplies, foreign troops, and foreign credit. From Savannah to Boston, Americans welcomed their new allies with enthusiasm. But this was not true of the colonists in Florida. Weak v
vi / Introduction and exposed, the Floridas were sparsely populated and unable to defend themselves without British military support. Without the British fleet on patrol in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, St. Augustine and Pensacola were vulnerable to attack. When the British arrived in 1763, they found Florida an empty wilderness. Only a handful of Spaniards remained to dispose of property. Everyone else, whites and Indians alike, had moved to new homes elsewhere. Introducing a generous land grant policy and using a variety of advertising gimmicks, Britain attracted settlers from the colonies north of the St. Marys, from the Bahamas and the West Indies, and from abroad. These immigrants settled in St. Au gustine and its environs, along the St. Johns River, and on Amelia Is land in East Florida. Others moved into West Florida: into St. Marks and Pensacola and along the rivers that flowed through Alabama and Mississippi into the Gulf of Mexico. Land was cleared for farms and plantations, an agricultural economy began to emerge, and barrel staves, turpentine, lumber, citrus, and a variety of other agricultural products were being produced for shipment abroad. In terms of English settlement, however, the Floridas were too new to meet even their own food needs. They depended upon shipments from the West Indies, Europe, and, up until the time of the Revolution, the other American colonies. Unlike the other southern coloniesGeorgia, the Carolinas, Vir ginia, and Marylandthe Floridas could not sustain themselves without British help. They would have been foolhardy to bite the hand that was feeding them so generously, and the aid and support from Britain was indeed plentiful. Bounties were offered to encour age the development of staple crops and for lumbering and other industries. The annual appropriation voted by Parliament paid the salaries of all of the government officials, sustained the courts, pro vided religious and educational services, developed transportation facilities, and maintained the defense of the colonies. It is little wonder that Floridians failed to ring their church bells or light bon fires when they received notice that the Declaration of Independence had been adopted. Instead, they drank to the good health and long life of their generous and good sovereign, George III. There were no celebrations in Pensacola or St. Augustine to mark the beginning of the Revolution. Instead, the effigies of Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, those dastardly rebels, were burned in the public plaza at St. Augustine.
Introduction / vii With France, Spain, and the United States all fighting a common enemy, they were united in their belief that the British should be expelled from the Floridas. How this would be brought about was a matter for debate, and there was confusion over disposition of the Floridas. There was no limit, however, to the enthusiasm for invasion. Plans were launched for an assault against St. Augustine by way of Georgia. French troops in the West Indies made preparations for an attack, and Bernardo de Galvez, the intrepid governor of Spanish Louisiana, carefully prepared to move against the British at Manchac, Mobile, and Pensacola. Except for small skirmishes, East Florida never became a theater of major military operations during the course of the Revolution, but West Florida was another matter. Galvez overwhelmed the British and in three short years ex pelled them from West Florida. Once more Spain's royal banners flew over the area from the Apalachicola River to the Mississippi. Pensacola had fallen before a great land and naval attack. In still another way, Florida related to the Revolutionary South during the course of the war. Loyalists from Savannah, Charleston, and the backcountry, men and women who were unwilling to break their ties with the mother country, were forced to leave their homes, and they made their way south to the Floridas. Hundreds flocked into Pensacola, and even more sought refuge in St. Augustine. The latter became one of the great way stations of the war as people poured in. Some elected to stay, but most moved on to new homes west of the Mississippi or to the Bahamas, Canada, or England. The story of Florida during the American Revolution is part of this state's great heritage in American history. To make this past known was one of the commitments of the Florida Bicentennial Commission when it was established by the legislature in 1970. An ambitious publications program was launched. Twenty-five facsimilies of rare, out-of-print books illuminating Florida's nearly five hundred years of recorded history have been published. In addition, a history of Florida during the Revolution and a history of the West Florida loyalists were also published by the commission, along with a guidebook to the state's historic places. The commission sponsored five scholarly symposia on the cam puses of the state universities of Florida. "Eighteenth-Century Flor ida and Its Borderlands" was the theme of the first, held at the University of Florida in 1972. The following year, one was held with Florida International University on "Eighteenth-Century Florida
viii / Introduction and the Caribbean." The third took place at Florida Technological University in 1974 on the subject "Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier." The papers and commentaries presented at these three symposia have been published by the University Presses of Florida. On March 21-22, 1975, a fourth symposium was held in Tallahas see with Florida State University. The topic was "EighteenthCentury Florida and the Revolutionary South." Again, a group of outstanding scholars, all specialists in this period of Florida and southern history, were invited to present papers. These papers de tailed the various aspects of the political, economic, intellectual, and social activities of the Floridas during the time of the American Revolution. The sessions were held in the Chambers of the House of Representatives, The Capitol, Tallahassee. President Stanley Mar shall of The Florida State University welcomed the participants. Representing the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Florida was its chairman, Lieutenant Governor Jim Williams. Dr. John Hebron Moore, professor of history and chairman of the Department of History, Florida State University, was chairman of the first session, "The Southern Low Countries and British East Flor ida." The session "Britain, Spain, and West Florida" had as its chair man Professor J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Department of History, Florida State University. Dr. William D. Miller, Department of History, Florida State University, served as chairman of the final session, "Books and Book Dealers in the Revolutionary South." Special thanks are owed to the many people whose help made the fourth symposium and its related activities a success. These include Don Pride, then executive director of the Florida Bicentennial Com mission, and the members of the commission staff, Tallahassee. The late Pat Dodson of Pensacola and Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke of St. Petersburg, members of the Florida Bicentennial Commission, helped in planning the symposium. Dr. William R. Adams was pro gram administrator, and he and his assistant, Adelaide Folensbee of the Division of Continuing Education, Florida State University, co ordinated all arrangements for the meeting. Governor and Mrs. Reubin Askew were the hosts at a reception at the Governor's Mansion. Nancy Dobson, a member of the local arrangements committee, arranged an evening party for the program participants at the Brokaw-McDougall House in Tallahassee. Her committee included Mrs. J. Leitch Wright and Mrs. William Warren Rogers.
Introduction / ix Dr. J. Leitch Wright was co-chairman of the symposium and chairman of local arrangements. His committee included Dr. David L. Ammerman and Dr. William Warren Rogers of Florida State Uni versity, Allen Morris, clerk of the Florida House of Representatives, and Nancy Dobson, director of the Historic Tallahassee Preserva tion Board. Dr. Samuel Proctor, Distinguished Service Professor of history and social sciences and Julien C. Yonge Professor of Florida History, University of Florida, was chairman of the symposium.
Symposium Participants JAMES H. "JIM" WILLIAMS, lieutenant governor of the State of Flor ida, is a native of Ocala and a graduate of the University of Florida. He was elected to the state senate in 1968 and was re-elected four years later. In 1973, he chaired the education financing conference committee, which was instrumental in the passage of landmark edu cational legislation. Lieutenant Governor Williams serves as secre tary of the Department of Administration and chairman of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Florida. DAVID R. CHESNUTT, a native of Alabama, pursued a newspaper career after receiving his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Alabama in 1962. He has been city editor of the Alabama Journal and line editor for United Press International. During this time, he won several writing awards, including one for his coverage of the integration of the University of Alabama. He received a master's degree from Auburn University and a doctorate from the University of Georgia. He has been a member of the history faculty of the University of South Carolina since 1971 and is assistant editor of The Papers of Henry Laurens. His articles have appeared in the South Carolina Historical Magazine and other scholarly journals. GARY D. OLSON is a graduate of Luther College and the University of Nebraska, where he received his Ph.D. in 1968. He is a member of the history faculty of Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. XI
xii / Symposium Participants Earlier, he taught history in the public schools of Kirkhaven, Min nesota, and at the University of Nebraska. Professor Olson is execu tive secretary of the Center for Western Studies at Augustana College. His research interests are the Plains and Western Indians and eighteenth-century America. He is the co-author of Prelude to Glory: A Newspaper Accounting of Custer's 1874 Expedition to the Black Hills. His articles on Thomas Brown and the loyalist movement in the South during the American Revolution have appeared in many state and regional historical journals. AUBREY CHRISTIAN LAND, graduate research professor at the University of Georgia, is one of the country's outstanding authorities on colonial and eighteenth-century history. He holds degrees from Southern Illinois University and Iowa State University, and before joining the faculty at the University of Georgia he taught at Carne gie Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Vanderbilt Uni versity, the University of Nebraska, and the University of Maryland, serving as chairman of the history department at Maryland. He has been a Fulbright Scholar, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Henry E. Huntington Library Fellow. He is serving as a member of the Library of Congress' Bicentennial advisory board. His books include The Dulanys of Maryland, Bases of the Plantation Society, and Letters from America, and he has published many articles in pro fessional and scholarly journals. JAMES MORTON SMITH is an authority on the colonial and Revolutionary periods of American history. He is the author and editor of six books, including Freedom's Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties, George Washington: A Profile, and the two-volume Politics and Society in American History, pub lished in 1973. His articles have appeared in national and regional historical, legal, political science, speech, and library journals. Born in Missouri, he holds degrees from Southern Illinois University, the University of Oklahoma, and Cornell University. He has taught at Butler University, Cornell University, the College of William and Mary, Duke University, and Hampton Institute, and since 1970 he has been professor of history at the University of Wisconsin. Pro fessor Smith was director of the State Historical Society of Wis consin. He has served on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals and on the boards of both The Papers of John Marshall
Symposium Participants / xiii and The Papers of George Mason. He has been active in the Wis consin American Revolutionary Bicentennial Commission and is chairman of the Bicentennial State History Series being published by the American Association for State and Local History and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is currently director of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, Delaware. ROBIN F. A. FABEL, a native of Aldershot, England, received his early education at Reading School. He served two years in Egypt and Cyprus as an officer in the Royal Artillery. At St. John's College, Oxford, he was in the honors school of modern history and received his bachelor's and master's degrees. He taught history at Worksop College, England, before coming to the United States to accept a position at Arkansas College. He has been a member of the department of history, Auburn University, since 1969, and he holds his doctorate from that institution. His research interest is Britain and her American colonies in the eighteenth century. He has com pleted a biography of Governor George Johnstone of British West Florida, and an article on Johnstone appeared in the special Bicen tennial issue (April 1976) of the Florida Historical Quarterly. His other writings have appeared in Negro History Bulletin, EighteenthCentury Studies, and the Alabama Historical Quarterly. THOMAS DAVIS WATSON, a native of Louisiana, is an associate professor of history, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana. He received a bachelor of arts degree from New Mexico State Uni versity and holds graduate degrees from the University of South western Louisiana and Texas Tech University. William Panton and the Panton, Leslie Company were the subjects of his doctoral dis sertation, and he has published several articles on this important trading company in scholarly journals, including an article which appeared in the Florida Historical Quarterly's Bicentennial issue (April 1976). Professor Watson is collaborating in the writing of a history of the Panton, Leslie Company. He serves on the Louisiana American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. JOHN FRANCIS MCDERMOTT, a native of St. Louis and a graduate of Washington University, was a member of the English faculty at that university before becoming research professor of humanities at
xiv / Symposium Participants Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He has been the recipient of many research grants from American and European foun dations and is the author of more than twenty books dealing with American travel, frontier literature, Indians, and Spanish and French settlement in the Mississippi Valley. He edited the western journals of Washington Irving and the diaries of James F. Wilkins and other early travelers, including John J. Audubon. He is an authority on the lives and art of Seth Eastman, George Caleb Bingham, and Alfred S. Waugh. He has participated in many scholarly conferences, has been a Guggenheim Fellow, and has served as a member of the publications advisory committee for the Winterthur Museum. His articles have appeared in professional and scholarly journals in America and abroad. STEPHEN E. MEATS is professor of English and chairman of the Division of Humanities at the University of Tampa. He has taught at the University of South Carolina and the United States Air Force Academy. A native of Kansas, he holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of of South Carolina. Professor Meats' special research interests are nineteenthand twentieth-century American literature. He has written the Introduction and Explana tory Notes to Joscelyn, A Tale of the Revolution by William Gil-more Simms, published by the University of South Carolina Press. He is also working on the Revolutionary War writings of Benjamin Franklin and William Gilmore Simms. CALHOUN WINTON, a native of Fort Benning, Georgia, received his public school education in several different states. After graduating from the University of the South at Suwannee, he received a master's degree from Vanderbilt University and a second master's and a doc torate from Princeton University. He taught at Dartmouth College and the Universities of Virginia, Delaware, and South Carolina before becoming professor of English at the University of Maryland. He has presented papers at many professional meetings, and he holds membership in scholarly organizations here and abroad. The paper that he presented at the Florida Bicentennial Symposium is drawn from a book he is preparing for publication. GLORIA JAHODA was born in Chicago and received a bachelor of arts degree in English and a master's degree in anthropology from North-
Symposium Participants / xv western University. She is the author of two novels, Annie and Delilah's Mountain, and several books on Florida, including The Other Florida, The Road to Samarkand, and River of the Golden Ibis. Her recently published The Trail of Tears is the story of the forced migration of the Five Civilized Tribes to the Indian territory west of the Mississippi. She is also the author of Florida, A Bicen tennial History, one of the volumes in the State Bicentennial series being published by the American Association for State and Local History in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Hu manities. A resident of Tallahassee, she has written numerous maga zine and newspaper articles and holds an honorary doctorate degree from the University of West Florida.
Contents The Challenge of the Bicentennial / James H. Williams / 1 South Carolina's Impact upon East Florida, 1763-1776 / David R. Chesnutt / 5 Thomas Brown, the East Florida Rangers, and the Defense of East Florida / Gary D. Olson / 15 Commentary / Aubrey C. Land / 29 Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / James Morton Smith / 34 West Florida and British Strategy in the American Revolution / Robin F. A. Fabel / 49 The Troubled Advance of Panton, Leslie and Company into Spanish West Florida / Thomas D. Watson / 68 Some Thoughts on Britain and Spain in West Florida during the Revolution / John Francis McDermott / 87 Artist or Historian: William Gilmore Simms and the Revolutionary South / Stephen Meats / 94 English Books and American Readers in Early Florida / Calhoun Winton / 110 Commentary / Gloria Jahoda / 122 xvii
The Challenge of the Bicentennial JAMES H. WILLIAMS WE are here for a historical symposium on "Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South." Some who have not been initiated into the scholarly rites of professional historians might wonder why we should attach any importance to this topic or this symposium, or why we should even assemble for a symposium when there are so many other, more immediate, and seemingly more im portant problems to resolve. What possible relevance can there be in the colonial experiences of a few eighteenth-century Florida settlers, and what could we possibly learn from an examination of the cul ture and the conflicts of the Revolutionary South? I believe there is considerable relevance in the study of Florida's heritage and that we can learn a great deal from studying the peo ple and problems of the past. There could be no better time for Floridians, and all Americans, to search hearts and minds, to look back to the hopeful days of this country's beginnings. There could be no better occasion for us to assess, with some sense of perspec tive, both the triumphs and the failures of what is, in the long view of historians, still but a brief and vulnerable experiment in demo cratic government. Yet that reassessment does not seem to be forthcoming. That sense of perspective does not seem to be with us. That long view does not seem to be prevailing. The American Bicentennial celebration still remains adrift in an uncertainty of purpose. In the celebration of the nation's Revolution, too many of us seem to have forgotten that there was a Revolution. We are in danger of forgetting that we will have no honor to confer upon the revolutionaries who made this 1
2 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South country unless we are willing to sustain the ideals we have inherited from them. What survives from the American Revolution is not merely a memory but an enduring tradition, one which the revolutionaries began and which successive generations of Americans have nour ished and transformed. For us to celebrate the Revolution is not only to honor the men and women of 1776 but also to promise that we will keep alive their vision of a free people. Yet, though there are now more than 1,900 designated Bicenten nial communities in the country and nearly 3,000 Bicentennial projects under way, there remains a basic uncertainty over exactly what all of us are doing. There are those who want to mark the nation's two-hundredth birthday by turning the event into a self-seeking and self-congratulatory worship of the past, complete with commercial ism and roman candles. There are others who would use the celebra tion solely as an activist tool for tackling contemporary problems and issues, either in service to a particular ideological bent or as homage to some special cause. Considered singly and separately, both approaches are self-defeating. They signify, on one hand, the worst flaws of stagnant conservatism and, on the other, the worst excesses of rootless reform. One approach is preoccupied with the trappings of history and, ignorant of its teachings, offers a meaningless exercise in pomp and pageantry. The other, lacking the insight and wisdom of his torical perspective, is overwhelmed by the passage of current events. There is room for pageantry in the Bicentennial celebration, and for passion, too, in the pursuit of a worthy cause. But we must seek a balance between them that will have a meaning in 1977 as well as 1976. It is particularly pertinent today to wonder why the first few years of the American Republic produced such a remarkable array of excellence in the theory and the practice of government. Only collective genius of an unusual kind could have fashioned the lofty idealism of the Declaration of Independence, the sensible real ism of the Constitution, the wisdom and the humanity of the Bill of Rights, and the abiding vitality of our machinery of government. That government has been able to survive even the most unscru pulous abuses and assaults over the years is testimony perhaps to Thomas Jefferson's early warning that because "our rulers will be come corrupt, our people careless the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest, and
The Challenge of the Bicentennial / 3 ourselves united." In this, as in so many other matters, we can credit Jefferson with considerable foresight, but we should wonder, too, why his warning was necessary. Why do so many of our leaders become corrupt? Why do our people become careless? Why is our unity as a nation so frail? These are appropriate questions for the Bicentennial year and for every year that we continue to exist as a nation, and these questions cannot be answered if we are unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of our Revolutionary tradition. No proper celebration of the nation's nativity can overlook the fact that we are commemorating a revolu tion, one based on an insistence on an "aristocracy of talent" rather than an aristocracy of privilege. Only such an understanding can open the way to the proper goal of the Bicentenniala renewal of the statesmanship and of the commitment to public service that was characteristic of America's early years. The way to accomplish this goal, I am convinced, is not by lighting firecrackers and peddling souvenirs or by simply exploring the past. These things are not harmful, but they do not further the Revolutionary spirit of the Bi centennial. What we need is a genuine and lasting effort by all those who believe in the Bicentennial to reach out and educate and involve and even inspire the general public in the celebration of our marvelous heritage. As professional historians dedicated to the preservation and the understanding of the past, you share a commitment to our heritage. Certainly you also must share an awareness that only a relatively few of our people have any real knowledge of that heritage. This is a tragedy that ranks with the persistent tragedies of war and poverty and discrimination and disease, for I cannot help believing that if we were only better instructed in the experiences of the past, we would be better prepared to avoid the perpetuation of these tragedies in the future. The National Endowment for the Humanities is sponsoring an American issues forum that originated as a suggestion by Walter Cronkite. This forum will, I hope, involve thousands of Americans in an informed discussion of where we are and where we should be going as a people. We have every intention of participating in that discussion in Florida. The American Revolution Bicentennial Com mission supports the forum, and our Florida Bicentennial Commis sion has been asked to find ways to adapt the forum and its cal endar of issues to our needs here.
4 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South So we will, in the months ahead, be reaching out into the com munities of this state to make the people aware of the boundless potential of the Bicentennial, one which we are only now beginning to realize. We will be encouraging people to participate not simply in the celebration of history, but in the making of history as well, remembering always the wisdom of one of America's greatest historians, Carl Becker, when he told us that "everyman is his own his torian." This Bicentennial effort may be manifested in local conservation efforts, adult education programs, local historical preservation projects, or attempts to involve more and more of our people in the po litical process that is the cornerstone of our heritage. It may be re flected in individual and collective efforts by ordinary people to make their homes a little nicer, their children a little happier, and their dreams more a reality. There may be disagreements over what our heritage means in these difficult days, but, if these are again the days that try men's souls, then it is time again to seek out the true meaning of our na tional experience.
South Carolina's Impact upon East Florida, 1763*1776 DAVID R. CHESNUTT IN the years before the American Revolution, East Florida struggled to become what South Carolina wasa thriving, prosperous, planta tion colony. East Florida's first governor, James Grant, made a con scious effort to mold the infant colony into a likeness of South Caro lina. He failed, but his vision persisted, and neither John Moultrie nor Patrick Tonyn altered Grant's conception. Both unconsciously accepted the framework which he had provided, Moultrie because he was preoccupied and Tonyn because his attention was focused on the crises of the moment. Most, but not all, of the South Caro linians involved in the early development of East Florida were en gaged in activities which promoted or reinforced Grant's vision of a "new Carolina." Two groups of Carolinians were obviously discrete entities because they moved into action in the spring and summer of 1763 before the new province of East Florida had been officially birthed. The first group included a small number of land speculators and a much larger number of planters, all part of a land rush which began in the spring of 1763. The second was comprised of enter prising sea captains and merchants who began to open the com mercial lanes between Charleston and St. Augustine in the summer of that year. The South Carolina land rush, sparked by the Spanish cession of 1763, was short lived, beginning in April and ending in July. Claim ing a right to the upper portion of the Spanish cession under the Carolina charter of 1665, Governor Thomas Boone issued 455 war rants of survey for more than half a million acres in the new ac quisition. Only 56 of the warrants were completed, and the total 5
6 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South granted was slightly in excess of 90,000 acres. All but three of the Boone grants were for lands located north of the St. Marys, an area subsequently annexed to Georgia. The grants below the St. Marys amounted to only 4,100 acres. Thomas Middleton got 3,000 acres on the St. Johns, his nephew William Middleton got 1,000 acres on Talbot Island, and Joseph Elliott got 600 acres on Amelia Island. When the Middletons later asserted their claims, Grant readily agreed, provided they would take out new titles under the East Florida seal.1 The Carolina land fever had been generated by a drive for good rice land, which explains why so few asked for lands below the St. Marys. The region north of the St. Marys abounded with fresh water swamps periodically flooded by the incoming tide, a sharp contrast to those swamps below the St. Marys which were described as "dismals."2 For this reason, the land rush did not have the effect in East Florida that it had had in Georgia. There the Boone grants became the focus of a long controversy between Georgia and South Carolina. Insofar as East Florida was concerned, the land rush gave credit to the idea that a number of South Carolinians might be led to settle in East Florida. The most important effect, however, was the confusion created by the Boone grants in the area north of the St. Marys. That confusion forced English speculators who sought lands along the South Atlantic coast in the mid-1760s to concentrate on East Florida. Under the orders obtained from the Privy Council by the English speculators, they engrossed almost 1.5 million acres in East Florida, but only 10,000 acres in Georgia. Had it not been for the Carolina land rush of 1763, Bernard Romans might well have written of the "monopolizers" of Georgia rather than those of East Florida.3 The greatest of the East Florida monopolizers was a Charleston merchant, not an English grandee. John Gordon and his associates' claims to an estimated 10 million acres included most of St. Augus tine and vast undeveloped tracts along the Atlantic. Gordon was supported by deeds he and his friends had obtained from the Span-1. S.C. Royal Grants, 11:158, 159, 171, S.C. Archives; Grant to Board of Trade, March 1, 1765, CO5/540, 356. 2. Charles Loch Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784, reprint (Gainesville, Fla., 1964), p. 51. 3. David R. Chesnutt, "South Carolina's Penetration of Georgia in the 1760s: Henry Laurens as a Case Study," South Carolina Historical Magazine 73 (1972): 194-208; Acts of the Privy Council, Colonial Series, 6 vols. (London, 1900-1912), 4:813-15, 821, 5:588-89, 595; Bernard Romans, A Concise Natu ral History of East and West Florida, reprint (Gainesville, Fla., 1962), p. 117.
South Carolina's Impact upon Florida, 1763-1776 / 7 iards who were being evacuated from St. Augustine. Article 20 of the Treaty of 1763 allowed the Spanish settlers to sell their lands. Grant refused to rule on Gordon's case, which was shuttled back and forth between London and St. Augustine until the end of the decade. Finally, in 1775, the British government made a ,000 sterling settlement. This cleared the title to many of the disputed lands, dis putes that were early seen as impediments to settlement. Henry Laurens commented in 1764? "those who have anything to risque will be more cautious of improving Lands tho granted by the Crown with usual Solemnity if there is the least apprehension of being re moved from or even disturbed in their possessions by a Dormant Claim." Laurens urged Grant to settle the problem immediately.4 Commercial ventures from Charleston were launched almost im mediately in the wake of Boone's decision to stop making land grants south of the Altamaha River. The sea lanes were opened by the schooner Endeavour, which sailed from Charleston for St. Augustine on July 31. James and Thomas Rodgers owned the vessel, whose cargo consisted of 66 casks of rum, beer, and wine plus "sundry British goods" which the brothers hoped to sell to the troops at St. Augustine. The voyage of the Endeavour was the first of many which the Rodgers firm made between Charleston and St. Augustine. As the government of East Florida was organized and families began to settle, Rodgers tended to carry more Carolina foodstuffs like flour, corn, peas, and hogs. James and Thomas Rodgers were typical of the entrepreneurs who first sought to take advantage of the new markets in East Florida. To those who have studied the shipping lists of South Carolina and East Florida, the names of other mariners like Peter and Adam Bachop, Thomas Buckle, Bryan Foskey, Robert Harrison, John Roach, and Thomas Tucker are equally fa miliar. Less well known perhaps were the merchants of Charleston who supported these captains. There were firms like Torrans, Poaug, & Gregg, Benfield & Jones, Nicholson & Bampfield, and Ward & Legare. Individual merchants similarly involved included John Gor don, Henry Laurens, Benjamin and John Savage, William Kelly, and Joseph Turpin.5 4. Lawrence Henry Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution, vol. 9, The Triumphant Empire (New York, 1956), pp. 188-89; Mowat, East Florida, pp. 53-54; HL to James Grant, September 15, 1764, Ballindalloch Castle Muniments, Ballindalloch, Scotland. 5. S.C. Naval Office Lists, CO5/510, 113, passim; E. Fla. Naval Office Lists, C05/573, passim.
8 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South These men were among the first to open the Atlantic lanes be tween the two ports, often at considerable risk. The St. Augustine bar was shallow and dangerous, hurricanes posed a seasonal threat, and for most of these early vessels the trip to St. Augustine was not especially lucrative because there were few cargoes to bring back to Charleston. Many vessels returned in ballast or, worse yet, returned with large portions of unsold goods. The connections established by these first Carolinians expanded with the growth of East Florida. By the end of the 1760s, St. Augustine was firmly within the com mercial orbit of Charleston, which continued to serve as the major entrepot for East Florida until the American Revolution. The first South Carolinians who looked southward in 1763 had inadvertently influenced the course of East Florida's development, but the next wave of activity was a direct result of James Grant's arrival. Grant's plans for East Florida were born of his own experiences in Carolina. In 1761, he commanded a successful expedition against the Cherokee Indians in the Carolina backcountry. He had also been stationed in Charleston in 1757 for almost a year.6 During his march along the Cherokee path into the interior, Grant had seen firsthand the industrious German settlers at Amelia Township on the Congaree River. He had also seen the inland plantations as well as those of the lowcountry, plantations which provided a growing opulence for the planters. He had met the great export merchants of Charleston, whose wealth equaled or exceeded that of the planters; he had dined in homes furnished with fine Windsor chairs, ex quisite chimney glasses, and other amenities imported from England; he had visited the slave auctions where African cargoes averaged as much as 0 sterling. Though Charleston's population was only 8,000 in 1760, the busy port was periodically swelled by seamen and by those who came down from the backcountry to tend to business. At the height of the shipping season, the sailors alone often num bered as many as 1,500, a fact mutely attested by the numerous taverns and grogshops of the city. The racing season in February provided amusements for both the well-to-do and the plain folk, as did the theatrical productions which were as bawdy as the races. Charleston and the lowcountry plantations radiated a style which 6. Eugene Sirmans, Colonial South Carolina: A Political History, 1663-1763 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1966), pp. 338-41; Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The House of Commons, 1754-1790, 3 vols. (New York, 1964), 2:529-31.
South Carolina's Impact upon Florida, 1763-1776 / 9 Grant found much to his liking and one which he considered worthy of emulation. When Grant began to implement his plans for East Florida, he turned almost immediately to Henry Laurens for aid in solving the colony's pressing problems. A pilot boat was needed to improve the navigation at St. Augustine, a coasting schooner to supply the gar risons stationed to the north and south of St. Augustine, and a road to connect St. Augustine with Georgia to facilitate the movement of overland settlers. Laurens handled all three problems with alac rity. He contracted in Charleston for construction of the pilot boat, arranged for a similar contract to build the schooner in Philadelphia, and personally headed a private subscription in Charleston to help underwrite the road. Construction of the pilot boat was marked by many delays, which proved to be a constant worry for Laurens, but, finally, the vessel was completed and sailed from Charleston to St. Augustine in June 1765. The schooner's construction went forward, and the vessel sailed into Charleston in July 1765. The subscription drive for the road brought in 0 sterling from the South Carolina contributors, to which was added 0 sterling raised in Georgia.7 Laurens soon became involved in supplying East Florida with provisions and building materials which he freighted on the South Carolina coasting schooners or shipped in his own vessels. When the port of Charleston was closed during the Stamp Act crisis in the winter of 1765-66, East Florida was in danger of starving. Lieutenant Governor William Bull allowed an emergency shipment of provisions to clear for East Florida without stamped paper, and when the port was reopened Laurens shipped a second load of foodstuffs to St. Augustine. The two shipments provided welcome relief for the distressed inhabitants of East Florida. Laurens was also called upon to arrange provisions for the Greek and Minorcan settlers brought into East Florida in 1768 by Dr. Andrew Turnbull. Throughout the next two years, Laurens continued to supply the settlers of New Smyrna with the bulk of the foodstuffs which they imported. At the same time, Laurens encouraged Grant to spur his East Florida set tlers to produce more foodstuffs and to become self-sufficient in that respect.8 7. HL to James Grant, September 15, 1764, February 27, April 20, June 1, 21, July 8, 22, 1765, Ballindalloch Castle Muniments; S.C. Naval Office Lists, C05/511, 83; South Carolina Gazette, June 29, July 27, 1765; James Grant to Board of Trade, March 1, 1765, CO5/540, 353. 8. Laurens to James Grant, February 27, 1765, Ballindalloch Castle Muni-
10 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Because of his widespread mercantile correspondence in England and the West Indies, Laurens developed an extensive network with the planters of East Florida. He was especially useful to those who had obtained their lands by orders from the Privy Council, men like Denys Rolle and his agent William Penn, John Tucker and his agent Dr. William Stork, and Francis Levett and his agent Alexander Gray. Though Laurens purchased and shipped to East Florida slaves, tools, provisions, and other necessities for their new plantations, he helped in other ways. He frequently endorsed their bills of exchange drawn against their accounts in London. His endorsement established credit for the East Florida colonists and made their bills negotiable in Charleston.9 For John Tucker and Thomas Thoroton, Laurens arranged both the selection and survey of their 20,000-acre tracts in East Florida. He was also helpful to Tucker's agent, Alex ander Gray, giving him specific advice about choosing good lands for Tucker's settlement. Laurens also went to great lengths to serve Denys Rolle, a service which brought no monetary commissions but many a headache.10 Laurens had first entered the East Florida trade because of his friendship with James Grant. He had been the second ranking officer of the provincial regiment which had served under Grant in the Cherokee campaign and had defended Grant stoutly against his critics both in and out of the Carolina assembly.11 Other connec tions formed in the expedition led to the inclusion of four Carolinians in the first royal council which was organized by Grant on October 31, 1764. Grant's choices for the first council were James Moultrie, John Moultrie, John Ainslie, and John Holmes. Two other Carolinians ments; Laurens to Andrew Turnbull, July 28, October 1, November 11, 1768, October 31, 1769, S.C. Historical Society. Unless otherwise noted, all Laurens items subsequently referred to are in the collections of the South Carolina His torical Society. 9. Laurens to Ross & Mill, November 16, 1768; Laurens to Richard Oswald, April 27, 1768; Laurens to James Grant, April 4, 1769. 10. Laurens to James Grant, August 18, 1766, Ballindalloch Castle Muni ments; Laurens to Gideon Dupont, Sr., August 30, September 6, 1766; Laurens to John Lewis Gervais, September 1, 1766; Laurens to Alexander Gray, October 13, 1767; Laurens to Denys Rolle, October 10, 1764, December 12^ 1765; Laurens to William Penn, November 21, December 14, 1767, October 1, No vember 11, 15, 1768. 11. The Papers of Henry Laurens, vol. 3, January 1, 1759-August 31, 1763, ed. Philip M. Hamer and George C. Rogers, Jr. (Columbia, S.C, 1972), pp. xixxx, passim.
South Carolina's Impact upon Florida, 1763-1776 / 11 were subsequently added to the council, Francis Kinloch in 1765 and William Drayton in 1767. Notably absent in the lists of East Florida settlers, however, were the names of other prominent Carolina families. From Grant's correspondence with the Board of Trade and with Laurens, it is apparent that Grant held discussions with many other prominent Carolinians. Yet these men do not appear in De Brahm's census in 1771.12 Other Carolinians of the middling sort were well received by Grant, but they did not come at his direct invitation. A carpenter by the name of Yates moved to St. Augustine in the spring of 1766; a young lawyer, John Colcock, settled briefly but returned home after a few months; a merchant, Thomas Stone, sought to mend his fortunes in the fall of 1768; an overseer, Thomas Littleton, moved with five or six slaves in the winter of 1768. Richard Hazzard, John Davis, Jr., and Edmund Gray were all South Carolinians who had previously moved to Georgia and then to East Florida.13 These men were useful acquisitions to the province, but Grant looked to his hand-picked councillors to provide the economic leadership for East Florida. These were the men Grant described as the "great acquisitions" to East Florida. John Moultrie and John Ainslie had both served under Grant dur ing the Cherokee campaign, Moultrie as a major of the provincial regiment and Ainslie as captain of a company within the regiment. James Moultrie came onto the East Florida council through his brother John's connection with Grant, and John Holmes may have been known to Grant as a merchant who provided supplies for the Cherokee expedition.14 All four were young men with an eye toward the "main chance." The Moultries had been part of the stream of first-generation South Carolinians educated abroad in the late 1740s and 1750s. John became the first native-born American to graduate from the University of Edinburgh in medicine. His thesis on yellow fever was well received and by 1768 was in its ninth printing.15 12. Mowat, East Florida, pp. 14, 44; Grant to Board of Trade, March 1, 1765, CO5/540, 355; Laurens to Grant, March 24, 1765, Ballindalloch Castle Muniments; De Brahm's Report of the General Survey in the Southern District of North America, ed. Louis De Vorsey (Columbia, S.C., 1971), pp. 180-86. 13. Laurens to Grant, April 22, November 13, 1766, August 15, December 3, 1768; David R. Chesnutt, "South Carolina's Expansion into Colonial Georgia, 1720-1765" (Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia, 1973), pp. 175-77, 220, 223. 14. Miscellaneous Records, LL, part 1, 305, 306, S.C. Archives. 15. Joseph Ioor Waring, A History of Medicine in South Carolina, 1670-1825 (Columbia, S.C, 1964), pp. 269-71; "Part II. The Moultries of South Caro lina. From a Sketch by the Late Dr. James Moultrie, with Annotations by A. S.
12 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South James Moultrie's career was launched in less auspicious circum stances following his study of law at the Inner Temple. The begin nings of his career were described by one of his fellow students who wrote home in 1754, "James Moultrie, (to use the common phrase) has played the fool and married. He had contracted an utter Aver sion to Carolina, & getting acquainted with the daughter of an at torney he thought could put him forward in business here, married her without her Father or Mother's Knowledge." James did return to practice in Charleston and was elected to the commons house in 1762, an election clouded by unresolved charges that "unfree persons" had voted. He was named attorney general of South Carolina in January 1764 but served less than ten months before resigning to become chief justice of East Florida.16 The Moultries personified the type of men Grant considered to be "great acquisitions" as did the other two Carolinians subsequently appointed by Grant to the East Florida council. Francis Kinloch was appointed in the summer of 1765. As the leading indigo planter in all of South Carolina, his promise to establish a plantation with eighty slaves was a great encouragement to Grant.17 William Dray ton was added to the council as a replacement when James Moultrie died in August 1765. Drayton was of a prominent Carolina family, a lawyer trained at the Middle Temple and a personal acquaintance of Grant. The Grant-Drayton connection had been formed during Grant's first tour in South Carolina.18 Of the six appointees, only half remained at the outset of the Revolution. James Moultrie died less than a year after being appointed; Francis Kinloch made a settle ment in 1766 but died the next year. John Ainslie departed at the end of 1766; John Holmes remained to become a successful producer of turpentine; John Moultrie had become lieutenant governor and a Salley, Jr.," The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 5 (Octo ber 1904):248-49; Jack P. Greene, The Quest for Power: The Lower Houses of Assembly in the Southern Royal Colonies, 1689-1776 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1963), omits both John and James Moultrie from his list of leaders in the South Caro lina commons house. 16. Peter Manigault to Ann Manigault, July 12, 1754, SCHGM 33 (1932): 149-50; S.C. Commons House Journals, no. 35, p. 12, S.C. Archives; William Bull to Board of Trade, October 8, 1764, Transcripts of Records in the Public Record Office relating to South Carolina, 30:206, S.C. Archives. 17. George C. Rogers, Jr., Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812) (Columbia, S.C, 1962), pp. 71-73; Grant to Board of Trade, July 16, 1765, CO5/540, 415. 18. Mowat, East Florida, p. 44; SCHGM (1904), 5:248; Charles L. Mowat, "The Enigma of William Drayton," Florida Historical Quarterly 22 (1943):5.
South Carolina's Impact upon Florida, 1763-1776 / 13 successful indigo planter; and William Drayton was the province's principal lawyer and most determined advocate of the establishment of a popular assembly in East Florida. Grant brought the Carolinians to his council because they were men of sufficient wealth to establish plantations, a cost which Ro mans estimated at $2,500. If these men succeeded, others might fol low. Francis Kinloch was one of three men who tried to establish rice plantations in the great swamp of the St. Johns River. The others were Edmund Gray and William Bartram. During his visit to East Florida in the summer of 1766, Henry Laurens navigated the St. Johns three times, visiting the plantations and viewing their progress. He recorded only his observations on young Bartram's efforts, and they were bleak indeed. Bartram was living in a leaky hut be side a stagnant, putrid, foul-smelling swamp, and of his work crew of six Negroes, only three were able-bodied hands. Presumably, Kinloch's settlement was better located and had a stronger labor force, but his death the next year put an end to his plantation on the St. Johns. Young William Bartram simply abandoned his miserable plot.19 Other planters experimented with rice at the Mosquitos and at St. Augustine, but their efforts were virtually fruitless. Only fifteen barrels of rice were exported in 1766, nine in 1771, and twenty in 1772. John Moultrie and Grant himself led the way toward success ful indigo production in the late 1760s but on a decidedly small scale. St. Augustine's highest level of export was reached in 1771 with 28,000 pounds, compared to Charleston's highest level before the Revolution, in excess of 1.1 million pounds in 1775.20 East Flor ida's indigo works were just enough to keep alive the idea of estab lishing East Florida on the same footing used in South Carolina. The indigo works proved to be a case of "too little, too late." By 1770, most South Carolinians had discarded the notion that East Florida might some day become a successful plantation colony. The lack of interest was reflected in the Carolina newspapers. Before 1770, the papers had carried frequent notices of comings and goings between Charleston and St. Augustine. After 1770, the East Florida news was mainly of an official naturechanges in government, In-19. Romans, Concise History, p. 191; Laurens to John Bartram, August 9, 1766, American Philosophical Society; Laurens to Gideon Dupont, Sr., Septem ber 19, 1766, Ballindalloch Castle Muniments. 20. Mowat, East Florida, pp. 68-69, 77; The Statistical History of the United States from Colonial Times to the Present (Stamford, Conn., 1966), pp. 762, 768.
14 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South dian affairs, and troop movements. The Laurens-Grant correspon dence revealed the same sort of waning interest. The number of letters dwindled, and the two men talked less and less of plantation affairs. Laurens had become convinced that East Florida's lands would never become valuable planting lands. When Grant reported the successful introduction of indigo, Laurens quickly passed over the matter rather than take issue with Grant's renewed enthusiasm. Though Grant and his successors plotted their course by South Caro lina's example, the Carolinians had abandoned the ship.21 Grant's attempt to create a "new Carolina" was largely shaped by his own experiences in South Carolina. For instance, his refusal to establish an assembly was in large measure a response to his own bitter dispute with the South Carolina commons house in 1761. His ready acceptance of Dr. Andrew Turnbull's New Smyrna project and John Savage's Bermuda project can be attributed partly to the fact that these efforts fit the established patterns of suc cessful settlement in South Carolina. Grant's adherence to the Caro lina model was also reflected in his early partnership with Richard Oswald and in his own planting efforts following the dissolution of that partnership. Grant's grand design for East Florida was impossible to fulfill. The geographical configurations of East Florida were too different from those of South Carolina or even Georgia to make for an easy transference of the Carolina staples. The early failures of rice and the slow development of indigo were obvious inhibitors to settle ment, but those examples were magnified even further because Grant had imposed the South Carolina model as a norm for the measure ment of East Florida. In effect, he had established a limited scale by which to judge the success or failure of East Florida. Its lack of success contributed mightily to its failure to attract settlers in the years before the Revolution. In his last book, America at 1750, Rich ard Hofstadter pointed to the growth of the American colonies as the central characteristic which enabled them to move toward indepen dence. East Florida was obviously outside the American mainstream for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that James Grant had chosen South Carolina as its model. 21. South Carolina Gazette, 1770-75, passim; South Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, 1770-75, passim; South Carolina and American General Ga zette, 1770-75, passim; Laurens to Grant, April 3, 1770.
Thomas Brown, the East Florida Rangers, and the Defense of East Florida GARY D. OLSON AS patriot leaders consolidated their control over South Carolina and Georgia during 1775, the existence of British-held East Florida became of increasing concern to them. The province had become a refuge for loyalists who chose to flee their homes in the southern backcountry rather than submit to patriot authority. It was obvious that both loyalists and British authorities would seek to use East Florida as a base from which to launch military expeditions aimed at the re-establishment of royal government in the southern colonies. If Georgia, in particular, and the Carolinas were to achieve a measure of security, the threat it posed would have to be eliminated by conquest. Patrick Tonyn, royal governor of East Florida, was quick to ap preciate the new position in which the American rebellion had placed his province. He recognized the strategic advantage it pro vided for British efforts to reassert royal authority in the rebellious colonies to the north, but at the same time he realized that the rebels would seek to remove, by military conquest, the threat which his province presented. Thus, as 1776 began, both sides in the South whigs in the Carolinas and Georgia and British authorities in East Floridawere faced with similar defensive problems. In both cases, the best defense seemed to be a successful offense, and during the subsequent three years each side in turn launched military expedi tions aimed at the conquest of the other. Thomas Brown, a loyalist refugee from Georgia's backcountry, came to play a prominent role in the ensuing military conflict along 15
16 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South the Georgia-East Florida frontier. As one of the few loyalist leaders of the southern backcountry to escape arrest by whig authorities, he was determined to do everything he could to assist in the reestablishment of British rule in the southern provinces. He had a personal stake in this contest, for he had left behind in Georgia a 5,600-acre plantation and 150 indentured servants. He also had suffered pain and humiliation at the hands of the Augusta liberty boys when they had elicited his "voluntary" subscription to the Conti nental Association by burning the bottoms of his feet and apparently also tarring and feathering him just for good measure.1 When he arrived in East Florida in December 1775, Brown offered his serv ices to Governor Tonyn, and the two men found each other to be kindred souls with common objectives: both sought the suppression of rebellion in Georgia and the CarolinasTonyn because it would ensure the safety of his province and Brown in order that he might regain his home and property. Tonyn was particularly attracted to him because Brown had a plan for the military conquest of Georgia and the Carolinas which not only seemed feasible but would, if successful, end the American military threat to East Florida. He outlined the elements of Brown's plan in a letter to General Henry Clinton in February 1776. Reports had reached St. Augustine of an impending British expedition un der Clinton's command against the southern provinces, and Brown's plan was designed to ensure that such an attack would be successful. Convinced that any attempt to invade from the coast alone would be a slow, costly process, since the rebels would simply retreat into the backcountry, Brown's idea was to coordinate a loyalist uprising of the backcountry and an invasion from East Florida with Clinton's attack by sea, thereby effecting a pincer movement. The majority of the backcountry inhabitants of the Carolinas and Georgia, he claimed, were loyal to the British, but they had been disarmed and held under close civil and military control. He was confident that, given the opportunity, he could raise two or three thousand men, who, having regained control of the backcountry, could proceed east ward and assist Clinton in suppressing the rebellious tidewater re gion. To force an entrance into the backcountry and provide support 1. The Supplemental Memorial of Thomas Brown to the Commissioners for Inquiring into the Losses and Services of the American Loyalists, April 21, 1788, British Public Record Office, Audit Office 13/34:113-15; Wilbur Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida 1774-1785, 2 vols. (De Land, Fla., 1929), 2:323.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 17 that would enable the loyalists to arm and organize, Brown planned to use Cherokee warriors. He also promised Tonyn that he would be able to raise two companies of riflemen from among backcountry loyalists and send them to East Florida to supplement the governor's small defensive force.2 Anchored off Cape Fear, North Carolina, where he awaited his troop ships from Ireland, Clinton replied to Tonyn regarding Brown's proposal. He made no comment upon the major aspects of the plan except to say that as yet he did not know where he was going to launch his attack. When a plan was decided upon, he promised to inform Tonyn immediately. In the meantime he autho rized Brown to raise "two or even four companies of riflemen of 50 each for the term of six months or during the present rebellion." They were to be paid the same wages as the regular troops and "such other marks of favor as His Majesty may think proper to grant." Clinton concluded his letter by authorizing Tonyn to offer Brown the rank of captain and specified that Brown should assemble the rangers at St. Augustine, where they were to stand ready to join in his upcoming campaign.3 By the time Tonyn received Clinton's letter in the middle of April, Brown had already departed for Cherokee country with twenty packhorses loaded with powder. Since it would take some time to reach the Cherokees and make preparation for an uprising in the southern backcountry, Tonyn and Brown had decided they could wait no longer for Clinton's approval of their plan. With the plan already in motion, Tonyn was understandably disappointed with Clinton's response. "You did not perfectly comprehend Brown's pro posals," he protested to Clinton. Brown did not wish to be the com mander of the rifle companies that he would raise in the backcountry for service in East Florida. Indeed, stated Tonyn, Brown had no intention of returning to East Florida with these men but to remain in the backcountry and there raise "eight or nine hundred" additional loyalists who, with the support of Indians, would seize control of the backcountry.4 2. Tonyn to General Henry Clinton, February 15, 1776, Sir Guy Carleton Papers, 107 vol., 1747-83, British Public Record Office; Brown to John Stuart, February 24, 1776, Sir Henry Clinton Papers, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 3. Clinton to Tonyn, March 20, 1776, Clinton Papers. 4. Tonyn to Clinton, April 15, 1776, Brown to John Stuart, February 24, 1776, ibid.
18 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Weeks dragged by, and still Clinton's troop ships did not arrive. Early in May, Brown had reached the Lower Creek towns with his powder and discovered that the tribesmen would not allow him to proceed to the Cherokees when they themselves were so low on ammunition. He made the best of the situation by adjusting his plan to use the Creeks rather than the Cherokees to gain entrance into the backcountry. It was from there that Brown responded to Clin ton's offer, transmitted to him by Tonyn, of a captaincy in the rifle companies; he rejected it with disdain and for apparent good reason. To accept it, he explained to the governor, would cause him to "fall so low in [loyalist] estimation that it would not lay in my power to render any further service to the General in raising of men in the back country." Moreover he could not possibly accompany the rifle men to East Florida as Clinton had directed, for Brown was con vinced that only he could raise 1,000 to 1,500 backcountry loyalists to join in Clinton's attack upon the rebels.5 While Brown fumed with impatience among the Lower Creeks, Governor Tonyn was no less frustrated in St. Augustine. With no word from Clinton in over a month, he dispatched a sharply worded letter of prodding to the general. "Doing nothing is a losing game," he preached. Unofficial reports reached St. Augustine that Clinton had decided to attack Charleston, but still Tonyn received no in structions from the general. Early in June, Tonyn wrote Clinton again wondering why he had not received authorization to put Brown's plan into action. By this time, Tonyn was increasingly worried by rumors of an American expedition being organized in Georgia for the invasion of East Florida. The opportunity for suc cessful offensive operations based on Clinton's force and Brown's coordinated uprising in the backcountry had been allowed to slip away.6 Tonyn and Brown waited in vain for Clinton's order to launch their master plan for the reduction of the southern provinces. On June 28, Clinton began his attack against Charleston. Hastily formu lated, the attack was poorly executed and was met by determined resistance. Clinton subsequently broke off the action and retired northward to New York, leaving Tonyn to defend East Florida as best he could against American military efforts aimed at eliminating this British base of operations in the South. 5. Brown to Tonyn, May 8, 1776, ibid. 6. Tonyn to Clinton, May 21, June 8, 1776, ibid.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 19 By the end of May, Tonyn had already concluded that the threat of an attack against his province was so great that he could wait no longer for Clinton's approval of the entire plan which he and Brown had proposed. Consequently, in early June he sent word to Brown to begin raising two companies of riflemen and commissioned him with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Clinton had specified that these two companies should be mounted infantry and consequently they were called rangersthe East Florida Rangers. No longer was their creation part of a larger offensive scheme. Indeed, the organization of the East Florida Rangers marked the failure of Brown's plan and the fact that defensive rather than offensive considerations had be come Governor Tonyn's paramount concern.7 Brown remained in Indian country during the remaining months of 1776, recruiting rangers from among the Georgia and Carolina backcountry loyalists who had taken refuge in the Creek towns. Upon instructions from Tonyn, he also sought to encourage the Indians to attack the Georgia frontier in order to divert American attention and military energy away from East Florida. Such efforts conflicted sharply with official policy being pursued by British In dian Superintendent John Stuart, who at that time was urging the Creeks to stay home and await a major British expedition in the South. The outcome was that Brown failed to engineer Indian at tacks against Georgia, but he did persuade sixty Creek warriors to accompany him to the St. Marys River when he finally joined his East Florida Rangers there in December.8 Brown had barely assumed command of his rangers when British forces in East Florida launched a major raid into Georgia. Indeed, during the next two years Brown and his rangers were constantly in volved in the fighting that raged back and forth over the East Florida-Georgia borderlands. His was a foraging and intelligencegathering organization as well as a fighting force. Indeed, it is ap parent that Brown saw his rangers as an offensive military force and regarded the periodic necessity of defending East Florida against 7. Tonyn to General Guy Carleton, January 14, 1783, Brown to Carleton, January 9, 1783, Carleton Papers. 8. Tonyn's initiative in soliciting Indian assistance for the defense of East Florida soon received official approval from General William Howe (Howe to Tonyn, August 25, 1776, ibid.); George Galphin to Willie Jones, October 26, 1776, enclosing depositions of Joseph Ironmonger, George Barnes, and John Lambeth of October 21, 1776, in Peter Force, ed., American Archives, 5th ser. (Washington, 1853), 3:648-51.
20 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South American attacks as interruptions of his primary activities. Detach ments constantly raided into Georgia to gather cattle to feed East Florida's swollen refugee population. Brown also sent small squads of rangers into the Georgia-Carolina backcountry to gather informa tion on the strength of the whig military establishment and to assess loyalist strength. These intelligence detachments often acted as es corts to groups of backcountry loyalists who, for one reason or another, had decided to emigrate to East Florida. By November 1777, Brown's force of rangers numbered 130 men, which included himself as lieutenant colonel, a major, four captains, four lieutenants, one surgeon, one mate, and the rest privates.9 While Brown was embroiled in military activities on the East Florida-Georgia border, the existence and status of his rangers be came the subject of a major dispute between the military and ci vilian authorities of East Florida. In mid-September 1776, less than two weeks after his arrival in St. Augustine, Lieutenant Colonel An drew Prevost complained to General William Howe, commander-inchief of British forces in North America, that he suffered under severe handicaps in fulfilling his responsibilities for the military defense of East Florida. First of all he was short of experienced troops and commissioned and noncommissioned officers. He also chafed under the fact that his rank made him subject to the author ity of the civilian governor and council. But in particular he com plained because Brown's East Florida Rangers were subject to the governor's command and not his own.10 Prevost's difficult situtation improved with what for him must have been agonizing slowness. In January 1777, General Howe in formed him that he could expect no more regular troops and that he would have to defend the province as best he could with what he hadsome regulars, provincial troops, and Indians. In fact, Howe soon ordered the transfer of some of Prevost's regulars to another theater of war, making Prevost even more dependent upon pro vincial troops such as the East Florida Rangers. But, on the other hand, Howe did request the secretary of state to promote Prevost 9. A. Prevost to General William Howe, November 1, 1777, Tonyn to Howe, February 24, 1778, Brown to Tonyn, March 13, 1778, Carleton Papers. At the end of the war Brown claimed that he had brought to East Florida 350 loyalists who were formed into a regiment called the South Carolina Royalists under the command of Colonel Alexander Innes (Brown Memorial enclosed by Brigadier General McArthur to Carleton, January 9, 1783, ibid.). 10. Prevost to Howe, September 9, 1776, November 1, 1777, ibid.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 21 to the rank of brigadier general, which would give him more equal standing with Governor Tonyn. This promotion was conferred upon Prevost sometime in 1777. Still not satisfied, Prevost continued to press the necessity for him to have authority over Brown and his rangers. He complained to General Howe that the rangers were "under no kind of regulation or restriction." Moreover, he felt the rangers were overpaid, receiving "clothing, one shilling per day and provisions, and what they plunder."11 Disappointed in not having received from General Howe the au thority to command all troops in East Florida, both regular and provincial, Prevost sought on the local level a more direct solution to the problem. In late December 1777, he wrote to Governor Tonyn demanding that all provincial forces be placed under his command. "If they are paid by Government ," he declared, "whether Rangers, or soldiers of any other denomination they can be but under one command." Since he was responsible for the military se curity of the colony, he explained that it was necessary for him to have command of all available forces in order that he might deploy them according to a unified defense plan.12 Governor Tonyn's reply was generally cooperative, in both content and tone. He explained that he had formed the rangers in order to get some service out of refugees that the government would have had to support in any case. These rangers, he continued, had been organized under his police power as governor to provide for the defense of the province, and, unless they were called upon to act with regular troops, they were under the command of the governor rather than the commander of the military district. Having clarified the East Florida Rangers' legal status, the governor informed Gen eral Prevost that he might "have them posted in whatever form [he] please and order them, or any party on detachment, either with or without H. M. troops." If that was not satisfactory, he would be glad to meet with the general to work out a more agreeable arrange ment.13 Prevost found the governor's letter less than satisfactory, and he was soon renewing his complaints to General William Howe regard ing the status of Brown's rangers. Amid reports of an imminent 11. Howe to Prevost, January 15, July 14, 1777, Prevost to Howe, November 1, 1777, ibid. 12. Prevost to Tonyn, December 20, 1777, ibid. 13. Tonyn to Prevost, December 24, 1777, ibid.
22 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South rebel expedition against East Florida, Prevost felt it was crucial to the defense of the province to resolve the matter of his command authority. He sent Howe his letter to Tonyn and the governor's reply to him and requested "positive orders in relation to my conduct in that affair." His "extreme desire of preserving harmony between us," he explained, had caused him not to push the governor farther. But at the same time, he continued, "the little service [the rangers] are of in the way they are at present is sufficient to evince the im propriety of having such a corps without almost any controul or reg ulation."14 While the dispute over the East Florida Rangers simmered in St. Augustine, Brown was busy putting his men into proper military shape and undertaking varied activities on the province's northern border. Early in 1778, Brown was finally able to report to Tonyn that "The Rangers are improving in discipline very fast and are ready for any service." At that moment he was sending twelve handpicked men into South Carolina to gather intelligence and two "trusty intelligent Carolina Palatines" into Georgia to persuade their countrymen to desert the rebel forces and to conduct to East Flor ida any who would do so. If the governor approved, Brown was also ready to send a force of rangers and Indians across the Altamaha River to gather cattle with which to feed the garrison and province.15 Governor Tonyn was not unaware of Prevost's complaints to Gen eral Howe regarding the East Florida Rangers, and in February 1778 he wrote to the commander-in-chief explaining his side in the con troversy. Brown's rangers, he explained, had been formed in 1776 as a home guard to defend the province against invasion, and al though they were an entirely provincial force they were always at His Majesty's disposal. The governor then proceeded to review the accomplishments of the rangers and their commanding officer, Thomas Brown. Tonyn characterized Brown as "a Gentleman of Education and Fortune," who after being "persecuted by the Rebels for his Principles" had shown "a most examplary and daring Spirit" while "warmly engaging in the King's service." Brown and his rangers, Tonyn stated, had been commended by Major Mark Pre vost, in a letter to his brother the brigadier general, for their actions in defending the province against invasion in 1777. But for unknown reasons Tonyn had been unable to secure a copy of that paragraph. 14. Prevost to Howe, February 12, 1778, ibid. 15. Brown to Tonyn, February 19, 1778, ibid.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 23 Nor, he complained, had the general seen fit to mention to Brown "The Approbation of your Excellency which you was [sic] pleased to signify in your Letter to him." Prevost's pettiness in this matter, Tonyn declared, "has hurt Mr. Brown." "Whatever representations of Mr. Brown and his Rangers General Prevost may make to your Excellency," the governor was confident that he "could not have found a more proper person than Mr. Brown is for that Service." Indeed, he was convinced that "had there been no Rangers in the Province the King's service would have suffered considerably."16 A month later, Tonyn sent further proof to General Howe of the valuable service being performed by Brown and the East Florida Rangers. On March 12, Brown, with 100 rangers and 10 Indians, had crossed the Altamaha River during the night to launch a surprise dawn attack against Fort Barrington. The attack had been successful, at a cost of only one ranger killed and two wounded. Brown's men had taken 23 captives, destroyed two cannons, and burned the fort. After razing the fort, Brown had sent two small detachments of rangers into South Carolina and three more into Georgia to gather intelligence. He then led the remainder of his force in hunting cattle south of the Altamaha River, and since Fort Barrington had been a deterrent to such foraging, he was sure that with it removed "the garrison and province [would] be better supplied with cattle."17 In late April 1778, General Howe received at his Philadelphia headquarters two more letters of mutual recrimination from Prevost and Tonyn. The governor, writing on April 4, complained of the lack of cooperation that Prevost was giving his East Florida Rangers. The general's "prejudices against and jealousies of Lt. Col. Brown," he stated, "is highly injureous and hurtful." And although he wrote that he would not trouble General Howe with particulars, Tonyn did charge that the two PrevostsGeneral Andrew and his brother Major Markwere allied with the Drayton opposition faction in the provincial assembly and that this situation prevented more extensive military expeditions against the rebel provinces of Georgia and South Carolina.18 Prevost's letter of complaint to General Howe, written a day later than Tonyn's, repaid the governor in kind. "Notwithstanding my sin cere wishes to maintain the strictest cordiality with the governor," 16. Tonyn to Howe, February 24, 1778, ibid. 17. Brown to Tonyn, March 13, 1778, Tonyn to Howe, March 31, 1778, ibid. 18. Tonyn to Howe, St. Augustine, April 4, 1778, ibid.
24 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South he wrote, "inconveniences daily arise from his assuming the sole command of the Rangers stationed on the frontiers of this province and their being independent of the person who by the King's orders ought to have the Supreme military command." Then, having re peated his old complaint, Prevost proceeded to the particular prob lem that bothered him, Brown's rank of lieutenant colonel. Did Brown have the right, he asked, to command a major of the regular army? Hidden behind the polite rhetoric of eighteenth-century cor respondence of an officer to his superior was Prevost's obvious frus tration over the status of the rangers. Although he only "requested" that General Howe resolve the dispute, the tone of the letter was one of pleading.19 During April, Brown and his rangers had continued their activities north of the St. Marys River. His intelligence gathering was exten sive and impressive. He reported to both Prevost and Tonyn the size and movement of rebel troops in South Carolina and Georgia, the number of men and armament of some forts in those colonies, and the news that several hundred loyalists were heading toward East Florida from the Carolina backcountry. But most alarming was his report of a sizeable expedition under General Samuel Elbert headed south across the Altamaha. It was uncertain whether its objective was to intercept the loyalists or to attack East Florida. A week later, Brown informed Prevost that two of his men had arrived from the Carolina backcountry with news that the presence of Elbert's army had caused the postponement of a general loyalist uprising. Brown's intelligence agents estimated that about 6,000 loyalists in the Carolinas were "ready to embody themselves whenever required." It was clear that Brown was not content with merely defending East Florida, for when referring to the backcountry loyalists he expressed his hope that "some plan may be concerted to the advantage of Government and their Satisfaction."20 With the intelligence that a rebel force was probably headed toward East Florida, General Prevost felt he could wait no longer for an order from General Howe to settle the status of Brown's rangers. On the morning of April 18, he informed Tonyn that he would not send any troops to reinforce the East Florida Rangers on the St. Marys River. "Unless you and I submit, [so] that you shall be under the orders of Major Glazier," the governor explained 19. Prevost to Howe, April 5, 1778, ibid. 20. Brown to Tonyn, April 6, 16, 1778, Brown to Prevost, April 6, 1778, ibid.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 25 to Brown, "I perceive you will not be supported by the King's troops in ease the Rebels should attack you." With the safety of the province at stake, Tonyn decided to give up for a time what he thought was his right, and he asked Brown to submit.21 Brown's reply was expectedly emotional and to the point. He felt wronged by Prevost, "wither from personal dislike or prejudice" or because he believed someone else could better lead the rangers and Indians he did not know. He did know, however, that he could not "consistant with my duty to His Majesty or your Excellency [the governor], my feelings, my honor submit to be commanded by a subaltern." Thereupon Brown offered Governor Tonyn his resigna tion.22 Tonyn refused to accept it, for, as he told General Howe, "I know not another person who is fit for supplying his place." So Brown con tinued to lead the East Florida Rangers while submitting to the command of Major Glazier of the regular army. While both sides awaited General Howe's decision which would finally resolve the situation, East Florida again prepared to meet an American attack. At the end of June, Brown was able to report to the governor that while the rebels had crossed the St. Marys River in three places, his rangers, with the assistance of Prevost's regular troops, had managed to drive them back across the river.23 In the flush of victory it must have been difficult for Tonyn and Brown to accept the arrival of General Howe's pronouncement that "all troops within a province by whomever raised or paid must while embodied be subject to one supreme command ... this command being invested in Brig. General Prevost at present."24 Howe's order resolved the dispute over whether Prevost or Tonyn had command of Brown's rangers, but not the question of Brown's authority to command officers of the regular army beneath his rank. If anything, this question now became more important than it had been. Prevost was soon pressing Howe's replacement, General Henry Clinton, for a resolution of this issue. "The rank of Lieutenent Colonel given to Mr. Brown by the Governor," Prevost complained, "prevents me from the means of reducing them to some order and regulation." And he explained that the rangers needed a great deal 21. Tonyn to Brown, April 18, 1778, Tonyn to Howe, May 1, 1778, ibid. 22. Brown to Tonyn, enclosed in Tonyn to Howe, May 1, 1778, ibid. 23. Brown to Tonyn, June 30, 1778, ibid. 24. Howe to Tonyn, May 1, 1778, ibid.
26 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South more order and regulation. He described them in most unflattering language. They were not being paid, he said, and "discontent and licentiousness are the consequence." "Meanwhile," he continued, "without being of any service, they subsist upon the King's provi sions are called Troopers, but have few or no horses, the few who have them keep them to go plundering into Georgia whenever they can form a party amongst themselves for that purpose." More over, Prevost cited a practical example of the difficulties arising from Brown's unwillingness to take orders from regular army officers. In the recent American attack, Brown's refusal to accept such orders had resulted in the "near loss of the advanced corps of the Army." "It appears rather hard," he lamented, "that old officers should be commanded by a young man entirely unacquainted with military matters." Prevost demanded to know if Brown was entitled to his rank of lieutenant colonel. If he were, the general requested that his officers with the rank of major be promoted to lieutenant colonel so Brown would not outrank them.25 The status of the East Florida Rangers and their commander was not completely resolved by the time General Clinton ordered Pre vost to prepare for an attack into Georgia in concert with an ex pedition from New York aimed at Savannah. Clinton had approved the request to advance the majors under Prevost's command to the rank of lieutenant colonel, which meant that there were now a good number of lieutenant colonels in East Florida. And since Archibald Campbell, commander of the expedition from New York, was only a lieutenant colonel, Clinton found it necessary to inform Prevost that no other senior officer except himself "should be allowed to interfere with him unless it should be unavoidable."26 After what proved to be a premature thrust north in late Novem ber, the East Florida forces did effect a juncture with Campbell's victorious army at Savannah in December. Brown and his East Flor ida Rangers accompanied Campbell on his brief foray to Augusta and assisted in the defense of Savannah against the Franco-American siege late in 1779. Thereafter, Brown was constantly involved in British efforts to regain control over the southern provinces and did not return to East Florida until the evacuation of Savannah at the end of the war. The success of British military operations in the South which be-25. Prevost to Clinton, September 25, 1778, ibid. 26. Clinton to Brig. Gen. Prevost, November 8, 1778, ibid.
Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers / 27 gan with Campbell's capture of Savannah at the end of 1778 meant that East Florida's position relative to the American conflict under went a significant alteration. No longer would the province need fear an American invasion. Consequently, no longer could Governor Tonyn justify the existence of the East Florida Rangers as a defen sive force under his authority. Not unexpectedly, Tonyn received orders from Lord Germain in the spring of 1779 to disband the rangers. It would be up to General Clinton whether Brown's rangers would continue to exist. If they did, Brown would have to receive his commission from Clinton, and his men would be put on the same footing as all other provincial units raised in America.27 After months of intense controversy between Tonyn and Prevost over the status and quality of Thomas Brown and the East Florida Rangers, it seems a bit ironic that both men joined in urging Clinton to continue the rangers under the regular provincial establishment and to have Brown's rank confirmed from the date of his first com mission in 1776. Brown was particularly deserving of this, explained Prevost, "by his attachment and zeal for the service and the great losses he has met with ... [as well as] his knowledge of the country and his connections with many of the inhabitants [which] will render him hereafter useful."28 A month later, Prevost reported that Brown was already enlisting men in a new provincial corps called the King's Georgia Rangers. The personnel of the new ranger unit were different from the de funct East Florida Rangers, who, Prevost explained, having been "mostly people of some property and under a different engagement could not be expected to enlist on the new establishment in tended for them." Nonetheless, he continued, Brown's new rangers were of "a very decent appearance and behave well." This time Pre vost actually begged Clinton to confirm Brown's rank from the date of his initial commission from Tonyn in 1776. "He is intitled to it," he declared.29 The disbanding of the East Florida Rangers and the creation of the King's Georgia Rangers was a reflection of British military suc cess in the American South. In particular, it marked the success of 27. Germain to Tonyn, March 3, 1779, Clinton Papers; Germain to Clinton, January 23, 1779, Carleton Papers. 28. Tonyn to Clinton, May 29, 1779, Prevost to Clinton, June 16, 1779, Carleton Papers. 29. Prevost to Clinton, July 30, 1779, ibid.
28 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South the war objectives shared by Governor Patrick Tonyn and loyalist refugee Thomas Brown. Tonyn had always believed that his prov ince's best defense was a successful offense against the rebellious colonies that threatened from the North. Brown had planned and worked from the outset of his exile in East Florida not merely to defend that province but to use it as a base from which to assist in re-establishing royal authority in Georgia and the Carolinas. He did not wish to spend his life in East Florida but to return to his home and property in the backcountry of Georgia. The fact that in 1779 he commanded Georgia Rangers rather than East Florida Rangers meant that he was a step closer to that objective.
Commentary AUBREY C. LAND THESE papers have two qualities in common that raise them above the ordinary: they both say something new, and they both suggest much more. Each adds a new facet to the Revolutionary period of Florida history, a history not as well known to most Americanists as it should be because of deficiencies in training. In my college days, Florida came into view during the survey course sometime in the second decade of the nineteenth century. To this land of sand, snakes, and Seminoles went Andrew Jackson to chastize troublemakers, and, in so doing he hanged Arbuthnot and Ambristerthereafter annexation and very little more. Even in the advanced courses in colonial history, Florida received in frequent mention and then chiefly as a boundary to the lowermost of the sacred thirteen. Yet in the sense that Reinhold Niebuhr used the term, Florida has "history" as few other areas do and that history extends further back on the time scale than the chronicle of any mainland colony. By the decade dealt with in these papers, Florida had known the tramp of European bootsFrench, Spanish, and Britishfor 200 years, while the oldest settled colony to the north, Virginia, counted its age at 150 and the newest, Georgia, a mere 30 years. It is small wonder that some of us discovered Florida in ma ture years, after we had donned the cloth of professional historian. And, let it be said, some of us discovered these riches from the writings of younger scholars present here. The paper by Professor Chesnutt reminds us of the perils of paradigm. He covers a decade, an instructive one in the history of 29
30 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South British colonization, when Florida could look back over two cen turies of history but was still a virgin land. Paradoxically, there had been no maturing time. What then could have been more natural for British Americans than to export the pattern of their past ex perience to this new land? Such had been the history of mainland colonization: settlers had brought the agricultural techniques from England, a land of gentle rainfall, to Virginia and Maryland, where clouds pile high, the firmament crashes with lightning, and the heavens descend in torrents that transform fertile fields into sterile gullies. Experience taught planters to mend their ways but only after a time. Similarly, the entrepreneurs who came to Florida after annexation to the British Empire brought with them the ways of Carolina. Why did their short-run effort fail? It seems clear from Professor Chesnutt's account that the planters who ventured into East Florida immediately after 1763 made a mis take in judgment. They attempted to skip steps. Like Faulkner's Thomas Sutpen, they tried to jump directly from wilderness to full blown plantation without regard to process. They certainly were not ignorant of plantation operations, but their models were the func tioning plantations of South Carolina, themselves the outgrowth of a hundred years of experimentation and foundation building. For example, Francis Kinloch, a leading indigo planter in South Caro lina, proposed to establish a plantation worked by eighty slaves. (This operation resembled the model shortly to appear in American Husbandry, but on an immensely larger initial scale.) Clearly en trepreneurs like Kinloch lacked neither capital nor bold enterprise. Their hardships and their eventual failure can be attributed largely to a lack of market mechanisms and a lack of a social base. Charleston, the market center for East Florida, lay more than 300 miles to the north. Everyone familiar with the history of early Caro lina and Georgia is aware of hazards faced by planters who lived no more than three-score miles from entrepots. Even these relatively short distances fostered the growth of backcountry merchants, either factors of larger houses in the economic capital or, more typically, small independent operators. Now the great planters were excused from most of the pressures besetting small producers, yeoman families, and owners of one or two slaves. But even the great planters found markets and the merchants who made them up singularly con venient. For small producers, local markets were essential. The other deficiency, absence of a social base, is related func-
Commentary / 31 tionally to the lack of market mechanisms. Both Carolina and Geor gia had considerable numbers of planters who could not by any stretch of imagination be considered grandees. This fraternity of small producers was far larger in all the staple-producing colo nies than generally believed. Frequently these folk preceded the planters of legend, owners of many slaves and masters of baronial households. They formed a kind of pioneer element in new lands, and when the great planters established in their midst or occasionally arose by hard work and superior management from their ranks, the small-scale planter class formed a base that gave society and the economy solidarity. It would not be rash to assert that these less affluent households could hardly have maintained themselves with out some commercial organizationsome market mechanismto serve them. Nor could a viable organization of commerce even come into existence without their patronage. Nor, finally, could any thing except a society of masters and slavesanother Barbados exist without this small-producer element. Accordingly, it seems fair to say that the East Florida enterprise, as envisioned by the wealthy promoters, was doomed from the out set. Laurens, an astute businessman, made heroic efforts, not alto gether selfish but certainly with an eye to mutual benefits to en trepreneur and underwriters inherent in economic growth. But he labored in vain, as the end result clearly shows. In a classic sentence, Professor Chesnutt evokes a poignant image of one hopeful be ginning that turned out badly: the picture of young Bartram living in a leaky hut beside a stagnant, putrid swamp with exactly half his work crew still able-bodied. Somehow this vision captures the dis junction between dream and reality. Professor Olson's paper focuses on the exploits of a remarkable man, Thomas Brown. He may be accounted remarkable because, though his career covered here is entirely military, Brown was not by either instinct or training a military man. He is also remarkable for his success in the face of mistakes by the British command. Pro fessor Olson has drawn together the scattered threads of the Brown story and woven them into the first connected treatment of his Revolutionary career, and an instructive account it is when seen in a single piece. Thomas Brown and his unusual command, the East Florida Rangers, make a story that is intrinsically interesting. In the context of the Revolution and British military history, that story transcends
32 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South colorful episode to become instructive commentary. British arms had in the past seen days of glory when the Duke of Marlborough had commanded the fields of Blenheim, Ramillies, and Audenarde. And, in years after our Revolutionary War, the army was to rise again at Leipzig and Waterloo under Wellington. But during the dispute between the colonies and the mother country, the army had settled into mediocrity, enmeshed in a tangle of insensitive bureauc racy and inept leadership. At this low point the army was called upon not only to fight a war three thousand miles from home with all the attendant problems of supply and communications, but to fight a war of an unfamiliar kind, analagous in a rough way to a war of national liberation. Not surprisingly, Britain bungled the war effort. Professor Olson's paper treats this mismanagement and the British dealings with Flor ida that illustrate almost every mistake in the military lexicon. Fore most among these was the lack of a firm strategic plan. To be sure, the problem of subduing rebellious Americans must have seemed like trying to pick up a barrel of snakes. With thirteen jurisdictions to deal with, British commanders seemed at times all but paralyzed by indecision, a predicament not helped by the directions they re ceived from the War Office, which at times must have seemed vi sionary. Certainly Clinton displayed an administrative rather than a military attitude: temporize and hope the problem will go away. Whatever the success of such a policy in university administration, it is fatal in warfare. Indeed, Governor Patrick Tonyn displayed more enterprise and decisiveness than did General Clinton. An equally great mistake, the British failed to capitalize on their great opportunity: to mobilize loyal sentiment. This failure seems even less comprehensible when set against the British supposition that loyal citizens, once royal troops arrived, would rise and over come the "hot, intemperate men," the minority making all the trouble. Actually, British commanders treated colonials with some dis dain, and the tradition of snubbing colonial military leaders went back at least to the time of General Braddock and young Washing ton. Not even the successes of colonial armies changed British com manders' attitudes. Thomas Brown's capture and destruction of Fort Barrington with almost no loss should have been a salutary lesson. It was not, and neither was his impressive intelligence gathering. Here again the loss was Britain's. Accustomed to European war fare carried on in a theater with an established road net and key
Commentary / 33 cities, not to mention a passive population, the British could have used the first-hand knowledge of men like Brown, accustomed to the terrain and connected with local people. Liaison between Brit ish armies and the loyalist element was never effective. The issue was left to be determined by the main British armies. Only in the end, after British investment of Savannah, did Brown receive his deserts and a negligent nod from the War Office. Governor Tonyn apparently understood the type and the potential of men like Brown, at bottom a civilian who wanted to return to his Georgia home and to the king's allegiance.
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial JAMES MORTON SMITH IN the spring of 1973, I presented a paper about the Bicentennial at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians in Chicago. The best thing about that paper was the opening line, which the New York Times used as its quotation of the day on July 4, 1973: "The Bicentennial shares two attributes with death and taxes: it is inevitable, and after the mess that has been made by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission headed by David J. 'Phony' Mahoney, it is uneasily anticipated." That statement was made just after President Nixon decided one of his better decisionsnot to appoint Jeb Stuart Magruder as executive director of the ARBC. By the time the Bicentennial year arrived, Magruder had served a term in prison, President Nixon had resigned in order to avoid impeachment, and the nation had wit nessed what former Attorney General John Mitchell, himself in dicted, tried, and found guilty, called the "White House horrors." On August 8, 1974, President Nixon's resignation speech on nation wide television canceled three network shows whose titles provided an ironic footnote to his involvement in the Watergate affair: "The Nature of Evil" on ABC, "The Lost Man" on CBS, and "The Taste of Ashes" on NBC. In some ways the work of the House Judiciary Committee, sitting as a body to decide whether or not Congress should use what James Madison had labeled as "the decisive engine of impeachment," proved to be the most appropriate commemoration of the Bicenten nial of the American Revolution. The thirty-eight men and women 34
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 35 on that panel, by diligent research of the historical record and a constant recurrence to the principles laid down by the Founding Fathers, demonstrated that first principles should still come first and that a corrupted system can be self-cleansing, if the elected repre sentatives of the people perform as they ought to in the preservation of the people's interest. Little wonder, then, that Senator Hugh Scott, Republican minority leader in the United States Senate, wrote the following letter in long hand to the Father of the Constitution, only minutes after President Ford had been sworn in: August 9, 1974 The Honorable James Madison Sir: It worked. Sincerely, Hugh Scott United States Senator That letter says all there is to say about the relevance of the Bicen tennial. The Constitution and the constitutional system had worked. The "crisis of conscience" was at an end, and the planners of the Bi centennial commemoration, from Washington to the smallest village in Florida or Wisconsin, could get on with their jobs without the embarrassment of the Watergate scandal. It is true that some of the Bicentennial projects rivaled some dreamed up by Congressman Sol Bloom in 1932 for the Bicentennial of the birth of George Washington. In his capacity as director of that nine-month program, Bloom, a former sideshow barker, stimu lated 4,760,345 separate and distinct programs throughout the United States, serving on one occasion as the official starter of the Bicentennial Futurity, "perhaps the largest homing pigeon race held in America up till that time," according to Bloom, who liberated 10,000 American and foreign birds, thus "giving the [Bicentennial] race an international significance." Many of Bloom's activitiesand almost predictably much of the Bicentennial activities of 1976like the pigeon Futurity were strictly for the birds. But there were worthwhile programs during
36 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South the Washington Bicentennial in 1932, and there have been worth while programs in 1976. Many of the latter were sponsored by his torical societies and museums, doing much of what they regularly do but being able to do more of itor do it more effectivelybe cause of the Bicentennial emphasis and some additional funding. Before the Bicentennial year arrived, I made an old-fashioned survey of historical agencies, one which I hesitate to summarize in an age of quantification, because it is neither a masterpiece of cre ative statistics, a mosaic of arithmetic artistry, nor a methodological innovation. But it did reveal that there is still life in the not-so-dead past. There are two ways, I think, of looking at the role of historical societies, agencies, and museums in the Bicentennial era: some will stress a business-as-usual approach, with no special Bicentennial emphasis, but most will have special programs tied directly or in directly to Bicentennial activities. If we take the broad view of the Bicentennialthe 200 years of history between 1776 and 1976these two differing approaches be come one, for most of the day-to-day activities of historical agencies, the business-as-usual approach, qualify as heritage components of Bicentennial planning. Thus, Colonial Williamsburg, the restored colonial capital of Virginia, made no plans for major new programs for the Bicentennial years. "Telling the Bicentennial story has been the work of Colonial Williamsburg since 1926," according to Duncan Cocke, senior vice president. John Melville Jennings, director of the Virginia Historical Society, noted that that society has been collect ing, preserving, and publishing materials relating to the Revolution for nearly 150 years. "In short," he concluded, "the approaching hi-/ centennial [era] has not prompted the Society suddenly to develop an interest in the American Revolution." Nor has it prompted historical agencies to develop an interest in history, which they attempt to preserve and disseminate day in and day out. Only a few agencies seemed despondent about relating their day-to-day business to the Bicentennial. The Texas State His torical Society reported what all of us in historical agencies know to be truethat its small staff "is already heavily burdened just try ing to keep our heads above water." W. E. Marshall, executive director of the State Historical Society of Colorado, started from a similar low point: "To be painfully hon est about it, I don't think we have programmed specific activities
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 37 and projects to take advantage of the Bicentennial. We seem to be so damn busy that there isn't time to plan and initiate additional projects without corresponding support funds and personneland our Legislature isn't fired up to that extent." Then he went to a more positive theme: "We have attempted to key on-going programs to the [state] Centennial (and to a modest degree, to the Bicentennial), such as the state-wide survey of sites under the National His toric Preservation Act, our crucial need for a new museum and headquarters building, certain restoration projects (a mining inter pretive site complex, for example, which the State is probably fund ing more adequately and swiftly because we have announced 1976 as the target date to get a portion of the complex open), and others which I am sure is true with most historical agencies." Finally, he threw in some counterpoint with his conclusion: "In short, we are utilizing the events to inform and to stimulate enthusiasm and then attempting to direct the concern and energy generated toward ac complishing long-standing goals and objectives. Not very imaginative." My only quarrel with Marshall's statement is his claim that this approach is not very imaginative. The truth is that historical so cieties, museums, and agencies were from the beginning out in front of legislatures, Bicentennial Commissions, and the public in program planning for both the heritage and festival areas. Moreover, they would have been remiss if they had not taken advantage of the Bi centennial interest to stimulate and promote broad support for their educational, historical, and cultural projects. Unfortunately, not all state Bicentennial commissions were interested in historical pro grams, though none rivaled the Iowa Bicentennial Commission's failure to utilize state historical agencies. Neither the State Histori cal Society nor the State Department of Archives and History was visited by the consulting firm hired by the state Bicentennial com mission to prepare program suggestions, despite a charge directing it to meet with "state agencies and departments that may have assets or services of value in support of the Bicentennial." Peter T. Harstad, director of the State Historical Society of Iowa, wrote that "if the society will have a role in Bicentennial affairs, its program will have little or no backing from the Iowa ARBC. ... In short," he lamented, "Iowa may have a 'historyless' Bicentennial." In contrast with Iowa, most state Bicentennial commissions sup ported historical activities. With or without that support, however,
38 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South historical societies, museums, and agencies planned a wide variety of programs with a heritage theme: publications, preservation, restoration, and historical marker programs, new museums, symposia and grants-in-aid, and a miscellaneous group of activities ranging from motion pictures and re-enactments to exhibitions and "bodysnatching." Historical agencies scheduled publication programs in two broad areas: secondary accounts (including state histories), essays, mono graphs, booklets, reprints, readers, and guidebooks; and documen tary materials and research aids, including documentary histories, both in letterpress and microfilm, catalogues of collections, research guides, indexes, and bibliographies. The Kansas State Historical So ciety led off in 1972 with the massive documentary history of The Beginning of the West, edited by Louise Barry. The Mississippi His torical Society was the first to issue a new state history, a two-volume set written by forty-five professional historians and edited by R. A. McLemore. Both the Ohio Historical Society and the Kentucky His torical Society planned to update existing state histories by adding two new volumes. The Kentucky volumes will cover the period from 1870 to 1970, and the Ohio volumes will focus on the twentieth century. The most comprehensive state history will be published by the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, which has scheduled a de finitive six-volume History of Wisconsin. The first volume, Alice E. Smith's From Exploration to Statehood, appeared in 1973, and the second, Richard N. Current's The Civil War Era, 1848-1873, was published in 1976. The other authors are Robert C. Nesbit, E. David Cronon, and Paul Glad of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and William Fletcher Thompson of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Connecticut and Virginia issued a series of booklets on the Revo lutionary period, with Glenn Weaver of Trinity College editing the Connecticut series and Edward M. Riley of Colonial Williamsburg editing the Virginia series. The historical societies of both Ohio and New Hampshire and the Georgia Department of Archives and History considered similar series for their states, and they may yet publish them during the Bicentennial era. In Wisconsin, the State Historical Society published two volumes of essays on the Revolutionary and early national periods: James Kirby Martin edited a festschrift in honor of Merrill Jensen (The
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 39 Human Dimensions of Nation-Making), and David Skaggs edited an anthology on The Revolution in the Old Northwest. In Oregon, the Historical Society published a volume of essays on the Pacific North west, edited by Thomas Vaughn. Several historical magazines, in cluding the Journal of Mississippi History, devoted special issues to the Bicentennial. Florida published Florida in the American Revo lution (J. Leitch Wright) and Tories, Dons, and Rebels: Rritish West Florida in the American Revolution (J. Barton Starr). The most ambitious reprint was inaugurated in Florida, with twenty-five rare items scheduled for publication under the editor ship of Samuel Proctor of the University of Florida. The Montana Historical Society decided to re-issue the Montana Brand Book for 1900, "virtually a directory of Montana for that time." The New York State Historical Association and the Illinois Historical Society have planned readers based on articles published in their respective journals. The Florida Historical Quarterly devoted a special issue to essays dealing with Florida's role during the Revolution. Finally, four states planned to publish guidebooks. The Florida Bicentennial Commission will publish a guide to the historical and anthropological sites on its Bicentennial Trail, and Delaware, New Jersey, and Rhode Island hope to issue guidebooks to their historic sites. In the field of documentary publications, the South Carolina De partment of Archives and History has the most ambitious schedule: nine volumes of Indents in Payment of Revolutionary Claims, four volumes of the Journal of the House of Representatives, 1783-1791, and eighty reels of microfilm of the Audited Accounts of Claims Growing Out of the Revolution. In addition, the General Assembly will issue a seven-volume Ricentennial History of the General As sembly of South Carolina. New Jersey also launched a major docu mentary publication program featuring a Documentary History of New Jersey in the Revolution and the Minutes of the Privy Council of New Jersey, 1777-89, both sponsored by the New Jersey Historical Commission, and a Documentary History of Afro-Americans in New Jersey, sponsored by the New Jersey Historical Society. The Rhode Island Historical Society established a series of Original Narratives of Rhode Island in the Revolution, with Carl Bridenbaugh's volume, Silas Downer, Forgotten Patriot: His Life and Writings, inaugurat ing the series in 1974. One of the key sets of documents, Province in Rebellion: Documentary History of the Commonwealth of Massa-
40 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South chusetts, 1774-75, was edited by L. Kinvin Wroth and associates in 1976. Arizona lists a three-volume documentary history of the state; Mississippi plans a series on British and Spanish colonial docu ments, 1763-90; Georgia will issue two volumes of its Colonial Records; Delaware will publish the Proceedings of the House of Rep resentatives during the Revolution. The other large category of documentary projects is the papers of Revolutionary leaders. Connecticut is working on the papers of Jonathan Trumbull under the editorship of Albert E. Van Dusen, New Hampshire on the papers of Josiah Bartlett, North Carolina on the papers of James Iredell, under the editorship of Don Higginbotham, and the papers of Governor William Tryon, and Rhode Island on the papers of Nathaniel Green, under the editorship of Richard Showman. In Wisconsin, the State Historical Society pub lished in 1976 the first two volumes in the fourteen-volume Docu mentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which is edited by a staff under Merrill Jensen's direction. Another editorial project of major significance was the 1976 publica tion by the Princeton University Press of the Atlas of Early American History, sponsored jointly by the Newberry Library and the Institute of Early American History and Culture, under the editorship of Lester J. Cappon et al. The papers of the eighteenth-century Indian trading company Panton, Leslie and Company are being edited by William Coker, under the sponsorship of the University of West Florida, the University of Florida, and the Florida Historical Society. Research guides, catalogues of collections, and indexes, stimulated by Bicentennial programming, will be another boon to historians. General guides to manuscript collections are planned by the his torical societies of Florida, Georgia, and Illinois. Special guides to manuscript collections relating to the Revolution will be issued by the Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina Departments of Archives and History. Other special guides include a historical di rectory of New Jersey newspapers since the Revolution (New Jersey Historical Commission) and an iconography of New Jersey (New Jersey Historical Society), a guide to the Lyman Draper Collection (State Historical Society of Wisconsin), and, in the field of the arts, three catalogues by the New York Historical Society on portraits, landscape and genre paintings, and its silver collection. The Florida Historical Quarterly, the Filson Club Quarterly, and the William and Mary Quarterly will issue cumulative or additions to their pub-
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 41 lished indexes. North Carolina and Illinois will publish bibliogra phies on the Revolution in their states. The P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History of the University of Florida is calendaring all of its Spanish Florida papers, covering the period 1590-1821, as a Bicentennial project. Restoration and preservation projects rank second to publication programs in the Bicentennial planning of historical agencies. Each state and territory has a State Historic Preservation Officer who co ordinates the federal-state program under the National Historic Pres ervation Act of 1966. Statewide surveys of significant historical, archeological, architectural, and cultural sites are under way in all the states, and there are matching federal funds for the acquisition and development of sites that have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Specific state preservation projects already authorized or now being planned include the acquisition and restoration of the follow ing Revolutionary sites: New Gate Prison and Viets Tavern in East Granby, Connecticut, the Old State House, an eighteenth-century chapel, and Naaman's Tavern in Delaware, Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky, and Fort Morris in Georgia. Florida plans archeological digs at four Spanish colonial mission sites, and four states plan to restore nineteenth-century sites: the Alabama State Capitol of 1851, the Tivoli Theater complex in Pensacola, Florida, the Mississippi governor's residence of 1840 and Jefferson College as a museum for southwest Mississippi, and one or more Indian historical sites, such as the Nehawka Flint quarries, in Nebraska. The third major category of Bicentennial planning by historical agencies centered on new museum and/or administrative head quarters. Arkansas got off to a fast start in 1973 with a $6 million appropriation for an archives and museum building, and the Con necticut legislature appropriated $45,000 for a feasibility study for a new $5 million state museum. The state historical societies of Colorado, Kansas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Nebraska and the Michigan History Division have assessed the need for new museum buildings, and the New Jersey Historical Society plans a new his torical center in Princeton. A major state archives and library and museum building is under construction in Tallahassee, Florida, and will be in full operation by September 1976. Ohio leads the nation in construction of regional museums, open ing four of its seven new ones between 1973 and 1976. The Historic
42 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Indian Museum at Pickawillany has a special emphasis on the colonial and Revolutionary periods, and reconstructed Fort Meigs at Perrysburg portrays the War of 1812 on the Great Lakes. After care ful archeological excavations at the site of the only Revolutionary War fort in Ohio, the Ohio Historical Society has constructed an In terpretation Center at Fort Laurens. Finally, the society is com pleting the Outdoor Village Museum and historic craft center at the new Ohio History Center in Columbus. Several other states have been working on plans for specialized museums during the Bicentennial era. Delaware will establish an Is land Field Archeological Museum and Research Center, Rhode Is land will restore one of the colonial state houses as a museum, North Carolina will develop several Revolutionary sites, establish a new visitor-center museum, and open several restored buildings at Hali fax, and Maine and Florida plan historic farm museums. Florida also is opening a black museum and library in Jacksonville and an Indian village museum on the Seminole reservation at Hollywood. On June 30, 1976, the State Historical Society of Wisconsin opened Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor ethnic museum dedicated to historic, cultural, and environmental preservation. Buildings typical of those constructed by immigrant groups who settled in Wisconsin during the nineteenth century are being moved to the museum site. There they will be situated as scattered farmsteadsa Pomeranian half-timber house, a German log cabin, a Norwegian cluster, and Swedish, Danish, and Finnish farms, portraying perhaps sixteen or eighteen ethnic groups. There will also be a rural village. The museum is designed to demonstrate the distinctive cultural characteristics of Wisconsin's pioneers in a 580-acre open-air mu seum. Although it follows in the tradition of Sturbridge Village and the great outdoor museums of Europe, this unique museum will be the only multinational, multicultural museum in existence. Old World Wisconsin is intended to be a living acknowledgment, in the words of a resolution adopted by the American Revolution Bicen tennial Commission in 1972, of "the ethnic and cultural diversity of our citizenry and the contribution of this pluralism to America." The most systematic and effective program of symposia was planned by the Florida Bicentennial Commission. Starting in 1972 with one on "Eighteenth-Century Florida and Its Borderlands," the annual series also covered these topics: "Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Caribbean," "Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 43 the Frontier," "Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South," and "Eighteenth-Century Florida: The Impact of the American Revolution." All of the papers presented at these con ferences have been or will be published. Four other historical societies scheduled major symposia. The State Historical Society of Missouri sponsored three annual symposia and scheduled the papers for publication in 1976; New Jersey fea tured annual historical programs and buttressed them with a grants program for scholarly research; the Kentucky Historical Society in 1973 held a symposium on the writing and teaching of Kentucky history; the State Historical Society of Wisconsin co-sponsored a Symposium on the American Revolution in 1976. Only two agencies mentioned re-enactments, one negatively and one positively. The New York State Historical Association reported that "at this juncture one thing we will not do is to re-enact the Sullivan/Clinton Campaign." But the Arizona Historical Society scheduled a historical re-enactment of the colonizing expedition led by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza in 1775-76 from Arizona through Mexico to California. "So that this will not be just a pageant-type program," reported Sidney B. Brinckerhoff, director of the society, "the whole international endeavor will be filmed and edited into an educational film." Three other states have investigated the possibility of producing historical films. In 1974, Connecticut released a movie on Connecti cut's role in the Revolution. Both Montana and North Dakota ex plored the possibility of producing documentary films on Custer's Battle from the Indian viewpoint, but neither had made the films by 1976. Bicentennial planning in several states involved Indians, as well as other minority groups, in planning and participatory roles. The American Indian Club, a student organization at the University of Arizona, held a conference in 1973 on "Native Americans Look at the American Revolution Bicentennial Observance." Thomasine R. Hill, student director of the symposium and a member of the Ameri can Revolution Bicentennial Commission, summarized the meeting in a letter to President Nixon by noting that "American Indian in volvement in the Bicentennial observance is an act of faith and hope that the next 100 years will be more promising than the last 200 years." Finally, there were innumerable exhibits, special collecting activi-
44 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South ties, and miscellaneous programs during the Bicentennial year and the years preceding. Perhaps the most unusual was the "body snatch ing" by the Georgia Bicentennial Commission. Early in 1973, repre sentatives from the Georgia Commission obtained permission "to remove the remains of Colonel William Few, Jr., one of Georgia's three signers of the U.S. Constitution, from an abandoned, dese crated" grave in upstate New York for reburial in Georgia "at some later date." On October 19, 1973, the remains of Colonel Few were re-interred at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Augusta while a cere monial guard from Fort Gordon rendered military honors. In Washington, the three major governmental institutions devoted to history mounted major Bicentennial programs. The Library of Congress sponsored, from 1973 to 1976, annual symposia on the Revolution, each resulting in a published volume of lectures. It also opened a major exhibit on the American Revolution on Septem ber 5, 1974, to coincide with the two-hundredth anniversary of the meeting of the First Continental Congress. The National Archives and Records Service also has a wide range of programs in addition to its publication projects. The original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution are the central features of a continuing exhibit in the Great Hall. Besides its conferences, symposia, and its Center for the Documen tary Study of the American Revolution, the National Archives estab lished an extensive microfilming program of all material relating to the Revolution and a stepped-up program for publishing, in book or microfilm form, the papers of all territories existing prior to the Civil War. For varied programs in Washington, however, the award has to go to the Smithsonian Institution, under the leadership of S. Dillon Ripley, whose museums developed a rich program under the um brella title "The American Experience." The National Museum of History and Technology, first under the direction of Daniel J. Boorstin and later under Brooke Hindle, mounted the largest exhibi tion ever produced by the Smithsonian. Entitled "From the Nations to the Nation: From the Nation to the Nations," it stresses the con tributions of the people of the world to the new nation created in 1776 and the contribution of this new people to the world. A look at America in 1876, the halfway point between the Declaration and the Bicentennial, opened in the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building in May 1976. Objects from the Centennial period are ex-
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 45 hibited much as they were when the building opened in 1881. By 1976 two major new Smithsonian museums had opened in time for the Bicentennialthe Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Air and Space Museum. Other Smithsonian highlights included a Festival of American Folklife for the summer of 1976, a definitive encyclopedia of North American Indians, a comprehensive inventory of American art, and a complete bibliography of Ameri can art. Most of the state Bicentennial commissions and state agencies seemed to take seriously their assignment of trying to involve all segments of American society in the planning and programming for the commemoration. The ARBA's emphasis on ethnic and cultural diversity, the Smithsonian's gigantic exhibition on immigration and the creation of a new people and a new society, the establishment of an American Indian Bicentennial Committee and an Afro-American Bicentennial Corporationeven the popular reception of the Swed ish film The Emigrantsall suggest that the American Experience is a mix of many experiences, that in this day of divisiveness, doubt, and disappointment, the American Dream of liberty and equality inspired by the American Revolution still has a hold on the American imagination. This emphasis on diversity may very well stimulate a new wave of research on ethnic and minority groups. In a recent article "The Ethnic Factor in American Life," Oscar and Mary Handlin urged renewed research on immigration and accommodation, par ticularly on the topic of prejudice and the resolution of group con flict. "The historical context/' they emphasize, "could open a view of intergroup hostility unobstructed by the observer's need to iden tify himself with either victim or agent. Action and analysis are so closely intertwined on the contemporary scene that there is a tendency more readily to perceive the existence of prejudice in un sympathetic than in sympathetic subjects. As issues sort themselves out in the past, however, it is possible to discern the unrevealed motives, the ambiguities, the shortsightedness, and the errors that consciously or unconsciously lead heroes as well as villains to yield to the pressure of prejudice. Prejudice then becomes not an attribute of the evil or weak, but a human failing to which many are subject. American history, in particular, is full of examples of conflicts in which the issues are defined along no clear Manichean line." "American history is also replete with examples of the resolution
46 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South of conflict," according to the Handlins. "In the long run, the multi tude of peoples which constituted this society achieved a basis of understanding and cooperation that may be more important than the disputes that marked the way to it. It required no commitment to any particular ideology of pluralism to have grasped the potenti alities of investigation which might have thrown light on the nonpathological aspects of intergroup relationson the forces which abated tension, furthered tolerance, and created the conditions of cooperation." One of those most thoughtfuland hopefulstatements that links research on ethnic and minority groups to the achievement of the ideals of liberty and equality identified with the American Revolu tion can be found in a feature article in Time magazine in 1972 on psychiatrist Robert Coles and "America's Forgotten Children." La beled by Time as "the most influential living psychiatrist in the U.S.," Coles has done more than perhaps anyone else to explain why an America beset with more suffering and social unrest than at any time since the Great Depression yet possesses untapped strengths and potentialities that should, as Time put it, "bode well for the future of the nation." For the past decade, Coles has worked to humanize our view of humanity, particularly the impoverished, deprived, and misunder stood Americans, black and white and red, who are too often "scorned, patronized, and looked upon as psychologically sick and morally deficient." Based upon his ten years of "studying and living with sharecroppers, migrants, mountaineers, poor blacks, and work ing-class whites, Coles has concluded that most are astonishingly healthy in mind and remarkably courageous in spirit." Such investigations as Coles'sand such projects as Old World Wisconsin and the Smithsonian's exhibitionshould help to de polarize a deeply divided society. According to Time, Coles "has performed one of the most difficult and important feats of all: to criticize America and yet to love it, to lament the nation's weak nessesits greedy monopolistic, avaricious and sordid sideswhile continuing to cherish its strengths. Most important, he avoids the sterile dogma of social science and speaks, unashamedly, from his heart." His most telling message is that the nation cannot help the "chil dren of crisis" unless it understands them, and it cannot understand without discarding stereotypes. "We categorize people, call them
Historical Agencies and the Bicentennial / 47 names, like 'culturally disadvantaged/ or 'white racists/ names that say something but not enoughbecause those declared 'culturally disadvantaged' so often are at the same time shrewd, sensitive and in possession of their own culture, just as those called 'white racists' have other sides to themselves, can be generous and decent, can take note of and be responsive to the black man's situation." From these insights about the least privileged people in the na tion, Coles has developed and articulated an abiding faith in the United States and its people, a faith which he says is based in part on the biblical "version of redemptive possibility living side by side with the possibility for betrayal and tragedy." With his faith goes hope, for Coles is profoundly hopeful about the future of the United States: "America has nurtured a whole tradi tion of really significant and even radical political activity all during its history. It is a country founded on revolution, on political unrest, a country to which, over generations, the poor and exiled have come. It is the world's richest and most powerful nation, so it has not only the potentiality but the immediate possibility for reform." Coles's affirmation reminds one of Walter Lippman's similar view in the perilous year of 1940, when the United States debated its future in a world at war. "What is left of our civilization," he wrote, "will not be maintained, what has been wrecked will not be restored, by imagining that some new political gadget can be invented, some new political formula improvised which will save it. "Our civilization can be maintained and restored only by re membering and rediscovering the truths, and by re-establishing the virtuous habits on which it was founded. There is no use looking into the blank future for some new and fancy revelation of what man needs in order to live. "The revelation has been made. By it man conquered the jungle about him and the barbarian within him. The elementary principles of work and sacrifice and dutyand the transcendent criteria of truth, justice, and righteousnessand the grace of love and charity are the things which have made man free. Men can keep their free dom and reconquer it only by these means. "These are the terms stipulated in the nature of things for the salvation of men on this earth, and only in this profound, this stern, and this tested wisdom shall we find once more the light and the courage we need." If the Bicentennial has done no more than reaffirm our faith and
48 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South hope in the vitality of the American experiment in self-government if in the midst of historical publication programs, preservation projects, museum exhibits, and body snatching, plus the fun-maldng, the parading, the beard-grownig, the hoopla, it has accomplished this much, then it will have been a most worthwhile effort by the citi zens of these United States.
West Florida and British Strategy in the American Revolution ROBIN F. A. FABEL WEST Florida, wrote John Campbell after he surrendered it in 1781, had not been an object of national concern. Instead, the Brit ish government had left the province "as a gewgaw to amuse and divert the ambition of Spain and prevent it from attending to ob jects of greater moment and importance."1 As the senior British officer in West Florida, Major General Campbell would naturally have found solace for his failure in the belief that his superiors had not cared if West Florida fell and that he and his men had been deliberately sacrificed to occupy the enemy. The validity, or lack of it, of Campbell's verdict, the place of West Florida in British strategy during the Revolution, and how, as it affected the colony, that strategy was executed form the subjects of this paper. The general's comment was extreme and self-pitying but never theless had some plausibility. It was not surprising that other en dangered colonies were prized more highly than West Florida, be cause it had been an expensive disappointment. Swiftly acquired fortunes from trading with Spanish neighbors had eluded the im migrants of the 1760s. Nothing had come of a scheme to starve New Orleans of the Mississippi trade by using the Iberville River as a shortcut to the Gulf of Mexico. Lack of settlers had not only de prived land speculators, many of them in government, from making large profits but had also prevented West Florida from becoming self-sufficient. Throughout the colony's existence under the Union 1. Campbell to Clinton, May 21, 1781, quoted in J. Barton Starr, "Tories, Dons, and Rebels" (Ph.D. diss., Florida State University, 1971), p. 356. 49
50 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Jack, it was subsidized from London, at a cost of more than ,000 a year in salaries for the civilian officials alone.2 The Floridas had never made money for Spain either but had been valuable for their function as necessary parts of a larger sys tem. When Charles III of Spain agreed to their acquisition by Brit ain in 1762, it was with extreme reluctance and only because of his enemy's conquest of Havana, which the king wanted back more than he wanted to retain Florida. Charles foresaw that Britain, once ensconced on the Gulf of Mexico, would have advance bases from which to practice smuggling in time of peace and to intercept, should it ever sail again, the flota in time of war.3 No longer would it be feasible to seize any British vessel in the Gulf in the certainty that it was an interloper. All the same, Spain's loss was greater than Britain's gain. British possession of the Floridas cracked open what had been a compact and closed Spanish trading area, but the act of destruction had paid no dividends. Slow to develop commercially, West Florida was from the outset costlyparticularly, through disease, in lives4and difficult to defend. Defense should have posed no problems and would have been simple if two conditions had been met. The first was that the colony of West Florida remain what it had originally been in 1763, merely the ports of Mobile and Pensacola. Because of the ambition of West Florida's first governor, George Johnstone, the northern boundary of the province was extended to the thirty-first parallel, and vulnerable settlements were established along the Mississippi at Natchez, Baton Rouge, and Manchac.5 Thomas Gage, commander-in-chief of Brit ish forces in North America, was sufficiently irritated by the prob lems which this development posed to assert in 1767 that West Florida was worthless to the crown.6 The second condition for its 2. The salaries of the civil officers remained unchanged despite inflation (which was acute during the Revolution) throughout the life of British West Florida. For a typical salary list (for 1780-81), see C.O.5/596, Public Record Office, London. 3. Richard Pares, War and Trade in the West Indies, 1739-1763 (London, 1963), pp. 598-601. 4. Robert R. Rea, "Graveyard for Britons, West Florida 1763-1781," Florida Historical Quarterly 47(1969): 345-64. 5. Lawrence H. Gipson, The British Empire before the American Revolution (New York, 1958-70), 9:203. 6. Quoted in Douglas S. Brown, "The Iberville Canal Project: Its Relation to Anglo-French Commercial Rivalry in the Mississippi Valley," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 32 (1945-46): 491-516.
West Florida and British Strategy / 51 successful defense was that Britain should retain command of the sea. It was to do so only fitfully during the American Revolution. If West Florida fell short of economic expectations, it was never theless seen throughout the British period as having strategic value as a springboard for a descent on New Orleans, which made it something more than the "gewgaw" of Campbell's description. For the British, the main prize near the Gulf of Mexico had always been New Orleans. As early as 1757, intelligence reports used by William Pitt described the desirability of British acquisition not of Mobile or Pensacola but of New Orleans; Pitt needed little persuasion to make contingency plans for its conquest.7 The Paris treaty of 1763 temporarily ended conflict between Britain and the Bourbon powers but not British ambition for New Orleans. Gage made detailed plans for an expedition there in 1771, when war between Britain and Spain over the Falkland Islands seemed imminent. In 1773, a British spy submitted an intelligence report to Gage in which he described the condition of the defenses of New Orleans and the disaffection of the French inhabitants and submitted that West Florida was the most promising base for a British attack.8 Prior to the Revolution, the British interest in New Orleans was longstanding and con tinuous. Even when the Paris treaty of 1763 was being negotiated, it was only because of objections by influential colleagues that Bute agreed to the retention of the city by a Bourbon power, and the desire to possess it did not abate after the Revolution began. From 1775 to 1778, the British government was far too busy with the attempt to contain rebellion farther north to concern itself with the Gulf area. It was no doubt a relief to be able to neglect the population of West Florida, which was loyal and grew increasingly 7. Under the pseudonym of "An Impartial Hand," John Mitchell published in 1757, at the request of the Board of Trade, The Contest in America between Great Britain and France with its Consequences and Importance, reprint (Toronto, 1965), which Pitt used as a source of information on North America (Mitchell suggested the conquest of New Orleans on p. 208); Sir Charles Hardy to Pitt, February 26, 1757, Pitt to Amherst, October 24, 1760, Amherst to Pitt, January 7, 1761, in Gertrude S. Kimball, ed., Correspondence of William Pitt (New York, 1960; original ed., 1906), 1:13, 2:346-47, 383-84. See also R. F. Simpson, "The Naval Career of Admiral Sir George Pocock, K.B., 1743-1763" (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1950), pp. 149-237. 8. Gage to Hillsborough, April 2, 1771, Gage Correspondence (New Haven, 1931), 1:294-95Gage thought West Florida more suitable as a diversionary feint than as a base for the main expedition against New Orleans; Joseph G. Tregle, Jr., "British Spy along the Mississippi: Thomas Hutchins and the De fenses of New Orleans, 1773," Louisiana History 8 (1967):313-27.
52 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South so as the Revolution progressed. There were two events in 1778, however, that drew the government's attention to the province. One was a destructive raid which the Floridian James Willing, with congressional authorization, launched on West Florida's Mississippi settlements.9 The other was French entry into the conflict. Inevi tably the area of warfare widened southward. A French alliance with the Americans was unwelcome but not unexpected. A probability ever since Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga in October 1777, it caused a reappraisal of British strategy. Ideally, the British government would have liked to reach an accommoda tion with the Americans, allowing them limited if incomplete in dependence, which would free British forces for offensives against the French islands in the Caribbean. French land and sugar would compensate George III for diminished sovereignty over his older colonies. The king doubted, quite correctly as events would show, that a peace-seeking mission would achieve anything in America and, anticipating a French alliance with the United States two months before it occurred, communicated his ideas on a new American strategy. The British in the thirteen colonies in revolt should be withdrawn and some of them used to strengthen the defenses of those North American possessions which remained loyal to the CrownCanada, Nova Scotia, and the Floridas. The remainder should be used for offenses against New Orleans and the French and Spanish possessions in the West Indies. Meanwhile, pressure should be maintained on the rebelling thirteen colonies by naval operations"a Sea War is the only Wise Plan"designed to destroy trade and ports.10 In some respects George Ill's reasoning was faulty. He assumed that, as in the Seven Years War, the British navy would be able to cope with the combined fleets of France and Spain and ignored the very considerable improvements in naval strength made over fifteen years which gave the Bourbon powers numerical superiority over the British.11 Nevertheless, the royal scheme was not without astute9. Elizabeth M. J. Conover, "British West Florida's Mississippi Frontier dur ing the American Revolution" (Master's thesis, Auburn University, 1972), con tains a full study of the Willing raid. 10. King to North, January 13, 31, 1778, Sir John Fortescue, Correspondence of George III (London, 1927-28), 4:17, 30-31. 11. J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America (Athens, Ga., 1971), p. 127.
West Florida and British Strategy / 53 ness. Despite the optimism of some of his ministers, the king's pes simistic assumptions that the French would ally with America, that the peace commission would fail, and that Spain would be drawn into the war were all justified. A drastic redeployment of forces such as George had suggested, if followed by swift pre-emptive attacks against French and Spanish possessions, could have achieved more than the policies actually adopted. At the time that the king wrote, nearly two-thirds of the British army was in North America, the bulk of it in New York and Phila delphia. The garrisons were dangerously low: about 1,800 in the West Indies, 7,000 in Canada, and 1,400 in the Floridas. Even after various detachments during 1778, New York still had, on the usual basis for calculation, a garrison of 17,452.12 Had the city been aban doned in accordance with the royal wishes and its garrison used elsewhere, Britain would almost certainly have been better off ter ritorially at the end of the Revolution than it actually was. Furthermore, the suggested expedition against New Orleans, if undertaken in the spring of 1778, stood a much better chance of success than similar subsequent plans. In April, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez, was fearful and pessimistic at a British show of strength on the Mississippi. "It is physically al most impossible for me to undertake much defense," he wrote. The force which he found so alarming, a response to the Willing raid, consisted merely of two sloops of war, the Hound and the Sylph.13 Some of the king's ideas were retained in the strategic reorienta tion of 1778, approved by the cabinet but only in modified form.14 The upshot of a series of orders from L^frct George Germain on March 8, March 21, and August 5 was to move the war's center of gravity southward. Pennsylvania was to be evacuated but not New York. Five thousand troops were detached from New York to at-12. Piers Mackesy, in his War for America 1775-1783 (Cambridge, Mass., 1964), pp. 222, 524-25, has compiled from Lord North's returns in the William Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan, a useful table of British troop strengths at different stages of the war; these have been used here. 13. Galvez to Navarro, April 4, 1778, in Lawrence Kinnaird, ed., Spain in the Mississippi Valley (Washington, 1949), 1:265; Governor Peter Chester to Major General Augustine Prevost, March 21, 1778, in Historical Manuscripts Commission, American MSS in the Royal Institution of Great Britain (London, 1904), 1:213. 14. William B. Willcox, "British Strategy in America, 1778," Journal of Modern History 19 (1948):97-121, is a comprehensive study of this strategic reorientation.
54 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South tempt the conquest of St. Lucia in the French West Indies, but Germain ordered no attempt on New Orleans. The reconquest of South Carolina and Georgia was preferred, and, partly with this offensive in mind, a sizeable reinforcement of three thousand men was ordered to the Floridas. West Florida's share was 1,220 men too few for a province whose chief value was supposed to be its use as a base from which to take New Orleans. Nor were they picked assault troops; instead they included 695 mercenaries of the Waldeck Regiment and 493 loyalist troops from Pennsylvania and Mary land.15 Both Germans and provincials were barred by the terms of their service from taking part in West Indian adventures. They were not rejects, but neither were they the flower of the British army. There is no doubt that West Florida was an undesirable post ingClinton, in extremity, had written that he was prepared to serve anywhere, even "God forbid!" Floridaand the result was that the British officers sent there were not the best. This was par ticularly true of Brigadier, later Major General, John Campbell, the new commander of the enlarged West Florida garrison, whose habit it was to spend too much energy explaining his difficulties and not enough in solving them.16 Even if Campbell lacked both the drive and, through governmental neglect, the forces to take New Orleansthe persistent ambition was Aised yet again in 1779his abilities and the number of his troops should have been sufficient to defend West Florida if British naval strategy had worked as in tended.17 The strategic position of West Florida may best be understood if it is considered not a part of continental North America but rather a West Indian island which happened to be joined to the mainland. As such, the colony depended less for its safety on the British army, controlled as it was from distant New York, than on the Royal Navy squadron at Jamaica which, in terms of time, was much closer. On the flag officer commanding the squadron at Port Royal, Sir Peter 15. Paper endorsed "precis of orders" by the recipient Sir Henry Clinton, commander of British troops in America, H.M.C., Stopford-Sackville MSS (London, 1904-10), 2:151; Campbell's "State of the Detachment to West Flor ida," December 26, 1778, CO. 5/597. 16. Clinton to unknown, March 31, 1778, quoted in Willcox, p. 109; Clinton to Campbell, October 27, 1778, H.M.C., American MSS, 2:323. 17. Germain to Campbell, June 25, 1779, Mississippi Provincial Archives, English Dominion, vol. 9, Jackson; there were over 1,900 troops in the spring of 1779, excluding Indians (Starr, p. 241).
West Florida and British Strategy / 55 Parker, more than on any other single man, hung the security of West Florida. If ever, as was occasionally suggested, the Lords of the Admiralty had created a separate squadron specifically for serv ice in the Gulf, the British colony might have been more fortunate than it was.18 In the existing situation, West Florida was on the out side edge of a huge wheel, of which Jamaica was the hub. From the beginning of hostilities in West Florida, Parker under estimated the seriousness of the threat to the colony. In the wake of the Willing raid, he replied most reluctantly to a call for assistance from the governor of West Florida: "I shall part as unwillingly with the Active and Stork as the General does with troops; we do not imagine that either will be wanted." He believed that a single sloop of war would be quite adequate to protect West Florida's interests.19 In addition, the admiral was timid and his situation increasingly vulnerable as the war progressed. Contrary to the opinion ap parently held by many Englishmen in high places, the American Revolution did not duplicate the favorable naval situation of the Seven Years War, during which a British blockade had generally kept the Bourbon fleets confined to their home ports. Failure to maintain a similar blockade during the Revolution meant that a sizeable fleet had to stay near the British Isles to prevent invasion, while French fleets from 1778 and Spanish fleets from 1779 could leave almost with impunity for predatory expeditions to the West Indies. The second line of defense in the Caribbean, naval units based permanently on Port Royal and English Harbor, Antigua, that is, the Jamaica and Leeward Islands squadrons, became in the Revolution the first line of defense for the numerous British pos sessions in the West Indies. Since the force maintained at Jamaica or at Antigua was, on its own, likely to be woefully weaker than any 18. Sir Peter Parker (1721-1811) had served in the navy since boyhood. He had seen action during the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War in a variety of theaters and had been knighted in 1772. In the earlier part of the American Revolution, he had taken part in an unsuccessful attack on Charleston and in the conquest of Rhode Island. In 1777, he was promoted to rear admiral and appointed to the command of the squadron based at Port Royal, Jamaica, where he remained until August 1782; during that command, he was elevated, in 1781, to vice admiral. He was thus in command of the Jamaica squadron throughout what were for West Florida the critical years of the Revolution. For examples of such suggestions, see Sandwich's paper of December 8, 1777, to Lord North, in G. R. Barnes and J. H. Owen, eds., Sandwich Papers, 1771-1782 (London, 1933), 1:332, and Campbell to Germain, June 14, 1780, MPA,ED, vol. 9. 19. Parker to Sandwich, April 25, 1778, Sandwich Tapers, 1:410.
56 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South French or Spanish striking force sent to the Caribbean, the two British squadrons there were supposed to assist each other. Parker felt that his position was too precarious to risk detachments, and his uncooperativeness was roundly criticized by his counterpart in the Leeward Islands.20 The reluctance of Parker was understandable, especially after 1779, when the proximity of the Spanish colonies of Cuba and San Domingo posed an omnipresent threat of invasion. Jamaica was by far the richest of the British sugar islands in the West Indies, worth more to the English than any of their islands farther east. Another defensive task which fell to Parker was escorting homeward-bound convoys of sugar ships, which voyaged either through the perilous Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti or, more commonly because of prevailing winds and currents, by way of the Yucatan Channel and the Straits of Florida. In addition, Parker was ex pected to lend support to offensives against the Bourbon powers in the Caribbean and the Gulf. The actions of the admiral suggest that he considered any or all of his other responsibilities more important than his duty to protect West Florida. Parker's priorities were not eccentric. The dominant elements in British government put a value on the West Indies difficult for a twentieth-century mind to grasp. "Masters of the sugar colonies, we should command America," wrote Germain's undersecretary, "for these only have made her great."21 The British sugar islands, he con tinued, produced between 6 million and 8 million sterling a year. If the richer French and Spanish islands could be conquered, West Indian sugar would pay for the war. The king's thoughts on war objectives in 1779 were similar, though more cautious. The war at sea, he suggested to the First Lord of the Admiralty, should be directed to keeping Gibraltar, Minorca, Jamaica, and Barbados and to the conquest of San Domingo. Sand wich preferred the capture of Martinique to that of the Spanish colony; otherwise his priorities closely resembled the king's. It would seem that West Florida did not enter the thoughts of de Grey, 20. The Jamaica squadron in June 1779, for example, comprised one thirdrate ship-of-the-line, two 50-gun cruisers, and a score of frigates and sloops (ibid., 3:122). For examples of such criticism, see Rodney to Admiralty, De cember 10, 1780, Rodney to Parker, December 18, 1780, January 8, March 3, 1781, Rodney to Navy Board, March 3, 1781, in George Rodney, Letter Books and Order Book of George Rodney (New York, 1932), 1:93, 102, 143, 265, 274. 21. Thomas de Grey to Germain, July 1779, Stopford^Sackville MSS, 2:133.
West Florida and British Strategy / 57 George III, or Lord Sandwich. Lord Amherst, however, when making strategic proposals to his sovereign, did advocate the con quest of New Orleans, but even he thought it more important to take San Domingo and to reconquer St. Vincent and Grenada.22 The repeated preference for more conquest at a time when Brit ish resources were stretched to the limit was more realistic than it first appeared. If forces could be concentrated in the West Indies, it made more sense to attempt a conquest or reconquest than to dis perse them in defense of scattered islands where disease was sure to thin them out, and, given the invariable half-heartedness of the planter population, a determined resistance was difficult in any cir cumstances. The result was, for both strategic and economic reasons, more official enthusiasm for expeditions against potentially profit able enemy possessions than for the defense of a British colony of known unprofitability like West Florida. During the Revolution, in contrast to the Seven Years War, Brit ain found it difficult to achieve the naval superiority in the Carib bean and in the Gulf which was a prerequisite for such conquests. Lord Sandwich was more aware than most of the reason. Although there were more Royal Navy ships in commission than ever in Brit ish history, England had never engaged in a sea war against the united Bourbon powers except when they had other enemies to dis tract them and dissipate their strength. Now, the First Lord wrote plantively in 1779 with reference to the thirteen colonies, "we have the additional war."23 During the second half of the American Revolution, Britain was fighting a world war without allies, and Sandwich had constantly to deploy and redeploy her ships to meet threats on almost every ocean of the globe. Spain's ambitions and responsibilities were more circumscribed. The Seven Years War had left her humiliated and anxious to re cover the possessions lost to Britain during the war as well as the most important prize by far for Spain, Gibraltar. In America, the objectives of Spanish arms and diplomacy were to control the Mis sissippi and to monopolize the Gulf of Mexico by getting back the Floridas.24 Britain was anxious to appease Spain and made various 22. King to Sandwich, September 13, 1779, Fortescue, George III, 4:433-34; memorandum in Sandwich's writing, September 14, 1779, ibid., p. 436; Ant* herst's "Proposals to the King," September 15, 1779, ibid., p. 446. 23. "Thoughts upon Naval Measures to be Taken" (in Sandwich's writing), September 14, 1779, ibid., p. 436. 24. G. H. Phillips, The West in the Diplomacy of the American Revolution
58 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South attempts to keep her out of the American war prior to 1779; there after, she sought Spanish withdrawal from the conflict. The cession of Gibraltar was the only diplomatic offer which might have achieved this highly desirable end, but it was the one subject which British agents were forbidden to discuss. Commodore George John stone thought that the British attachment to Gibraltar was imbe-cilic, and the king ultimately thought its retention would cause an other war or at best permanently poor relations with Spain.25 The British public and the cabinet, however, prized Gibraltar inordi nately, so Spain entered the war against England and at once began an already planned reconquest of West Florida. This celerity con trasted with the sluggish British preparations to take New Orleans. The Spanish desire for dominance on the Gulf was clearly greater than that of the British, and the governor of Spanish Louisiana gave an appearance, amply justified by subsequent events, of being more energetic than his counterpart at Pensacola. Nevertheless, initial British setbacks in West Florida cannot be ascribed entirely to the sloth of the British commander there. John Campbell had been compelled to dissipate his scanty forces in a manner that was strategically unsound. Pleas from inhabitants had resulted in the reconstruction of a fort on the Iberville and the dis persal of garrisons among the settlements at Natchez and Baton Rouge. Gage had correctly predicted the result: the Spanish would be able to deprive the Mississippi forts of their links with Pensacola and Mobile whenever they wanted. No sooner did Galvez learn that Spain and Britain were at war than he left New Orleans on August 27, 1779, with every man he could muster. Within a month he had taken not only all the British forts on the Mississippi but also 28 officers and 550 men.26 (Urbana, 111., 1913), p. 66; Navarro to Mayorga, December 23, 1779, in Kinnaird^ 1:364. 25. Johnstone to Sandwich, December 10, 1779, Sandwich Papers, 3:190; King to Lord Grantham, December 19, 1782, Fortescue, George III, 6:192. For a detailed study of the wartime negotiations of Richard Cumberland, Father Hussey, and Commodore Johnstone, see Samuel F. Bemis, The Hussey-Cumberland Mission and American Independence (Gloucester, Mass., 1968), passim. 26. Address of the Council of West Florida to Hillsborough, July 9, 1770, in K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution (Shannon, 1974), 2:141; Gage to Hillsborough, July 1, 1772, Gage Correspondence, 1:330; Kathryn T. Abbey, "Spanish Projects for the Reoccupation of the Floridas dur ing the American Revolution," Hispanic American Historical Review 9 (1929): 280.
West Florida and British Strategy / 59 Campbell had made a strategic blunder. He should have braved the outrage of landowners and withdrawn all troops from the in defensible Mississippi forts as soon as war with Spain became likely. A more daring alternativesimilar in design to Clive's seizure of Arcot while his enemies besieged Trichinopolywould have been to leave the defenders of the Mississippi forts as bait, and, while Galvez headed upstream with most of the New Orleans garrison, to seize the city he left behind. Campbell was no fool. He recognized that the conquest of New Orleans and the abandonment of the Mis sissippi were alternatives, and he had full authority for an assault on the Spanish city. Lord George Germain, no doubt enthused by a detailed plan for such an attack which he had just received from a former Florida governor, had ordered Campbell in "secret and confidential" instructions of June 25 to take the port, assuring him that Parker was under orders to assist him.27 Campbell, however, preferred to use his forces in a less audacious enterprise, the ultimately futile attempt to restore British control over Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain.28 His decision implies a want of spirit, but there were good practical reasons for not attack ing New Orleans. The first was that Galvez, having much swifter intelligence of the outbreak of war, had seized the initiative and had won quick victories and, for all Campbell knew, might be back in New Orleans before he could get there. Second, the expeditionary force collected by the British commander lacked artillery and en trenching tools and, at five hundred men, was small; it was inevittably so because of sickness and a shortage of transport vessels he had managed to collect together only five small armed vessels and two flatboats.29 The most valid justification for Campbell's caution was that Parker had not sent the naval reinforcements vital for an attempt on New Orleans, and the soldier anticipated correctly that in the middle of the hurricane season he would not send them. Even for the defense of the West Florida coast, to which strategy Campbell immediately reverted on hearing of the fall of Baton Rouge, the British naval forces were insufficient, consisting of the 27. Campbell to Clinton, September 14, 1779, MPA,ED, vol. 10; Johnstone to Germain, June 19, 1779, H.M.C., Various Collections (Hereford, 1909), 6:158-59; Germain to Campbell, June 25, 1779, MPA,ED, vol. 9. 28. At least one inhabitant of Pensacola thought that this expedition would go on to New Orleans; Gordon to Thompson and Campbell, 1779, H.M.C., American MSS, 2:63. 29. Cecil Johnson, British West Florida (New Haven, 1943), p. 212.
60 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South sloops Stork, which was "crazy and unfit for service," and West Florida, which was "in little better condition." Fortifications were under construction around Pensacola, but Campbell believed that its "natural and proper defense" was a 50or 64-gun ship moored within the harbor bar.30 His suggestion was impracticable. At its best the bar had but twenty feet of water above it;31 a 64 would have gone aground try ing to enter Pensacola. More important, Sir Peter Parker's orders, according to his own interpretation, precluded the diversion of his sole 64 to the defense of West Florida. The secret instructions of April 21, 1774, respecting Jamaica, initially sent to Admiral Gayton at Port Royal, were passed on to Parker on July 24, 1777, after he succeeded Gayton. They specified that "the principal object of his care and attention" was "the security and protection of Jamaica, as also the trade of His Majesty's subjects." On June 26, 1779, he was also told to cooperate with and "give all the assistance in your power consistent with the immediate safety of that valuable and important island [Jamaica] to the attacks ordered by the King on the Mosquito Shore and the Mississippi."32 If Parker was justified in thinking that the safety of Jamaica was his first priority, then Camp bell's prospects of ever getting naval assistance were slim because the admiral was almost perpetually convinced that the island was in imminent danger of invasion. Throughout the summer of 1779, the presence of d'Estaing's fleet at Haiti kept him fearful. When the French ships left for Georgia at the end of August, Parker had ships to spare, but the pressure from Governor Dalling of Jamaica to use them for an attack on Omoa and the Mosquito Coast carried more weight than appeals from distant Florida.33 D'Estaing returned to the West Indies in October, and Parker's 30. Campbell to Germain, December 15, 1779, MPA,ED, vol. 9; Campbell to Clinton, September 14, 1779, ibid., vol. 10. Within a few days of his writing, even this force was diminished by the capture of the sloop West Florida (Kinnaird, lrxxvii). 31. From a contemporary chart of Pensacola harbor currently in the British Museum, reproduced in N. Orwin Rush, The Battle of Pensacola (Tallahassee, 1966), p. 146. 32. Sandwich Papers, 1:405, 3:123. 33. This venture began promisingly with the capture of Omoa in the Bay of Honduras in October, but the outcome was to show that the troops and ships diverted westward would have been more profitably employed in West Florida. Disease forced the evacuation of Omoa after six weeks and the decima tion of fresh forces sent to Nicaragua in February and March 1780. The sur vivors were evacuated in November (Mackesy, pp. 317-18, 335-36).
West Florida and British Strategy / 61 apprehension for Jamaica came with him. In December, Parker doubted that a man could be spared "at this critical time," and in the following months he wrote of proof that the French and Spanish had designs on the island. The result was that West Florida received no naval reinforcement at a particularly dangerous time. Eleven Spanish ships from Havana rode off Mobile on February 11, 1780, in support of a besieging force under Galvez. "One Single Frigate would have prevented our late Disaster," lamented Campbell after the port surrendered on March 14. The only armed vessel of any size escorting the Spanish transports had been the 24-gun Volante, which had run aground and perished, but in answer to an urgent appeal for help, Parker had replied on February 29 that he could spare no vessels.34 If Galvez had followed his conquest of Mobile with an attempt on Pensacola, his chances of success would have been good. Such was undoubtedly the Spanish commander's intention. At the end of March, Campbell reported that twenty-nine Spanish vessels had been sighted from his capital. Bad weather and the failure of Galvez to obtain cooperation from the Spanish naval officers caused the abandonment of the planned assault. Campbell was convinced that the respite for West Florida resulted from Spanish overesti mates of the strength of the naval force in Pensacola Bay, but his belief was only partially true.35 Once the perilous moment had passed, reinforcements from Jamaica finally began to arrive: the sloops Hound and Port Royal entered Pensacola Bay on April 9, followed on May 14 by a 24-gun copper-bottom frigate which had been called Who's Afraid as a privateer but had been rechristened Mentor. In addition, Campbell had converted the ordnance ship Earl of Bathurst into a fighting vessel by supplementing her six 24-pounders with the armament of the condemned sloop Stork, whose commander, Captain Francis Le Montais, also transferred to the former ordnance ship. In spite of its reinforcement Campbell still considered Pensacola insecure and asked, in vain naturally, for one or two 50-gun ships; in contrast, Germain with unreal optimism 34. Parker to Sandwich, December 2, 1779, January 23, 1780, Sandwich Papers, 3:148, 150; Campbell to Germain, February 12, March 24, 1780, MPA,ED, vol. 9. 35. Campbell to Germain, March 29, 1780, ibid. The Real Cedula of Charles III of Spain of November 12, 1781, is translated in its entirety in Rush, pp. 10-15; John W. Caughey, Bernardo de Galvez in Louisiana, 1776-1783 (Berkeley, 1934), p. 189; Campbell to Germain, May 15, 1780, MPA,ED, vol. 9.
62 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South assumed that the Spanish had been compelled onto the defensive and again urged an attempt on New Orleans using Indians to supply Campbell's deficiencies of manpower.36 The major general was not reassured. Indian aid was "precarious and unreliable," while his intelligence was that Galvez was muster ing his forces for another attempt on Pensacola. The report was true, but again nature intervened to help the British. An armada of sixty-seven ships carrying six thousand troops left Havana on Oc tober 16, 1780, only to be dispersed by an enormously long and destructive hurricane four days later. In London, meanwhile, Ger main was unaware of the hurricane and of the fact that it had not only dispersed a Spanish fleet in the Gulf but also wrought havoc in the English shipping at Port Royal. He did know that considerable land and sea forces had recently been sent to Jamaica and wrote as optimistically as ever in November, openly of the recapture of Mobile and secretly of a new attempt on New Orleans.37 If Germain found it possible to breathe more freely, so, too, as the new year 1781 began, did Campbell. On January 7, he launched a harassing attack involving both his land and sea forces at an enemy outpost on Mobile Bay; in expectation of a 40-gun ship and a copper-bottomed frigate from Parker, he felt confident enough to send back to Jamaica the sloop Hound and the Earl of Bathurst. His complacency was based on the belief that the Spanish fleet, scat tered by the October hurricane, had not reassembled and that "it is the Spanish who now fear attack."38 There are three reasons why alarm would have been more ap propriate than smugness in Campbell: Parker was not soon to re inforce him; Galvez was, all too soon, to attack him; finally, he was to discover, too late, that his defensive preparations were inade quate. The admiral at Jamaica had received a request for reinforcement from Pensacola on January 5, 1781.39 But he was still worried by the 36. Campbell to Germain, December 15, 1779, May 15, 1780, Campbell to Parker, May 13, 1780, Germain to Campbell, April 4, 1780, all in MPA,ED, vol. 9. 37. Campbell to Germain, September 22, November 26, 1780, Germain to Campbell, November 1, 1780, ibid.; Real Cedula, in Rush, pp. 12-13. 38. Campbell to Germain, January 11, February 19, 1781, MPA,ED, vol. 9. 39. Three days later, Rodney in the Leeward Islands, who expected d'Estaing with twenty ships-of-the-line, made a similar request (Rodney to Parker, January 8, 1781, Letter Books of Rodney, 1:143).
West Florida and British Strategy / 63 possibility of invasion, he was annoyed at Rodney's retention in the Leeward Island of ships from England intended for Jamaica, and he was aware that his replacement had been arranged. He was probably anxious not to end his tour of duty by undertaking a risky venture. He was not entirely culpable. The numerical strength of the squadron in Port Royal, which had done so much to buoy up the hopes of Germain, was deceptive. Egmont, Grafton, Hector, Ruby, and Trident had all sustained severe damage in the hurricane of October 1780, while for lack of refitting the conditions of Albion and Princess Royal were such as to endanger the lives of their crews. The unreliable state of all of his ships-of-the-line did not deter Parker from sending help to Pensacola, but he decided to do so only after attending to the more important duty, for him, of escorting the March sugar convoy safely past Havana. Thereafter, the escorting squadron, together with the 50-gun Bristol, Grafton, and Trident, would sail to the aid of Campbell. In the meantime he would send to West Florida only the transport ship Content, the sloop Childers, the Ulysses, and the ordnance ship Dutton. This flotilla would take Odell's corps, two hundred volunteers from New York, to strengthen the Pensacola garrison. When even this latter innocuous gaggle of vessels reached its destination, it was to find the anchorages out side Pensacola already occupied by Spanish ships of war.40 Galvez had struck again, far more quickly than Campbell had thought possible. On March 9, two days before the arrival of the Ulysses, the first wave of a powerful force consisting of a ship-of-the-line, two large frigates, and twenty-eight auxiliary vessels had appeared off Pensacola, and that same night Spanish troops had landed on Santa Rosa Island, at the western tip of which, Sigiienza Point, they erected an artillery battery. As a consequence, the Royal Navy frigate Mentor and the sloop Port Royal, which had hovered near the harbor bar to repel incoming vessels, were compelled by cannon fire to flee on March 17 to much less advantageous anchor ages off the town of Pensacola. The following day, Galvez himself, with impunity, entered Pensacola Bay in a small vessel, to be fol lowed on the nineteenth by all except the largest of the Spanish fleet. On the twenty-second, troops who had marched overland from Mobile arrived and the next day large reinforcements from New 40. Parker to Sandwich, December 30, 1780, February 17, 1781, Sandwich Papers, 3:256, 4:125, 149-50; Parker to Admiralty, March 16, April 27, 1781, quoted in Starr, p. 318.
64 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Orleans in seventeen ships. More soldiers were disembarked on the twenty-sixth and the construction of siegeworks against Pensacola began. Campbell's hope of relief from Jamaica was raised when sails were sighted on April 19 but was soon dashed by their identification as a Franco-Spanish fleet bringing three thousand more besiegers. Ultimately, the Bourbon forces assembled to take Pensacola totaled fifteen ships-of-the-line, five large frigates, and land forces of, ac cording to Campbell, over six thousand men.41 Even if a lucky Span ish ball had not exploded a British magazine on May 8, surrender to such overwhelming numbers was inevitable, and no force sent belatedly by Parker could have saved West Florida after April 19. Campbell's crucial error in preparing the defenses of Pensacola was to ignore Santa Rosa Island. To keep the enemy from landing, he preferred instead to rely on naval reinforcements and a powerful artillery redoubt at Red Cliffs across the bay from and north-north west of Sigiienza Point. As shown, Parker did not send him promised reinforcements when he most needed them, and the Red Cliffs re doubt proved to be too far, at 1,553 yards from the channel, for 32-pounders to deter ships from entering the bay if they clung to the island side of the bar.42 Had the redoubt been supported by a similar one at Sigiienza Point, no ships could have entered Pensacola har bor without damage, while even two British sloops waiting within the entrance could have barred further progress. In addition, they could have bombarded any Spanish forces engaged in siege opera tions on Santa Rosa Island. It is difficult to account for Campbell's neglect of the island. Galvez was surprised at his good fortune when he landed there on March 9 and found only an abandoned breastwork and three un serviceable cannon at the point. Batteries had certainly existed there in 1771, and the British general's excuse that he lacked entrenching tools to work on several redoubts at once is feeble, since he had plenty of time to anticipate Spanish attack.43 He had, moreover, not ample but sufficient artillery. The answer may lie in the island's vulnerability to flooding. A settlement there had been washed away 41. Campbell to Clinton, May 7, 1781, MPA,ED, vol. 9. Actually it was an underestimate. 42. Starr, p. 331, although one Spanish captain alleged that some balls from Red Cliffs reached as far as Santa Rosa Island (Calbo to Galvez, March 14, 1781, quoted in Rush, p. 51). 43. Caughey, p. 201; Starr, p. 314.
West Florida and British Strategy / 65 in 1752, and something similar happened in October 1778, when a hurricane caused the inundation of Santa Rosa Island and the "bat teries facing the harbour" were utterly destroyed.44 Since a recur rence of such a disaster was all too likely, it is a feasible conjecture that Campbell, wanting to avoid risk to precious men and ordnance, delayed the fortification of Sigiienza Point until it was urgent. By then, since Galvez attacked so unexpectedly, it was too late. The result was that West Florida fell to Spain by conquest in 1781 in stead of the probable alternativecession with East Florida in 1783 as a result of diplomatic bargaining. In making a case for retaining West Florida at all costs, a very impressive catalogue of its value and potential was possible. Gov ernor Chester wrote extensively and plausibly of its "real and in trinsic" advantages shortly before its fall.45 In assessing the place of West Florida in British strategy during the Revolution, however, the crucial query was not whether the province was worth keeping -of course it was, if possible. The issue was, rather, what its value was in comparison with other colonies in the area, whether British or Bourbon. The answer to that question determined the priorities of both the planners of strategy in London and its executors in New York and Port Royal. When George III and his cabinet considered colonies south of the original thirteen, they appear to have thought chiefly of gold and glory. The conquest of enemy colonies was the strategy preferred as both profitable and liable to bring desperately needed popularity to the North ministry. At the same time, it was al most as important to ensure the successful defense of those British colonies whose rich trade was helping to finance the war. The small est sugar island therefore was prized more highly than West Flor ida, the successful defense of which would contribute nothing to Britain in profitability and almost nothing in prestige. The only in terest the London strategists had in the province was as a base for the capture of New Orleans. At least one experienced professional argued that the most sensi ble way to take the Spanish port was by attacking down the Mis sissippi.46 West Florida could have served as such a base but only 44. James R. McGovern, ed., Colonial Pensacola (Pensacola, 1972), p. 39; W. Stiell to Germain, October 15, 1778, CO. 5/595. 45. Peter Chester to Germain, November 24, 1780, C.O. 5/596. 46. Haldimand to Gage, December 6, 21, 1767, Haldimand Papers, Ottawa, for transcriptions from which I am indebted to Robert R. Rea of Auburn Uni versity.
66 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South if the means for such an expedition had been supplied to supple ment the meager ships and garrison kept there permanently. This never happened. In 1779 and 1780, the cabinet preferred to squander such extra troops as they could find on the disastrous expeditions of Omoa and the Mosquito Coast. Sir Henry Clinton at New York had a tendency to hoard troops; he had appeals from many quarters for help, and he never sent reinforcements in any number to West Florida except when Germain specifically ordered him to in 1778. The only additions to the scanty and disease-wasted garrison of regulars were a few unreliable loyalist refugees. Likewise, the vessels necessary for an attempt on New Orleans were not available at the right time. West Florida was the most distant of Sir Peter Parker's many responsibilities and the one which concerned him least. Since the defense of West Florida had always been as sumed to rest primarily on the navy,47 his dilatoriness in sending ships to hinder a Spanish landing in 1781 probably marks him as the most culpable of those responsible for the failure of British strategy, represented by the fall of West Florida. Other claimants to the title are Clinton for his parsimony with reinforcements and Campbell for his neglect of sensible fortification, but Campbell implied that members of the ministry were to blame in that they allowed West Florida to fall to the enemy in order to keep Spanish forces occupied. Cabinet discussions and ministerial correspondence offer no evidence to support this allegation. Though cabinet ministers accorded the province low priority, they certainly had no wish to see it fall, although doubtless, given the choice, they would rather have had Spanish operations against West Florida than against Jamaica. Nevertheless, if the ministry was in nocent of using West Florida cynically as a strategic diversion, it was guilty of another sincareless optimism. Germain repeatedly urged the seizure of New Orleans from West Florida, but he never ordered Clinton to supply Campbell with the means to do it. The fact seems to be that Germain was only intermittently interested in New Orleans. When comprehensive strategy was under considera tion, New Orleans tended to be forgotten, and other projected schemes obtained prior call on available resources. Overoptimism revealed itself in connection with defensive as well 47. See Haldimand to Gage, February 11, March 21, 1770, Gage to Haldimand, March 23, 1770, Haldimand Papers; see also Campbell to Germain, De cember 15, 1779, MPA,ED, vol. 9.
West Florida and British Strategy / 67 as offensive operations. Germain certainly overestimated the value of the Indians to Campbell and probably underestimated what sick ness would do to the effectiveness of a garrison in a climate like West Florida's. Nevertheless, defense of the colony was less Ger main's concern than the Admiralty's. Again overoptimism about the fate of the province is discernible both in the Admiralty's instruc tions to Parker, which accorded a low priority to the defense of West Florida, and in the actions of Parker himself, who cer tainly had many cares but who never treated appeals from West Florida as urgent, presumably on the hopeful assumption that the Spanish would be held off somehow until his ships arrived. Such complacency about West Florida's safety would scarcely have been possible if any of the British strategists had ever con sidered, as none seems to have done, the advantages enjoyed by the Spanish in the Gulf: allies, a spirited leader, more men, and, when it counted most, more ships. Most important of all, recovery of the Floridas was a foremost aim of Spanish strategy during the American Revolution. Spain would go to far greater lengths to capture West Florida than Britain would to preserve it. If the province was for the British a troublesome area, for the Spanish it was vital.
The Troubled Advance of Panton, Leslie and Company into Spanish West Florida THOMAS D. WATSON THE departure of British forces from Savannah and Charleston in 1782 created deep anxiety among the southern Indians. Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Choctaw war parties had served as British auxiliaries against both Spanish and American forces at various intervals during the southern campaigns of the American Revolution. With Mobile and Pensacola firmly under Spanish con trol, the British evacuation of Georgia and South Carolina signified to the Indians that they might be abandoned to cope with their foes as best they could. Accordingly, from late 1782 until early 1783, large bands of Upper and Lower Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees, accompanied by smaller deputations representing northern tribes, descended upon St. Augustine, the sole remaining British stronghold in the South, to seek reassurances concerning their collective destinies. Their spokesmen protested the apparent British withdrawal from the war and asked for support of a pro posed grand Indian confederation that would frustrate the ex pansionist ambitions of the Americans. The southern Indian dele gates also sought improvements in their severely disrupted trading conditions.1 1. James H. O'Donnell III, Southern Indians in the American Revolution (Knoxville, 1973), pp. 125, 129-30, and "Alexander McGillivray: Training for Leadership," Georgia Historical Quarterly 49 (May, 1965): 181-82; Great Brit ain, Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American Manuscripts in the Royal Institution of Great Britain (London, 1907), 3:222-23, 276-77, 325-27. 68
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 69 The pleadings of the Indians placed Patrick Tonyn, governor of East Florida, and Thomas Brown, superintendent of the Atlantic District of the Southern Indian Department, in a quandary. Al though both officials perceived that the military phase of the BritishAmerican struggle had ended, the precise boundaries of the British Empire in postwar North America remained unknown. Accordingly, they deemed it prudent to encourage the Indians to remain loyal British allies while discouraging them from engaging in offensive warfare with the Americans. Superintendent Brown, therefore, as sured the Indians of the king's support and stated that the troop withdrawal was only temporary. Redcoats were needed elsewhere against French and Spanish armies. Meanwhile, during the absence of British troops, he urged the Indians to refrain from attacking Americans. To divert the minds of the braves from the warpath, he promised to arrange for more satisfactory trading facilities as quickly as possible.2 The southern Indians returned to their homelands, apparently content for the moment with the outcome of their negotiations. As early as February 1783, Spanish authorities in West Florida and Louisiana received reports that English traders were en route from East Florida with trade goods for Creek and Choctaw villages. In deed, rumors circulating among the Choctaws implied that the restoration of Pensacola and Mobile to British control was im minent.3 The improved outlook of the southern Indians, particularly the Creeks, stemmed in part from the prompt action taken to improve their trade. On January 15, 1783, the East Florida authorities li censed a newly formed partnership, Panton, Leslie and Company, for the Indian trade. The partners, in return for promises of pro tection from Alexander McGillivray and other influential Creek leaders, agreed to establish a trading post readily accessible to Creek settlements. A site was selected shortly afterward on the Wakulla River, a short distance upstream of the abandoned Fort 2. O'Donnell, Southern Indians, pp. 125, 129-30. 3. Arturo O'Neill to Luis de Unzaga, February 15, 1783, in Elizabeth Howard West Papers, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville; Lawrence Kinnaird, ed., Spain in the Mississippi Valley, 1765-1794, vols. 2-4 of American Historical Association, Annual Report for 1945, 3 pts. (Washington, 1946-49), 2:71-73. The rumors concerning Pensa cola and Mobile were probably based on the wishful thinking of Brown and other East Floridians. See Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report, 3:368.
70 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South St. Marks, and the post was ready for business the following fall with Charles McLatchy as its first factor.4 Four prominent East Florida residentsWilliam Panton, Thomas Forbes, John Leslie, and William Alexanderwere associated in the founding of Panton, Leslie and Company. Each was an avid loyalist whose residence in the province dated at least from the early stages of the American Revolution. Each enjoyed cordial re lations with Governor Tonyn and other British officials. Their ser vices to their government were numerous, varied, and profitable. Panton and Forbes, refugees from the ire of South Carolina and Georgia patriots, had formed a partnership in 1775 and, under Tonyn's sponsorship, entered the Indian trade. Their ventures in cluded many other activities, such as the production of naval stores and the provisioning of troops. Alexander and Leslie, mer chants of long standing, had become business associates in 1779. Sales and contractual services to governmental agencies contributed significantly to their profits. Alexander severed his ties with Panton, Leslie and Company subsequent to its formation, but the other founders remained lifetime business associates.5 In April, Governor Tonyn received official notification that East Florida would be retroceded to Spain. In proclaiming the dis heartening news, the governor advised the residents to make haste in settling their affairs and in preparing for departure. In the en suing months, thousands of hapless East Floridians embarked with their possessions on British transports for new homes in the Ba hamas and elsewhere. Although William Panton and Thomas Forbes acquired crown land grants in the Bahamas, by no means had they acquiesced in the loss of the Indian trade. Indeed, on learning that the Spaniards had been made masters of the Floridas, Panton, Forbes, and Leslie had resolved to seek their consent to continue in the Florida Indian trade on the same basis as under British rule.6 4. John Francis Hamtramck Claiborne, Mississippi, as a Province, Territory and State, with Biographical Notices of Eminent Citizens (Jackson, 1880; reprint ed., Baton Rouge, 1964), l:132n; Panton to McGillivray, February 4, 1792, West Papers; John Walton Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks (Norman, 1938), p. 72. 5. Randy Frank Nimnicht, "William Panton: His Early Career on the Changing Frontier" (Master's thesis, University of Florida, 1968), chap. 2, passim; Panton to Leslie, July 18, 1791, in D. W. Johnson et al. v. James Innerarity et al, La. Sup. Ct. (New Orleans), 1156 (1825). 6. Charles Loch Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 1763-1784, Uni versity of California Publications in History, no. 32 (Berkeley, 1943), pp. 142-
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 71 While Forbes eventually became the overseer of the company's interests in Nassau, Panton's destiny lay on the mainland, pursuing the company's objective of engrossing the southern Indian trade. The conditions that prevailed in the Old Southwest at the end of the American Revolution encouraged Panton and his associates in believing that their case could be presented successfully. Through out the eighteenth century, British traders had cultivated the taste of the southern Indians for cheap English manufactures. In this the traders had succeeded so well that by the 1760s their clients had become utterly dependent on the white man's goods; Indian trade dependency was thereafter officially encouraged as an economical and effective means for keeping Indians subservient to British dom ination.7 Spain, the partners assumed, possessed neither the ex pertise nor the resources for conducting the southern Indian trade; consequently, unless British traders remained in the Floridas, the Indians would eventually be drawn into the American orbit. In keeping with their expansionist sentiments, the Americans then would incite the Indians into raiding and harassing settlements in the Floridas, making the Spanish position untenable. In September 1783, Governor Tonyn made the first overture to Spanish authorities on behalf of Panton, Leslie and Company. In a letter addressed to "His Excellency, His Catholic Majesty's Gov ernor in East Florida," Tonyn praisefully apprised his successor of the company's past contributions to the province's well-being through "maintaining cordial harmony and trade with Indian nations." Since the firm wished to remain, Tonyn recommended that the Spanish governor extend its members "protection and patronage so that they may continue their business for the public good." Tonyn also conveyed the company's intentions to follow through with their plans to open the St. Marks post, a decision he hailed as most im-47; Thelma Peters, "The American Loyalists in the Bahama Islands: Who They Were," Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (January 1962):231; Joseph Byrne Lockey, East Florida, 1783-1785. A File of Documents, and Many of Them Translated by Joseph Byrne Lockey, ed. John Walton Caughey (Berkeley, 1949), p. 258. 7. John J. TePaske, "French, Spanish, and English Indian Policy on the Gulf Coast: A Comparison," in Spain and Her Rivals on the Gulf Coast, Proceedings, Second Gulf Coast History and Humanities Conference, ed. Ernest F. Dibble and Earle Newton (Pensacola, 1971), pp. 21-34; Walter H. Mohr, Federal Indian Relations, 1774-1788 (Philadelphia, 1933), p. 178; John R. Alden, John Stuart and the Southern Colonial Frontier (Ann Arbor, 1944; reprint ed., New York, 1966), p. 15.
72 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South portant in keeping the Indians from resorting to American trade channels. The Georgians and Carolinians, Tonyn pointed out, were eager to "conciliate the Indians" and to "cause them to imbibe notions extremely dangerous to the peace of this province."8 At this time, Thomas Forbes was in London seeking the support of Bernardo del Campo, the Spanish ambassador, for the company's designs. Forbes attempted to impress the Spaniard with the prob lems inherent in conducting the Indian trade through the normal Spanish commercial regime, arguing that Spain neither produced articles desired by Indians nor provided a viable market for the enormous quantity of deerskins which the southern Indians ex changed for goods. On the other hand, Forbes maintained, Panton, Leslie and Company possessed the assetscredit, experience, and good will of the Indiansrequired to keep them adequately sup plied and thus loyal to Spain. The company, Forbes implied, would agree to continue its operations in return for the privilege of trading directly between West Florida and Great Britain for a period of five to seven years.9 Both Tonyn and Forbes correctly emphasized the importance of Creek friendship to the success of Spanish Indian policy. Because its hunting lands bordered the frontiers of Georgia and South Carolina, the Creek Nation, with perhaps 5,000 warriors at its dis posal, presented a potentially formidable barrier against American expansion. The Creeks fully understood the desires of covetous Geor gians to deprive them of their hunting grounds. Unlike their Chero kee neighbors to the north, the Creeks had not been demoralized by American punitive expeditions.10 More important, the astute, politically adept Alexander McGillivray, possessed of strong antip athy toward Americans, had risen to prominence in the hierarchy of Creek leadership. The son of Lachlan McGillivray, a prominent Georgia fur trader, Alexander McGillivray was reputedly half-Scot, quarter-French, and quarter-Creek in lineage. He spent his formative years in Little Tallassie, an Upper Creek town, before traveling to Georgia and 8. Lockey, East Florida, p. 190. 9. Forbes to Messrs. Davis Straham and Co., September 20, 1783, Forbes to Del Campo, September 22, 28, 1783, Spain, Archivo General de Simancas, Estado, leg. 8138. 10. R. S. Cotterill, The Southern Indians, the Story of the Civilized Tribes before Their Removal (Norman, 1954), pp. 8-9; O'Donnell, Southern Indians, pp. 48, 52, 107, 111.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 73 South Carolina for an education. In 1776, with the onset of the American Revolution, McGillivray, a loyalist, returned to his Creek kinsmen and his boyhood home. He served with the Southern Indian Department during the war, eventually rising to the position of British commissary to the Creeks. He worked zealously against the American cause, encouraged in part by resentment against the state of Georgia for having confiscated a family estate he valued at around ,000 sterling. In May 1783, the Creeks elevated McGil livray to the position of head warrior, probably in recognition of his demonstrated abilities as a leader. He immediately placed the Creeks on a war footing as protection against the "land grab" schemes of Georgians and Carolinians.11 The defensive preparations of the Creeks soon received a serious blow. In June, Superintendent Brown sent McGillivray painful news. The Southern Indian Department had been ordered to begin prep arations for evacuating East Florida, and its agents were to with draw from Indian territory immediately. Extremely disconsolate over abandonment, McGillivray insisted to Brown that the British must furnish the Creeks the arms and munitions needed for with standing American land hunger. Brown advised against any pre cipitate action for the moment. Instead, McGillivray should apply to the Spaniards in Pensacola for support, inasmuch as they too were extremely interested in forestalling the American westward advance.12 William Panton offered McGillivray similar advice. The Creek leader, Panton proposed, should not only solicit Spanish protection but also promote Panton, Leslie and Company's interest in the West Florida Indian trade. Success would assure the Creeks of adequate trade facilities, thereby obviating any possible necessity for resort ing to American supply sources. Free from commercial dependence on the Americans and supported by Spain, the Creeks could then successfully resist American designs to deprive them of their lands. Panton promised McGillivray a share of the company's profits as an added inducement for obtaining Spanish approval of the plans.13 11. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 9-16; O'Donnell, "Training for Leadership," pp. 173-83; Lockey, East Florida, p. 744; Arthur Preston Whitaker, "Alexander McGillivray, 1783-1789," North Carolina Historical Review 5 (April 1928): 181-82; Cotterill, Southern Indians, p. 61. 12. O'Donnell, Southern Indians, p. 138; David H. Corkran, The Creek Frontier, 1540-1783 (Norman, 1967), p. 324. 13. Johnson et al. v. Innerarity et al., especially Panton to Lachlan
74 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Developments in Spain revealed that Panton, Leslie and Com pany was in need of all the support it could muster. By December, the representations made on the company's behalf had reached the Spanish court, where they came under the scrutiny of Bernardo de Galvez, captain-general of Louisiana and the Floridas. Highly es teemed for his victories over the British in West Florida, Galvez earlier had been summoned home by the court for policy consultations. While conceding an English company could keep the Indians contented and peaceful by supplying them with English goods, he suspected the benefits would accrue ultimately to Britons rather than Spaniards. The Spaniards therefore responded courteously to the company's requests but remained noncommittal as to its future status. Galvez preferred granting Louisianians the opportunity "to gain and preserve the friendship of the nativesa thing that is not so impossible as the English believe."14 Bernardo de Galvez fully appreciated the importance of trade in carrying out Indian diplomacy. He also understood that the security of Louisiana and the Floridas depended heavily on winning the loyalty of the southern Indians. Accordingly, immediately after the fall of Pensacola in May 1781, he notified the southern Indians that their trade would be restored under Spanish auspices as quickly as possible. Galvez then sent his father-in-law, Gilberto Antonio de Maxent, to the Spanish court with elaborate proposals for creating a sound postwar Indian policy.15 Maxent, a native of Lorraine who had risen to prominence in the merchant-planter class of New Orleans, was well versed in dealings with Indians. His activities in the Louisiana fur trade, dating from the French era, laid the basis for the accumulation of his extensive McGillivray, April 10, 1794. Abridged and edited versions of this letter appear in Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 362-63, and Albert James Pickett, History of Alabama, and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi, from the Earliest Period, 2 vols., 3d ed. (Charleston, 1880; reprint ed., New York, 1971), 2:141-42. A handwritten copy is located in Alabama, Department of Archives and History (Montgomery), Albert J. Pickett Collection. 14. Arthur Preston Whitaker, trans, and ed., Documents Relating to the Commercial Policy of Spain in the Floridas, with Incidental Reference to Louisiana, Publications of the Florida Historical Society, no. 10 (De Land, 1931), pp. 39-41; Lockey, East Florida, pp. 191-92. 15. John Walton Caughey, Rernardo de Galvez in Louisiana, 1776-1783 (Berkeley, 1934; reprint ed., New Orleans, 1972), p. 213; Bernardo de Galvez to Jose de Galvez, May 26, 1781, in John B. Stetson Collection, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 75 holdings.16 Thus, his proposals to the court quite naturally blended pecuniary self-interest with commercial reforms designed to insure the growth of Louisiana and West Florida while establishing com plete Spanish hegemony over the southern Indians. In a memorial of October 4, 1781, Maxent urged approval of direct trade for Louisiana and West Florida with French and "other friendly ports." Stressing the importance of the fur trade to the economic development of two provinces, Maxent argued that exist ing commercial regulations raised the costs and risks of conducting the business to prohibitive levels. Without timely reforms, he con cluded, the trade would be lost by default to the Americans or the British, and he predicted dire consequences not only for the pros perity of the colonies but also for their security.17 Maxent's exertions influenced the promulgation of the Royal Cedula of January 22, 1782, which, among other provisions, opened direct trade between designated French ports and Louisiana and West Florida, subject to 6 per cent ad valorem duties. Although its terms were not as liberal as Maxent desired, this decree comple mented other arrangements that placed him in control over both In dian trade and Indian policy for the two provinces. The Spanish crown not only appointed Maxent to the superintendency of Indian affairs in Louisiana and West Florida but also agreed to a contract authorizing him to procure and transport to New Orleans, at his per sonal risk, Indian trade goods valued at 380,000 pesos. Of this amount, 180,000 pesos in goods were intended for royal use, with 100,000 pesos worth to be stored as contingency reserves and the balance to be distributed as presents at treaty congresses with the southern Indians. The remaining 200,000 pesos in goods were for Maxent's personal use in re-opening the Indian trade. Insofar as practicable, Spanish products were to receive preference, with the remainder to be purchased in France. Maxent received official as sistance in arranging credit for the enterprise.18 Late in 1782, Maxent, having assembled two cargoes he later valued at 278,000 pesos, left France for New Orleans. The ex pedition was intercepted by British privateers and taken to Jamaica. 16. James Julian Coleman, Jr., Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent: The Spanish Frenchman of New Orleans (New Orleans, 1968), passim. 17. Maxent memorial of October 4, 1781, West Papers. 18. Jose de Galvez to Intendant of Louisiana, March 18, 1782, ibid.; Martin Navarro to Antonio Valdes, October 31, 1787, Archivo General de las Indias (Seville), Papeles de Cuba, legajo 633; Whitaker, Documents, pp. 31-39.
76 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South To salvage his misfortune, Maxent borrowed heavily from Kingston merchants and recovered one vessel and purchased around 40,000 pesos worth of merchandise. Paroled to Havana in 1783, Maxent de voted considerable time to laying plans for treaty congresses with the southern Indians before departing for New Orleans in August.19 Unfortunately for Maxent, while in Havana, he had not limited his concerns exclusively to Indian affairs. He and other prominent Span ish subjects were implicated in smuggling specie to Jamaica. A royal decree of December 1783 relieved Maxent of his duties, placed him under house arrest, and impounded his assets. Bernardo de Galvez instructed Esteban Miro, his governor ad interim in New Orleans, and Martin Navarro, the intendant for Louisiana, to as sume Maxent's responsibilities for dealing with the southern Indians.20 Miro and Navarro accepted their assignment with many mis givings. The 40,000 pesos in goods that had reached New Orleans with Maxent were only half the amount intended for distribution as gifts at the long-delayed southern Indian treaty congresses, and In dian presents were unobtainable in Louisiana at any price. The two officials were also perplexed over the problem of establishing the Indian trade on a regular basis. No longer could the repeated pleas of the southern Indians be safely answered with vague promises; the risk of their resorting to Anglo-American traders posed too great a threat to the security of Louisiana and West Florida.21 Meanwhile, McGillivray, confronted with pressures from Georgia for a cession of all Creek lands east of the Oconee River and denied British arms for resisting these demands, heeded the advice of Brown and Panton to try his luck with the Spaniards. In September 1783, the Creek leader, accompanied by a coterie of other influential head men, visited Lieutenant Colonel Arturo O'Neill, the governor of West Florida, in Pensacola. In apprising O'Neill of the plight of his tribesmen, McGillivray also stated that the Creeks intended to turn their backs on the British, seek peace and trade with the Spaniards, and frustrate the designs of the Georgians for a treaty and a land cession. Impressed with his visitor's influence and bearing, 19. Coleman, St. Maxent, pp. 96-99; Whitaker, Documents, p. 225nl6. 20. Phillip Allwood to Henry Ludlow, July 11, 1783, Allwood to Maxent, July 31, 1783, in Spain, Archivo Historical Nacional (Madrid), Consejo de Indias, legajo 21064; Miro to Navarro, April 15, 1784, West Papers. 21. Miro to Bernardo de Galvez, April 15, 1784, Navarro to Jose de Galvez, April 16, 1784, West Papers.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 77 O'Neill recommended winning the friendship of McGillivray and other mixed bloods who resided among the Creeks as the best means of engrossing the Creek trade.22 Shortly afterward, Georgian commissioners gained the Oconee lands in negotiations at Augusta with a Creek splinter faction, an action promptly repudiated by McGillivray. He then received notice from St. Augustine that British bargaining for the retention of portions of the Floridas had been fruitless; transfer to Spain was imminent. Consequently, in January 1784, McGillivray petitioned O'Neill for Spanish protection for the Creeks and proposed the in troduction of British trade goods in West Florida as the best means for keeping the Creeks free from American influence. Unwittingly or otherwise, McGillivray stated that the articles of transfer granted the Panton firm the privilege of remaining in East Florida, and the company also had petitioned the Spanish ambassador in London for permission to establish a base in Pensacola or Mobile. If successful, McGillivray declared, he was to be granted a share of the business.23 Governor O'Neill took the initiative to accept McGillivray's re quest for Spanish protection, a measure subsequently approved by the Spanish crown. But his reply with respect to the trade proposals was evasive at best; he informed McGillivray that they would be referred to Miro and Maxent "at the proper time." O'Neill appar ently had not been advised of the latter's fall from grace. Shortly afterward, the West Florida governor bluntly discouraged a request from Charles McLatchy for official approval to continue the com pany's trading operations at St. Marks. Unless he was joined by a Spanish partner and received the approval of the Spanish Indian superintendent, O'Neill surmised, McLatchy would be denied the privileges he sought. The Spanish officer also warned the Indian trader not to attempt to restock the St. Marks post through British supply sources and advised him to sell his inventories on hand to a Spanish merchant of Pensacola.24 22. Kenneth Coleman, The American Revolution in Georgia, 1763-1789 (Athens, Ga., 1958), pp. 239-40; Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 62-63. 23. Randolph G. Downes, "Creek-American Relations, 1782-1790," Georgia Historical Quarterly 21 (June 1937): 143-46; J. Leitch Wright, Anglo-Spanish Rivalry in North America (Athens, Ga., 1971), pp. 136-37; Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 64-67. 24. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 71-72; Bernardo de Galvez to Jose de Galvez, May 2, 1784, in Joseph B. Lockey Papers, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History; O'Neill to McLatchy, February 6, 1784, Stetson Coll.; Duvon C. Corbitt and Roberta Corbitt, eds., "Papers from the Spanish Archives
78 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South In his rejoinder, McLatchy reminded the Spanish governor that East Florida still remained under British control and explained that Governor Tonyn earlier had approved restocking St. Marks. Ad ditional trade goods were expected to arrive momentarily. Panton, Leslie and Company, the factor stated, fully realized that its future operations required the approval of Spanish authorities in both Floridas. But any immediate suspension of the St. Marks trade would cause the company to suffer losses for goods already extended to traders on credit. Insinuating that rejection of the company's re quest to trade under Spanish auspices might force its relocation in "some other country," McLatchy stated that he had suggested that either Panton or Leslie visit Pensacola for direct trade discussions with O'Neill and the superintendent.25 McGillivray also protested the threat to the St. Marks trade, in forming the Spaniards that the post had been opened at the request of the Indians. With trade goods virtually unobtainable in Pensa cola, McGillivray declared that the Creeks were prepared to defend the St. Marks post against closure at least until the Spaniards made satisfactory treaty arrangements concerning their trade. Uninstructed on the firm's name change, McGillivray reiterated his ties with "Messrs. Panton, Forbes & Co.," declared that Panton would accompany him to Pensacola for the pending Spanish-Creek treaty discussions, and recommended the merchant for the entire trade of the Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. McGillivray also for warded proposals for the consideration of "Monsieur Maxent the Superintendent," who, the Creek leader suggested, should associate himself with the Panton firm as the "only means" of forestalling the American trade threat.26 Meanwhile, Miro and Navarro were devising a solution to the trade quandary from resources more directly at hand. In April 1784, they reached an understanding with two merchants of New Orleans, James Mather and Arthur Strother, who agreed to expedite the pro curement and delivery of all merchandise required to establish the southern Indian trade on a sound basis. The governor and intendant clearly understood that McGillivray's assent to any trade plan was Relating to Tennessee and the Old Southwest," pt. 1, East Tennessee Historical Society, Publications 9 (1937): 112-13. 25. McLatchy to O'Neill, March 4, 1784, West Papers. 26. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 72-74.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 79 imperative; his thinly veiled threats to resort to the Americans in the event the Spaniards failed to supply the Indian trade promptly had not escaped their attention. Accordingly, Miro informed McGillivray that while trade proposals of "all sorts" would be enter tained at the Creek treaty congress, Mather would be on hand with trade offers of particular interest to the Creek leader.27 The long-heralded congress opened on May 30, with Miro, Navarro, and O'Neill representing Spain and McGillivray acting as chief spokesman for the Creeks. The "most warlike nation on this continent," Navarro later reported, accepted the Spanish proposals routinely. Among other matters agreed to, the Creeks accepted Spanish protection and pledged to trade exclusively through Span ish outlets. The Spaniards promised to establish and maintain Creek trade on a permanent basis at moderate prices set under a separate bilateral agreement. Miro was sufficiently impressed with McGillivray's influence and ability to appoint him as Spanish agent to the Creeks, charging him with promoting Spanish ascendancy and enforcing the established trading procedures.28 On departing Pensacola, Miro and Navarro visited Mobile, where they negotiated with the Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Alabamas treaties similar to the Pensacola agreement. Having been delayed at St. Marks until June 4, Panton arrived in Pensacola after the gov ernor and intendant had left. McGillivray briefed his associate with less than full candor on what had happened in his absence. Panton learned from McGillivray only that the governors of New Orleans and Pensacola would recommend placing the Creek trade "on a solid footing" and that the Creek spokesman had obtained im mediate permission to transfer goods to Pensacola from St. Marks and St. Augustine. Panton, after acquiring the necessary passports, left Pensacola to arrange the transfer, confident that the Spaniards would report favorably to Madrid on his company's interest in the Indian trade; they appeared too eager to win over the Indians to do otherwise. Had Panton known that Miro and Navarro had justified the passports to higher authorities as an ad hoc measure, allowed 27. Ibid., p. 82; Miro to Navarro, April 15, 1784, Miro to Bernardo de Gal vez, April 15, 1784, Navarro to Jose de Galvez, April 16, 1784, West Papers. 28. Navarro to Jose de Galvez, July 24, 1784, Miro to Josef de Ezpeleta, August 1, 1784, '"Instructions to Alexander McGillivray," July 20, 1784, Lockey Papers; Jack D. L. Holmes, "Spanish Treaties with the West Florida Indians, 1784-1802," Florida Historical Quarterly 48 (October 1969): 141-44.
80 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South only because of the extreme needs of the Creeks, his confidence likely would have been shaken.29 Nor was Panton aware that James Mather had attended the Pensacola congress or that Miro and Navarro had ardently recom mended his services to McGillivray. Although the Creek spokesman had pointed out his connections with Panton and had sponsored his company's cause, official pressures led McGillivray to approve the Mather firm's entry into the Indian trade in some undetermined capacity. Several weeks after the congress ended, McGillivray ac cepted a tentative offer to become associated with Mather and Strother in the Choctaw and Chickasaw trade at Mobile, envisioning for himself all the while a similar connection with Panton, Leslie and Company in the Creek trade at Pensacola. McGillivray's du plicity apparently was based on an opinion that Panton was "too hesitant about risking his property with the Spaniards." McGillivray also later expressed concern over Panton's failure to reach an under standing with O'Neill on the Indian trade before leaving Pensa cola.30 Given his uncertainties about Panton's resolve, McGillivray, in dealing with Mather and Strother, was probably hedging his bets. Whatever McGillivray's notions on a trade division may have been, Miro and Navarro planned to award the entire southern In dian trade to Mather and Strother. In a contract of July 1784, Mather received authority to import a sufficient quantity of goods to supply the southern Indian trade for one year from any Dutch, Danish, or English ports. The merchandise, subject to 6 per cent ad valorem duty, was to be carried on two vessels, one for Mobile and the other for Pensacola. In August, Mather dispatched the Condesa de Gdlvez to London to procure the necessary merchandise.31 The Mather enterprise clearly exceeded the provisions of the Royal Cedula of January 1782, designed to facilitate the Indian trade by opening commerce with designated French ports. Mir6 29. "Extracts of Sundry Letters to Mr. Thomas Forbes, Merchant," Great Britain, Public Records Office (London), Chatham Papers, 30/8/344, pt. 1 (cited as Letters to Forbes); Intendant of Louisiana to Jose de Galvez, August 18, 1784, West Papers; Navarro to O'Neill, June 11, 1784, Lockey Papers. 30. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 78-86. 31. Memorial of James Mather, July 24, 1784, Miro to Bernardo de Gal vez, August 1, 1784, Lockey Papers; Mather contract dated July 24, 1784, West Papers.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 81 justified his approval because of the overwhelming necessity for haste in restoring the southern Indian trade. Mather alone, he argued, possessed sufficient credit in London for purchasing Indian trade goods without delay, and the Indians had insisted on English wares. Obtaining English goods in France would have caused un timely delays and added expenses. Since many items demanded by the Indians were manufactured only in England, and since Maxent had earlier procured a large portion of English-made items in Ostend, the Louisiana officials felt their action was appropriateat least as a temporary expedient.32 Miro and Navarro also submitted suggestions for royal considera tion in shaping permanent policies for supplying the southern Indians. Their trade, they suggested, should be conducted at private rather than public expense through permanent stores in Pensacola and Mobile. Goods of English manufacture should be employed in the trade because of the Indians' stated preferences. The merchant selected to conduct the trade should possess adequate resources for placing it on a permanent basis. These measures, they observed, would relieve the treasury of burdensome capital outlays for gov ernment-sponsored trade, lessen royal expenses for gifts, and keep the southern Indians safely under Spanish influence.33 By September 1784, Panton's search for goods for Pensacola had led him back to St. Augustine, only to discover the company's in ventories there almost depleted. He therefore approached the Span ish governor, Vicente Manuel de Zespedes, who had taken pos session of East Florida on July 12, for a passport to Nassau. The company expected the arrival there of a large consignment of goods suitable for supplying Pensacola and for restocking the post in St. Marks and those in the vicinity of St. Augustine. Shortages at St. Marks, Panton added, were causing considerable anxiety among Indians and traders. Zespedes readily complied.34 By this time, Leslie, Tonyn, and Brown, with special assistance from the Indians, had convinced Zespedes that the services of Panton, Leslie and Company were indispensable. Almost from the 32. Miro to Bernardo de Galvez, August 1, 1784, Miro to Ezpeleta, August 1, 1784, Lockey Papers. 33. Ibid.; Navarro to Jose de Galvez, July 27, 1784, West Papers. 34. Panton, Leslie and Company memorials to Zespedes, September 7, 10, 1784, Zespedes passport, September 10, 1784, Library of Congress, Manuscripts Division, East Florida Papers, bundle 116 L9 (cited as EF 116 L9); Lockey, East Florida, pp. 274-75.
82 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South moment of his arrival, the Spaniard found Indian affairs among his "greatest cares" of office. Seemingly endless groups of Indians called at St. Augustine to greet Zespedes, speak persuasively on behalf of the company, and receive the presents customarily distributed on such occasions. Leslie cheerfully rescued the government from em barrassment over having failed to include Indian presents among the stores transported from Cuba; this oversight was remedied by advancing the needed articles on credit from company stock. In deed, Leslie appears to have served Zespedes as a de facto Indian superintendent.35 The grateful Zespedes had in August strongly endorsed a Panton, Leslie and Company memorial to the Spanish crown requesting the privilege of continuing the trade "on the same basis as formerly under the British government of this province." In September, pos sibly before Panton left for the Bahamas, Zespedes received a dis patch from Bernardo de Galvez making known the royal disposition of Tonyn's request of September 1783. The English company could remain in the East Florida Indian trade if it used only Spanishmade goods or those obtainable under the provisions of the reglamento de comercio libre of October 1778, a measure specifying that trade between Spanish colonies and non-Spanish markets must clear through a Spanish port subject to high duties and imposts. Zespedes, with little taste for coping alone with the "insatiable greed" of the Indians for gifts, refrained from divulging the details of the decree to the Britons. They might have withdrawn their cooperation.36 Panton reached Nassau in October for an unanticipated fivemonth stay, due to the late arrival of merchandise from London. Al though somewhat distressed over his delayed departure for Pensacola with the urgently needed goods, he nevertheless remained confident of reaching an agreement with O'Neill on the West Flor ida Indian trade. En route to Pensacola, Panton called at St. Marks in mid-March with supplies for McLatchy, who informed him of the McGillivray-Mather connections and of Miro's support of the New Orleans firm. The astonished Panton dispatched a letter to McGillivray reiterating his company's determination to vie for locations at Pensacola and Mobile, a matter the two had discussed fully the 35. Letters to Forbes; Lockey, East Florida, p. 273. 36. Lockey, East Florida, pp. 197-98, 254-60, 296-97.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 83 past year. The time had come, Panton declared, for McGillivray to choose between the contenders.37 The discoveries at St. Marks made Panton doubly anxious to con fer with O'Neill. The British merchant arrived at Pensacola on April 6, 1785, after an agonizingly slow voyage against contrary winds. To his chagrin he discovered O'Neill had sailed to Havana for con sultations with Bernardo de Galvez, whose departure to assume the viceroyship of Mexico was imminent. Knowing of O'Neill's close ties with Galvez, Panton wasted little time in writing the former of his concern over Miro's arrangements with Mather and asking for assistance in advancing the Panton, Leslie cause. Panton expressed particular interest in discovering whether the Mather concern would receive exclusive trading privileges. Unless O'Neill could aid in securing terms for Panton, Leslie and Company at least equal to those extended its competitor, Panton implied he wished only to dispose of the goods on hand before retiring from Pensacola. To buttress his position, Panton alluded to the possible adverse conse quences from Spanish policy of entrusting the Indian trade to in experienced merchants.38 Panton erred in his estimate of O'Neill's favor. Later he would display an almost pathological distrust for Britons. While in Havana, he apparently persuaded Don Bernardo to place St. Marks within the jurisdiction of West Florida and to regarrison the abandoned fort. Unwatched British traders in close contact with Indians in such a remote area made O'Neill uneasy. He returned to Pensacola in June with little information of interest to Panton except that Navarro, as intendant for Louisiana, had been given discretionary authority to maintain the Indian trade until an official decision was reached on permanent arrangements.39 Meanwhile, McGillivray journeyed to Pensacola in May to assist with opening the trade. Panton quickly demanded an accounting of his erstwhile partner's dealings with Miro and Mather. McGil livray explained that he had hesitated to oppose Mather too 37. Panton to Zespedes, December 4, 1784, Panton to Carlos Howard, December 5, 1784, Panton to Leslie, January 5, 7, March 15, 1785, EF 116 L9, Letters to Forbes. 38. Panton to O'Neill, April 15, 1785, Panton to Forbes, May 21, 1785, EF 116 L9. 39. O'Neill to Bernardo de Galvez, January 9, July 1, 1785, Bernardo de Galvez to Miro, May 6, 1785, West Papers.
84 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South strongly; such a course might have adversely affected the trade dis cussions. Miro might have withheld his consent for the use of Eng lish goods. After all, McGillivray pointed out, Miro's concessions to Mather, if approved by higher authority, set quite favorable precedents. Panton was unable to find excessive fault with McGillivray's explanations and agreed to follow along with his plansapparently a propaganda campaigna while longer. On speculating over their chances of success, Panton and McGillivray surmised that should the company acquire the Creek and Chickasaw trade, it would eventually gain that of the Choctaws and Cherokees as well. They assumed O'Neill and Zespedes, resentful of Miro's meddlesome interference in the affairs of the Floridas, would at least favor a division of the trade between Panton and Mather. Should such a division materialize, perhaps Mather might withdraw. Panton and McGillivray also found consolation in the knowledge that Mathers trade goods had not yet arrived. In the event of a protracted delay, Panton could make solid ties with the Choctaws and Chickasaw traders. Mather, whom they believed these traders generally held in low esteem, would then find the task of supplanting Panton ex tremely difficult40 Throughout the summer of 1785, McGillivray importuned Spanish officials on behalf of Panton, Leslie and Company. The Creeks, Chickasaws, and Cherokees, he reported to O'Neill, were "exceed ingly well satisfied" with Panton's arrival at Pensacola and expected "the trade thus begun [would] be established on the most per manent footing" as promised at the congresses of 1784. Panton, Mc Gillivray added, not only possessed the experience and means for furnishing "Goods equal to the Demand of the Indians" but also was well disposed to advance the Spanish viewpoint. McGillivray also stated that he had requested the British merchant to present O'Neill with the terms on which he could "continue to Import Goods for the Support of the Indian Nations in alliance with his Majesty the King of Spain." To Zespedes, McGillivray wrote that Panton's arrival had been attended with "the Very best effects to his Majesty's interest," whose "goodness," it was hoped, would "secure to the Indians a permanency of trade and Support through the Channels it has Commenced in." In his capacity as a Spanish Indian agent, McGillivray reminded Zespedes of the expediency of allow-40. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 87-88; Panton to Forbes, May 21, 1785, EF 116 L9.
Panton, Leslie and Company in Spanish West Florida / 85 ing the frequent replenishment of the Panton, Leslie stores at St. Marks and on the St. Johns.41 The Condesa de Gdlvez reached Mobile in June 1785 with a cargo of Indian goods valued at 40,000 pesos, all that Mather's credit had been good for obtaining. In casting aspersions on Mather's performance, McGillivray stated that the vessel should have arrived eight months earlier and expressed his relief that the Indians in their dire want had not been solely dependent on Mather. Despite their reluctance, the Creeks would have been forced to acquiesce in the American demandsif not for the Panton, Leslie trade.42 With Zespedes, McGillivray's remarks produced their intended results immediately. In June, the complaisant East Florida governor issued a passport to John Leslie for the importation of fresh sup plies for St. Johns, St. Marks, and, if necessary, even Pensacola. Al though several weeks earlier Zespedes had received official notifi cation of the transfer of St. Marks to West Florida, he justified his breach of protocol on the grounds of Mather's inadequacies and, more important, the necessity of keeping the Indians attached to Spain. Despite his surprise over such an impropriety, Intendant Navarro later accepted the fait accompli.43 In June and July, Panton forwarded to Miro and Navarro the conditions his house sought for continuing in the Indian trade to gether with requests for passports to bring in goods required for the rapidly approaching fall trading season as well as for the following year. Their replies, however, were both tardy and vague. In August, McGillivray, having become dubious of the strength of O'Neill's support, advised Panton to travel to New Orleans and present his views personally. On reaching the Crescent City, he persuaded Miro to intercede with Navarro on the earlier requests for passports. The Louisiana governor based his action on McGillivray's alarming descriptions of American machinations to absorb the Indian trade. Out of interest for the security of the provinces, Miro declared, "we should not neglect so favorable an opportunity." Panton should be permitted to import as much as 150,000 pesos worth of Indian trade 41. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks, pp. 94-97; Lockey, East Florida, pp. 545-47. 42. McGillivray to Leslie, August 20, 1785, McGillivray to Zespedes, August 20, 1785, East Florida Papers, bundle 114 J9. These letters appear in Lockey, East Florida, pp. 682-85, but are erroneously dated August 22, 1785. 43. Lockey, East Florida, pp. 559-60, 562-64, 682-85, 726; Zespedes to Miro, June 14, 1785, Zespedes to O'Neill, May 22, 1786, West Papers.
86 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South goods, Miro suggested, at duty levels no greater than those im posed on Mather.44 Panton returned to Pensacola in September 1785, quite pleased with the outcome of his visit to New Orleans. Navarro, acting under the authority given him by Bernardo de Galvez to provide for the Indian trade "by as many means as possible," had licensed Panton to import into Pensacola, from "whatever" neutral port, Indian trade goods up to 125,000 pesos in value for use in 1786. Panton also obtained permission to export the peltry received in exchange, with exports and imports alike subject to 6 per cent ad valorem duties.45 Thus began an uneasy modus vivendi in which the Panton firm supplied the Creek trade from Pensacola and St. Marks, while the Mather firm traded in Mobile with the Choctaws and Chickasaws. The arrangement continued on a year-to-year basis under annoying restrictions imposed by Miro and Navarro, who in turn were con stantly harassed by the court because of reports of "irregularities," emanating from the Spanish embassy in London. In 1789, the Mather firm lost its concession because of financial difficulties. Panton, yielding to the promises and pleas of Miro, took over the Choc taw and Chickasaw trade. Early in the same year, the Spanish court, unable to devise any feasible immediate alternatives, confirmed Panton, Leslie and Company in the southern Indian trade on a duty free basis.46 44. Corbitt and Corbitt, "Papers Relating to Tennessee," pt. 1, pp. 123-24; Duvon C. Corbitt, ed., "Papers Relating to the Georgia-Florida Frontier, 1784-1800," pt. 2, Georgia Historical Quarterly 21 (March 1937):76-77; Lockey, East Florida, pp. 742-44; Panton to Miro, June 27, 1785, West Papers. 45. Lockey, East Florida, pp. 742-44; Corbitt, "Georgia-Florida Frontier," pt. 2, pp. 76-79; Navarro passport, September 16, 1785, West Papers. 46. Thomas D. Watson, "Merchant Adventurer in the Old Southwest: Wil liam Panton, the Spanish Years, 1783-1801" (Ph.D. diss., Texas Tech Univer sity, 1972), pp. 95-96, 148-53.
Some Thoughts on Britain and Spain in West Florida during the Revelation JOHN FRANCIS MCDERMOTT PROFESSOR Fabel has been admirably impartial in his close ex amination of General Campbell's defeat in 1781, but without dis agreeing with his analysis I find my sympathies with the general. He had some reason to feel that the British government had left the province as "a gewgaw to amuse and divert the ambition of Spain," or at least reason to feel that authorities at home had neither valued the colony highly nor made concerted effort to hold it. Basically, this paper illustrates nicely the eternal struggle between planners and doers, between those high in power and far from the action and those on the spot who are expected to accomplish much with little, between theorizing on paper and the carrying out of those theories in the field. It emphasizes the importance of sound information and the muddles that result from inadequate intelli gence gathering. The spoils of the Seven Years War had brought the English what they had worked for: they had driven the French out of Canada and had acquired a vast disputed territory stretching from the Ap palachians to the Mississippi, a wilderness with a vast potential trade with the Indians and with glowing possibilities for land specu lation and development. To the planners in London this was to be secured by military occupation of the Gulf coast and by posts on the Mississippi so that the riches of the fur trade could flow down the river to safe ports on the Gulf and thence to England. Longed-for New Orleans had been put beyond British reach by 87
88 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South the gift of that town, with all of western Louisiana, to Spain, though the French and the Spanish had conceded to Britain use of the river all the way to the sea. There remained, however, the potential threat of blockade at any time of crisis, to cut off easy passage through this port. But the planners saw a literal way around this difficulty. Available maps showed the Iberville River linking the Mississippi with Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrainthus, traveling on their own right-of-way, they could go around the "island of Orleans" to the sea, an admirable bypass should the new owners of New Orleans show any recalcitrance or make any difficulties. Furthermore, it shortened the route to the Gulf; it would appeal to the traders bringing down their loads of peltries and would make it simpler and easier to get trade goods and supplies up the river. Alas for the plannerstheir conclusions were based on poor in telligence. The river connection did not exist. In actuality the Iber ville did not flow from the Mississippi: only in time of annual rises did any water from the great river flood over into the narrow and difficult channel that began miles away, presently to join the Amite and enter Lake Maurepas. The "ile d'Orleans" was no more an island than was the He de France in the heart of the kingdom. The French merely were using the term as they were accustomed to as, for instance, they spoke of an "ile" or an "ilot" in New Orleans, a block of ground enclosed or separated from another by its boundaries. The mistake was understandable if not excusable. The Spanish planners considering how to protect the western part of the Illinois made similar erroneous conclusions. Looking at the map, they de cided to plant forts on both sides of the Missouri at its mouth. No British traders would be able to slip by them. Ulloa's carefully planned expedition to create these strong points in 1767 allowed Captain Riu and his engineer, Guy Du Fossat, no choice or discre tion. But the planners had failed to consult any Illinois country merchants about the lay of the land, and the doers had to find out for themselves that both sides of the Missouri were flooded every year and that the location for the major fort was normally subject to eight or ten feet of high water. Difficulties for the British in West Florida were not only a matter of misleading maps: in 1763, when Mobile and Pensacola were oc cupied, there was no descriptive account of any value in print. Not until Philip Pittman in 1770 published his personal report to
Britain and Spain in West Florida / 89 Hillsborough was there an up-to-date, firsthand report on Louisiana and West Florida, as I point out in my edition in press of Pittman's The Present State of the European Settlements on the Missisippi [sic]. John Mitchell's The Contest in America between Great Britain and France, with its Consequences and Importance; giving an ac count of the Situation of the British and French Colonies, in all Parts of America (1757) was full of talk and may have been of use to William Pitt in organizing British policy, but it certainly did not inform him or any other Englishman about the actual state of either Louisiana or West Florida. The lengthy "Description of Louisiana" in Thomas Jeffreys' Natural and Civil History of the French Dominions in North and South America (1760) did give "a particular Account of the Climate, Soil, Minerals, Animals, Vegetables, Manufactures, Trade, Commerce, and Languages, together with the Religion, Government, Genius, Characters, Manners and Customs of the Indians and other Inhabitants" which had been "col lected from the best Authorities" by this geographer to the Prince of Wales. But these authorities for Louisiana were Pierre-Franc^oisXavier de Charlevoix, who reported the country as he had seen it in 1721-22 (though his diary was not published until 1744), Dumont de Montigny, whose Memoires Historiques sur la Louisiane (1753) covered the history of the colony only to 1740, and Antoine Simon Le Page du Pratz, whose Histoire de la Louisiane (1758) also ended in 1740. Jeffreys was full of interesting detail lifted from these works, but he was from twenty to forty years behind as far as the "present state" of the area was concerned. Planners, therefore, had little useful information; doers had to make out as best they could. In effect, there was no knowledge either in London or in military headquarters at New York about this important passage from the Mississippi to the lakes. The Iberville remained a problem the British never solved. The engineers Philip Pittman and James Camp bell sent to convert a rough, clogged, narrow, almost always dry channel into a waterway usable the year round saw what could be done, granted enough money and time. One could dig an actual canal that would provide a sufficient constant depth for small ships, regardless of the fact that the bed of the Iberville was considerably higher than that of the Mississippi, but a parsimonious government was unwilling or unable to commit the funds for such a project. The idea was a good one, but was it worthwhile? Though repeated lag-
90 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South ging efforts would be made during the British domination of West Florida, there never was a consistent determination, never an un wavering policy, to complete the job effectively. Division of authority created other difficulties. Amherst, as com manding general for North America, issued the first orders for the occupation of West Florida, and these were soon confirmed and elaborated by his successor, General Gage. It was Gage's plan to occupy Pensacola and Mobile but to abandon the French forts in the backcountry, because with his few troops it would be impractical to maintain those posts or to succor them in time of stress with the Indians. London, however, was intent on sending in a civil governor as quickly as possible. Its unlucky choice was George Johnstone, who thought his powers supreme and envisioned a suddenly flourish ing development of the colony under his guidance. He held that he could establish forts and assign troops at will, whereas Gage, care fully refraining from interference in political affairs, stubbornly maintained his complete control of the troopshence, a constant struggle between civil and military authorities from the beginning of British domination. I know nothing of General John Campbell and cannot judge him, but observations of the confusions and difficulties of the first years of occupation make me inclined to sympathize a bit with him. Pro fessor Fabel points out London's quandary: Jamaica was far more valuable than West Florida, and naval strength was concentrated on the islands and on protection of their trade. Campbell had to spread his few troops to best advantage and to remain on the de fensive. The declaration of war in 1779 gave the offensive to Galvez at New Orleans. The Spanish governor had no better support from his superiorshe had to make do with his garrisons and militia. When Leyba at St. Louis developed plans for the defense of the Illinois, Galvez could only tell him bluntly that there would be no troop reinforcements, no money for defensive works; he must hang on as best he could. It was more important for the Spanish com mander to concentrate on the British posts on the lower Mississippi and in West Florida. His whirlwind offensive was justified: Camp bell went down. Certainly, as we look at evidence available today and as we follow Professor Fabel's close examination of British strategy for the entire area, we must agree with his analysis of Campbell's capacity. I have one small quibble to add: I would not call John Mitchell's
Britain and Spain in West Florida / 91 book The Contest for America "an intelligence report" or "a source of information on America"it strikes me as a position paper and no more. Both of these excellent papers emphasize a point that must always be kept in mind in considering any phase of the history of Louisiana and West Florida: these colonies had strategic value for their parent countries, but otherwise they were insignificant. At no time did they pull their economic weight in the empires of which they were outposts. Their international value was to restrain the advance of op ponent nations rather than contribute to national wealth. It was this expensiveness that limited the grudging support of the planners at home. Professor Fabel has noticed the influence of this in his analysis of the military situation in the late seventies. Professor Watson is principally concerned with colonial economics, that is, the problem of the Indian trade. From the beginning there were dreams of fabulous riches to be easily reaped from the trade with the Indians for peltries. To Loui siana at the close of the war came a flood of Frenchmen seeking a share in this lucrative business, merchants numerous enough and vocal enough to induce the Due de Choiseul to cancel the monopoly of the Missouri River trade that D'Abbadie had granted to Maxent, Laclede and Company in July 1763. West Florida's French colonists and newly arrived Britishers were scrambling equally for their chance of doing business with the Choctaws, Creeks, and Illinois tribes. Lieutenant Colonel David Wedderburn, arriving to be the new military commander in West Florida in the spring of 1765, wrote with great enthusiasm to his brother, Alexander (later Lord Chancellor of England and a close friend of the Earl of Bute), "I would desire nothing more, to ensure my future fortune, than to Carry 300 men to Fort Chartres, at my own expence, provided I was to be absolute Governor of the Ilinois for three years, without even any Salary, and that New Orleans was ceded to the Spaniards, and we had cleared the river & settled a post at the Ibberville. my scheme of making rich in the Government of the Ilinois, is not totally without good Grounds, Mons: D'Abbadie, late Governor of New Orleans got the Ilinois trade into his hands, and died, after one year only, worth 60,000 pounds Sterg." Such fantastic nonsense was widely believed. Much disappointment was experi enced. Nevertheless, though no huge fortunes were to be made, the
92 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South Indian trade could be profitable business, once the British had learned from the French how to manage the tribes. But new compli cations arose when the British lost the Floridas. It has been Pro fessor Watson's concern to trace the international involvements that then developed. Spain at first insisted on rigid control: Spanish ships were to be used to carry furs to Spanish ports and return with Spanish trade goods. Spain, however, did not produce all the trade goods the Creeks wanted, and it proved an inadequate market for the furs. A compromise was necessary. Gilbert Antoine Maxent, father-in-law of two successive governors and appointed director of Indian Affairs in Louisiana by the second of them, was able to work out a plan which brought in French mercantile interests, but he overreached himself and got into trouble. Eventually it was Panton, Leslie and Company, an English firm based in the Bahamas, that obtained the most influence with McGillivray of the Creeks, and the decade of the 1780s closed with this firm, as Mr. Watson puts it, "yielding to the promises and pleas" of the Spanish governor, Miro, and taking over the Choctaw and Chickasaw trade in West Florida. We are indebted for his careful unraveling of this tangled skein, this lucid presentation of "the troubled advance of Panton, Leslie and Company into West Florida." I have a few questions and suggestions about related work. Except for action in the Mississippi Valley, the history of the American Rev olution has not been one of my main interests. Perhaps my query is naive, but I was much interested to note Professor Fabel's reference to George Ill's proposal to Lord North in 1778 that all troops be withdrawn from the rebelling colonies and that the war be limited to blockade and destruction of ports. The possibilities intrigue me if this matter has not been considered at some length, it deserves to be. I have intruded into West Florida matters in my pursuit of that curious Frenchman Louis Leclerc de Milford and in tracing Philip Pittman's activities. Major Farmar's long-delayed court-martial (April 1768) resulted in a file of 170 pages "de grand papier," Haldimand wrote. In February 1771, a volume of Proceedings of a General Court Martial held March 16, 1768 was announced as a new book by Johnston (George Johnstone?). Has anyone found trace of this book (which is not listed in the BM Catalogue)? Pittman said that Governor Johnstone was intending to write a book about West Florida. Did he leave such a manuscript at his death? Has Major Farmar's journal of the siege of Pensacola been published? As a final
Britain and Spain in West Florida / 93 point, the career of Maxent has long needed a full investigation. Though his personal papers seem to be lost, there is an immense, six-volume file of his succession papers in the New Orleans Public Library, and elsewhere there is a very large collection of his Louisi ana Indian Affairs documents. From an examination of these and other records, a most informative account could be constructed which would make possible an assessment of the place of this al most unknown man in Louisiana colonial history. James Coleman has broken ground, for the first time, but his book Antoine Gilbert de St. Maxent: The Spanish-Frenchman of New Orleans is only a slight introduction to the complex story of this man's activities.
Artist or Historian* William Gilmore Simms and the Revolutionary South STEPHEN MEATS IF I had to choose one word which best sums up the current status of Revolutionary literature concerning Florida and the South, that word would be neglect. When the ancient Muses allotted literary inspiration to writers on the Revolution, they neglected Florida. Little if any writing worthy of consideration as literature from that period in Florida's history has been discovered, and literary treat ments of the Revolution in Florida by later writers are similarly scarce, almost non-existent. And yet, as we have seen in the fore going papers, the history is certainly rich enough to support some literature. As a result, I am rather hard pressed to account for this prejudice on the part of the Muses except to suspect that perhaps they were whigs. Even though Revolutionary literature in the rest of the South is somewhat more abundant, the word neglect is still appropriate; literary scholars have for the most part overlooked the literary value of the "historical writings,> that came out of the Revolutionary period, and historians have also neglected the potential historical value of later "literary" treatments of the Revolution. Unfortunately, I cannot do anything to correct the Muses's neglect of Florida during the Revolution except perhaps to write a novel on that subject; however, this symposium seems to me an appro priate occasion at least to begin to remedy the larger neglect of Revolutionary literature in the South as a whole. The Bicentennial celebration will probably inspire closer study of the writings of the Revolutionary period itself, but there is a related area of concern 94
William Gilmore Simms / 95 which so far does not seem to be receiving the attention it deserves. It seems to me that we should be studying not only the literature of the Revolution but also the literary treatment of the Revolution by those later southern authors who lived and wrote before the Civil War. Chief among these writers was William Gilmore Simms, the antebellum South's leading literary figure and, in his own time, perhaps the most well known southern Revolutionary War historian. Simms was a South Carolinian whose literary career began in 1825 when he was nineteen and ended only with his death in 1870. Dur ing these forty-five years he became one of the most prolific writers in American literary history: he had more than eighty separately published works and a tremendous quantity of newspaper and magazine writings, not to mention the vast amount of his corre spondence. But if Simms is thought of much at all nowadays, he is usually regarded as a southern imitator of Scott or Cooperin other words, as a novelist or as a writer of prose romances and not a very good one, at that. To call him the best-known southern Revolution ary War historian of his day, therefore, may seem somewhat sur prising, but there is ample evidence to support giving him this title. I have found only one modern commentary which gives Simms any recognition at all as a serious historian of the Revolution in the South. To a certain extent this article anticipates some of the points I am going to make, but since it was published almost thirty years ago and seems to have had absolutely no effect on subsequent studies of Simms, I thing it is perhaps time to re-emphasize some of its points and to add a few of my own. This article is by Hampton M. Jarrell and is entitled "William Gilmore SimmsAlmost a Histo rian."1 I agree with much of what this article says, despite its title; I hardly need point out where Mr. Jarrell and I disagree. In the sentence that sums up his argument, Jarrell writes that "Simms was almost a historian because he chose fiction rather than orthodox history to tell his most important story."2 A similar opinion has been expressed by C. Hugh Holman, who writes that much of the material Simms used as background for his novels "might have become formal history had a careful historian been working in the field at the time."3 Both Jarrell and Holman give Simms credit for 1. The Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association (1947), pp. 3-8. 2. Page 3. 3. "William Gilmore Simms* Picture of the Revolution as a Civil Conflict," Journal of Southern History 15 (November 1949): 447.
96 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South his interest in and extensive knowledge of the Revolution, but be cause he wrote historical fiction rather than what they call orthodox or formal history, neither is willing to afford him the title of his torian. There are two kinds of prejudice at work here: that a writer of fiction cannot be a careful historian and that fiction cannot be history. And yet both Jarrell and Holman agree with me that Simms's Revolutionary novels present an accurate picture of the war in South Carolina.4 Where we seem to differ is in our definitions of history. They both seem to take the view that history is a science which, as Donald Davidson said in his introduction to the Simms letters, is suspicious of "any flavor of 'art' or 'philosophy/ "5 I am personally convinced that Simms's view of history was broader and that he was attempting in his Revolutionary War novels to create a new kind of historical writing as a vehicle for history as he saw it. But his stature as a Revolutionary War historian rests on more than his attempted in novations in the area of historical fiction. His personal knowledge of the Revolution was immense as we shall see in an examination of his sources; he also published quite a large group of nearly for gotten fugitive writings on the Revolution that fall more conveni ently into the category of conventional history. Our first concern will be an inquiry into Simms's sources of in formation on the Revolution. First, a few remarks about his pub lished sources. I think it would be safe to say that Simms was familiar with nearly every book on the Revolution published before or during his lifetime. In his many writings on the Revolution and in his letters, he demonstrates again and again his knowledge of standard and obscure published sources of Revolutionary informa tion. These sources include standard histories and biographies as well as published memoirs, editions of papers, letters, journals, and other documents. He was also familiar with much of the material on the Revolution that appeared in newspapers and magazines. His surviving file of clippings in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection at the University of South Carolina contains more than sixty newspaper clippings on Revolutionary topics. Contextual evidence indicates that nearly all of these clippings came from the late 1850s. Informa-4. See Jarrell, p. 7, and Holman, pp. 461-62. 5. The Letters of William Gilmore Simms, ed. Mary C. Simms Oliphant, Alfred Taylor Odell, and T. C. Duncan Eaves, 5 vols. (Columbia, S.C., 1952-56), l:xxvii, hereafter cited as Letters.
William Gilmore Simms / 97 tion in his letters shows that he collected such materials over a much longer period, though these other clippings have apparently been lost.6 Without inflicting the reading of a long bibliography of pub lished works Simms knew, I will simply echo Hugh Holman's com ment that Simms knew all of "the best sources available at the time that he wrote."7 In fact, the only important work on the Revolution I can find evidence that he might not have known was Irving's Life of Washington; he requested copies, but his letters indicate they never arrived.8 Simms also had extensive unpublished sources, which fall into two categories. The first of these Hampton Jarrell referred to as "the mere gossip of history," that is, oral tradition; Simms himself called it personal history.9 One source of tradition that has perhaps been somewhat overrated by commentators was Simms's grandmother, Mrs. Jacob Gates, who was a young girl in Charleston during the siege and whose father and some other relatives were directly in volved in the fighting.10 She apparently told Simms tales of the Revo lutionary era throughout his childhood, and he credits her with hav ing sparked his intense interest in the period. He also remarks, however, that these stories of his grandmother's were for the most part useless to him as a historian because, in the lapse of years since she told them to him, he had forgotten dates, names, and places, all of which he considered essential for such traditional material to qualify as viable history.11 More important sources of legend were the Revolutionary War veterans or their families whom Simms per sonally interviewed. Evidence of such interviews can be found in notes Simms took on an 1847 trip through the South Carolina backcountry. In these notes he carefully recorded the source of the in formation and frequently the date of the interview as well as names, dates, and other details about the stories themselves. He also fre quently sought such information by letter from residents of remote areas or from local antiquarians, such as David F. Jamison.12 In 6. See, for example, Letters, 2:241-42. 7. Holman, p. 443. 8. See Letters, 3:404, 5:171, 209. 9. Page 3; see Simms, "Ellet's Women of the Revolution," The Southern Quarterly Review 17 (July 1850):318. 10. Letters, 1:159-60. 11. Simms, "Ellet's Women of the Revolution," p. 352. 12. These notes are preserved in a commonplace book entitled "Personal and Literary Memorials" in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection, South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. For examples of these inquiries,
98 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South commenting on Simms's information gathering, W. P. Trent, his bi ographer, notes that Simms would ask "such minute questions as where the Orangeburg tavern was standing in 1780, and what was the tavern keeper's name. Nothing," Trent continues, "was too trivial to require investigation."13 Simms's second unpublished source consisted of documents of various sorts, such as letters, diaries, and journals, to which he had access either through personal ownership or through the collections of other people. Hampton Jarrell, without knowing the precise na ture of Simms's own collection, calls these documents "casual man uscript material," which he implies would have been of little use to a formal historian without a framework of hard fact.14 A quick look at what little I have been able to reconstruct of Simms's col lection should show that it was of far greater historical value than Mr. Jarrell surmised. The main part of Simms's own collection prob ably consisted of at least 1,200 original manuscripts from the papers of the Laurens family of South Carolina, plus transcriptions of an undetermined number of other manuscripts which he made during his search for Revolutionary materials.15 There is ample evidence in Simms's letters that his collection of original documents consisted of considerably more than 1,200 items. These 1,200 manuscripts were the materials he sold to the Long Island Historical Society in 1867 to get enough money to rebuild his house after it was burned during Sherman's march through South Carolina. Simms's letters indicate that he withheld some of the materials in his collection from sale, sold other parts separately, and gave away substantial portions of it.16 Twelve hundred items is, therefore, a conservative estimate. The list of persons represented in the collection, either by letters, journals, diaries, or other documents, is impressive: General George see Letters, 2:334, 3:406-7, 4:423. Jamison was a neighbor of Simms's; see Letters, l:cxvii. 13. William Gilmore Simms (Boston, 1892), p. 191. 14. Page 4. 15. The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer and George G. Rogers, Jr., 3 vols. (Columbia, S.C., 1968-72), l:xxvii. A microfilm of this col lection of documents is in the manuscript room at the South Caroliniana Li brary, University of South Carolina. Evidence of the making of such transcrip tions can be found in Letters, 5:386. 16. Letters, l:xcii, 5:44-45. Evidence that he withheld some material can be found in Letters, 5:46; evidence of separate sales of different lots of ma terials is frequent, but for representative examples, see Letters, 4:596, 5:250, 258; evidence of material given away is also frequent, but for representative examples, see Letters, 4:541, 543, 544, 618, 627.
William Gilmore Simms / 99 Washington; General Francis Marion; Henry Laurens, president of the Continental Congress; Patrick Henry; John Adams; John Jay; General Horatio Gates; General Robert Howe; Colonel John Lau rens (son of Henry Laurens), Washington's aide-de-camp; Thomas Paine; John Rutledge, Revolutionary governor of South Carolina; Christopher Gadsden; General William Moultrie; General William Heath; Arthur Lee; Richard Henry Lee; Baron De Kalb; Baron von Steuben; John Lewis Gervais; Governor Francis Nash of North Carolina; Governor Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut; Samuel A. Otis; and a host of lesser figures.17 His was not merely an autograph collection as was the fad among private collectors of the nineteenth century; it was a veritable archive assembled with a historian's purpose, and many of the correspondents mentioned above were repre sented by quite large numbers of documents. In addition to his own archive, Simms also had access to the huge collections of Revolutionary materials in the possession of I. K. Tefft of Georgia and R. W. Gibbes of Columbia, South Carolina. The extent of the Tefft collection is not known, but Simms writes in a letter that "to his collection, have I had, scores of times, to resort ... for the materials which I could nowhere else discover."18 The Gibbes collection constituted most of volumes 1-3 of his Documen tary History of South Carolina (1853-55).19 Simms had used in manuscript the papers of Peter Horry, one of Marion's officers, out of this collection and had copied many of them.20 After they were published, of course, he had access to the entire collection. Clearly the manuscripts in Simms's own collection and those he had access 17. It would be too cumbersome here to cite specific references for each individual represented in this list. Evidence of Simms's possession can be found in the following sources: Letters; a series of articles entitled "Revolutionary Letters" in The Historical Magazine for 1857-59; an article on John Rutledge in The American Whig Review for August 1847; an article on the siege of Charleston in The Southern Quarterly Review for October 1848; an article on the Baron De Kalb in The Southern Quarterly Review for July 1852; The Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens (New York, 1867); the microfilm of a portion of Simms's archive of Revolutionary War documents in the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina. 18. Letters, 4:609. 19. Holman, p. 443. 20. Letters, 5:386-87. Peter Shillingsburg reports that several extended passages from Horry's manuscript history of Marion's brigade quoted by Simms in The Life of Francis Marion (1844) are now the only record we have of the contents of that valuable document which has subsequently been lost; see Shil lingsburg, "William Gilmore Simms' Use of Sources in The Life of Francis Marion' (Master's thesis, University of South Carolina, 1967).
100 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South to would be of immense value to a historian and could hardly be classed as "casual manuscript material." Taken altogether, Simms's knowledge of the Revolution in the entire country, but especially in the South and South Carolina, as based on published, oral, and manuscript sources, was tremendous for a man who was not, at least to the satisfaction of various of his commentators, a true historian. If the evidence I have already cited in support of his claim as an important pre-Civil War, Revolutionary historian were not enough, we have the very visible evidence of his historical publications: eight Revolutionary War novels (not seven as stated by most commentators, since Joscelyn, which covers the first outbreak of hostilities in the backcountry of South Carolina and Georgia in the fall of 1775, must also be included), several short stories, a history of South Carolina devoted principally to the Revo lutionary period, full-length biographies of two important Revo lutionary War generals, Greene and Marion, a book defending South Carolina's part in the war, a volume of John Laurens's war correspondence for which he wrote a biographical memoir, and a large number of articles, reviews, and lectures. According to the list I have compiled, Simms wrote nearly one hundred works on the Revolution between 1825 and 1869, quite a large number for a man who was not a historian. Although it is not the purpose of this paper to examine the histor ical accuracy of Simms's Revolutionary War novels, it might not be out of place to inquire briefly into the potential claim these works have upon the attention of modern historians of the Revolution. Simms's novels on the Revolution in South Carolina utilize two kinds of historical material. Official history appears frequently in chapters devoted to chronicles of the leading events or descriptions of the major battles, such as Camden, Ninety Six, or Eutaw Springs. The "fictional" portions of the novels Simms often claims to be based on legend rather than on pure invention.21 It is primarily in these por tions of th# novels that he gives the extensive portrait of South Caro lina partisan warfare. No commentator has ever claimed that these novels do not represent the major facts of formal history accurately. To my knowledge the only one of the eight novels which alters established history is Joscelyn, written in 1866-67, and even in this novel the history is mostly accurate as Simms knew it, right down 21. For example, see Mellichampe (New York, 1853), p. 2; Katharine Walton (New York, 1854), pp. 3-4; Woodcraft (New York, 1854), pp. 3-4.
William Gilmore Simms / 101 to the use of actual persons as models for even very minor characters. The alterations consist of the changing of dates by a few days or the condensing of separate but similar events into one to achieve economy and to heighten the dramatic impact.22 (I might add here that Simms comes closest to Florida in this novel: one of the central characters is Thomas Brown who was the topic of Mr. Olsen's earlier paper, and John Stuart and Alexander Cameron, the British Indian commissioners, also play important roles.) In most of his Revolutionary War novels, Simms repeatedly in forms the reader that the historical facts represented are authentic.23 Trent, who was often right about Simms in a wrong-headed way, wrote that such claims ought "to be advanced by an historian, not by a romancer." With a similar sort of myopia, he later remarks that one is led "to wonder why Simms would fancy he was writing ro mance when he was really writing history."24 The point Trent obvi ously misses is that perhaps Simms did not "fancy that he was writ ing romance"; perhaps he was attempting to write history in a new way that Trent could not recognize. Sir Walter Scott, in many of his historical novels, goes out of his way to tell the reader that he has taken liberties with actual history;25 Simms just as frequently goes out of his way to tell the reader that he has not. What is the different implication in each case? Scott's admissions imply to me that because he did not take historical accuracy seriously in his fic tion, I need not take his fiction seriously as history. Simms's claims of historical accuracy imply exactly the opposite to me. If he went to great lengths to represent the official history accurately, we might justifiably assume that he has gone to similar pains as well to convey the historical material of oral tradition authentically. It seems to me that Simms was attempting to create a new kind of 22. Joscelyn; A Tale of the Revolution was published serially in The Old Guard 5 (January-December 1867): 1-17, 91-103, 161-76, 241-60, 321-29, 401-21, 481-500, 561-76, 668-81, 731-45, 822-34, 897-935. A full analysis of the historical bases of this novel can be found in the introduction and explan atory notes which I prepared for the re-publication of Joscelyn (Columbia: Uni versity of South Carolina Press, 1975) as volume 16 in The Centennial Edition of the Writings of William Gilmore Simms, general editor until 1975, John C. Guilds, Jr., 1975-, James B. Meriwether; textual editor, Keen Butterworth. 23. For example, see The Partisan (New York, 1853), pp. vii-viii; Melli-champe, pp. 2-3; Katharine Walton, pp. 295, 329, 473. 24. Pages 192, 214. 25. Such references can be found frequently in Scott's introductions or notes; see, for example, the introduction of The Talisman in which Scott ad mits having taken liberties with both history and tradition.
102 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South historical novel which would neither alter history, as Scott's did, nor to a large extent ignore history, as Cooper's did, but would in stead represent history accurately and authentically on both the formal and the legendary levels.26 Simms considered formal history as "the mere dry-bones of the perished humanity," the ruins of past civilizations; but in oral tradition he found the living flesh and blood and breath of the people who had lived in those civilizations.27 It is my contention that Simms was attempting to portray a more com plete and authentic history than could be found in history books or in historical novels considered separately and alone; he was at tempting to integrate the two into one work so that history could be made to live again for the popular reader. If he succeeded only imperfectly in his effort to create this new variety of historical writ ing, we cannot, it seems to me, fail at least to be aware of the value of the attempt. Even with their imperfections, however, I still believe that Simms's eight Revolutionary War novels are valuable historical works and deserve to be given consideration by modern students of the Revo lution. And I am not alone. Hampton Jarrell notes in his article that 26. My remarks on Simms, Scott, and Cooper can be construed as a brief reply to C. Hugh Holman's article "The Influence of Scott and Cooper on Simms," American Literature 23 (May 1951):203-18, in which Holman says that Simms's novels suffer from his unwillingness "to free himself from the harsh bondage of historical fact" and that these works would have been better if Simms had followed Cooper's model more closely (p. 218). NOTE: In the sum mer of 1975, after this paper was delivered, a team of researchers in the Southern Studies Program of the University of South Carolina carried out a careful and extensive study of the historical bases of Simms's seven Revolu tionary War novels other than Joscelyn. This research established that Simms stayed very close to the facts when using formal history as the basis for his fiction, with two exceptions: infrequent errors and challenges to the accepted facts. When using oral traditions or legends, however, whether derived from personal interviews or from printed compilations of such material, Simms took a much freer hand in altering the "facts" to suit the dramatic necessities of his fiction. Frequently, a tory outlaw in his fiction will be a composite of two or three such individuals reported in local legends; an incident such as an ambush or a small battle in his fiction will exhibit similarities to several such events in oral tradition. Such fictional characters and events I would call "au thentic" because, without being literally accurate, they are directly repre sentative of actual people and conditions during the Revolution in South Caro lina. The results of this study may be found in the detailed historical notes published in each volume of The Revolutionary War Novels of William Gil-more Simms, ed. James B. Meriwether and Stephen Meats, 8 vols. (Spartanburg, S.C., 1976). 27. Simms, Views and Reviews in American Literature, History and Fiction, 1st ser. (New York, 1845), p. 22, and "Ellet's Women of the Revolution," passim.
William Gilmore Simms / 103 "Even the mature historian may get something of the feel of the partisan warfare in South Carolina from Simms and for college students of history these books offer a valuable supplement to a formal study of the period." Donald Davidson makes a similar state ment in his introduction to the Simms letters, and more recently Professor George Rogers, an authority on South Carolina history and editor of The Papers of Henry Laurens, said, "Should one use the grist of novels as facts for writing history? Certainly not. Yet," he continues, "I have found in Simms' novels an awareness of the intricacies of the Revolutionary scene which I have found nowhere else."28 But Simms's claim to be considered as an important historian of the Revolution does not rest solely on his novels. He had a large body of other writings on the Revolution which are more conven tionally historical. I am referring not merely to his History of South Carolina, or to his biographies of Marion and Greene, the latter of which is still quite readable, but to a large number of fugitive writ ings which appeared in various periodicals between 1829 and 1869. Interestingly, even though Simms's Revolutionary novels have been given quite a lot of critical attention, his fugitive writings have re ceived hardly any notice at all. Hampton Jarrell, almost the only person to use any of them, refers to five in his 1947 article. In the time since then, nearly thirty years, no one has used these materials to aid in the study of Simms's Revolutionary novels or of his career as a historian, or, indeed, in the study of the Revolution itself. Simms's fugitive writings on the Revolution fall into four broad categories: book reviews, lectures, editions of primary documents, and historical or biographical articles.29 Simms often used a review of a book on the Revolution as the occasion for presenting his own knowledge and interpretations of that era. An excellent example is his lengthy review of George Atkinson Ward's 1845 edition of Curwen's Journal and Letters.30 In the five articles which make up this 28. Jarrell, p. 7; Donaldson, Letters, l:xli-xlv; Rogers, "The South Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution," Richmond County History 6 (Sum mer 1974): 42. 29. I first applied these categories to Simms's fugitive writings on the Revo lution in a talk delivered at the Southern Studies Colloquium on Needs and Opportunities for Research on the Revolutionary War in South Carolina, Uni versity of South Carolina, Columbia, October 5, 1974. 30. "The Civil Warfare in the Carolinas and Georgia during the Revolution" (three articles), and "Biographical Sketch of the Career of Major William Cun ningham, of South Carolina" (two articles), The Southern Literary Messenger
104 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South review, Simms presents detailed descriptions of several incidents in the backcountry civil war to refute what he considered to be dis torted accounts given in the two Cunningham biographies appended to Ward's volume. Simms's information is so minute that he includes not only the names of all the men involved in these very minor events but also the names of the horses they were riding, and he knows or claims to know the weapons each was carrying. It is obvious he is drawing upon written accounts of these events because he refers frequently to certain documents before him which contain the information. His information is undoubtedly traditional but it is yet of great historical interest to the student attempting to under stand the living conditions in backcountry South Carolina in 1780-83. (In line with Professor Wright's remarks yesterday afternoon about the Scottish flavor of several of the papers, I might add in passing that it was in this 1846 review that Simms gave an extended analysis of the role of the Scottish Highlanders in organizing loyalist opposition to independence in the backcountry of South Carolina and Georgia.) It must be admitted that Simms's historical method and his interpretations of events in this review are somewhat less than objectivehis whig bias shows up in these articles perhaps more strongly than in any of his other writingsbut we cannot let this bias cause us to overlook the considerable historical and literary value of such reviews. Simms's historical lectures were designed specifically for oral delivery and thus frequently drift rather far toward the romantic in his attempt to portray the actors and to dramatize the events in which they were participating. Thus he assumes the license of re creating conversations and of speculating on personal motives per haps beyond the limits acceptable in formal history. But it is clear even in these lectures that he is basing his imaginative re-creations on formal history and on traditions gathered from interviews and other sources. His lecture in 1855 on the Battle of King's Mountain, for example, includes information he gathered in interviews con ducted on his trip through the South Carolina backcountry in 1847. Another lecture, "South Carolina in the Revolutionary War," written in 1856 to counter certain northern attacks on South Carolina's con tribution to the overall Revolutionary War effort of the states, varies substantially from the type of lecture mentioned. Simms chooses 12 (May, June, July, September, October 1846):257-65, 321-36, 385-400, 513-24, 577-86.
William Gilmore Simms / 105 Provost's attempted surprise of Charleston in 1779 as an example of how certain prominent individuals and events had been misrepre sented and misinterpreted to the discredit of South Carolina. In this lecture Simms meticulously examines the evidence available and carefully analyzes character and motive to determine which com mentators upon these events have most authority and which are suspect for one reason or another. The end result of his analysis, despite the rather strong southern bias of much of the lecture, is plausible, highly informative, and carefully documented. It certainly shows Simms the historian at work and is well worth reading.31 Of great interest to modern historians are the primary documents Simms published in several different journals around the country. In the late 1850s, he sponsored the publication in The Historical Magazine of letters by eight prominent Revolutionary War figures, including George Washington, Thomas Paine, and John Trumbull, the poet.32 In The Southern Literary Messenger and in RusselTs Magazine he published several other articles containing such ma terial,33 and in The Southern Quarterly Review he published a long article, "The Siege of Charleston,"34 which includes a remarkable conflation of first-person accounts of the day-by-day events of the conquest of Charleston beginning on February 9, 1780, several weeks before the city was actually put under siege, and ending on May 16, four days after the surrender. Included among the docu ments he quotes are letters by John Laurens, John Lewis Gervais, and nearly a dozen others, and unpublished journals by several people inside and outside the city. The total account is very graphic and powerful and has the immediacy that only a first-person account can provide. His arrangement of the documents in this sequential fashion provides a convenient means of comparison so that we are 31. The first lecture, which has never been published, is in manuscript form in the Charles Carroll Simms Collection, South Caroliniana Library, Uni versity of South Carolina. The second was first published in 1954 as an ap pendix in Letters, 3:521-49; it was written in 1856. 32. The letters appeared under the heading "Revolutionary Letters," in The Historical Magazine 1 (July, September, October 1857):206-7, 266-70, 289-92; 2 (January, September, November 1858):6-11, 259-61, 321-24; 3 (June 1859): 169-71. 33. "South Carolina Just before the Revolution," The Southern Literary Messenger 11 (March 1845): 138-43; "The Batde of King's Mountain," The Southern Literary Messenger 11 (March 1845):552-55; "Reminiscences of the Revolution," Russell's Magazine 6 (October 1859):59-72. 34. 14 (October 1848):261-337.
106 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South not dependent on only one view but may weigh one account against another in an attempt to extract a genuine picture of the events and the people involved. Simms aids this comparison with his own com mentary in which he shows himself in complete command of all the information relating to the siege. He also indicates his awareness of the subjective nature of much of the evidence before him and handles this material with the caution of the careful historian. His biographical articles on the Baron De Kalb and John Rutledge also contain extensive primary materials and on this basis perhaps could be included in the previous category, but they are also good historical articles in their own right. In the article on Rutledge, Simms frequently quotes long letters to Marion and other partisan leaders in which Rutledge gives de tailed instructions on fighting the loyalists and the British, on mat ters of keeping order among the civilian population, and on matters of internal administration, such as discipline, supplies, pay, and so on.35 In his commentary Simms rightly draws the reader's attention to the value of such information for an understanding of partisan warfare in South Carolina. He knew the scarcity of primary ma terials on these matters and knew that the testimony of such a re liable witness as the governor of the state could not be underesti mated. One commentator on Simms's manuscript collection has stated that Simms had a good sense for selecting important docu ments;36 this is demonstrated in the Rutledge article because all the letters quoted and analyzed are full of interesting details that tell us much about the condition of the country, of the government, and of the partisan army in South Carolina in 1780-83, three topics about which too little was known or understood in Simms's own time or, for that matter, in ours. The article on Baron De Kalb again shows Simms at his best as a historian.37 His procedure in the article is according to strict historical methods. He calls into question all statements in previous biographical accounts not supported by sufficient evidence, and he chides previous biographers for not having done their jobs ade-35. "A Sketch of the Life and Public Services of John Rutledge, of South Carolina," The American Whig Review 6 (August, September 1847): 125-37, 277-91. 36. The Papers of Henry Laurens, l.xxvi. 37. "The Baron De Kalb," The Southern Quarterly Review 22 (July 1852): 141-203. Citations in the text of this and the next two paragraphs are to this article.
William Gilmore Simms / 107 quately. Of missing information on De Kalb's career before he came to America, Simms writes, "It is surely not unreasonable to suppose that a little diligent research in the libraries and archives of France would have secured all the necessary information on these points" (p. 143). Of Mason Locke Weems, who provided an extensive portrait of De Kalb in his biography of Francis Marion, Simms writes that "Propriety and strict accuracy were matters quite too mundane" for Weems because he "cared for history only as it served the pur poses of fiction" (pp. 161, 160). Simms's criticism of Weems and other romancer-biographers is aimed at romance that poses as formal history or biography. The article also shows Simms carefully exam ining his sources to determine their authority. Weems, for example, claimed to have based his account of De Kalb on the manuscripts of Peter Horry, an officer in Marion's brigade. Simms notes, however, that in his own examination of Horry's documents he found no basis for many incidents and conversations Weems apparently invented (p. 161). Simms also points out several interesting and important bits of historical insight or information provided by De Kalb's letters. He notes, apparently for the first time, that De Kalb had a wife and children in Europe, "a fact nowhere mentioned by any of his American biographers" (p. 158). Commenting on a detail in another letter on the monetary system during the Revolution, Simms notes that "it affords us the exact value of the American paper currency at this date, the gold louis d'or, forty to $300, affording a good standard for the estimate" (p. 146). His subsequent statement in the same passage reveals his in sight into the importance of the Revolutionary economy to the con duct of the war: "It is to be regretted that we have no historical data by which to rate the progress in degradation of the continental issues during the wara point of some importance in weighing duly the facts of history" (p. 146). In the same letter Simms points out important details about the intercolonial wagon trade, which he says was invaluable to the economy of the colonies after the British took control of the coast, and he notes that an interesting history could probably be written on trade during the Revolution (pp. 146-47). Are these comments perhaps an early suggestion of the im portance of an economic history of the Revolution? Simms's insight into the true nature of the British defeat was equally perceptive. 'The future historian," he wrote, "will see that the British were defeated, not so much by the conflicts they under-
108 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South went, as by the prolongation of the warthey succumbed from exhaustion of resource, rather than defeat" (pp. 158-59). It was probably upon this premise that Simms based his great admiration for Washington's conduct of the war. Simms saw that other com manders could perhaps have achieved greater military objectives or could have shown themselves as more brilliant and gallant leaders in battle, but Washington's genius lay in keeping the conflict going as long as possible without ultimate defeat in order to wear down British resolve to continue a very costly war. The many suggestions and insights (or "clues" as Simms called them)38 into the interpretation of Revolutionary War history in these fugitive writings lead us to another consideration which per haps above all others identifies Simms as a forward-looking historian. As mentioned, Simms did not think highly of the "mere chroniclers of fact" who claimed to be the true historians of his day. To Simms, their compilations of data on great men and great events were of little value to persons attempting to understand the human truths of history. Simms realized that the value of history lay not in the facts so much as in the interpretation of the facts. In an 1852 review he wrote that "proper history requires the grouping of several facts, in just relation to each other, out of which the philosopher extracts the truth, and the historian properly records it." And in an 1856 lecture he reiterated that the "grouping of fragmentary facts, into perfect truth ... is the great duty of the Historian."39 Clearly, Simms saw the proper role of the historian not as a compiler but as an interpreter of facts, and this view allies him with historians of the modern era in theory if not in practice. As to the general value of history itself, Simms states in an essay published in the early 1840s that the great truths of history discov ered by his ideal philosopher-historian must be made to live again for the benefit of current generations.40 This statement indicates that Simms saw the main value of history as educational. Perhaps this is why he aimed his own historical writings at the student and 38. Letters, 3:435; Katharine Walton, p. 3. 39. "Kennedy's Horse-Shoe Robinson/' Southern Quarterly Review 22 (July 1852):211; "South Carolina in the Revolutionary War: A Lecture," Letters, 3:540. I am aware that Simms's use of the term "perfect truth" places him squarely in the ranks of the whig historians of his day; however, his realiza tion that this "perfect truth" is necessarily the result of a process of interpreta tion stands out as the most important element in the quote. 40. Views and Reviews, pp. 25-32.
William Gilmore Simms / 109 the general reader rather than at the specialist in history.41 Simms believed that the purpose of the study of history is to seek wisdom through understanding the kinds of men our forefathers were and through grasping the human significance of the trials they under went. In his view, such wisdom is crucially important for the race as a whole and should not, therefore, be reserved for a handful of historical scholars. My answer to the question implied in the tide of this paper should by now be obvious: Simms was not artist or historian; he was artist and historian. And for this reason I believe a knowledge of his Revo lutionary War writings, fiction and non-fiction, can be useful to us even now, whether we are historians or literary scholars. As I have shown, he certainly knew and recorded information about the Revo lution that has since been lost or forgotten. At the very least, a study during these Bicentennial years of his interpretations of the struggle for American independence may help us to place our own in a clearer perspective. 41. Simms, The History of South Carolina (New York, 1860), p. 3.
English Books and American Readers in Early Florida CALHOUN WINTON THE subject of this essaythe trade of books in English before the territorial period in Floridais an unfamiliar one for several reasons. In the first place, very little work has been done on the general topic of the book trade in the southern colonies and states before 1800.1 Not much is known about pricing; methods and quantities of im portation are terra incognita; even reliable lists of printers and im prints are hard to come by, as historians and librarians know. Per haps students have been deterred by the daunting prospect of work still to be done; at any rate, it is a field far from exhausted. Then, too, the history of Florida in this period has until recently been regarded by many as something of a bypath, as the era was split between British and Spanish rule, with the new United States 1. See Calhoun Winton, "The Colonial South Carolina Book Trade," Proof: The Yearbook of American Bibliographical and Textual Studies 2 (1972): 71-87; Elizabeth Cometti, "Some Early Best Sellers in Piedmont North Caro lina," Journal of Southern History 16 (1950): 324-37; Bertram H. Flanders, "Reading and Writing in Early Georgia," Georgia Review 1 (1947): 209-17; Douglas C. McMurtrie, "The Beginnings of Printing in Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly 23 (1944): 63-96 (see also McMurtrie's similar articles on other states in the various state historical quarterlies); and Roger P. McCutcheon, "Books and Booksellers in New Orleans, 1730-1830," Louisiana Historical Quarterly 20 (1937): 606-18. Two valuable recent articles, although both are mainly outside this time period, are John M. Goudeau, "Booksellers and Printers in New Orleans, 1764-1885," Journal of Library History 5 (1970):5-19, and Michael H. Harris, "The General Store as an Outlet for Books on the Southern Frontier, 1800-1850," Journal of Library History 8 (1973): 124-32. I am in debted to Professor Gerald Jahoda of Florida State University for these two references. 110
English Books and American Readers / 111 forming in the background. Since scholarship unfortunately tends to be ethnocentric, it has produced a trifocal view of early Florida his tory. It is to be hoped that conferences such as these on eighteenthcentury Florida will assist the process of arriving at synthetic or monofocal pictures of early Florida history. The fact that the English-speaking settlers in East and West Florida were overwhelm ingly loyal to the British Crown has also perhaps been something of an embarrassment to the superpatriotic fringe and may have slowed historical research here and there. This, one hopes, is an attitude of the past. Finally, the very image of early Florida has probably contributed to a lack of interest in the book trade there. To the European imagi nation the region south of the Altamaha was exotic, wild, and threat ening. William Bartram's Travels (1791), of course, contributed to this image, Juniper Springs on Lake George, for example, re appearing in "Kubla Khan" as "Xanadu," having been transformed by Coleridge's poetic imagination.2 By the time Coleridge was writ ing, however, the notion of Florida as a savage and terrifying land was somewhat commonplace across the Atlantic. Oliver Goldmith in The Deserted Village (1770), one of the most popular poems ever written in English, had presented an exceedingly unflattering picture of the region. The villagers, it will be recalled, have left sweet Au burn, loveliest village of the plain, for the southern colonies in America. Goldsmith, like many British commentators, perhaps even current ones, is vague about transatlantic geography but he is very specific about what the hapless immigrants will find: Through torrid tracts with fainting steps they go, Where wild Altama murmurs to their woe. Far different there from all that charm'd before, The various terrors of that horrid shore. Those blazing suns that dart a downward ray, And fiercely shed intolerable day; Those matted woods where birds forget to sing, But silent bats in drowsy clusters cling, Those poisonous fields with rank luxuriance crowned Where the dark scorpion gathers death around; Where at each step the stranger fears to wake 2. William W. Porter II, "William Bartram's 'Road to Xanadu* on Modern Florida Maps," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 118 (1974): 514-18.
112 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South The rattling terrors of the vengeful snake; Where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey, And savage men more murderous still than they; While oft in whirls the mad tornado flies, Mingling the ravaged landscape with the skies.3 Scarcely the place for booklovers, one would have thought, yet the year after the appearance of Goldsmith's poem, in 1771, when those nervous settlers were avoiding crouching tigers and mad tornadoes, customs figures in the Public Record Office reveal that the books im ported into East and West Florida totaled thirteen hundredweight, or 1,456 pounds. This was not near the 14,140 pounds imported by Pennsylvania or the 15,904 pounds by South Carolinasome of the latter no doubt intended for eventual transshipment to Georgia or Florida, by the waybut substantially greater than the total im ported by Nova Scotia or Bermuda or several of the West Indian colonies, such as Dominica or St. Kitts.4 In view of the fact that the English-speaking settlements in Florida were so new in 1771, these figures appear surprising. They are the more so when one considers that they are based on books shipped unbound, that is, clad in paper coversusually blue. The customs figures are obviously of comparative value only; they do not, and cannot, except in unusual cases, tell what was imported, or in how many copies, or in what format. If, for example, the shipment included many copies of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary in folio, there would, of course, be a much lower volume count than a shipment of individual sermons in octavo by John Wesley or Alexander Gar den. I am not aware of an accurate method of reducing these weight figures to number of volumes. To obtain a rough approximation, a disbound duodecimo volume of Smollett's very popular translation of LeSage's Gil Bias (1761) was found to weigh in at somewhat less than a half a pound for the 312 pages. At this rate the early Floridians could have received almost 3,000 copies of Gil Bias in 1771, if their literary taste had been so strictly delimited. Since the Charleston and Savannah booksellers ordinarily advertised book size as folios, quartos, octavos, and "twelves" or duodecimos, the 3. Lines 343-58, as quoted in Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Arthur Friedman (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 4:300-301. 4. Public Record Office of Great Britain, Customs 3/71/75, 3/71/84, 3/71/74, 3/71/98. Dr. Giles Barber of the Taylorian Institution, Oxford, is preparing a complete listing of these figures for publication.
English Books and American Readers / 113 "mix" was undoubtedly varied, but in what proportions I do not know. It can be observed from these figures, however, that at the least many hundreds of volumes were recorded as having been imported from Christmas Day 1770 to Christmas Day 1771, the terminal dates used by customs officials. In that year, book shipments went to both East and West Florida, to be purveyed in the latter colony no doubt by the Panton, Leslie firm.5 Values were approximated, up and down the coast, as "3 to 5" per hundredweight, which always turned out to be 4 per hundredweight. Thus the thirteen hundredweight sent to Florida was assigned a nominal value of 2 and the ten hundredweight to Nova Scotia More elaborate records were kept on the essential ingredient of newspapers and bookspaper; excisemen were required to distinguish among many kinds and sizes of papers, which had varying degrees of customs duties levied on them. For guidance on this matter officials could consult Charles Leadbetter's popular treatise, The Royal Ganger; or, Gauging Made Perfectly Easy, as Practised by the Officers of his Majesty's Revenue of Excise.6 Paper imported into Charleston that year (1771), for example, was described and evaluated in seventeen different cate gories.7 The import of paper into the Floridas in 1771 was a minor matter, however, since there was then no printing press there. These customs figures have to do with books imported for sale or general distribution, that is, they do not ordinarily include books brought in by the settlers for their own use. There were some of these. The Reverend John Forbes, Anglican missionary sent out to St. Augustine in 1765 by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, was supplied a folio Bible and two folio prayerbooks by the society.8 A folio Book of Common Prayer, considering its size, must have been a remarkable object and one, furthermore, which would not have been lightly disposed of. Perhaps one of these volumes, or one brought by the other Anglican SPG missionaries who came out, 5. I am indebted to Paul Eugen Camp, Florida Historical Society, and Pro fessor William Coker, University of West Florida, for guidance concerning the Panton, Leslie firm, the papers of which are in the collections of the Florida Historical Society, University of South Florida Library, Tampa. 6. 7th ed. (London: J. and F. Rivington, 1776). 7. Public Record Office of Great Britain, Customs 16/1, passim. Paper was, of course, dutiable under the Townshend Acts. 8. Wilbur H. Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida (De Land: Florida State Historical Society, 1929), 1:5-6.
114 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South still exists somewhere, and perhaps books owned by Dr. Andrew Turnbull at New Smyrna or William Drayton of Oak Park may have survived somewhere.9 One of the first books in English to come to Florida and one which still exists arrived not with missionary or planter but with a British soldier. In this case its arrival in Florida can be dated with some accuracy. The book, or more accurately the pamphlet, is the New York Public Library's unique copy: Standing Regimental Or ders for the IXth Regiment of Foot, which are to be obeyed, To gether with the Standing Orders of the Army.10 On the recto side of folio one is the inscription in ink "David Ker, Corporal 9th Regi ment His Book of Orders. St. Augustine 16 May 1768." On the front blue paper cover is written "William Leastoy His Book St. Augustine 1st May 1766." The title page further reveals "Charlestown. Printed for the Regiment, by Robert Wells. 1766." This early volume, then, came to Florida courtesy of His Majesty's army, from the large Charleston bookselling and printing firm of Robert Wells. In all probability a great many of the other books which were imported into Florida before the English departure in 1784 came from the same source. This particular volume may have arrived January 4, 1766, on the brigantine Success of New York, John Campbell, master, which was recorded as bringing in from Charleston among other cargo "Seven Bales three Vats Two Hogsheads of Soldiers Coats, Breeches, Stocking and Sergeants Sashes," "One Chest of Musquets," "One Case of Halberts" (as well as two hogsheads of bottled beer for the parched troops), and "One Box of Sergeant Majors Cloathing and Articles of War."11 The Oxford English Dictionary has two cita tions from the eighteenth century to support its definition of one sense of "articles of war": "Regulations made for the government of the military and naval forces of Great Britain and the United States." The sergeant major's box on the Success thus may have contained this very volume as well as, presumably, others like it. By the time of the American Revolution, Robert Wells had de9. Though loyalists, both Turnbull and Drayton eventually settled in South Carolina. 10. For information on this regiment, see Charles L. Mowat, "The Southern Brigade: A Sidelight on the British Military Establishment in America, 1763-1775," Journal of Southern History 10 (1944): 59-77. 11. Public Record Office of Great Britain (PRO), Colonial Office papers CO 5/573/62-63 (photostatic copy at Library of Congress).
English Books and American Readers / 115 veloped a very large bookselling and printing business in Charles ton, easily the largest south of Chesapeake Bay.12 Wells regularly advertised books imported from the British Isles in his newspaper, often listing a hundred titles or more, including best-selling novels, history, religion, philosophy, and politics. Which of these other than the Standing Regimental Orders went to Florida it is impossible to tell, but since a majority of ships calling at St. Augustine were cleared from Charleston it is reasonable to assume that Wells was a major supplier. Books were not ordinarily recorded as such in the coastwise trade, as distinguished from the transatlantic trade, but appeared in such categories as "boxes of merchandise," "packages," and the like.13 Presumably the books were purveyed by general mer chants in Florida, as had been the custom in South Carolina before the arrival of specialized booksellers and printers. In Florida, James Penman's and the Panton, Leslie firms, for example, both had South Carolina connections.14 It was possible, of course, for Floridians to order books directly or by subscription from London booksellers as the inhabitants of other colonies did, but I am not aware of any evidence that they did so. With South Carolina in its dominant posi tion, it seems likely that most of the trade in books came from or by way of the Charleston booksellers. The mechanisms for credit and payment existed between South Carolina and Florida, and payment or the lack thereof was often a problem in the colonial book trade. The pre-Revolutionary records of all the South Carolina printers and booksellers have been lost, so discussion of pricing, payment, and the like must necessarily be tentative. One of the commodities shipped to South Carolina was familiar, however: oranges. During one week of November 1767, Charleston took two shipments of twenty barrels each of "Sweet Oranges," thus demonstrating the early origins of that fondness for Florida oranges which South Caro linians maintain to the present.15 Though there is no reason to be lieve Robert Wells was necessarily the recipient of these shipments, 12. See Christopher Gould, "Imprints of the Robert Wells Firm" (Master's thesis, University of South Carolina, 1975), and Francis Ponick, "Helena Wells, Early Novelist'* (Master's thesis, University of South Carolina, 1975), as well as my article cited in note 1. 13. See, e.g., PRO, Colonial Office papers CO 5/573/96-97: "Five Boxes, one Bale, Twenty Packs." 14. For Panton, Leslie, see note 5. Some of the Penman papers are in the South Caroliniana Library of the University of South Carolina. 15. PRO, Colonial Office Papers CO 5/573/84-85.
116 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South I like to think of the pressmen and clerks in Wells's shop enjoying the sweet oranges. One of them at this time, by the way, was a young journeyman printer named Isaiah Thomas, later the founder of the American Antiquarian Society. Unfortunately he makes no mention of oranges or the South Carolina-Florida trade in his His tory of Printing in America.16 By 1775, some of the books imported must have been school texts, for in August of that year a schoolmaster had arrived in St. Augustine and set up a school to "teach English, Latin, Greek, arith metic & writing."17 With the coming of the Revolution, Florida re mained securely, indeed steadfastly, loyal, so much of the coast wise trade was interrupted. A very large increase occurred in the transatlantic trade with London, much of it no doubt in compensa tion for the diminished intercolonial shipments but some perhaps reflecting the influx of loyalist refugees into East Florida. In 1779, Florida imported almost six thousand pounds of books from London twelve thousand volumes in the approximate calculation em ployed earlierwhich represented the highest total brought in by any colony except Canada and New York. The New York total of about thirteen thousand pounds, largest of all, was only somewhat more than twice the Florida importation.18 New York, General Clin ton's headquarters, had newspapers, printers, and a flourishing book selling trade, not to mention a repertory theater. Florida, for all its importation, had none of these in 1779. The situation was altered in 1782, and interestingly enough it was a scion of the Wells firm of South Carolina who first took root in Florida. During the Revolution, Robert Wells, a fiery loyalist, had retreated to London where he set up a bookseller's establishment in Salisbury Court off Fleet Street.19 The Charleston enterprise, includ ing his newspaper, he left under the direction of his sons, John and William Charles. John had been trained as a printer, but William Charles was a physician, educated in Edinburgh and later a very distinguished scientist in England and winner of the Rumf ord Medal of the Royal Society. The end of the war found him in charge of the family enterprise, his brother having gone to England to see his rela-16. 2d ed. (Albany, N.Y.: Joel Munsell, 1874), 1:343-44. 17. Siebert, 1:22. 18. PRO, Great Britain, Customs 3/79/64, 67. 19. Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, MS. Ch. 3970, a letter of Daniel Chamie, 29 September 1778, giving power of attorney to "Robert Wells of Salisbury-Court Square Bookseller and Stationer."
English Books and American Readers / 117 tives. William Charles, like thousands of other Georgia and Carolina loyalists, chose to be evacuated to St. Augustine in December 1782, taking with him a printing press, fonts of type, and one of the firm's pressmen. In Florida, Wells was confronted with the necessity of putting the press back together, it having been disassembled for packing and shipment. Finding among his brother's books a do-ityourself manual so characteristic of the eighteenth century, per haps Joseph Moxon's Mechanick exercises, Wells and a black car penter used it to pick their way step by step until the machine was in working order once more.20 On this press the four known imprints of eighteenth-century Florida were printed, as well as jobwork for the settlements there. A form used by the Panton, Leslie company to record a debt in 1788 bears the imprint "St. Augustine: Printed and Sold by John Wells."21 By that date, as will be seen, the Wells business had left Florida. Although William Charles Wells was the de facto founder of the firm in Florida, he gave the title to his older brother. He also fol lowed this practice in founding, in 1783, the first English newspaper in Florida, the East-Florida Gazette. The three surviving numbers of this periodical unfortunately do not include information about the book trade.22 It can be assumed that the Wells firm was engaged in selling books. In 1783, another displaced loyalist, David Zubly of Savannah, out paced the Wells firm into literary history by publishing the first Florida imprint: John Tobler's An Almanack, for the Year of Our Lord 1783: "St. Augustine: Printed for and sold by DAVID ZUBLY junior, at his House."23 The press and printer must have been those of the Wells firm. For a number of years the Wellses had printed and sold Tobler's Almanack in South Carolina and Georgia. Tobler 20. Wells, in his memoir (p. xx), refers to the book as "the Printer's Gram mar," but his memory presumably slipped. John Smith's well-known The Printer's Grammar (London: Printed for the Editor, 1755) deals only with composition and imposition and does not treat presswork. The memoir is prefaced to William Charles Wells, Two Essays; One upon Single Vision with Two Eyes; The Other on Dew (London: Longman and others, 1818). 21. Panton, Leslie MSS, Cruzat Papers, Box 1, Florida Historical Society Library, University of South Florida Library. 22. Photocopies of the three numbers (22 February-1 March; 26 April-3 May; 10-17 May, all 1783) are in the Newspaper Room, Library of Congress, originals in the Public Record Office of Great Britain. 23. All information and quotation from this almanac are derived from the Report of the Librarian in Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 81 (1971):219-22. This report includes a facsimile of the title page.
118 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South was a Swiss settler in Savannah who had been a leader of the Swiss community there, as had Zubly himself; like Zubly he had chosen evacuation to Florida. Tobler's address to the reader gives some insight into the times and the attitudes of at least one loyalist. READER, The Editor is sorry that through several very uncommon and un expected Events, Toblers Almanack for this present Year has been so long detained from making its Appearance. At the usual Time of preparing the Copy for the Press: by the Evacuation of Savannah, the Editor was obliged with other loyal Sufferers to leave his Home and fly to this Place for an Asylum. The report of his Majesty's Troops being about to evacuate Charlestown prevented the Copy from being sent thither. The late Period at which a Press was at length opened here, will apologize for the omission of some things usually inserted; none of which however are deemed essential. COURTEOUS READER, The Editor heartily wishes that we may this Year see an End, a happy End of War on both sides of the Atlantick, and that this and every succeeding Year may afford thee more real Happiness than those which are already passed. The poignancy of the loyalist refugees' plight is emphasized by the quotation on the title page from Edward Young's Night Thoughts on Death: "We take no Note of Time/But from its Loss. To give it then a Tongue/Is wise in Man." As the librarian of the American Anti quarian Society has pointed out, this first Florida imprint is an im portant source document for Florida history, containing as it does a listing of the civil and military officers there. The next year, 1784, saw the appearance of what has been taken to be the earliest Florida imprints (other than the East-Florida Gazette) until the discovery in 1970 of Zubly's Almanack. In 1784, it will be recalled, the unfortunate loyal subjects of East Florida came to realize that they were merely pawns in the game of inter national diplomacy: in the peace negotiations, East and West Flor ida were traded to Spain in exchange for the Bahamas. Englishspeaking Floridians were annoyed and distressed at this turn of
English Books and American Readers / 119 events, and one of the products of their indignation was a little book issued from the press of John Wells, The Case of the Inhabitants of East-Florida.24 The prefatory address "To the Reader" states that the pages were "thrown together by a few gentlemen" and "origi nally intended for a news-paper," presumably Wells's East-Florida Gazette. Publication in book form, the anonymous author or editor continues, was chosen that it "might serve to inform our fellow subjects in Great Britain more fully." In this respect, as in many others, the authors were doomed to disappointment: I have not been able to locate a single copy on the other side of the Atlantic. The author goes on to present a general review of recent Florida history, pointing out that "the inhabitants of East-Florida continued unmoved in their fidelity and attachment to their parent country, at a time of general revolt. ." Blackstone and other constitutional authorities are quoted in support of the "gentlemen's" argument that the subject could not or should not be divested of his property with out adequate compensation. Those Protestants remaining in Florida, it was argued, would be forced to change their religion by His Catholic Majesty of Spain, raising once again the Black Legend. There is a certain self-serving tone about The Case of the Inhabi tants, a tone which permeates much loyalist writing, blending as sertions of loyalty with complaints of ill usage. Perhaps it is the quintessential emigre tone: the English novelist Fanny Burney, whose husband d'Arblay was a Bourbon royalist officer in exile dur ing the Napoleonic period, often strikes the same note. On the other hand, the plight of the Floridians evokes an undeniable poignancy. They thought of themselves as loyal subjects of the Crown, but from London's point of view they were just another American faction, born to cause trouble like all those other tiresome Americans. If The Case of the Inhabitants of East-Florida is somewhat myopic and self-serving, the fourth imprint from the Wells press (counting the issues of the East-Florida Gazette as one) is breathtakingly broad in scope. Samuel Gale's Essay II. On the Nature and Principles of Publick Credit (St. Augustine: Printed, for the Author, by John Wells, 1784 )25 is an economic treatise which sets out to do no less than solve the financial problems of the British Empire. Gale, for-24. American Antiquarian Society/Readex Microprint microcard copy used (Evans 18392). 25. Ibid. (Evans 18490).
120 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South merly of Cumberland County, New York, as he explains in a prefatory statementwhich he had notarizedwas late "Acting Itiner ant Deputy Paymaster General of His Majesty's Forces in the Southern Colonies."26 The purpose of the notarized preface, Gale ex plains, is to make known his intent that the 100-120 copies thus printed "be not considered, deemed, or taken in the light of an edi tion or publication; but, be taken and considered as if the same were in a manuscript, the private property of him the said Samuel Gale. ." It was his intention to present these copies to "His Majesty's Servants" in London. Gale raises a nice point of copyright law here, and he probably would have lost if the matter had been ad judicated in an English court: Lord Mansfield had ruled against John Wilkes in an analogous situation (the celebrated "publication" of "An Essay on Women") several years earlier.27 Gale is a man in the possession of a Great Idea, and he is con cerned that no one else lay hands on it before its time comes. Britain, he demonstrates, is encumbered with a large and increasing national debt; the consequence of its increasing indefinitely will be a depreci ation of the currency. Using elaborate formulae and calculations, Gale proposes to set aside a portion of each year's revenue to retire part of the indebted principal. If his plan is adopted, he promises, in a sentence set entirely in capital letters: "THE NATION WILL BE RECOVERED TO A HIGHER DEGREE OF WEALTH AND PROSPERITY, THAN BRI TAIN, IN HER GREATEST GLORY, HATH EVER HITHERTO BEHELD" (p. 39). Recovering himself from the fit of enthusiasm somewhat, Gale apolo gizes for his possible lack of "civility of expression." He is, he re minds his readers, "a member of those unfortunates, that are plunged into labyrinths of calamity and distress, easier to be conceived than described, by the erroneous schemes that have been pursued for imaginary reformations, on the western side of the Atlantick." With this somewhat Delphic pronouncement, Gale closes his treatise. Al though he later succeeded in having his essay published in London,28 it appears that "His Majesty's Servants," the political leaders there 26. I have not been able to verify this title which Gale claims for himself. 27. See Calhoun Winton, "John Wilkes and 'An Essay on Woman/ in the Festschrift honoring Miriam Locke, ed. Donald Kay (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, forthcoming). The problem of what constitutes "publication" per se has not yet been resolved in copyright law. 28. British Museum, General Catalogue of Printed Books, indicates that essays 2-4 of An Essay were printed in London, 1784-87. I have not seen these.
English Books and American Readers / 121 and everyone else, as far as one can tellignored him. For a while, however, there was a forthright spokesman for classical economics in St. Augustine. With respect to books in English, there was silence until the ter ritorial period. During the British evacuation, John Wells moved his press to New Providence in the Bahamas and began publishing the Bahama Gazette there. The trade of books in English was almost over. But perhaps not quite. Professor Helen Hornbeck Tanner in her Zespedes in East Florida, 1784-1790, reports that the governor's chaplain arranged, through Gardoqui, the Spanish representative in Philadelphia, to have "English prayer books printed in New York" for use in missionary work among the non-Catholic settlers in Flor ida.29 This is a fascinating bibliographical conundrum, not yet un raveled. If the transaction was completed, it represented the very last group of English books for American readers in eighteenthcentury Florida.30 Another chapter would open with the territorial period. 29. (Miami: University of Miami Press, 1963), p. 140. 30. It is possible, of course, that the Panton, Leslie firm imported books in English during the second Spanish period, but I am not aware of evidence that they did so.
Commentary GLORIA JAHODA I must confess I notice with pleasure, and also with some amaze ment, that I am listed on the program of this symposium as a writer "and historian." To one of the authors we have just heard, the defini tion of the term historian is critical, and perhaps it may be relevant to explore it in my own case. I am under no illusions about what I do, which is to work with historical material as art. Others, many in this room, have done the pioneering in labyrinthine archives and government documents, French and Spanish as well as English and American. What I seek to accomplish is to infuse these facts and their professional interpretations with humor, poetry, and even music for the general reader. I must also admit that if it is a question of history or art in one of my works, I am afraid history is sacrificed. I emphasize what has touched me, what I think will move my readers. I am no Frederick Jackson Turner with comprehensive his torical theses concerning the totality of the past. I pick and choose. I have written two very bad historical novels precisely because I had not yet opted for art and because I wanted to deal with all the facts. The facts were there, and the characters were wooden. For one of them, a casualty of cutting, I wrote the immortal sentence 'Damn!' he hissed." Seriously, these questions of fact and art directly affect the output of William Gilmore Simms. What was he? A historian, as Dr. Meats believes? A novelist? I do not know, but I am a little uneasy about making him a full-fledged historian, perhaps because I stand in real awe of the profession. It is certainly true, as Dr. Meats points out, 122
Commentary / 123 that Simms was in contact with nineteenth-century historians and with veterans of the Revolution who knew things that have now been lost, except for the diligence of people like Simms. But what is research? Is it what I do when I read everything that has been written about Osceola? Or is it, as my husband, a professor of library science, maintains, work that must start with a hypothesis? Again, I do not know. But I believe it is safe to say that Simms was not a framer of hypotheses. Reference to Simms's copious output is now, according to Dr. Meats, almost a cliche. This is probably very true in some circles. As a northerner I had never heard of Simms until I came south, and I had heard of such exotica as Father Ryan, the Confederate poet. Dr. Meats criticizes Hampton M. Jarrell for saying Simms was "al most a historian because he chose fiction rather than orthodox history to tell his most important story." Though I am undecided, here I lean toward the opinion of Mr. Jarrell. In a novel the story is a tyrant; its pace and its emphases dominate. Can such a literary form be truly objective? Or am I in error in assuming that history ought to be objective? Dr. Meats rightly points out that the writer of fiction can indeed be a careful historian, and that fiction can be history. But I am not sure I would say these things were always true, even of a conscientious craftsman like Simms. His knowledge of the Revolution was encyclopedic. It must have been a hodgepodge similar to that bane of historians and their allies, the Lyman C. Draper Collection of Everything under the Sun, in Madison, Wisconsin. How are minutiae sorted? Was Simms really familiar with "every book on the Revolution that was published before or during his lifetime"? Did it matter that he knew the name of every Revolutionary War horse? How about books published in other countries? Certainly Simms was scrupulous in his documenta tion. "Nothing was too trivial to require investigation," says Dr. Meats. Which is, of course, the problem with the Draper Collection. Granny's sore throat is accorded equal status with eyewitness ac counts of George Rogers Clark at Vincennes. There is a historical noveliststill writing today, I believewho has many similarities to Simms: Anya Seton, though Mrs. Seton throws in a spook or two every so often. My editor at Houghton Mifflin, Paul Brooks, used to say to me, "If Anya says there was mud in that town on that day, there was mud." He did not approve of my cavalier descriptions of the moon, which was full when I wanted
124 / Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Revolutionary South it to be for story purposes, and because Houghton Mifflin published A Field Guide to the Birds, every chirp in a love scene had to be accurate. It was very trying. I think Dr. Meats makes it clear that Simms's accuracy is on the order of Any a Seton's. He deplores Jarrell's condescensionproperly, I think. One argument that struck me as doubtful was that "it is not the purpose of this paper to examine the historical accuracy of Simms's Revolutionary War novels." If we wish to admit Simms to the full privileges of the historical profession, should this not be a purpose? I think this point weakens the case for Simms as primarily a histo rian. Simms does telescope events "to heighten the dramatic impact." Fine, for a novelist, but is it history? I cannot be sure. I do believe that history does not always have to be felt as a novel does. I think Dr. Meats's point about Trent's inconsistency is a good one. Dr. Meats also deals with the ever present spectre of Sir Walter Scott. I cannot comment fairly on Sir Walter's accuracy or lack of it be cause I was made as a child to read his complete works, after which I was quizzed on them by my parents. Correct answers earned a gold star on a bulletin board in my room. For me, Sir Walter is a red flag. Simms, says Dr. Meats, vtfas "attempting to integrate formal and traditional history" into on work, "so that history could be made to live again for the popular reader of his own and future generations." This is the way I see my own job as a writer. But my readers are utterly dependent on my prejudices and enthusiasms. How about Simms's readers? Dr. Meats has written a diligent paper, and it raises challenging questions. I am more than slightly nervous when Simms, through Dr. Meats, tells me that the historian ought to be a philosopher. Per hapsbut the philosophical assumptions involved would be crucial. The answer to all the points Dr. Meats has raised may be that there is more than one kind of history, and I am certainly grateful to him for his intellectual stimulation. Dr. Calhoun Winton's paper on English books and American read ers in early Florida is a delight. He is guiltless of the "historical howlers" he fears to make. He is urbane and enlightening. Spanish reading matter does not fall within his scope, but he is right in pointing out that research is needed in this area. Possibly the Span ish mostly read holy books when they read at all. But Florida must never forget that her roots are in Spain, not Britain, a point made often and tellingly by lay historian Anthony P. Pizzo of Tampa.
Commentary / 125 I have always been enchanted with the humor of Goldsmith's views of the American South. Along the same lines, my British nephew once asked me if the South "wasn't a very risky place to live on account of hurricanes and lynchings." It is a pity we do not know the number of volumes imported into Florida as well as their weight. The developing science of bibliometrics cannot help us here because we do not always know what was read. Perhaps library historians might have insights into such questions as the problem of mix. I was astonished to learn of Pensacola's voracious appetite for books. Surely a very literary "huddle of huts," as a British officer de scribed it. As a Floridian, I am also delighted to learn that Florida paid for Carolina books with the oranges which it grew in such large quantities. In 1779, Florida imported 5,300 pounds of books. One wonders how many groves were denuded to pay for these items. Dr. Winton emphasizes beautifully the poignancy of the Florida loyalists, "just another faction" to London. As for Samuel Gale and his work on "publick credit," Gale seems to have been a forerunner of the simplicity of the Townsend Plan. Dr. Winton's paper is full of felicities of style: I enjoy Shakespearean evocations when I am learning things. Now I believe we should draft him for a study of books and bookmen in territorial Florida. I am frankly rather dubious about some of the features of Florida's Bicentennial American Revolution celebrations. For one thing, we have to remember that we did not revolt, a contemporary embarrass ment with which we must cope. But I believe gatherings such as this one not only make the state and national Bicentennial meaningful; they give us guidelines for wOrk in the years ahead, so that the patri otic extravaganza becomes not only a celebration, but ultimately and positively a productive event.
BICENTENNIAL COMMISSION OF FLORIDA Governor Reubin O'D. Askew, Honorary Chairman Lieutenant Governor J. H. Williams, Chairman Harold W. Stay man, Jr., Vice Chairman William R. Adams, Executive Director Dick J. Batchelor, Orlando Johnnie Ruth Clarke, St. Petersburg A. H. "Gus" Craig, St. Augustine James J. Gardener, Fort Lauderdale Jim Glisson, Tavares Mattox Hair, Jacksonville Thomas L. Hazouri, Jacksonville Ney C. Landrum, Tallahassee Mrs. Raymond Mason, Jacksonville Carl C. Mertins, Jr., Pensacola Charles E. Perry, Miami W. E. Potter, Orlando F. Blair Reeves, Gainesville Richard R. Renick, Coral Gables Jane W. Robinson, Cocoa Mrs. Robert L. Shevin, Tallahassee Don Shoemaker, Miami Mary L. Singleton, Jacksonville Bruce A. Smathers, Tallahassee Alan Trask, Fort Meade Edward J. Trombetta, Tallahassee Ralph D. Turlington, Tallahassee William S. Turnbull, Orlando Robert Williams, Tallahassee Lori Wilson, Merritt Island
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