Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Symposium participants
 Table of Contents
 The Floridas, the Western Frontier,...
 Some early loyalists on the Southern...
 Speculations on frontier loyal...
 Another book about Washington?
 Jews in eighteenth-century West...
 The Florida Revolutionary Indian...
 Black life and activities in West...
 Theatre can't get here from there:...
 Music on the eighteenth-century...
 Bicentennial Commission of...
 Back Matter
 Back Cover

Digitization of this item is currently in progress.
Eighteenth-century Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00100518/00001
 Material Information
Title: Eighteenth-century Florida life on the frontier
Physical Description: xi, 110 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Proctor, Samuel
Bicentennial Commission of Florida
Conference: Bicentennial Symposium, 1974
Publisher: University Presses of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
Subjects / Keywords: Frontier and pioneer life -- History -- Congresses -- Florida -- 18th century   ( lcsh )
History -- Congresses -- Florida -- Revolution, 1775-1783   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Congresses -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
conference publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: edited by Samuel Proctor.
General Note: "Papers read at the third annual Bicentennial Symposium sponsored by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Florida, held at Florida Technological University, March 22-23, 1974."
General Note: "A University of Florida book."
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 02074373
lccn - 76005852
isbn - 081300523X
Classification: lcc - E263.F6 B52 1974
ddc - 975.9/02
System ID: UF00100518:00001

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Front Matter
        Front Matter 1
        Front Matter 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    Symposium participants
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Table of Contents
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    The Floridas, the Western Frontier, and Vermont: Thoughts on the Hinterland loyalists
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Some early loyalists on the Southern Frontier
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Speculations on frontier loyalism
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
    Another book about Washington?
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
    Jews in eighteenth-century West Florida
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier: Abode of the blessed or field of battle?
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
    Black life and activities in West Florida and on the Gulf Coast, 1762-1803
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
    Theatre can't get here from there: A brief production history of Florida's first play
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
    Music on the eighteenth-century Southern Frontier
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
    Bicentennial Commission of Florida
        Page 111
        Page 112
    Back Matter
        Back Matter 1
        Back Matter 2
    Back Cover
        Back Cover
Full Text



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EighteenthoCentury Florida

Life on the Frontier

EighteenthoCentury Florida

Life on the Frontier

Edited by

A University of Florida Book
The University Presses of Florida
Gainesville / 1976

Papers read at the Third Annual Bicentennial Symposium
sponsored by the American Revolution Bicentennial
Commission of Florida, held at
Florida Technological University, March 22-23, 1974

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Bicentennial Symposium, 3d, Florida Technological
University, 1974.
Eighteenth-century Florida.
"Papers read at the third annual Bicentennial Symposium
sponsored by the American Revolution Bicentennial Commis-
sion of Florida, held at Florida Technological University,
March 22-23, 1974.
"A University of Florida book."
Includes bibliographical references.
1. Florida-History-Revolution, 1775-1783-Congresses.
2. Florida-Social life and customs-Congresses.
I. Proctor, Samuel. II. American Revolution Bicenten-
nial Commission of Florida. III. Title.

E263.F6B52 1974 975.9'02 76-5852
ISBN 0-8130-0523-X


All rights reserved



LIFE was not easy on the isolated Florida frontier before and dur-
ing the American Revolution. When the Spanish evacuated the
territory after signing the Treaty of Paris in 1763, they left behind
a wilderness that was almost devoid of human beings. Fewer than
a dozen white people remained in all of East Florida when the
British arrived to take possession of St. Augustine. Stimulated by
a major publicity campaign, a land boom ensued, thus encouraging
a steady flow of settlers. By 1775, the population of East and West
Florida had swelled to nearly 8,000; about 3,000 lived in and around
St. Augustine and the remainder at Pensacola and along the Mis-
sissippi River.
In many ways, eighteenth-century Florida was almost a micro-
cosm of the rest of America that was already moving rapidly
toward political independence. Her population was polyglot. Most
of the colonists were English and Scots, but there were also Irish,
Germans, French, and Scandinavians. Minorcans, Greeks, Corsi-
cans, and Italians had settled first at New Smyrna and later in St.
Augustine. The blacks were more numerous than any other group,
and Indians outnumbered the whites. Catholics, Anglicans, and
Jews were all present in Florida by the time of the Revolution, and
all made a contribution to the economic, social, and political life
of the time.
The loyalist refugees who made their way into East and West
Florida from Georgia, the Carolinas, and the back country after
the firing of the first shots of the Revolution added to the complex

vi / Introduction
problems of frontier Florida. Some of these transients had been
affluent planters, government officials, and wealthy merchants and
land speculators. Most of them, however, were farmers, laborers,
and tradesmen. A few were able to bring their slaves and other
personal possessions, but many arrived with little more than they
could carry on their backs. All, rich or poor, had lost their homes,
land, and businesses, and in many cases they had been separated
from their families.
Most stayed only briefly, using Florida as a waystation to En-
gland, Canada, the West Indies, or the Bahamas. Others remained
until the close of the Revolution, and a few stayed on as permanent
settlers; their descendants still reside in Florida. All added in some
measurable way to the cultural, intellectual, and economic growth
of Florida. The roles that these loyalist refugees played in war-
time Florida has become an area of important research for scholars.
Records relating to the lives of the loyalists, blacks, Indians, Jews,
and others who were involved in eighteenth-century Florida are
scant, but state and local libraries are now assembling documents
and other materials that have survived. These are being used with
increasing frequency by historians and other scholars who see the
need of illuminating this important period of Florida history.
Many new books, articles, monographs, theses, and dissertations re-
lating to eighteenth-century Florida are the results of fruitful re-
To make Florida's heritage known to its own citizens, and to all
Americans, was the goal of the Florida Bicentennial Commission
when it was created by the state legislature. The commission,
which was set up to plan Florida's role in the bicentennial celebra-
tion, is a twenty-seven-member body representing the legislature
and important state agencies. Ten persons are appointed by the
governor, and he serves as honorary chairman. Florida's lieu-
tenant governor is chairman, and the commission's executive offices
are in Tallahassee. The commission's committee on research and
publications developed a comprehensive program of activity which
includes the publication of twenty-five facsimiles of rare, out-of-
print books on Florida history and a history of the Revolutionary
period in Florida.
A series of five annual symposia are also being held in coopera-
tion with the history faculties of the state universities. The plan is
to investigate in depth various aspects of the political, economic,

Introduction / vii
intellectual, and social events of eighteenth-century Florida. In
1972, the first conference was held at the University of Florida,
Gainesville. Its theme was "Eighteenth-Century Florida and the
Borderlands." The following year, 1973, the second symposium,
"Eighteenth-Century Florida and the Caribbean," was held in Mi-
ami in cooperation with Florida International University. Scholarly
papers presented at these two conferences have already been pub-
lished by the University Presses of Florida. This is the third volume,
and two others will follow.
"Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier" was selected
as the theme for the third annual Florida Bicentennial Symposium.
Our nation was forged from an extraordinary diversity of peoples,
cultures, and traditions. Participants in this symposium have sought
to examine critically the roles and contributions of important seg-
ments of Florida's population during this important and formative
period in its history.
The symposium was held March 22-23, 1974, at Florida Tech-
nological University, Orlando. President Charles N. Millican wel-
comed the participants to the campus. Representing the Florida Bi-
centennial Commission was its chairman, Lieutenant Governor Tom
Adams. Edmund F. Kallina, professor of history, Florida Tech-
nological University, was chairman of the session "Loyalism in
Florida and the South." The session "Minorities on the Florida
Frontier" had as its chairman Professor Paul W. Wehr, Department
of History, Florida Technological University. Elmar B. Fetscher,
Department of History, Florida Technological University, was chair-
man of the session "Theatre and Music in the Colonial South."
Special thanks are owed to the many people whose help made
the symposium and its related activities a success. These include
Shelton Kemp, then executive director of the Florida Bicentennial
Commission, and Rosemary Mason of the commission staff, Talla-
hassee. Dr. David D. Mays directed The Beaux' Stratagem which
was produced by the Department of Theatre, Florida Technological
University. Pat Dodson of Pensacola and Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke
of St. Petersburg, members of the Florida Bicentennial Commis-
sion, helped in planning the symposium. Dr. Ronald Newell and
the staff of Educational Conferences, Florida Technological Uni-
versity, coordinated the arrangements for the meeting.
Dr. Jerrell Shofner, professor of history and chairman of the
Department of History, Florida Technological University, was co-

viii / Introduction
chairman of the conference and was in charge of local arrange-
ments. Members of the history faculty of Florida Technological
University served on the local arrangements committee. Dr. Samuel
Proctor, distinguished service professor of history and social sci-
ences and Julien C. Yonge Professor of Florida History, University
of Florida, was chairman of the symposium.

Symposium Participants

ROBERT M. CALHOON, a native of Pennsylvania, is professor of his-
tory at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He re-
ceived his degrees from the College of Wooster and from Western
Reserve University. He has lectured widely throughout the United
States and is author of The Loyalists in Revolutionary America,

GERALDINE M. MERONEY, a graduate of Rice University and the
University of Oregon, has also studied at Vanderbilt University and
Trinity College, Dublin. She has taught at Willamette University,
Earlham College, and Georgia State University, and is presently
professor of history at Agnes Scott College. She is a specialist in the
colonial history of South Carolina and Georgia and is working with
the Program for Loyalist Studies and Publications. In addition to
many articles, her publications include "Alexander Hewat's Histori-
cal Account," in The Colonial Legacy, vol. 1, Loyalist Historians.
She is preparing a biographical study of William Bull, the loyalist
lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

MARY BETH NORTON, a graduate of the University of Michigan and
Harvard University, is professor of history at Cornell University.
She is the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, the Harvard
Prize Fellowship, and the Allan Nevins Prize for her doctoral dis-
sertation in American history. Her areas of specialization include the
American Revolution and American colonial, constitutional, and

x / Symposium Participants
intellectual history. She is author of The British-Americans: The
Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789, and articles, essays, and re-
views in scholarly and professional journals. She has participated in
many Bicentennial conferences and workshops throughout the
United States.

R. DON HIGGINBOTHAM, a graduate of Washington University and
Duke University, is professor of history at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. Earlier he taught at the College of William
and Mary, Longwood College, and Louisiana State University.
He received the National Historical Publications Award in 1966 and
the New York Revolution Roundtable Award for the best book on
the American Revolution for the year 1971. He is author of Daniel
Morgan: Revolutionary Riflemen, The War of American Indepen-
dence: Military Attitudes, Policy, and Practice, 1763-1789, and arti-
cles in professional and scholarly journals.

BERTRAM WALLACE KORN is professor of American Jewish History
at Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, New York
School. He is author and editor of numerous books, primarily in the
field of American Jewish history, the latest of which are The Early
Jews of New Orleans, The Jews of Mobile, Alabama, 1763-1841,
and The Middle Period of American Jewish History. He has con-
tributed articles, essays, and reviews to many scholarly periodicals.
He received his undergraduate education at the University of
Pennsylvania, Cornell University, and the University of Cincinnati
and his graduate education from Hebrew Union College. He holds
honorary degrees from Temple University, Delaware Valley College,
and Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, and awards
from the American Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish His-
torical Societies of Rhode Island and Maryland.

JAMES H. O'DONNELL III, a native of Tennessee, is professor of his-
tory at Marietta College, and has also taught at Radford College
and the University of Tennessee. He was a Danforth Foundation
Associate, receiving two Danforth Associates Projects Fund Awards,
and holds his graduate degrees from Duke University. He is author
of Southern Indians in the American Revolution and is a contributor
to Four Centuries of Southern Indians and to scholarly and profes-

Symposium Participants / xi
sional journals. He is working on a study of the American Revolu-
tion in the West.

ROLAND C. MCCONNELL, professor of history and chairman of the
department at Morgan State College, holds graduate degrees from
Howard University and New York University. He is a member of
the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History and is a
research consultant for the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation.
He is the author of Negro Troops of Antebellum Louisiana, A His-
tory of the Battalion of Free Men of Color, and an essay, "The Black
Experience in Maryland, 1634-1900," in The Old Line State, A His-
tory of Maryland, and has contributed articles to scholarly and pro-
fessional journals.

DAVID D. MAYS, a native of Louisiana, is professor of theatre at
Florida Technological University. He holds his graduate degrees
from Tulane University, and his major areas of interest are theater
history and dramatic literature and criticism. His publications in-
clude "Finding an Audience," "The River Flows the Wrong Way at
Clarksville," and "Inevitably . the Offers from Hollywood. . .

DAvm Z. KUSHNER, professor of music and chairman of the musi-
cology faculty at the University of Florida, is the author of num-
erous publications including the monograph Ernest Bloch and His
Music and articles on Scott Huston and Ernest Bloch. A graduate
of Boston University, the University of Cincinnati, and the Univer-
sity of Michigan, he is chairman of the board of directors and
festival chairman of the American Musicological Society, a life
member of the Music Teachers National Association, and president
of the University of Florida Chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda national
music honorary.

REBECCA ANN KUSHNER, a graduate of Mississippi State College for
Women and Radford College, has appeared in concert and recital,
on radio and television, and before many professional organizations.
Ms. Kushner teaches voice and is president of District 3, Florida
State Music Teachers Association. She is the author of several arti-


The Floridas, the Western Frontier, and Vermont: Thoughts
on the Hinterland Loyalists / Robert M. Calhoon / 1
Some Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / Geraldine
M. Meroney / 16
Speculations on Frontier Loyalism / Mary Beth Norton / 34
Another Book about Washington? / R. Don Higginbotham / 40
Jews in Eighteenth-Century West Florida / Bertram
Wallace Korn / 50
The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier: Abode of the
Blessed or Field of Battle? / James H. O'Donnell III / 60
Black Life and Activities in West Florida
and on the Gulf Coast, 1762-1803 / Roland C. McConnell / 75
Theatre Can't Get Here from There: A Brief Production
History of Florida's First Play / David D. Mays / 91
Music on the Eighteenth-Century Southern Frontier /
David Z. Kushner / 101

The Floridas, the Western Frontier, and Vermont:

Thoughts on the Hinterland Loyalists


STUDY of the American Revolution has focused in recent years on
the motivations and ideologies of participants in the struggle and
on the organization of eighteenth-century American society. Both
lines of inquiry have finally begun-belatedly and inadequately-
to shape an understanding of the loyalists. Because we know that
the pre-Revolutionary controversy was an intense, collective experi-
ence of self-appraisal for Americans, we can understand how it com-
pelled defenders of British rule to renounce republicanism and why
it persuaded them that imperial authority was a stabilizing factor
in society and in their own lives. Furthermore, a growing body of
research on loyalist groups and communities seems to confirm
William H. Nelson's conjecture that the loyalist rank and file com-
prised cultural minorities who felt threatened by the rest of Ameri-
can society.1
These broad conclusions about the dynamics of the pre-Revolu-
tionary debate and the structure of loyalist groupings during the
War for Independence overlap but do not entirely coincide with
another classification of loyalist motivation: an instinctive, unarticu-
lated, but persistent expectation by loyalists living in the hinterland
of Revolutionary America that British military, administrative, and
diplomatic power ought to come to their protection and make the
frontier the base for counterrevolutionary activity. There is little
evidence of this sort of loyalist thought in traditional literary sources
1. See Robert M. Calhoon, The Loyalists in Revolutionary America, 1760-
1781 (New York, 1973), pp. 431-35, 502-6, 559-65.

2 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
(pamphlets, correspondence, records of formal political activity);
however, we can extrapolate evidence from the patterns of behavior
of people in the hinterland, from concepts of empire which pre-
vailed during the quarter century prior to the War for Indepen-
dence, from notions of the nature of the empire held by British
officials and loyalists on the frontier, and from recent scholarship
on the actual level of British military, administrative, and diplomatic
capability during the War for Independence.
Deliberately overstated, it appeared to many settlers that the
hinterland of Revolutionary America-that is, East and West Flor-
ida, the southern back country, the Ohio valley, western New York
and the Mohawk valley, and Vermont-was a setting where British
power and authority could be most readily exercised, indeed, that
the British possessed a special talent for maximizing their assets and
manipulating events to their advantage in this vast crescent of terri-
tory. What no one realized at the time was that British capability
in this hinterland of colonial America was both expanding and re-
tracting on the eve of the War for Independence. This flux in con-
ditions deprived British adherents there of the ability to predict
events and make reliable estimates. The strenuous, and in some
ways highly sophisticated, efforts by loyalists and British officials on
the periphery of Revolutionary America to defeat the whigs were
motivated by a partial, inadequate comprehension of the flux in
imperial capability.
The first and most important source of this confusion was the
conduct of the British army and civil officials in 1775-76. Gage in-
structed John Stuart, British superintendent for Indian affairs in the
South, and Guy Johnson, his counterpart in the North, to guard
against any rebel attempts to subvert the loyalty of the Indians to
the Crown. Neither Stuart nor Johnson saw any value in precipitate
Indian attacks on whig settlements, and both urged the Indians to
adopt a defensive posture until the deployment of British regulars
in adjacent provinces. In North Carolina, Governor Josiah Martin
encouraged the formation of a large loyalist force which would
march to Wilmington and there rendezvous with British regulars
arriving by sea. In Virginia, Governor Dunmore secured British
regulars from St. Augustine, invited slaves to escape and to take
up arms under his banner, and, with a handful of Virginia loyalists,
temporarily threatened the security of the Revolutionary regime and
delayed for several months the transit of power. From Boston,

The Hinterland Loyalists / 3
Lieutenant Colonel Allen McLean, who had secured authority to
enlist loyalist soldiers, sent recruiting agents to New York and North
Carolina. Gage himself authorized John Connolly, British governor
at Fort Pitt, to direct a loyalist uprising in the upper Ohio valley
and arranged with Guy Carleton in Quebec and Guy Johnson in
the Mohawk valley to coordinate their activities with Connolly's.
Of course, none of these plans succeeded. Connolly was arrested
on his way back to Fort Pitt. The North Carolina rising occurred
before British troops reached the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and
the North Carolina whigs were able to defeat the loyalists at the
Battle of Moore's Creek. Despite John Stuart's best efforts to ma-
nipulate events, the Cherokees prematurely seized the opportunity
to repel white settlers from their lands; they were defeated and
their villages and crops destroyed by Virginia and North and South
Carolina militia. In failure, these initiatives look clumsy and bizarre,
and certainly they suggest that irregular warfare is not a substitute
for conventional military operations. But these early British efforts
also indicated a British willingness to see the armed rebellion as a
geopolitical process and to experiment in new ways of dealing with
what was an unprecedented military challenge. And even these
setbacks did not stifle irrepressible loyalist activity in the back
As the war progressed, the most favorable laboratory for such
experimentation was the Mohawk valley in New York. There, Sir
William Johnson, Indian superintendent for the northern tribes, had
won for the Iroquois over the preceding quarter century valuable
territorial guarantees and protection from illegal white encroach-
ment on Indian land, in return for military and political loyalty.
When Johnson died in 1774, he left a magnificent network of alli-
ances among elements of the Iroquois confederacy, local white
settlers indebted to Johnson for loans and favors, wealthy western
New York landowners like John Butler, and British officials in Que-
bec who were strategically located to oversee and direct counter-
revolutionary efforts in the area and coordinate them with Bur-
goyne's projected invasion of New York. These interests loyal to
2. Paul H. Smith, Loyalists and Redcoats: A Study in British Revolutionary
Policy (Chapel Hill, 1964), chap. 2; Richard 0. Curry, "Loyalism in Western
Virginia," West Virginia History 14 (April 1953):265-74; James H. O'Donnell,
Southern Indians in the American Revolution (Knoxville, 1973), chap. 2; Robert
L. Ganyard, "North Carolina during the American Revolution: The First Phase,
1774-1777" (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1962), pp. 120-48.

4 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
the Crown were, in fact, a delicate network of relationships, ill
designed to stand the severe stresses generated by the Revolution.
Sir William's successor as Indian superintendent was his nephew,
Guy Johnson, who in 1776 was trapped in New York City en route
from a trip to England. Acting Superintendent Colonel John Butler
was suspicious of the Johnsons and their close Mohawk ally, Joseph
Brant. The maneuvering for advantage and leadership between
Butler and Brant almost certainly prevented Brant from organizing
in late 1776 and early 1777 a small, disciplined insurgent force of
trusted Indian warriors and white loyalists to attack whig settle-
ments in New York State and, in effect, to serve as the cutting edge
for Burgoyne's invasion. Brutal Mohawk depredations against the
pro-American Oneidas in the summer of 1777 shattered what was
left of Iroquois unity. Burgoyne's defeat and the failure of Barry
St. Leger's offensive into the Mohawk valley in the summer of 1777
helped ignite a savage and debilitating civil war in the region,
which did not materially affect the course of the war but which
wrecked Iroquois society and mocked British pretensions to protect
and defend its loyal subjects from the vengeance and violence of
the rebels.3
Despite overwhelming political and military disasters, the loyalists
in Vermont remained a potent and indestructible element during the
Revolution. Most of the leadership for supporters of the Crown in
the New Hampshire Grants (as the territory was called until 1777)
were New York land speculators, who fled the region in 1775 when
they lost control of the machinery of county government to insur-
gent Yankee settlers led by Ethan and Ira Allen. The instability of
the Allens' insurgent regime, the precarious military security of the
region in 1776 and 1777, and the immaturity and malleability of
political institutions in Vermont all tended to influence inhabitants
of the area to adopt supple political allegiance. Yankee settlers like
Sylvanus Ewarts and Justus Sherwood filled the void in leadership
just prior to Burgoyne's brief occupation of Castleton, Vermont, in
July 1777. Ewarts recruited some 400 local residents to build a road
for Burgoyne's force to use. The majority of these volunteers
changed their allegiance with chameleon-like adaptability and led
Burgoyne to assume that Colonel Frederick Baum, his Hessian
subordinate, could expect a friendly reception when he led a foray
8. Barbara Graymont, The Iroquois in the American Revolution (Syracuse,
1972), passim.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 5
into southern Vermont to seize a cache of rebel arms in August 1777.
Instead, Baum stumbled into a defeat at the Battle of Bennington,
in part because he believed that shirtsleeved insurgents approaching
his rear must be local loyalists coming to his support.
While the Vermont loyalists evaporated as a military factor, they
retained extensive influence in the state, and much of the property
confiscated by the new state government in 1777 was resold at rea-
sonable terms to close relatives of accused loyalists. When New
York blocked Vermont's bid for recognition by the Continental Con-
gress as an independent state, the Allens began the now famous
"Haldimand negotiations" with the British to secure recognition of
Vermont's independence in return for the state's repudiation of the
American cause-a course of events which forced the Allens into
alliance with covert loyalists in the state.4
Several factors weighed heavily in inducing the Vermont loyal-
ists first to oppose the Allens and then to endure the vicissitudes of
war while waiting for British authority to be reasserted. One was
the seemingly capricious nature of local hostilities, which singled
out some individual Yankee settlers with Yorker connections, label-
ing them stories and turning the rage of the community against them.
Zadock Wright, John Peters, and Sylvanus Ewarts were all promi-
nent Yankee settlers with close family ties to the Revolutionary
leadership of Vermont. For reasons of both temperament and cal-
culation, they tried to remain neutral in 1775-76, found themselves
labeled stories by seemingly uncontrollable currents of opinion, and
took up arms for the British from considerations of revenge, confu-
sion, and desperation. More significantly, the strongest political
force in the region was a desire for autonomy-a goal incompatible
with internal bloodletting-so that the Allens maintained discreet
alliances with covert loyalists and drew on this support during the
Haldimand negotiations. At the core of this accommodation be-
tween the Allens and Vermont loyalists was the widespread expecta-
tion that Britain possessed sufficient leverage in Revolutionary
America through its control of Quebec to checkmate rebel domi-
nance in New England through prudent concessions to Vermont

4. Chilton Williamson, Vermont in Quandary, 1763-1825 (Montpelier, 1941),
passim; Gwilym R. Roberts, "An Unknown Vermonter: Sylvanus Ewarts,
Governor Chittenden's Tory Brother-in-Law," Vermont History 29 (April 1961):
92-102; Hamilton V. Bail, "Zadock Wright: That 'Devilish' Tory of Hartland,"
Vermont History 36 (Autumn 1968):186-203.

6 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
separatism. Joshua Locke, Yankee loyalist from Vermont, wrote to
Lord George Germain in 1781 explaining the special character of
Vermont loyalism. In Vermont, as anywhere else, Locke assumed,
the legal security of landed property was the most immediate ob-
ligation of government to the subject. When the Revolution began,
the ownership of a large amount of land in "the Green mountains"
was disputed by New York and New Hampshire claimants, and
some Yankee settlers even took the law into their own hands. "But
I never understood . that they ever disputed his majesty's prorog-
ative [sic] to shift any part of his subjects from the jurisdiction of
one province to another . the fee of the land only [sic] is what
they have been contending for." The Revolution vastly complicated
-but did not fundamentally alter-that situation: "They declared
themselves an independent state free from both king and Congress
as they could obtain fee of their lands from neither." Locke noted
that the kind of proclamation which General Henry Clinton had
issued in South Carolina promising protection to persons who laid
down their arms and took an oath of allegiance "strikes these people
[loyalists in Vermont] with horror": if New York should accept the
same terms, the Crown might validate Yorker land claims in the
region and thereby invalidate the claims of Yankee loyalists and
neutralists in Vermont. "But if such a thing as granting to those
people pardons confirming them in the title of their lands and form-
ing them into a separate province could be settled" in England, the
entire population could be induced to declare their loyalty to the
King. Locke argued that landowners concerned about the legal
security of their titles were "in the center" of the colonial social
order: "I need not mention the advantage it would be to the British
arms to have those people in favor of government." Moreover, if
Britain neglected the Vermont loyalists, the region would become
"a receptical [sic] for the sum of rebellion and a refuge for a nu-
merous banditti" which would be most expensive to eradicate in the
years after the Revolution-assuming it was suppressed by the
British.5 Locke's commentary was astute and not entirely inaccurate.
Vermont, like other fringe areas of Revolutionary America, was
particularly prone to violence and crime and especially fearful of
the breakdown of law and order; the loyalists utilized this asset to

5. Hamilton V. Bail, "A Letter to Lord Germain about Vermont," Vermont
History 34 (October 1966):226-34.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 7
the maximum in securing an accommodation with the Allen regime.
At least some Vermont loyalists expected that Britain acting uni-
laterally could use this lever to swing the entire populace back to
British allegiance.
East Florida, and in some respects West Florida as well, repre-
sented the nexus of command, that is, the location where leadership,
civilian support, supply, manpower, relatively secure fortification,
and proximity to theaters of conflict all coincided. The loyalists who
fled to St. Augustine and Pensacola had good reason to expect the
protection of a powerful military force. Lord Dunmore had secured
reinforcements from St. Augustine in 1775. John Stuart, superinten-
dent for Indian affairs in the South, transferred his headquarters
to St. Augustine in 1775 and moved it again to Pensacola in 1777.
In Governor Patrick Tonyn of East Florida and Governor Peter
Chester of West Florida, the British had officials who were intent
on galvanizing these elements of military power.
Tonyn empowered Thomas Brown, the irrepressible Georgia
back-country tory partisan, to enlist loyalist exiles into the East
Florida Rangers, which operated initially as a defensive force along
the East Florida-Georgia frontier. Together, Tonyn and Brown set
about undercutting John Stuart's careful management of the Creeks
and Cherokees. Impatient for a general Indian uprising to
strengthen the province's security and undermine the Revolutionary
regime in Georgia, Tonyn and Brown thought of Indian uprisings
as a torrent of violent power which they could turn on at their
discretion. The knowledgeable and experienced Stuart knew that
Indian support was a finite, perishable resource; the Cherokee war
of 1776, which Stuart had tried to prevent, had decimated the vil-
lages and crops of that tribe in the Carolinas. The Creeks feared
similar whig reprisals and were increasingly leery, first of Tonyn's
demand that they march in force to the defense of St. Augustine
in the spring of 1778 and then of his appeal that they raise hundreds
of warriors for the British invasion of Georgia in December 1778
and January 1779.6 Tonyn further believed that bloody, irregular
warfare along the Georgia-East Florida border would "distress . .
our deluded neighbors" and induce them "to return to their alle-

6. O'Donnell, Southern Indians in the American Revolution, pp. 32-34,
70; Gary D. Olson, "Thomas Brown, Loyalist Partisan, and the Revolutionary
War in Georgia, 1777-1782," Georgia Historical Quarterly 54 (Spring-Summer
1970):1-19, 183-207.

8 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
giance." By repeatedly sending raiding parties into Georgia to steal
livestock, he provided the British garrison with fresh meat. "This,
my lord, is not a very honorable method of making war," Tonyn
wrote Colonial Secretary George Germain, "but... it is the only one
left for supplying this town and garrison with fresh provisions as
the Georgians would not allow the cattle . to be drove [sic]
hence. Besides, my lord, the love of plunder engages many daring
fellows . to oppose the rebels . instead of joining with . .
them." "Regular troops," Tonyn added in a revealing aside, "are not
well calculated for such moroding [sic] services."7 Frederick George
Mulcaster, wealthy East Florida landowner and surveyor-general,
scoffed at Tonyn's faith in the combativeness of the populace. Of
the 300 adult white males in the vicinity of St. Augustine, 200 were
well-to-do government officials, merchants, or planters, while the
remainder were overseers, cattlemen, fishermen, and "persons who
live as they can. . It is from this class of hunters &c. that recruits
can be raised; . as the price of workmanship is high, their wages
support them too well to be easily tempted," but "some shift[ing]"
for themselves "might be got." Money alone would not suffice, Mul-
caster warned, but promises of land grants would bring East Flor-
ida pioneers to the King's standard: "the rage which these people
have for that article might have some effect."8
Peter Chester in West Florida had fewer assets at his disposal.
The province was vulnerable to rebel and Spanish attack. Although
the population doubled during the War for Independence because
Dartmouth had declared West Florida an asylum for loyalists driven
from other colonies, the resulting influx of 2,000 to 2,500 people
weakened as much as it strengthened royal administration. The
young colony lacked an internal system of political and judicial in-
stitutions, kinship patterns, and traditions strong enough to bind its
inhabitants into a community. Reckless land speculation along the
Mississippi valley had spread population into regions vulnerable to
Spanish attack and had scattered the manpower resources of the
province.9 Maryland loyalist James Chalmers wrote Lord Rawdon
7. Tonyn to Germain, October 18, 1776, quoted in Edgar L. Pennington,
"Florida in the American Revolution, 1775-1778," Florida Historical Quarterly
9 (1930):29-31.
8. Mulcaster to Clinton, n.d. [ca. 1776], Henry Clinton Papers, William L.
Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
9. Cecil Johnson, "Expansion in West Florida," Mississippi Valley Historical
Review 20 (March 1934):481-96.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 9
that without "sugar to stimulate the avidity of planters or wheat to
incite the industry of the inhabitants," West Florida was a languish-
ing and dispirited province with "no vestiges of that youthful co-
lonial ardor" which had sustained other newly established British
colonies.10 When the rebel James Willing led a daring raid down
the Mississippi River into West Florida in 1778, for example, he
extracted from settlers around Natchez a pledge to remain neutral
in the war and to desist from aiding the British, and throughout
the province news of the Willing raid caused panic and confusion.
The exploitation of this fertile, plentiful territory with its strategic
location for commerce had pre-empted the energies of the popu-
lace." In spite of their lack of interest in the pre-Revolutionary
controversy (apart from a mild remonstrance against the Stamp
Act) and their ostensible support of the Crown in the war, the
loyalist sentiments of the inhabitants were not particularly fervent.
In his forthcoming book on the Revolution in West Florida, Joseph
Barton Starr will demonstrate that widespread official skepticism
existed about the commitment of the populace to the British cause.
"I find the inhabitants in general self-interested and without public
spirit, whose minds are attached only to gain and their private con-
cerns," declared General John Campbell. "In short, nothing can be
had from them . but at an enormous extravagant price, and per-
sonal service on general principles of national defense is too gen-
erous and exalted for their conceptions." William Dunbar believed
that half of the inhabitants secretly sympathized with the American
cause and that, as a result, the others felt immobilized and fearful
of making any zealous efforts in the support of British authority.
Though the inhabitants fought bravely during the Spanish attack on
Pensacola in 1781, that response to Spanish attack does not refute
evidence of ambivalence and even indifference early in the war. Yet
these liabilities of institutional immaturity, public apathy, and
strategic insecurity were a hidden source of short-term advantage.
If British West Florida was vulnerable to Spanish attack, Spanish
Louisiana felt equally threatened by an expansionist British prov-
ince. By mutually adroit diplomacy, Chester and Spanish Governor
Bernardo de Galvez tried to avoid conflict until Spanish entry into
the war in 1779. Following the Willing raid, Chester moved vigor-
10. Chalmers to Rawdon, May 21, 1779, Henry Clinton Papers.
11. Kathryn T. Abbey, "Peter Chester's Defense of the Mississippi after the
Willing Raid," Mississippi Valley Historical Review 22 (June 1935):17-32.

10 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
ously and resourcefully to shore up the province's defenses and to
instill a greater sense of urgency in the populace, but despite these
efforts, the province fell to Spain in 1781.12
In the end, therefore, British strength and capability in the hinter-
land of Revolutionary America fell far short of the loyalists' ideal
expectation of a vast, pervasive source of counterrevolutionary
strength on which they would rely and to which they could con-
tribute. The southern Indians, whom Stuart had so assiduously cul-
tivated, were a highly perishable asset of negligible value by the
time the reconquest of Georgia occurred. Iroquois effectiveness was
negated by the internecine strife between the Brants and the Butlers
and by the havoc wrought within the fabric of Iroquois life by the
ravages of war. The Floridas did not significantly enhance the
strength of the British invasion of the South prior to 1779-81. The
promising start in the Haldimand negotiations did not checkmate
rebel control of New England and adjacent New York State. The
weaknesses and fragility of loyalists' expectations should not obscure
the importance and intelligence of their position. It should prompt
historians to treat loyalist ideas as an integral part of the larger
history of ideas in the British Empire.
Loyalists' expectations about imperial vitality did not function
as a self-conscious ingredient in their intellectual lives. If any terms
characterize loyalist outlook during the War for Independence, they
are confusion, uncertainty, apprehension. As Paul H. Smith wrote of
many loyalists in arms, the Revolution was "too large an event for
most persons to comprehend in its entirety" and it was therefore
"perceived in terms of immediate, commonplace issues. . For
many, the issue of their allegiance was never perceived as a matter
upon which they might exercise some meaningful choice."'3 Loyalist
expectations about the nature of the empire were simply one ele-
ment-albeit crucial and unique-in the milieu of doubt, confu-
sion, and limited experience surrounding these people. Without
endowing loyalist notions about the processes of empire with more
formality than they deserve, it is nonetheless important to consider
the ways in which hinterland loyalist expectations were a system
of ideas, impressions, and beliefs, and the relationship of this intel-

12. J. Barton Starr, Tories, Dons, and Rebels: The American Revolution in
West Florida, forthcoming, University Presses of Florida.
13. Smith, "The American Loyalists: Notes on their Organization and
Numerical Strength," William and Mary Quarterly 25 (April 1968):259, 270.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 11
lectual experience to the larger ferment of thought occurring during
the eighteenth century.
There are at least two obvious ways of going about this task.
One is the sort of behavioral study of imperial institutions exempli-
fied by Alison G. Olson and Richard M. Brown's edition of papers
on Anglo-American politics-a vast undertaking beyond the scope of
this paper. The other perspective is the study of the formal con-
cepts of empire along the lines set forth by the late Richard Koeb-
ner and in the modification of Koebner recently suggested by John
Shy and Jack P. Greene.14 The empire in the eighteenth century
generated a large body of in-house treatises by men within or near
the imperial bureaucracy, each seeking to define the genius of the
empire, identify the sources of its vitality, and prescribe ways in
which it could conduct men's energies into constructive channels.
Franklin, Thomas Whately, Thomas Hutchinson, and William Smith,
Jr., were only a few of the most important of those men who
devoted a considerable share of their busy time during the 1760s
and 1770s to this enterprise. While many of these theories and pro-
posals had little immediate effect on policy, they all focused on
those features of imperial administration which were in the greatest
danger of malfunction, and sought to reconcile and bind together
the traditional and the novel, the healthy and the sick, the routine
and the unexpected elements of imperial development. It is no
wonder that theories of empire were so rapidly consumed and sup-
planted. Franklin wanted British territory and institutions in Amer-
ica to be spacious enough to contain and encourage a population
explosion; Pownall wanted mutual commercial prosperity to replace
legal authority as the cement of empire; Knox and Whately wanted
the undisciplined ways of colonial assemblies to give way to order,
system, and direction from Whitehall; Hutchinson and Smith-in
very different ways-sensed the psychic damage done to American
politics by the abrupt intrusion of royal authority into colonial life.
Loyalist expectation of British vigor on the hinterland was a further
stage in this search for a workable theory of empire.
The key to this concept was predictability. British conduct affect-
14. Greene, "An Uneasy Connection: An Analysis of the Preconditions of the
American Revolution," in Essays on the American Revolution, ed. Stephen G.
Kurtz and James H. Hutson (Chapel Hill, 1973), pp. 32-80; Shy, "Thomas
Pownall, Henry Ellis, and the Spectrum of Possibilities, 1763-1775," in Anglo-
American Politics, 1675-1775, ed. Olson and Brown (New Brunswick, 1970),
pp. 155-86.

12 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
ing the loyalists should be utterly predictable, and to insure against
malfunctions of imperial policy and execution, loyalists should make
their own needs and expectations painfully obvious. Self-conscious-
ness and a literal view of political processes pervade two bodies of
published sources familiar to students of Florida history: Joseph
B. Lockey's documentary history of the transition in East Florida
from British to Spanish rule, and The Case of the Inhabitants of
East-Florida. . 15 These documents seem at first glance to have
dubious value for the study of ideas. Written after British defeat
and after news that the Floridas were to be returned to Spanish
rule, they reflect the special pleading of men desperately, cravenly
seeking favors from the Crown. Tirelessly, and tiresomely, they
complain of the cruel fate visited on the East Florida loyalists by
the fortunes of war and diplomacy. "The principle [sic] part of the
original planters," Tonyn wrote to Secretary of State for Home
Affairs Thomas Townshend in May 1783, "after having expended
large sums of money began to feel themselves in comfortable cir-
cumstances. . They were happy in the full enjoyment of their
native rights and privileges under his Majesty's auspices. . Amidst
a general revolt" they "stood firm." Then came 12,000 loyalist exiles
confident of royal protection. "This consideration .. induced them
liberally to lay out the wrecks of their fortunes in building Houses
and forming Settlements . they were ambitious of this province
ever remaining characterized for loyalty."'16 Yet these heavy-handed,
melodramatic documents are the quintessential expression of the
loyalist perception of political reality. East Florida loyalist spokes-
men and Tonyn, who had a flair for translating their sentiments
into the prose of official correspondence, did not invent new modes
of expression, new assumptions about the nature of politics, and
new rhetorical devices in 1783. These documents and characteristics
of language represent an experience stretching back to 1775.
With ill-disguised attempts at subtlety and indirection, The Case
of the Inhabitants argued deductively that as subjects they had
during the course of the war no choice but "to hazard life, fortune,
and all that is dear" in support of the Crown and to acquiesce will-
ingly in the terms of peace including the cession of Florida; that,

15. Lockey, ed., East Florida, 1783-1785 (Berkeley, 1949); The Case of the
Inhabitants of East-Florida, with An Appendix Containing Papers by Which All
the Facts Stated in the Case, Are Supported (St. Augustine, 1784).
16. Lockey, East Florida, p. 97.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 13
having lost all, their shattered lives could be restored in no other
way than from the generosity of the British nation, and, therefore,
Britain had no choice but to assume the cost of their resettlement
and full compensation for the land, possessions, and slaves they had
lost. The burden of responsibility for affirmative action was entirely
on Britain; the East Florida loyalists had simply accepted their duty
to fight against the American rebels and then to acquiesce in the
peace settlement which returned Florida to Spain. They were
nothing but pawns in a world where allegiance placed absolute
obligations to obedience and acquiescence on subjects and where
rulers axiomatically protected the interests of their faithful support-
ers. "To admit a contrary idea," the document declared, "would be
to assert that Great Britain hath lost all public faith": that she
punished the innocent, disregarded justice, and forfeited her repu-
tation for "probity, justice, and good faith," and "untied the strong-
est bonds that unites [sic] civil society. . That language may suit
our northern neighbors," it concluded pointedly, but not the in-
habitants of East Florida who have known Britain's "kindness and
fostering hand." Belying the notion that allegiance required unques-
tioning acquiescence, it concluded, "and therefore we must not
as yet complain."17
This helpless, immobile position provoked more than self-pity;
it also prompted the East Florida loyalists to recall the whole range
of emotions which had been brought forth by their experience and
bad fortune. "Abandoned by that sovereign for whose cause we
have sacrificed everything that is dear in life," a group of them wrote
to the King of Spain in October 1784, "and deserted by that Coun-
try for which we fought and many of us freely bled," and "left to our
fate bereft of our slaves by our inveterate Countrymen . We ...
are Reduced to the dreadful alternative of returning to our Homes,
to receive insult worse than Death to Men of Spirit, or to run the
hazard of being Murdered in Cold blood, to go to the inhospitable
Regions of Nova Scotia, or take refuge on the Barren Rocks of the
Bahamas where poverty and wretchedness stares [sic] us in the face
Or do we do what our Spirit cannot brook . renounce our
Country."'8 This remarkable version of history depicted the em-
pire as a place of opportunity and protection for venturesome
men, where venturesomeness bred a "spirit" which made humiliation
17. The Case of the Inhabitants of East-Florida, with An Appendix, p. 14.
18. Lockey, East Florida, pp. 301-3.

14 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
and a lack of options a galling fate. War had consumed economic
opportunity and the terms of the peace had denied its replenish-
ment. A certain naivete and unconcern for political power perme-
ated these remarks. Tonyn underscored this attitude: "I am con-
fident," he wrote to Secretary of State Townshend, "that our
gracious sovereign will make liberal allowances for human frailties
and that you will represent in the most favorable light spirited
men laboring under difficulties and misfortunes which a steady
adherence to the duty they owe their King and Country has ac-
cumulated upon them." They are "unacquainted with the great
engines by which government is upheld," and therefore "have been
led to think of themselves as agrieved [sic] because [they are] un-
fortunate."19 The antidote which Tonyn prescribed for this be-
numbed state of the "principle inhabitants" of the province, was a
still more apolitical faith in royal beneficence: "nothing can give me
greater pleasure than to find that you gentlemen-whom I have
ever represented as well affected rather than [as] harbouring mur-
mur and discontent in your present calamitous circumstances-
[will] submit yourselves to the measures of government and rely
upon the benignity of our sovereign, the justice of the nation, and
the wisdom of His Majesty's ministers for a suitable provision to
be made for you."20 In April 1781, when the East Florida Assembly
renewed its contribution to the support of the empire, Speaker
William Brown wrote in just such a tone of calculating innocence
to Tonyn, "we hope the present smallness of our quota may not be
considered as a measure of our loyalty to the most benificent prince
in the world or our attachment to our bountiful mother country."21
But that there were centrifugal forces at work in the province
Tonyn acknowledged in a superbly analytical letter to General Guy
Carleton, which wrought havoc with these civilized and gentle-
manly British standards of conduct. Tonyn reported that he could
not dismantle his administration until the treaty with Spain was
finally ratified, and in the interim "an abandoned set of men" in the
Georgia and East Florida back country had "committed several
daring robberies and will certainly attempt to ravage this country
and insult government in its feeble, disabled condition. . In this
stage of impotency the settlements will be exposed and the Negroes
19. Ibid., pp. 96-99.
20. Ibid., p. 117.
21. The Case of the Inhabitants of East-Florida, with An Appendix, p. 29.

The Hinterland Loyalists / 15
plundered ... and when His Majesty's daily bounties to the refugees
cease . they will become exceedingly clamorous and impatient,
and the worst is to be expected from the lower sort. In addition
to these evils, the licentious, disbanded soldiers who have dis-
covered intentions of rapine and plunder are most to be dreaded."
The logic of the situation was inescapable: "this ever loyal province,
given up to accommodate the peace of the Empire, and the inhabi-
tants thereby losing their pleasant abodes and property have, Sir,
a just claim for every assistance and compensation which can be
extended to them and indulgence in their choice of destinations to
any part of His Majesty's Dominions."22 Only by adequate resettle-
ment and compensation could the empire be true to its own best
standards: a place where acquisitive, venturesome men could de-
pend upon British reliability and predictability and receive, in addi-
tion to economic opportunity, just reward for risks and sacrifices
in the service of the Crown.
22. Lockey, East Florida, pp. 154-56.

Some Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier


THE events of the American Revolution which historians treat as
causal in the progress of a successful rebellion were seen by par-
ticipants as a continuum of distressing experiences, each one, they
hoped, the last. Few men could have understood what was happen-
ing around them or anticipated the outcome of their own actions.
To understand their motivations, it is necessary not only to consider
the events from their perspective but also to recognize the confusion
and mistrust spawned by violence and uncertainty among the
frontier settlers, for whom mutual trust and friendship were neces-
sary for survival. Much of our knowledge of the southern frontiers-
men who resisted the authority of Congress in 1775 originates in the
writings of patriots to whom they were enemies. This bias has been
transmitted from historian to historian since the Revolution and has
obscured the reality of conditions and the honesty of motivations.
In a small attempt to correct the bias we have inherited and to come
to some better understanding of the actual conditions and motives,
one must look at the events on the southern frontier in 1775
from the perspective of those who experienced them.
Early in July 1775, Colonel Thomas Fletchall, who commanded
the provincial militia between the Broad and Saluda rivers in
Ninety-Six District of South Carolina, received orders from the local
Committee of Intelligence to muster his regiment immediately so
that his men could sign the Association for the Defense of the
Colony, required of all residents by the Provincial Congress at its
meeting in Charles Town in June. Fletchall did not approve of the

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 17
Provincial Congress or recognize its claim to authority, and he had
reason to believe that most of the settlers in his area felt as he did.
He had not voted in the special election called in 1774 to select
representatives to a congress, and he estimated that only one in fifty
settlers had been sufficiently interested to vote. This abstention in-
dicated that neither the need for a provincial congress nor the sub-
sequent actions of that congress in usurping the powers of royal
government reflected the views or had the approval of the majority
of people between the Broad and the Saluda.1 Some who had voted
for a congress were now disenchanted by its actions, and Moses
Kirkland, one of the representatives elected from the district, had
come home in disgust after the January meeting because the ma-
jority of representatives had voted to approve the decisions of the
Continental Congress, which he opposed.2
A letter dated June 30 from the Council of Safety was beginning
to circulate in the frontier communities. It informed all districts and
parishes that British troops had recently slaughtered "unarmed, sick,
and helpless" fellow subjects in Massachusetts Bay, and it referred
to the Battle of Lexington as the beginning of civil war. For the pro-
tection of the people, the Council of Safety was authorized by the
Provincial Congress to raise troops in the province.3 The implica-
tions of this usurpation of military authority in the colony by the
Provincial Congress and its executive body, the council, were not
yet fully understood or believed.
Events in Massachusetts and fear of attack by British troops were
less alarming to the frontier settlers than the recent fate of Colonel
John Stuart, superintendent of Indian affairs for the southern dis-
trict, who had been forced to flee the colony in May 1775 because
of accusations by the General Committee of the Provincial Congress
that he had plotted an Indian attack on the colony. The back coun-
try of Ninety-Six District had been settled only since 1763, the year
that Stuart had assumed his duties as superintendent, and the
settlers knew that it was his popularity with the Indians and his
firm control of Indian traders that had kept peace along the frontier.
It seemed unlikely to them that Colonel Stuart would stir up the

1. Fletchall to Henry Laurens, July 24, 1775, in Documentary History of
the American Revolution, ed. R. W. Gibbes, 3 vols. (New York, 1857), 1:123.
2. Memorial of Moses Kirkland, British Public Record Office, Audit Office
Papers, 12/52, 209.
3. Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:107-16.

18 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
Indians against the settlers, which of course he had not done; but
they feared that his persecution by the committee in Charles Town
and his forced flight from the colony might provoke the Indians to
revenge. Fear of an imminent Indian war and anger at the "liberty
boys" in Charles Town who had placed the frontier in jeopardy to
serve their own ends were emotions that tended to mute response
to distant events in Massachusetts.
The persecution of Colonel Stuart left Colonel Fletchall uncertain
of his own fate if he ignored the orders of the council, particularly
since he was already accused of being an enemy of the people for
not having supported the Provincial Congress. He was by nature a
cautious man who, by his own admission, "was not calculated for
such . enterprise" as the events of the time required. He was a
native of South Carolina and had lived at Fair Forest in Ninety-Six
District since it was first opened to settlement. By frontier standards
he was both wealthy and prominent. He owned several thousand
acres stocked with sheep and cattle, he had been named the first
justice of the peace in the area, and he had been commissioned
colonel of the regiment of militia in 1769 by Governor Lord Mon-
tagu.4 There had been no trouble from Indians or Regulators since
he had held this commission, so he had no experience in command.
He knew, of course, that the General Assembly of the colony had
authority to raise troops and that the commander-in-chief of pro-
vincial forces, the recently arrived royal governor, Lord William
Campbell, had sole authority to issue orders to the militia. But royal
government had been usurped, and Fletchall had received no in-
structions from Lord Campbell. Feeling certain that he knew the
prevailing attitude among the settlers in his jurisdiction, Fletchall
thought no trouble could come of mustering his regiment and read-
ing the association as ordered, and by doing so he might avoid
unhappy personal consequences that disobedience to the Congress
might incur.
He therefore summoned his regiment to muster on July 13 and
had the association read aloud to the 1,500 men present. Not one
man signed it, and Colonel Fletchall felt no obligation to compel
them to do so.5 Instead, the men expressed a wish to sign a counter-
association stating their opposition to committeemen and liberty

4. Memorial of Thomas Fletchall, Audit Office Papers, 12/52, 127-41.
5. Fletchall to Laurens, July 24, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary History,

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 19
boys and their attachment to King and country. They requested
Major Joseph Robinson, second in command of the regiment, to
draw up such a statement, and all men present signed it.6 This
unanimity of opinion reflected resentment against usurpation of a
government with which the settlers had no serious grievance by
men who displayed an alarming lack of concern for their safety.
Their fear and resentment on this occasion may have been rein-
forced by news that on the previous day a military detachment
under orders of the Council of Safety had seized Fort Charlotte on
the Savannah River, the main storehouse for ammunition supplied
to settlers and their chief defense against Indian attack.
Several days later Colonel Fletchall learned from Champ Terry,
formerly a supporter of the Provincial Congress, that Major Mayson,
who had captured Fort Charlotte, had now seized ammunition
stored at the town of Ninety-Six.7 Since the militia existed to protect
the colony from domestic turmoil and attack by Indians, Fletchall
would have failed in his duty had he ignored the seizure of Fort
Charlotte and Ninety-Six by what he considered to be unauthorized
military groups. Yet, from scrupulosity or timidity, he hesitated to
use his troops against fellow subjects without proper authority, and
on July 19 he wrote to Governor Campbell requesting orders.8
Meanwhile, two of his officers, Major Joseph Robinson and Captain
Robert Cunningham, assumed responsibility and led two companies
of militia to Ninety-Six to recover the ammunition.
Both Robinson and Cunningham had been born in Virginia and
had come to the frontier of South Carolina in 1769 to take up land.
Robinson held 300 acres on the Broad River, served as deputy
surveyor for the province, and was a man of good education. Cun-
ningham and his brothers had settled at Island Ford on the Saluda
River, and he had been appointed one of the justices for the dis-
trict.9 Robinson and Cunningham knew how necessary the ammuni-
tion at Ninety-Six would be in the event of an Indian attack and
how the possession of it by the Council of Safety could force the
frontier settlers to conform to the association. Accompanied by
Moses Kirkland and Champ Terry, they easily recovered the ammu-
6. Ibid.
7. Letter to William Henry Drayton, September 12, 1775, ibid., 1:177-78.
8. Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report of the Manuscripts of the Earl
of Dartmouth, 3 vols. (London, 1895), 2:335.
9. Memorials of Joseph Robinson and Robert Cunningham, Audit Office
Papers, 12/49, 300, 333; 12/48, 215-20.

20 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
nition; after holding Major Mayson for a few hours, they released
him with a warning against appropriating the King's arms.10
The account of this expedition is given in detail in the Memoirs
of William Henry Drayton, a member of the Council of Safety, who
used it to prove the treachery of Moses Kirkland. According to
Drayton, Kirkland had been with Major Mayson at the capture of
Fort Charlotte and had come with him to Ninety-Six to seize the
ammunition there. Then, because of a personal grudge against May-
son and anger at not having received a commission from the Council
of Safety commensurate with his wealth and prominence, Kirk-
land turned his coat and informed Colonel Fletchall of Mayson's
presence at Ninety-Six. By Kirkland's own account, he had received
a letter in June from Henry Laurens, president of the Council of
Safety, enclosing a commission to command a company of horse.
He refused the commission and returned it in a letter to Laurens."
From evidence in a letter to Drayton in September from someone
sympathetic to the rebel cause, Colonel Fletchall identified Champ
Terry as the man who had informed him of Mayson's seizure of the
ammunition and had threatened to go after Mayson himself with a
small party if Fletchall did not send his regiment.12 Drayton's
charge against Kirkland was probably contrived to serve Drayton's
usual technique: accusing those who opposed him of dishonorable
acts in order to weaken their influence among the people. It is not
likely that men like Robinson, Cunningham, Fletchall, and later
Thomas Brown of Georgia and Governor Lord William Campbell
would have placed the trust they did in Kirkland had he been a
It would have been difficult at this time to identify a loyalist, a
rebel, or a turncoat, particularly among the frontier settlers. The
emotional pitch of rebellion had not yet reached the back country,
and the distinctions between what we can later identify as "loyalist"
and "rebel" were not yet clear. The back-country settlers were con-
cerned with their own safety and thought it was seriously threat-
ened by the seizure of Fort Charlotte and of the ammunition at
Ninety-Six. The leniency accorded Major Mayson reflects more a
desire by the militia officers to maintain peace among the settlers

10. William Henry Drayton, Memoirs of the American Revolution, ed. John
Drayton, 2 vols. (Charleston, 1821), 1:321-23.
11. Memorial of Moses Kirkland, Audit Office Papers, 12/52, 209-10.
12. Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:177-78.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 21
than a wish to settle the score with a captured enemy. Division of
loyalty had not yet occurred. Even the Provincial Congress had
expressly stated its loyalty and affection for the King, its support of
the British constitution, and a denial of any desire for independence;
it wanted only a reconciliation of differences.'3 The refusal of
Fletchall's regiment to sign the association and the desire to support
the King were more a stand for what these settlers had known and
trusted and a distrust of the intentions of the liberty boys in Charles
Town than an avowal of loyalism in the forthcoming, revolution.
Men of moderation sought to reconcile differences, not exploit them.
Fletchall's statement to Henry Laurens in his letter of July 24 is
perhaps an accurate reflection of the feelings of moderate men in
the back-country settlements: "I am heartily sorry that I am looked
on as an enemy to my country, I wish you may have no greater
reason to complain against some that you little suspect than you
have against me. But, I must inform you, sir, I am resolved, and do
utterly refuse to take up arms against my king until I find it my
duty to do otherwise and am fully convinced thereof."14
Lack of support of the association among the settlers in Ninety-
Six District caused the Council of Safety to send William Henry
Drayton, one of its members, and the Reverend William Tennant-
both eloquent speakers-to the back country early in August to use
"Art and Persuasion" to convince the people of the righteousness of
their cause. Drayton understood that if persuasion failed, he was
authorized to use force.15
His mission met with early failure. When the militia refused to
muster at his order in the German settlements near Kershaw's store
on the Congaree, Drayton threatened to break the officers, and he
sent out word that non-subscribers to the association would be
prevented from purchasing or selling goods in Charles Town.16 The
Germans were more angered than intimidated by these threats, and
when Drayton spoke at the Dutch Church ten miles up the Saluda
River, only one member of the congregation subscribed. Drayton

13. Address to Governor Lord William Campbell, June 1775. Enclosure in
Campbell to Dartmouth, July 2, 1775, South Carolina Public Records (Sains-
bury Transcripts), 35:128-29. South Carolina Archives, Columbia, S.C.
14. Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:123.
15. Campbell to Dartmouth, July 30, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,
16. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 7, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary
History, 1:128-29.

22 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
then told them that "no miller, who was a subscriber, should grind
wheat or corn for any person who was a non-subscriber."17 He next
spoke at Evan McLaurin's store on the fork of the Broad and
Saluda rivers, where a large number of German settlers were pres-
ent. At first, about ten men signed the association, but when Mr.
McLaurin refused, no one else signed and the ten removed their
names. Some of these Germans had heard Drayton speak three
times but remained unconvinced and unintimidated. Disgusted with
what he called the "stiff necked generation," Drayton wrote to the
Council of Safety that "the Dutch are not with us."18 Aware of the
need to weaken McLaurin's influence among the Germans, Drayton
requested that all goods destined for McLaurin's store be stopped
in Charles Town by the Committee of Observation, and the Council
of Safety complied with his request. Three wagonloads of hemp
and deerskins were seized, even though McLaurin's partner, a Mr.
Currie, had signed the association and supported the Congress.
Later, when the partnership was dissolved, McLaurin was required
to accept the full loss.19
At a meeting at King's Creek near the Enoree River, Drayton
encountered Captain Robert Cunningham, who was present to
speak against the association and to read an address from the
people of England to the people of America, presumably sent by
Governor Campbell to Colonel Fletchall.20 Another spokesman
against the association was Thomas Brown, who had been tarred
and feathered by the liberty boys in Augusta early in the month and
had fled for refuge to Colonel Fletchall. Although Drayton claimed
to have gained the sympathy of the crowd by his ridicule of Cun-
ningham and Brown, he seems to have misunderstood the temper
of the people, for he secured only a few signatures to the associa-
tion and admitted that Cunningham's influence prevented the
election scheduled that week for the next Provincial Congress.21
17. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 16, 1775, ibid., 1:141.
18. Ibid.
19. Drayton, Memoirs, 1:363-64, 369-70; Drayton to Council of Safety,
August 16, August 21, Timothy to Drayton, August 22, 1775, in Gibbes,
Documentary History, 1:141, 150, 155; Memorial of Isabella McLaurin, Audit
Office Papers, 12/47, 226-34.
20. Campbell to Fletchall, August 1, 1775, enclosure, Campbell to Dart-
mouth, August 19, 1775, South Carolina Public Records, 35:189; Drayton to
Council of Safety, August 21, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:126-27.
21. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 16, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary
History, 1:142-43.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 23
Drayton's dislike of anyone who opposed him and his scorn for
the unlettered frontiersmen are evident in his reports to the council.
If the supercilious tone of these reports was also expressed in his
talks to the people, it is not surprising that he antagonized rather
than persuaded them. His threats, which only angered them at first,
began to instill fear when they became realities. Cut off from the
only market they had for their produce and necessities, deprived of
a mill to grind their wheat and corn, and ultimately refused salt to
preserve their winter provisions, many settlers would eventually
bow to necessity, whatever their convictions might have been.22
But in August 1775, Drayton's arrogance and outrageous threats
served only to turn many people away from signing the association.
On August 17, Drayton and Tennant arrived at Colonel Fletchall's
place at Fair Forest. It was hoped that if Fletchall could be per-
suaded to sign the association, others would follow him. Accom-
panying Drayton and Tennant was Colonel Richardson, an officer
of the militia commissioned by the Council of Safety; lending sup-
port nearby were troops under Colonel Thomson, another officer
under authority of the council.23 Also present at Fletchall's were
Major Joseph Robinson, Captain Robert Cunningham, and Thomas
Brown; they, however, along with Colonel Richardson, were ex-
cluded from the meeting of Drayton, Tennant, and Fletchall.
Fletchall had been encouraged by Governor Campbell to remain
firm in his refusal to sign the association and to support others who
refused. Campbell expressed the hope that Fort Charlotte might be
recovered, but he thought Fletchall should neither cause division
among the people nor plan any military expedition until royal troops
were available. Fletchall was also in correspondence with Henry
Laurens, president of the Council of Safety, a man of moderate
views who might be expected to listen to reason and disavow Dray-
ton's radical measures.24
Fletchall was, therefore, willing to receive Drayton, though not
ready to be persuaded by him. For three hours Drayton and Ten-
nant explained their cause to Fletchall, humored him, laughed with
him, and tried to win him over. But Fletchall did not sign the
22. Campbell to Dartmouth, October 22, 1775, South Carolina Public
Records, 35:276.
23. Thomson to Drayton, August 7, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary History,
24. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, enclosure in Campbell to Dart-
mouth, October 22, 1775, South Carolina Public Records, 35:292.

24 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
association, and he asserted he would never take up arms against
the King or his countrymen. He considered that "the proceedings
of the Congress at Philadelphia were impolitic, disrespectful, and
irritating to the King."25 He did, however, agree to muster his regi-
ment again on August 23 at Cedar Creek on the Enoree River, the
time and place set for the election of representatives to the next
Provincial Congress.
Robinson, Cunningham, and Brown were angry with Fletchall
for agreeing to muster the regiment again and tried to alter his
decision. When Drayton supported the decision, the exchange
among them became heated. Major Robinson, usually a man of
quiet and reflective nature, was led into an argument with Drayton
over who had the proper civil authority in the province, Congress
or the governor. Cunningham's anger is reflected in Drayton's report
that "Much venom appears in Cunningham's countenance and con-
versation," and Thomas Brown accused Drayton of professing
loyalty to the King only as a cloak for his own treacherous activities.
Fletchall was dismayed to learn that Drayton knew of his cor-
respondence with Governor Campbell and even knew the manner
in which the governor's last letter had been conveyed in the head
of a cane five days before by Major Robinson, who was accused of
holding a secret meeting with the governor at Dorchester. Fletchall
admitted receipt of the letter but saw no harm in it. Robinson re-
sented being spied upon by his neighbors and being accused as an
enemy for meeting with the legal civil authority of the colony. In
his anger he admitted that he had brought up a commission from
the governor to raise men for the King and for the defense of his
own person, which had been threatened by supporters of Congress.26
Drayton's visit at Fletchall's had succeeded in arousing the personal
enmity of Fletchall and his officers and in confirming them in their
opposition to the Congress.
Drayton's tour of Ninety-Six District and his threats of punish-
ment against those who refused to sign the association had not
brought many signatures but had succeeded in creating mutual
suspicion among frontier settlers. One Zachariah Bell reported to
Tennant a scheme of Robinson and Brown to recover Fort Char-

25. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 21, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary
History, 1:149-50.
26. Tennant to Laurens, August 20, 1775, Drayton to Council of Safety,
August 21, 1775, ibid., 1:145-46, 149-50.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 25
lotte, and he signed an affidavit to that effect based only upon his
hearing a man in a group near Fletchall's house speak of going some-
where-he did not hear where-in ten days to seize gunpowder.
Another affidavit was sworn by Joseph Wofford against his brother
Benjamin Wofford, who he said had allegedly received orders from
Colonel Fletchall to join with others in the recovery of Fort Char-
lotte. Another settler, Jonathan Clark, testified that he had talked to
a man who had supposedly heard that the deputy superintendent of
Indian affairs, Alexander Cameron, was planning to join Fletchall's
men with 3,000 Cherokees in an attack against the people of South
Carolina.27 These affidavits, along with others against Thomas
Brown and Moses Kirkland, reflected the confusion, mistrust, and
growing panic among frontier settlers and served to support Dray-
ton's decision to resort to arms to put down resistance to the asso-
Immediately upon leaving Fletchall, Drayton directed Captain
Polk to raise an additional troop of rangers "to lie on the back of
these people," and he made plans to form the frontier militia into
new volunteer companies independent of Colonel Fletchall's com-
mand. He expected the rangers to muster by August 28 and prom-
ised to supply them and the new companies of militia with am-
munition from Fort Charlotte. Drayton also sent a "short talk" to
the Cherokees, inviting them to visit with him at Amelia within a
few weeks, and he secured the agreement of Richard Pearis, a
trader living among the Cherokees, to escort the Indians to the
meeting.28 Drayton took these actions on his own authority without
waiting for approval from the Council of Safety.
On August 23, the day of the election and the muster of Fletch-
all's militia regiment, only about 250 men appeared at Cedar Creek
-most of them, as Drayton admitted, friends of Congress from
other districts; 1,500 had mustered in July to sign the counter-
association. Captain Cunningham was present but not one of his
company. He had told his men that if they were satisfied with their
present opinions, there was no occasion to muster. Other officers,
speaking in the name of Colonel Fletchall, had done the same.
Although about 70 people signed the association, they had all signed
it before and were doing so again to make a show of support for

27. Ibid., 1:145-49, 152-53, 170-71.
28. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 21, 1775, ibid., 1:152-54.

26 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
Congress.29 The numerous speeches made on the occasion took up
so much time that no election could be held.
One of the speakers was Moses Kirkland, who had been traveling
through the back country securing signatures to the counter-
association, which had been sent to Governor Campbell to forward
to England. Kirkland had learned that Drayton was raising a new
company of rangers and was organizing a volunteer militia outside
the command of Fletchall. Since the new troops would be supplied
ammunition from Fort Charlotte, it was assumed non-subscribers
would be denied ammunition. There was also a rumor that Drayton
planned to supply the Indians with arms captured at Savannah and
St. Augustine to attack the unarmed subjects of the Crown who
opposed the association. There seemed no doubt that Drayton in-
tended to use armed force against those who opposed Congress.
To the frontier settler who refused to subscribe, coercion by armed
force to submit to the authority of Congress was at least equal to
the use of arms by British troops against the people of Massa-
chusetts and with less provocation and no constitutional authority.
Kirkland made such a strong case against the Congress and the
Council of Safety that Drayton reported he "used every indecency
of language, every misrepresentation . every unjust charge . .
that could alarm the people and give an evil impression of our
designs against their liberties and the rights of Great Britain."30
Kirkland, Robinson, Cunningham, and Brown were beginning to
unite the back country against the Provincial Congress, and Dray-
ton quickly realized that unless he could stop their activities and
weaken their influence, his cause was lost: "If a dozen persons are
allowed to be at large our progress has been in vain, and we shall
be involved in a civil war in spite of our teeth. I know that our
enemy are active, malicious, and bent upon mischief."'31 He decided
to concentrate his attack against these leaders and remain on the
frontier until he could see "every spark of insurrection extin-
guished." Within a week he had obtained sworn statements that
Kirkland had raised an armed band and was planning an attack on
Augusta and Fort Charlotte, and he commissioned William Martin,
who lived near Augusta, to send out parties of armed men to bring

29. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 24, 1775, ibid., 1:156-57.
30. Ibid., 1:157.
31. Drayton to Council of Safety, August 21, 1775, ibid., 1:154.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 27
in Kirkland, Cunningham, and Brown, dead or alive.32 Drayton
himself then went to Augusta and assembled three companies of
troops made up of Georgia and South Carolina settlers. He issued
a declaration that all persons who assembled in arms in company
with or by instigation of Moses Kirkland "will be deemed public
enemies to be suppressed by the sword," and all who refused to
sign the association would be taken into custody.33
To the non-subscribers on the frontier, Drayton's actions seemed
the beginning of an unprovoked war against them. According to
Brown, the "armed band of supporters" around Kirkland, which
Drayton sent 150 men to conquer, was "magnified by Drayton" for
his own purposes and consisted of no more than "four men whom
Colonel Kirkland kept about his Person to prevent his being
butcher'd by Drayton's orders."34 The men under William Martin
were "the most notorious Horse Thieves in this Province-men
desperate thro extreme poverty to which their crimes had re-
duced them and ready for hire to execute the most atrocious de-
signs."3' Kirkland, Cunningham, and Brown were kept continuously
"on the wing" to avoid capture, and their houses were ransacked
and their property and papers stolen by Martin's men. Kirkland
was finally advised to flee to Charles Town, and early in September
he traveled in disguise with his twelve-year-old son through the
woods at night. Governor Campbell hid him in his home when he
arrived and got him safely aboard the Tamar, a sloop of war in the
harbor. Kirkland planned to join His Majesty's troops in Boston and
return to South Carolina with them to raise the back country in
support of the King.36
About the time of Kirkland's flight, Drayton marched to Ninety-
Six from Augusta with several hundred men and four pieces of
cannon, capturing nine of Fletchall's officers on the way. Raiding
parties sent out to capture Cunningham and Brown were unsuccess-
ful. They did, however, rifle houses, break locks, steal horses, de-
stroy corn, and take what they wanted from the farms around

82. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,
33. August 80, 1775, in Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:164; Brown to
Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records, 35:289.
34. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,
35. Ibid., p. 288.
36. Memorial of Moses Kirkland, Audit Office Papers, 12/52, 209-10.

28 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
Ninety-Six.37 These acts of violence so incensed the people that Cun-
ningham and Brown began to embody the militia for the security
of the district. By September 10, almost 2,200 men had joined them
at a camp about 16 miles from Ninety-Six. When Colonel Fletchall
finally arrived with 250 men, Cunningham and Brown reluctantly
turned command over to him as colonel of the district militia.
Fletchall's timidity gave such general offense that the men wanted
to "drum him out of camp." About a thousand of the militia were
men of "Property and violent resolutions," who had been in His
Majesty's service in Virginia in the French and Indian War.38 They
were ready to drive Drayton back to Charles Town and had no
patience with Fletchall's policy of appeasement. Also among the
number were many German and Irish settlers who had refused to
sign the association when Drayton presented it to them. Some of
them wanted to attack Drayton's troops at Ninety-Six "in Indian
fashion." But neither Cunningham nor Brown wanted to draw blood
if it could be avoided.
Knowing he was greatly outnumbered, Drayton sent a letter to
Colonel Fletchall seeking a treaty. Brown wrote the reply: "We
profess ourselves as Averse to the effusion of human blood as Mr.
Drayton and Congress and to have as sincere a desire for Peace
on such proper solid footing as may restore tranquility to this dis-
tracted Province. . We have as true and real regard for Liberty
established on Constitutional Principles as any men on the Continent
by whatever name distinguished and shall take every proper legal
step in our power for its preservation and support."39 Drayton then
asked that Fletchall, Cunningham, and Brown come to his camp at
Ninety-Six to draw up the treaty, but the regiment mistrusted
Drayton's motives and feared a trap to hold Cunningham and
Brown as prisoners. It was decided to send Colonel Fletchall,
Captain Evan McLaurin, the storekeeper from Dutch Fork, four
other captains, and the Reverend Philip Mulkey to Drayton's camp
with peace terms drawn up by Thomas Brown.40
The peace terms required that all prisoners in the province be

37. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,
35:290; Drayton to Council of Safety, September 11, 1775, in Gibbes, Docu-
mentary History, 1:171-75.
38. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,
39. Ibid., p. 295.
40. Ibid., p. 296.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 29
released, that no bodies unknown to the constitution be established,
that no rangers or military corps be quartered among the people
without the permission of the governor, and that no person be dis-
turbed in his private sentiments under any pretense whatever, that
non-subscribers to the association should enjoy the privilege of free
trade without molestation or hindrance, and that no person presume
to molest the person of the governor. As security for the perfor-
mance of this treaty, it was demanded that Fort Charlotte be put
into the possession of the governor. Had Drayton agreed to these
terms, the Provincial Congress would have lost its bid for support
from the frontier settlers. But since he was outnumbered, Brown
had reason to think he might accept these terms.
Unfortunately for those dictating the terms, the messengers sent
to treat with Drayton were incapable of dealing with him. Fletch-
all was so apprehensive of his meeting with Drayton that "in order
to revive his spirits" he "had much frequent recourse to the Bottle
as to soon render himself non compos."'41 The others were intimi-
dated by the sight of liberty caps and cannon drawn up ready to
fire. Drayton ignored their terms, drew up his own articles for a
treaty, and secured their signatures to it. This treaty stated that
Fletchall's men had never meant to aid, assist, or join the British
troops or hold any correspondence with them; that if anyone should
oppose the proceedings of Congress or authorities derived from
Congress, he should be delivered up for questioning and proceeded
against; if he refused, Congress could use any means necessary to
require it; and, if having signed the association anyone should
molest any person, then Congress should restrain them.42 Clearly,
Drayton had won the day.
When this treaty was read in Fletchall's camp, there was great
indignation, and most of the men stated they would not abide by it.
Since their forces greatly outnumbered Drayton's, they could not
understand why Drayton had been allowed to dictate the terms.
Brown and Cunningham were angry and felt they were under no
compulsion to accept such shameful and disgraceful conditions.43
But the deed was done; both Cunningham and Brown thought it
prudent to dismiss their men until the governor ordered them to act.

41. Ibid., p. 298.
42. Treaty of Ninety-Six, in Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:184-86.
43. Brown to Campbell, October 18, 1775, South Carolina Public Records,

30 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
They had heard that Drayton was expecting reinforcements from
North Carolina, and they feared to engage an army of unknown
strength. Had they known that on the previous night Governor
Campbell had been forced to flee for safety to the ship Cherokee
in Charles Town harbor, they might have attacked Drayton.
After the dispersal of the Ninety-Six militia, the Council of Safety
ordered the arrest of those persons who had mustered under Brown
and Cunningham. Brown, who had gone to Charles Town to see
the governor, was picked up and questioned by the Council.44
When he was released, he thought it wise to leave the colony and
go into Indian territory to find protection among the Creeks. When
Robert Cunningham was asked in a letter from Drayton whether
he supported the Treaty of Ninety-Six, he replied on October 5:
"I do not hold with that peace-at the same time as fond of peace
as any man-but upon honorable terms. But according to my
principles that peace is false and disgraceful from beginning to
ending. It appears to me, sir, you had all the bargain making to
yourself, and if that was the case, I expected you would have acted
with more honor than taken advantage of men (as I believe) scared
out of their senses at the sight of liberty caps and sound of cannon,
as seeing and hearing has generally more influence on some men
than reason."45 This letter sealed his fate, and on November 1,
Robert Cunningham was arrested at his home by a party disguised
as Indians and taken to Charles Town to jail on charges of com-
mitting high crimes and misdemeanors against the liberties of South
Carolina. His brother, Captain Patrick Cunningham, with a party of
about fifty men, tried unsuccessfully to rescue him, and, when this
failed, attacked supply wagons loaded with 1,000 pounds of
powder and 2,000 pounds of lead being sent by the Council of
Safety to the Cherokees.46 This ammunition, according to an affi-
davit sworn by Richard Pearis, who had been present at the meet-
ing of Drayton and the Cherokees at Amelia, was to be used by
the Indians against non-subscribers to the association.47
44. Ibid., p. 303; Colonel Richardson to Council of Safety, November 2,
1775, in Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:209.
45. Robert Cunningham to Drayton, October 5, 1775, ibid., 1:200.
46. Campbell to Dartmouth, January 1, 1776, South Carolina Public Records,
36:48; Major Williamson to Edward Wilkinson, November 6, 1775, in Gibbes,
Documentary History, 1:209.
47. Drayton, Memoirs, 1:116-17. Just as with Moses Kirkland, Drayton
accused Pearis of treachery because of his disappointment in a military com-
mission to which he aspired.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 31
Anger at the arrest of Robert Cunningham and fear of an Indian
attack aroused the settlers, and some 2,500 men mustered under
Major Robinson and planned to seize the fort at Ninety-Six. This
fort was held by Major Williamson with only 500 men, although
he expected reinforcements from Colonels Thomson and Richardson.
The siege of Ninety-Six began on November 19 and lasted three
days. A few men on both sides were killed and wounded. Major
Williamson could not hold out, and Major Robinson had no am-
munition. A truce was called.
The terms of the truce reveal a desire by both parties to settle
their differences and restore peace and mutual trust among the
frontier settlers. Major Williamson was to abandon the fort and
"destroy it flat"; all prisoners were to be set at liberty; and all troops
were to return to their homes during a twenty-day truce in which
the differences between the people were submitted to Governor
Campbell and the Provincial Congress for arbitration. Each party
was permitted to send unsealed dispatches to its superior, and mes-
sengers were not to be molested. It was agreed that the reinforce-
ments coming to the aid of Major Williamson were also bound by
the truce.48 Both parties carried out the initial terms in good faith,
and the troops dispersed. Major Williamson, Major Mayson, and
John Bowie were chosen as messengers to the Provincial Congress,
and Major Robinson, Captain Patrick Cunningham, and Captain
William Bowman were chosen to go to the royal governor. They
were to meet at Ninety-Six on November 27 to proceed to Charles
Colonel Thomson and Colonel Richardson, who were leading
the reinforcements to Ninety-Six, had no intention of honoring this
truce. Instead, they sent out armed parties to capture Cunningham,
Robinson, and every man who served under them at Ninety-Six.50
Learning of this, Robinson's men formed guerilla bands to protect
themselves, but they were easily defeated since Richardson's forces
had been augmented by troops from North Carolina and numbered

48. Major Mayson to Colonel Thomson, November 24, 1775, and "Agree-
ment of Cessation of Arms," in Gibbes, Documentary History, 1:214-
49. Colonel Richardson to Drayton, November 25, 1775, ibid., 1:216-17.
50. Colonel Thomson to Henry Laurens, November 28, 1775, Colonel Rich-
ardson to Drayton, November 30, 1775, "Declaration by Col. Richardson to
Insurgents under Cunningham," ibid., 1:222-25.

32 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
close to 5,000 men.51 Robinson escaped and joined Thomas Brown
in the Creek Nation; Patrick Cunningham escaped to the mountains.
But Colonel Fletchall, Captain Richard Pearis, Evan McLaurin, and
most of the officers serving under Robinson were captured by Jan-
uary 1776 and sent to jail in Charles Town.52
In the absence of these refugees their families were harassed
and often driven from their homes. Major Robinson's home was
burned to the ground and his library of Greek, Latin, and English
law books destroyed. Mrs. Robinson, released after a short imprison-
ment, made her way on foot with her small children through the
back country to her father's home in Virginia.53 The plight of their
families brought many of Robinson's men home again when the
British attack on Charles Town failed in June 1776. Those who had
been held prisoner were released when the threat of invasion was
Many of those who returned to their homes accepted the reality
of the new government and obeyed its laws and served in its militia;
other paid fines or "lay out in the woods" to avoid serving against
the British. Among these were Colonel Fletchall and Captain Robert
Cunningham. In 1778, when the British were preparing to invade
Georgia, some who had served with Robinson at Ninety-Six made
their way to Savannah, and when Charles Town was recovered by
royal troops, most of them volunteered as officers in the royal militia.
Robert Cunningham was commissioned brigadier general of the
loyalist militia in 1780.
Among those who escaped to Indian country were Major Joseph
Robinson, Thomas Brown, and, later, Evan McLaurin and Richard
Pearis. They went first to Pensacola, where Colonel John Stuart was
commissioning forces to serve against the rebels in the Mississippi
territory. When East Florida was attacked by Georgia patriots, they
moved to St. Augustine. Here Thomas Brown took command of the
East Florida Rangers in June 1777 and of the Carolina King's
Rangers in 1779. Major Joseph Robinson was commissioned lieu-
tenant colonel of the South Carolina royalists in May 1778, and
Captain Evan McLaurin and two sons of Richard Pearis served

51. Colonel Richardson to Laurens, December 22, 1775, ibid., 1:242.
52. Colonel Richardson to Laurens, December 12, 16, 1775, January 2,
1776, List of Prisoners taken to Charlestown, ibid., 1:239-41, 246-58.
53. Memorial of Joseph Robinson, Audit Office Papers, 12/49, 332, War
Office Papers 42/R8.

Early Loyalists on the Southern Frontier / 33
under him. They remained in active military service throughout the
The motivation of loyalists during the American Revolution was
complex, often personal, and usually affected by the need to adapt
to changing circumstances and pressures of the war. But in that
first summer of 1775 on the southern frontier, motivation for op-
posing the Provincial Congress and its association was more simple.
The frontier settlers were characteristically independent of govern-
ment and more jealous of their personal freedom of action than
residents of the more populous low country. Protection from Indian
raids and local disturbances depended on a community of trust
among the settlers, a firm governmental policy of Indian control,
and a fair enforcement of the law. The Provincial Congress threat-
ened the peace of the frontier by its careless handling of Indian
affairs and its division of settlers into factional groups by the forced
signing of the association. The new government seemed to be made
up of a few men in the Council of Safety who treated those who
supported them as privileged citizens and those who did not as
dangerous criminals without honor or civil rights. In neither the
treaty at Ninety-Six in September nor the truce at Ninety-Six in
November were the opponents to the association treated with honor.
It was confusing and debasing to men who believed they were
trying to uphold the law and maintain domestic peace to be treated
as outlaws and traitors.
William Henry Drayton aroused antagonism by his arrogant man-
ner and his tactics. Yet his tactics were necessary to the success of
the Revolution. No cause can succeed if it tolerates neutrality.
Enemies must be created against whom any atrocity may be com-
mitted in the name of the cause without a sense of guilt or dishonor
and even with a sense of virtue. Drayton's tactics drove men who
might happily have remained neutral to oppose the new govern-
ment and intimidated others to support the Provincial Congress for
their own survival. It is difficult to state categorically that these
frontier settlers were either loyalists or patriots in 1775, since most
of them preferred neutrality and peace. They reacted to fear, mis-
trust, and lawlessness according to their individual character and
personal needs. But those who were treated as enemies in 1775
hardened in their loyalty to the Crown and their hatred of the
usurping government, and when the opportunity came to serve the
Crown, most of them did so.

Speculations on Frontier Loyalism


PROFESSORS Meroney and Calhoon have made intelligent com-
mentaries on the important subject of loyalism on the frontier,
especially the southern frontier. Yet both authors fail to go far
enough in explicating and interpreting the material they present.
Calhoon is less subject to this criticism than Meroney, but he, too,
sometimes sees only details rather than a wider picture. On the
surface, the papers present a contrast: Meroney analyzes closely
the sequence of events in one area of the southern frontier in 1775,
and Calhoon flits from North to South and back in an attempt to
relate British policy to the events of the war in the back country.
But there are mutual points linking the papers, and I will focus
on those points and the questions they raise in my mind. I will
not comment on specific points, because I think that a commentator
at a conference of this nature should not use the podium to make
picky points about the papers being criticized. Rather, it seems ap-
propriate to try to synthesize and analyze the detailed material in
the papers in order to reach a better understanding of the nature of
the Revolution in the back country.
Initially, the papers coincide in stressing two crucial aspects of
frontier life in the 1770s: the pervasive fear of violence and dis-
order, and the importance of Indian policy. Calhoon rightly em-
phasizes the interest of successive British ministries in the problems
of colonial-Indian relations. Although the first public manifestation
of this interest came with the Proclamation of 1763, throughout the
later years of the French and Indian War, officials of the Colonial

Speculations on Frontier Loyalism / 35
Office in London had been concerned about protecting American
settlements from the inland tribes. It is strictly true, of course, that
the colonists had had to be concerned about the Indian menace to
their borders since the earliest days at Jamestown, Plymouth, and
even Roanoke, but as European settlement pushed westward from
the Tidewater into the Piedmont in the early eighteenth century,
the problems became steadily more acute. It was the increasing
danger of bloody confrontations that led the British ministries to
attempt to control Indian policy from London rather than leave it
to each colony, as had been the case. One result of their determina-
tion was the appointment of the superintendents of Indian affairs
who play large roles in these papers, Sir William Johnson and John
Stuart. Meroney shows how the potential threat from the Indians
was a major consideration in the minds of early western Carolina
loyalists, and Calhoon re-emphasizes the same point with respect
to the Iroquois in the North. Accordingly, when speaking of loyal-
ism on the frontier we must remember what the settlers constantly
kept in mind: the fact that they needed protection from the Indians,
and that they could not themselves summon up the resources to
supply all the protection they needed.
An integral part of the Indian question was the general problem
of crime and disorder in the American hinterlands. The presence
of the Indians contributed to the sense of insecurity and social dis-
order that seemed to pervade the frontier region, but it was more
than the occasional threat of raids or even full-scale warfare. A
combination of diffuse patterns of settlement, a large alien (i.e., non-
English) population, a liberal sprinkling of riffraff, and an almost
total lack of law and order had already led to the Regulator move-
ments on the North Carolina and South Carolina frontiers in the
late 1760s and early 1770s. Although in both colonies the controlling
Tidewater governments had made some concessions to the western
areas in the aftermath of the uprisings, life in the back country was
still far less certain, far less "civilized" than life in areas nearer the
coast. On the frontier there was little of the nice, neat hierarchy
of deference to one's betters that characterized an ordered life in
the more settled East; individual settlers of the lower class, without
"betters" to lead them, even learned to decide questions for them-
selves. (Incidentally, perhaps that is why Drayton, the epitome of
an eastern Carolina aristocrat, and the westerners simply did not
get along with each other in 1775.)

36 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
In short, the uncertainty and insecurity of life in the hinterlands
surely would make westerners wary of falling in immediately with
an open challenge to British authority, the source of what little
security they had. The upper classes of the frontier, such as they
were, knew altogether too well the dangers of social and political
disorder, and so, too, did all those frontier families who were trying
to make a simple living. Is it any wonder that such men resisted
the association when it was first offered to them? Meroney, indeed,
suggests that a belief that Stuart's Indian policy had benefited them
greatly and a fear of what might happen if Stuart were perma-
nently deposed were two of the factors motivating the men she
studied in their refusal to acquiesce in the actions of the Provincial
Congress. It is apparent throughout her paper, as she notes in her
conclusion, that what was motivating the men of the Carolina
frontier in the choices they made about allegiance was their desire
to maintain as much order as possible in their society.
All of this raises some serious questions about Calhoon's state-
ment that the loyalists of the back country had vast plans and ex-
pectations-conscious or unconscious-for the development of a
counterrevolutionary force in the region. He admits that there is
little written evidence to prove that the loyalists had such expecta-
tions, although he argues that such evidence can be extrapolated
from their behavior. But when Meroney's paper is put side by side
with Calhoon's, an alternative hypothesis emerges: that the loyalists
of the frontier, far from displaying grandiose hopes tied in with a
rather sophisticated understanding of where imperial policy was
heading, were simply trying to preserve their own security in very
precarious circumstances. Calhoon's evidence, indeed, points to this
conclusion as much as it does to the one he suggests. Not only does
it seem true of his data with respect to West Florida, but in addition
his treatment of the Allens provides a perfect example of the phe-
nomenon. For years historians have had great difficulty in interpret-
ing the seemingly erratic behavior of Ethan and Ira Allen, their
switching from support for the rebellion to neutrality to loyalism
and back again. What remains constant throughout, though, is the
attempt of the Allens and their Vermont allies and neighbors to
provide some basis for security and social order in their state. For
them the chief issue appears to have been land titles, since the
region in which they lived had long been a subject of dispute be-
tween New Hampshire and New York. In other frontier areas the

Speculations on Frontier Loyalism / 37
major issues may have been different, but it would seem that what
was constant was a desire for an orderly society.
This factor, once isolated, leads one to think about other geo-
graphic areas of the colonies and the way in which they responded
to the Revolutionary crisis. Although wary of the geographic fallacy
which attributes to every person living in an area the qualities of
the area as a whole, I want to offer some speculations on the gen-
eral question posed by Calhoon in the beginning of his paper,
namely, the problem of understanding loyalist motivations, inten-
tions, and attitudes.
What I would propose is a sociogeographic hypothesis about the
nature of the phenomenon we call loyalism. Among the truisms of
loyalist scholarship these days are these observations: that the
frontier tended to be loyal; that urban areas tended to be loyal,
or at least to have a relatively large number of loyalists in their
population; and that the most loyal of all the colonies were South
Carolina and New York. Combining these points, on which most
historians would agree, with the explanation of back-country loyal-
ism just presented leads one to the striking conclusion that those
areas most afflicted with social disorder seemed to produce the most
loyalists. The intensive mob activity in port cities between 1765 and
1775 has been studied recently by Pauline Maier, Jesse Lemisch,
Richard M. Brown, and others, and no one would now doubt the
major role played by such mobs in pre-Revolutionary politics.
Further, the rural regions in which there was significant unrest
during the same decade (e.g., the Hudson Valley, northern New
Jersey, and the Carolina back country already discussed) also fall
into the same pattern of a tendency toward loyalism. Conversely,
the most stable areas, like Virginia, parts of Pennsylvania (when
the Quaker element is allowed for), Connecticut, and Massachu-
setts, excluding Boston, prove to be overwhelmingly revolutionary
in tendency.
It seems to me that these observations lead inexorably to one
conclusion: that only Americans who already enjoyed a considerable
amount of stability and order in their lives were secure and self-
confident enough to engage in a revolution against the empire that
had been the source of social, economic, political, and cultural
authority for so long. Only those Americans who thought that local
leadership could fill the void left by the disappearance of colonial
officials were willing to risk upsetting the prevailing order. We

38 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
know, indeed, that the leaders of the Revolution were convinced
that they could control the forces they had set in motion, and that
they were certain that what they were doing was not overturning
the society they knew but rather preserving it from an external
threat. Most of all, it is clear that they did not foresee many of the
changes their acts would bring about. In Virginia the confidence of
the Revolutionary leaders proved to be quite correct; in Massachu-
setts the leaders were wrong, at least to a certain extent; in states
like New York and New Jersey, where leaders had been reluctant
revolutionaries at best, their worst fears were realized.
The overriding motivation for loyalism, then, would seem to be a
desire for social order and a fear-often a correct one-that social
order could not be maintained under a republican government. One
need refer only briefly to the writings of such loyalists as Thomas
Bradbury Chandler and Jonathan Boucher to demonstrate the truth
of this observation. But, it might be said, even if one ignores the
problem of geographic fallacy in this argument, what of that pre-
sumably major component of loyalism, loyalty itself, defined as
loyalty to the Crown or to a British identity? There is more than
a little justice in that question; certainly there were individuals
who remained loyal to Britain because they truly perceived them-
selves as British and because they could not make the requisite leap
of faith from monarchical to republican government. Many out-
spoken and articulate loyalists fell into this category; in fact, one
could argue that it is impossible to separate the ideological and
social aspects of loyalty, that an orthodox whig ideology of order
and imperial loyalty and a realistic concern for the preservation of
local social order necessarily went together. I would not debate that
point, especially since I have myself argued it in another context,
but the question at issue here is not the articulate loyalists, mainly
of the seaboard, who told us why they acted as they did, but rather
the vast mass of unlettered loyalists who left little record of their
thoughts, even if we know their names and something of their back-
To be able to deal with the difficulty these silent loyalists present
to the historian, we must return to the very basic question of what
exactly was a loyalist. How does one define loyalism as a phe-
nomenon? Every historian of the loyalists has to wrestle with this
question, and each of us solves it in a different way. I resolved it
by dealing only with Americans exiled to Britain during the war

Speculations on Frontier Loyalism / 39
(but even some of them turned out to have rebel sympathies);
Wallace Brown solved it by relying solely on the loyalist claims
presented to the British government after the war (but some of the
claims were rejected for lack of proof of loyalty, and other claim-
ants had played both sides of the fence during the conflict); both
Meroney and Calhoon solve it by simply calling everyone who
opposed the association or the authority of the Revolutionary gov-
ernments a loyalist. But is that sort of negative and inclusive defini-
tion enough? Is not some sort of positive act or thought required
to designate a person as a loyalist? Was everyone who opposed any
aspect of the Revolution a loyalist? Were Daniel Dulany and John
Dickinson, both "Revolutionary" leaders in the 1760s and neutrals
during the war, loyalists? How much opposition, in other words,
does it take to be labeled a loyalist? And if technical hairsplitting is
involved (such as that which now considers Dulany loyal and
Dickinson rebel), does it really matter?
In response to that question, I would suggest, as Meroney does
in the last part of her paper, that perhaps in some cases it does not
matter, that historians have gotten themselves too wound up with
the question of trying to determine loyalties during the Revolution-
ary War. At some point the question of loyalty becomes irrelevant.
The issue may not be whether the opponents of a revolutionary
regime should be labeled "loyalists," but rather the nature of
their opposition, their reasons for opposing the government,
and the challenge they posed to it. Certainly, in the 1774-76 period,
loyalism is important, perhaps centrally important, to an under-
standing of the revolutionary process. But motivations were com-
plex, and not everyone who opposed the adoption of the association
on the Carolina frontier was, as Meroney shows, a dedicated loyalist.
How are we to interpret men who seemingly changed sides during
the war-those Meroney cites who opposed the association but who
later came home and accepted revolutionary authority? Did they
turn their coats, as revolutionaries, loyalists, and British officers
commonly charged? Or, rather, were they marching to a different
drummer, one whose beat had nothing to do with the vast ques-
tions of revolution that historians focus on, but rather related
simply to a natural concern for security, social order, and other
matters not under consideration here? It is, at least, an alternative
that we should consider.

Another Book about Washington?


I fear that I must begin-as Washington did in the Revolution-
on the defensive, for it is indeed difficult to justify another book
about the Father of Our Country. There have been hundreds, if not
thousands. Besides, Washington studies have taken a considerable
step forward in recent years. Douglas S. Freeman and James T.
Flexner have produced accurate, readable, multi-volume narrative
biographies, and Marcus Cunliffe has contributed a brief but
thoughtful single-volume biography. A variety of scholars, such as
Leonard White, Curtis Nettels, and Bernhard Knollenberg, have
shed light on various aspects of Washington's life and public career.
Most of all, the new Washington literature has revealed to us that
the Great Man was a human being; he is down out of the clouds.
We need no longer exclaim indignantly as did Nathaniel Hawthorne
when he asked, "Did anybody ever see Washington nude? It is in-
conceivable," he responded; "he was born with his clothes on, and
his hair powdered, and made a stately bow on his first appearance
in the world."
Washington had his faults, most glaringly revealed in his youth.
In fact, the late Bernhard Knollenberg, a lawyer by training, mar-
shaled such a case against Washington that it seems confusing, to
say the least, for Knollenberg to conclude his book on young Wash-
ington by saying that in 1775, George was on the verge of greatness,
ready for his crucial role in the Revolution. He convicts Washington
of inordinate ambition, undue sensitivity, questionable land schemes,
and a love affair of sorts with Sally, wife of his friend George Fair-

Another Book about Washington / 41
Talk of sex, of course, has come out from behind the barn and
out of the gentleman's library where it used to accompany after-
dinner brandy and cigars. Whatever the precise nature of the Wash-
ington-Sally Fairfax liaison, Washington by our standards had a
healthy attitude about sex. Take, for example, his letter to the future
historian (and a minister, at that!) William Gordon on the recent
marriage of a Colonel Ward, a somewhat elderly gentleman, to a
woman very much his junior. "I am glad to hear," wrote Washing-
ton, "that my old acquaintance Colo. Ward is yet under the in-
fluence of vigorous passions. I will not ascribe the intrepidity of his
late enterprise to a mere flash of desires, because, in his military
career he would have learnt how to distinguish between false
alarms and a serious movement. Charity therefore induces me to
suppose that like a prudent general, he had reviewed his strength,
his arms, and ammunition before he got involved in an action. But
if these have been neglected, and he has been precipitated into the
measure, let me advise him to make the first onset upon his fair del
Toboso, with vigor, that the impression may be deep, if it cannot
be lasting, or frequently renewed."
We can accept Washington the human being more comfortably
than could scholars in the 1920s when volume 1 of Rupert Hughes'
highly revisionist Washington biography was ignored for review
purposes by the American Historical Review. But if we can take
warts and all, we are doubtless wearying of the current discussions
of the Virginian's false teeth, be they wooden or elephant ivory; of
the persistent efforts of Reidor F. Sognnaes of UCLA to unravel
the mystery of Washington's missing dentures; and of the claims of
M. J. V. Smith of the Medical College of Virginia that Martha's
husband suffered from sterility.
Quite obviously, any man of Washington's stature is worthy of a
variety of studies; there has been a dearth of good monographic
works on Washington comparable to the better ones that probe the
many sides and activities of Lincoln. Let me share with you one
such possibility that I am trying to undertake. I am interested in
Washington's relationship to the Revolution in a very broad sense.
I am influenced in my approach by our having witnessed in recent
years the comprehensive impact of particular revolutionaries and
nation-builders in the so-called Third World, the nations that have
achieved independence in Africa and Asia in the post-World War
II years. I hope to sharpen my insights by looking at the roles of

42 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
men like Gandhi, Nasser, Nkrumah, Ho Chi Minh, and others. I run
the risk of being criticized for writing present-minded history. One
is aware of the question often asked of historical writings: Is the
present the product of the past, or is the past the product of the
present? Even so, comparative history may expand our vision of
the past, to say nothing of adding a dimension to our view of our
own times.
Although Washington emerged soon after Lexington and Concord
as the most influential and prestigious leader of the Revolution, it
is of interest to note that he had not been in the highest echelons
of Virginia politics in the late colonial period. Nor does the Revo-
lutionary crisis seem to have advanced his status in terms of leader-
ship in the Old Dominion. At best, he was always on the fringe,
allied with the top people. The events of the imperial rupture gave
some men in Virginia and elsewhere a chance for more direct in-
volvement; they became, in Merrill Jensen's term, "popular leaders":
Samual Adams in Massachusetts, Alexander McDougall in New
York, Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee in Virginia, Cornelius
Harnett in North Carolina, and Christopher Gadsden in South
Carolina are examples.
Washington's entrance onto center stage-beginning with his
election to the Continental Congresses-may well rest almost en-
tirely upon his military experience. Once sent to Congress, he may
have impressed delegates from other colonies more than he did
those from his own province. There is little evidence that the
Virginians pushed him for the post of commander-in-chief, and his
fellow Virginia representative Edmund Pendleton was less than
enthusiastic, to say the least, about his selection, although his rea-
sons are not entirely clear.
So Washington, unlike some modern revolutionaries, did not make
a revolution. Actually, there did not emerge in the decade before
open warfare a single leader who stood out above the rest. No
conservative such as John Dickinson, no radical such as Samuel
Adams, no one at all. Is it surprising, then, that one should come
forth so quickly after the eruption of hostilities and that it should
have been George Washington? It is a kind of universal truth that
almost every great historical movement has had its unique leader,
a William the Silent, a Cromwell, a Napoleon, a Bolivar, more re-
cently, a Lenin, a Gandhi, a Castro, a Nasser, and so on.
Is such a need more prevalent in societies with an anti-democratic

Another Book about Washington / 43
or authoritarian tradition? In terms of numbers, of accumulative
historical movements, one could make that kind of case, but quanti-
fication does not prove everything. There may be a psychic re-
quirement that transcends specific cultures and ideologies. That
was the opinion of Sigmund Freud, who considered the necessity
of a father-image so essential that men unfailingly endow someone
with leadership qualities whether or not such attributes exist. In
any event, the leadership dimension seems to be an ever present
aspect of emerging nationalism everywhere, and assuredly students
of nationalism have demonstrated that this phenomenon calls for
human symbols as well as inanimate ones.
Furthermore, eighteenth-century men-even those who came
to style themselves republicans-were not all averse to a great-man
theory of history. To be sure, an obsession for power was often a
characteristic of men in authority, leading to acts of aggression. We
know, of course, that some men came to fear Washington, not for
what he had done but for what he might become. Ambivalence was
no doubt the attitude many thoughtful, well-read Americans held
toward the notion of great men. One of their literary favorites,
David Hume, had himself spoken inconsistently on the matter. He
had declared not infrequently that infinite confusions and disorders
might flow from the supposed virtue of military heroes. In con-
trast, however, stands Hume's considerations on the Ideal of a Per-
fect Commonwealth, first published in 1752, an essay that stimulated
James Madison's thoughts on factions and led him toward his posi-
tion on the feasibility of republics for large geographic areas as
expressed in the Federalist Papers, No. 10. It was not inevitable,
asserted Hume, that the great leader, the symbol and force of unity
in empire-building, succumb to the temptations of power and rise
up an absolute monarch. A modern statesman might someday
reveal the wisdom and virtue of a Solon or a Lycurgus and fashion
a new state in an expansive domain to promote the happiness and
liberty of future generations.
There is, additionally, a uniquely American factor that may ex-
plain in part why the colonists were receptive to one leader figure,
and that is biblical. We see in the voluminous sermon literature of
the Revolutionary era analogies between the Hebrews, God's chosen
people of old, and the colonists, his chosen people of a later day.
Ministers reminded their flocks of the accomplishments of Moses
and David against their enemies, and more than a few clergymen in

44 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
New England and elsewhere exclaimed that Americans were search-
ing for a deliverer from their own Egyptian bondage.
All of this is not to say that Congress sought a so-called great
man in 1775 to command the army. It does mean that, with a hand-
ful of exceptions, the lawmakers managed to rest easy with one
after Washington became that in the eyes of his countrymen.
Actually, congressmen built Washington up as a veritable hero in
their early letters to their constituents after his appointment. It is
surely easier to make a hero of a soldier than a civilian. Nor
should it be forgotten that Washington's name was fairly well
known; his role in the events in the Ohio Valley that touched off
the French and Indian War had been widely reported in the co-
lonial press at the time. If his military talents were exaggerated, his
contemporaries at the outset of the Revolutionary War were correct
in their assessment of his character, for he brought to his task dedi-
cation and determination; here he stands solidly the equal of any
revolutionary zealot of modern times. Possessed of unflinching
physical and moral courage, he was truly an unconquerable man.
His head was not turned by the lavish, uncritical praise heaped on
him, which began almost immediately in the newspapers. Essayists
claimed that he combined "the coolness of a Fabius, the intrepedity
of an Hannibal, and the indefatigable ardour and military skill of a
Caesar." Already in 1775 babies were being named for him. There
were public celebrations of his birthday as early as 1779, the year
of the first Washington biography. Yet he never took himself too
seriously, never fell to the Narcissus complex that became the
undoing of Nkrumah and Sukarno. He did lash back vigorously at
his critics; but, for whatever it is worth, we might recall that it
was an age that did not view sympathetically the notion of a loyal
opposition, or the idea that one's opponents had a responsibility to
offer constructive criticism. Even so, we need not defend Washing-
ton in all his shortcomings. As Elmer Davis said of Truman, so
too may we say of Washington: he was big about the big things,
and little about the little things.
Washington obviously was unlike later revolutionary chieftains
who imposed their own personal rules and ideologies after they
had won independence and national consolidation had begun. On
the other hand, during the conflict, and afterward during the Con-
federation period, he made no effort to conceal his sentiments on
sensitive, even crucial matters. If he was not an original thinker,

Another Book about Washington / 45
his ideas were in the mainstream of Revolutionary thought. I think
it fair to say that he was more perceptive to the meaning of the
Revolution and the opportunities it opened to his countrymen than
is often acknowledged.
He came to believe that he had an important role to play in ex-
plaining and justifying the war and the needs of the country.
Scholars have rightly praised his now-famous circular letter to the
state governors in June 1783 as the war drew to a close. It is still
worth quoting at some length.

The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condi-
tion, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a Vast Tract of Conti-
nent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the
World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveni-
ences of life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification,
acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and In-
dependency; They are, from this period, to be considered as
the Actors on a most conspicuous Theatre, which seems to be
peculiarly designated by Providence for the display of human
greatness and felicity. . [They have] a fairer opportunity
for political happiness, than any other Nation has ever been
favored with. . The foundation of our Empire was not laid in
the gloomy age of Ignorance and Superstition, but at an Epocha
when the rights of mankind were better understood and more
clearly defined, than at any former period.... At this auspicious
period, the United States came into existence as a Nation, and
if their Citizens should not be completely free and happy, the
fault will be entirely their own.
Such is our situation, and such are our prospects: but not-
withstanding the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us,
notwithstanding happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to
seize the occasion and make it our own; yet, it appears to me
there is an option still left to the United States of America,
that it is in their choice, and depends upon their conduct,
whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contempt-
able and miserable, as a Nation; This is the time of their politi-
cal probation, this is the moment when the eyes of the whole
world are turned upon them, this is the moment to establish
or ruin their national Character forever, this is the favorable
moment to give such a tone to our Federal Government, as
will enable it to answer the ends of its institution, or this may
be the ill-fated moment for relaxing the powers of the Union,

46 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
annihilating the cement of the Confederation, and exposing us
to become the sport of European politics, which may play one
State against another to prevent their growing importance,
and to serve their own interested purposes. For, according to
the system of Policy the States shall adopt at this moment, they
will stand or fall, and by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to
be decided, whether the Revolution must ultimately be con-
sidered as a blessing or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to
the present age alone, for with our fate will the destiny of
unborn Millions be involved.

This was not the first such letter, albeit the finest. Repeatedly
he had communicated with the state executives on the necessity of
more cooperation and effort. He was a kind of diplomat in a coali-
tion war involving thirteen state governments and a weak central
government. Likewise, he had been open and frank in his criticism
of the Articles of Confederation before the circular letter of 1783,
as well as before ratification of the Articles in 1781.
It is equally instructive to read Washington's general orders to
the army. Time and again he told the soldiers that this was a dis-
tinctive kind of struggle, one for liberty and republicanism. He
liked the phrase about the fate of unborn millions, cited in the
circular letter; he employed it, for instance, on the day Congress
voted for independence. "The fate of unborn millions," he an-
nounced, "will now depend, under God, and the Courage and Con-
duct of this Army." On a one-to-one basis he hammered home the
same points to sensitive officers who threatened resignation be-
cause they were denied promotion or other forms of recognition.
"In the usual contests of Empire and Ambition," wrote Washington
to a distraught Massachusetts officer, "the conscience of a soldier
has so little share that he may very properly insist upon his claims
of Rank, and extend his pretensions even to Punctilio; but in such a
cause as this, where the Object is neither Glory nor extent of ter-
ritory, but a defense of all that is dear and valuable in Life, surely
every post ought to be deemed honorable in which a Man can serve
his Country."
Washington's breadth, his long view of the Revolution, was re-
flected in his military policies as well as in his campaign of words.
First, he desired to be firm but fair with the loyalists, to turn them
over to civil courts whenever possible, and thus to keep down in-

Another Book about Washington / 47
eternal bloodletting and the perpetuation of atrocities. Second, he
opposed a guerilla war which might result in such destruction and
disregard for the legal processes that the fabric of American institu-
tions might be weakened, if not destroyed. Third, he respected
private property, as manifested by his taking the strongest precau-
tions against plundering. The Continentals would lose the respect
of the people if predatory conduct were condoned. A revolution
that had originated in a defense of private property had no more
arbitrary right to the fruits of a citizen's labor than had the British
Parliament. Simultaneously, for essentially the same reasons, he
opposed the confiscation of supplies for the army except under the
most extreme conditions.
Washington, in short, saw the war in its totality: the relationship
between the homefront and the battlefront, and the relationship
between the war years and the forthcoming years of peace. Be-
cause he grasped the overall picture and because he looked ahead,
he warrants the designation of statesman.
Since we are concerned with Washington's connection with the
Revolution in its widest respects, is it possible to treat under the
same theme his part in the movement for the federal Constitution
and his performance in the presidency? In large measure I think the
question may be answered affirmatively, for in each case he justified
his role in terms of preserving and putting the finishing touches on
the Revolution. His foreign policy pronouncements, particularly the
so-called Neutrality Proclamation and the Farewell Address, are
remarkably consistent with his statements during the Revolutionary
War in which he warned of the dangers of young, struggling na-
tions diluting their energies in wasteful and potentially dangerous
European involvements.
As president, Washington sought to strengthen the bonds of na-
tionality slowly forged in the Revolution and institutionalized in
the federal Constitution. Much remained to be done; the forces of
localism and sectionalism had been sufficiently potent to come close
to defeating the Constitution in a number of states, and initial at-
tempts at ratification failed in North Carolina and Rhode Island.
How could the nation be drawn closer together? If Hamilton's
solution was to attract people of wealth to the government, Wash-
ington's was to secure persons of talent, who in turn would perform
well and give confidence. But he would let there be, among the
talented, geographical representation so that all the states would

48 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
feel involved and respected; hence, the appointment in 1790 of
James Iredell of North Carolina to the Supreme Court, a man
Washington knew only by reputation, but who hailed from a state
in need of integration into the federal structure. The same motive
lay behind Washington's celebrated southern tour in 1791. The
former commander realized that he was the most meaningful symbol
of nationalism in America. But he would profit as well as his
countrymen from this form of exposure. He would become "better
acquainted with their principal Characters and internal Circum-
stances, as well as . be more accessible to numbers of well-
informed persons, who might give . useful information and
advices. . ." "Many things," he added, "which appear of little im-
portance in themselves and at the beginning, may have great and
durable consequences from their having been established at the
commencement of a new general government."
The main point here has been to suggest that Washington en-
joyed a more encompassing role in the American Revolution than
a narrow examination of his military performance would indicate.
The old saw that Patrick Henry talked for the Revolution, George
Washington fought for the Revolution, and Thomas Jefferson
thought for the Revolution would seem inadequate as far as Wash-
ington is concerned. He talked a good deal for the Revolution, and
he did some thinking as well. I would speculate that both his actions
and his words had substantial impact upon his contemporaries.
What of his influence upon succeeding generations of Americans?
His deeds may have inspired us, but, because of different problems
and conditions, we could scarcely be expected to repeat them. Some
of his words may appeal to us, although they were addressed to an
eighteenth-century audience. Assuredly, his well-publicized advice
on the subject of political parties-dated in his own time-and en-
tangling alliances are not completely relevant to a superpower with
a viable two-party tradition.
I think that, most of all, he has remained a model of what
American leadership should include. And what is that? Integrity
is the word to underscore. Translated into practice, that meant self-
lessness and devotion, an abhorrence of personal gain and ag-
grandizement coupled with the highest ethical standards-and all
this he demanded not only of himself but also of those who served
under him. As a human being he was greater than the sum total of
his deeds. When he erred, observed Jefferson, he did so with in-

Another Book about Washington / 49
tegrity. He won a degree of public confidence, both as commander
and magistrate, that has never been equaled by any subsequent
American leader. He still has it; and, fortunately, we still measure
our leaders according to Washingtonian criteria.
A recent cartoon illustrates the truth of this statement. It shows
a guide in an art gallery identifying two paintings. The first, he
announces, is of the Father of Our Country. "And over here," he
continues, is "the Godfather of Our Nation." The latter, as you
might guess, is Richard Nixon. Is the analogy between the chief
executive on the one hand and Marlon Brando and Hollywood on
the other a fair one? Here we may disagree; but the Washington
comparison, for Richard Nixon and all other presidents past and
future, is a useful one, a sign that Washington indeed still lives in
the hearts and minds of his countrymen.

Jews in EighteenthoCentury West Florida


SECRET Jews masquerading as Catholics (Marranos) appeared
in the Western Hemisphere almost simultaneously with the first
voyages of discovery, but no professing Jew is documented in
the Americas in the sixteenth century. It was only in the Dutch,
French, and British colonies in the Caribbean basin that acknowl-
edged Jews were permitted to settle in the seventeenth century.
From the beginning of Dutch settlement, Jewish residence was
sanctioned. Jews appeared in almost every British colony from 1654
on. They were legally forbidden to dwell in French possessions, but
their presence was more or less tolerated until 1685, when their
expulsion was decreed in the Code Noir. By the end of the century,
Jewish communities had been founded in almost every area where
Jews could secure a viable economic foothold and where Jewish
religious practice was allowed or just tolerated. Jewish cemeteries
and synagogues were established in Dutch and British Guiana, St.
Eustatius, Surinam, Curagao, Barbados, Jamaica, and Nevis, as well
as in northern Brazil during Dutch occupation. Although numerous
New Christians-including some who practiced Judaism secretly-
found their way to the Spanish and Portuguese possessions, Jews
themselves were rigidly excluded from these areas, as they were
from the mother countries of the Iberian peninsula. The records
of the Inquisition are an invaluable (though frequently unreliable)
guide to the experience and suffering of the hidden Jews in Spanish
America, but thus far no evidence has been discovered which
attests to the presence of such people in Spanish Florida. It would

Jews in West Florida / 51
be strange, however, if no Judaizer had found his way to this
The first professing Jews to have dealings with the Spanish at
Pensacola were probably merchant shippers from Martinique or
St. Domingue, but there is no evidence for this assumption. Nor is
there any documentation which would demonstrate commercial
transactions with Pensacola by Isaac Rodrigues Monsanto, the first
Jewish resident of New Orleans known to us by name, after he
established his family and business in the autumn of 1758. Yet it is
hard to believe that the Monsanto firm had not engaged in business
relations with Pensacola, illegal though they may have been, in
view of equally prohibited shipments to and from Cuba, Vera Cruz,
and Campeche during the ensuing years. Unfortunately, however,
most of the existing information about Monsanto's commercial
operations is not dated, and it is impossible to tell, therefore,
whether any of the dealings with Pensacola antedate the British
occupation of the port in 1763.2
The Monsanto clan had originated in The Hague, Netherlands,
1. Jacob Rader Marcus, Colonial American Jew, 1492-1776 (Detroit, 1970),
1:35-211, is the best survey of Jewish settlement in the Caribbean. Seymour
B. Liebman, Jews in New Spain (Coral Gables, 1970), is an example of this
author's effort to locate data about secret Jews in the records of the Inquisition.
Martin A. Cohen, The Martyr: The Story of a Secret Jew and the Mexican
Inquisition in the Sixteenth Century (Philadelphia, 1973), is a painstakingly
researched biography of the outstanding secret Jew of the period. Neither
Liebman nor Cohen has uncovered references to hidden Jews in Florida, but
since such systematic research has really only begun, there is every reason to
expect that some indication of the presence of secret Jews in Florida may
2. Monsanto's first recorded act in New Orleans was his purchase of some
merchandise at auction on October 24, 1758: Louisiana Historical Quarterly
[LHQ] 18 (1935):293. LHQ 28 (1945):587 lists twelve accounts of Isaac Mon-
santo with Pensacola clients, in documents dating from 1769 and back, but
gives no precise dates or names. In view of the fact, however, that most of
the Spanish settlers at Pensacola left before the British arrived, it is unlikely
that these documents (which may well survive among the masses of uncata-
logued manuscripts in the vaults of the Cabildo in New Orleans) would offer
a definitive answer to the question. LHQ 28 (1945):620-21 reports on a Mon-
santo venture to Campeche and St. Domingue in 1766. A controversy over one
Monsanto voyage to Vera Cruz in 1765 generated a considerable amount of
testimony, some of which is summarized in entries in the "black books" in
the Louisiana State Museum Library, New Orleans, labeled 65A, A/4, 5, 6,
and referred to in Publications of the Louisiana Historical Society 8 (1914-15):
15. Monsanto's legal brief was printed as a twenty-page pamphlet with the title
"Reponse/Du Sieur Monsanto & Compagnie, Armateurs du/ Senault le St.
Jean Baptiste, Demandeurs./ Au Memoire du Sieur Raoult, Capitaine Com-
mandant ci-devant/ ledit Navire, Deffendeur."

52 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier

emigrated to Curagao in 1755 or 1756, and then moved on to New
Orleans, notwithstanding the Louisiana Code Noir's prohibition of
their settlement. But despite a storm of political infighting in 1759 in
the Texel affair, which involved them in public controversy and
might have resulted in their expulsion from the colony, they suc-
ceeded in remaining in New Orleans and continued to conduct
business operations on a very broad scale throughout the area. They
had customers and suppliers in Europe as well as in the Caribbean
and in North America.3 There is little reason for surprise, then, in
that once the British had taken over Mobile and Pensacola and
begun to confirm their authority in such settlements as Manchac
and Natchez, the Monsanto firm engaged in numerous transactions
not only with ordinary citizens in what was called the Province of
West Florida, but also with British officialdom. John Stuart, superin-
tendent of Indian affairs for the southern colonies of Great Britain,
was among their clients.4
Major Robert Farmar, the British commandant at Mobile, com-
missioned Isaac Monsanto in late 1764 to provide the boats and
equipment necessary to send an expedition up the Mississippi to
take possession of the Illinois country. No merchant in British ter-
ritory at that time had the means to outfit such a large party. It was,
in fact, too large an undertaking for Monsanto to fulfill alone, so
another New Orleans entrepreneur had to share the responsibility.
Before the enterprise had been completed, Monsanto was sorry
that he was so well known as to have been asked to take part in it.
The British delayed remitting the necessary funds to Monsanto,
and he became utterly frantic. He had laid out his own money,
3. Bertram W. Korn, The Early Jews of New Orleans (Waltham, Massa-
chusetts, 1969), pp. 9-19, 266-72, offers detailed information and source
references regarding the Monsanto family and its origins and business activities.
The Texel affair is described and the relevant documents are reproduced in
Abraham P. Nasatir and James R. Mills, Commerce and Contraband in New
Orleans during the French and Indian War (Cincinnati, 1968).
4. The Monsanto firm had extensive dealings with McGillivray and Stro-
thers of Pensacola, according to the John Fitzpatrick Letter Book, Manuscript
Department, New York Public Library. The Monsanto legal inventory in LHQ
28 (1945):587-91 lists seven customers in Natchez, eight in Manchac, and a
number of transactions with Stuart. The earliest contact Isaac Monsanto had
with Stuart is recorded in West Florida Provincial Papers (WFP) (Public
Record Office, London, Colonial Documents, Section 5; photostatic copies in
Library of Congress), 602:389, 398-406. No separate list in the legal inventory
refers to Mobile customers; one can only guess that these names are intermixed
in the non-geographical list, or that the Mobile file was missing or misplaced
when the accounts were entered.

Jews in West Florida / 53
borrowed more at high interest, and was in fact losing credibility
in the business community because of rumors of the insolvency of
the Florida provincial authorities. Ultimately Monsanto was paid,
six months later than promised, partly in drafts on London, partly
in "twelve hundred weight of deerskins," which ordinarily could not
be shipped to French territory, but which the Provincial Council
permitted in order not to retard any longer "the important service
of taking possession of the country of Illinois." During this extended
transaction, Monsanto had contact with almost every important
British official in West Florida, although there is no indication that
he had actually gone to Mobile to negotiate with them.5
Among the merchants in West Florida who were unable to under-
take as large a commission as the Illinois operation-although they
did arrange for the transportation of some of Major Farmar's troops
in an undertaking which cost more than 200-were three Jews
who arrived in Mobile shortly after the British took over the town
from the Spanish. These men, Joseph de Palacios, Samuel Israel,
and Alexander Solomons, described as "English merchants" in a
document which attests to their purchase of a house and lot on
February 2, 1764, were typical colonial entrepreneurs, buying and
selling property in Mobile and Pensacola, dealing in staples, cattle,
lumber, hardware, specie, bills of exchange, and probably anything
else for which there was need. They owned slaves, but did not buy
and sell them in commercial transactions, so far as the records in-
dicate. The three partners were speculators and risk-takers. They
seem to have lost as often as they won: in 1766 they forfeited a
plantation outside Mobile because they could not repay a loan; in
1774 Solomons lost some land in the same way. There is insufficient
evidence about their business activity upon which to base an evalua-
tion of their success or lack of it, but de Palacios went bankrupt in
1767 and was in constant difficulty until he left the province for
Georgia in 1778. Solomons, as far as we can judge, was never hauled
into court for debt, nor did he have to sneak in and out of New
Orleans for fear of being apprehended on the complaint of a
creditor, as was the case with de Palacios, but he disappeared from
5. MS copy of letter, Lieutenant Alexander Maclellan to Monsanto, No-
vember 10, 1765, MS translation of letter, Monsanto to Farmar, January 23,
1765, both in Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michi-
gan; WFP 625:235-57, 632:102-8; Clarence W. Alvord and Clarence Edward
Carter, The Critical Period, 1763-1765 (Springfield, 1915), pp. 423 ff.; Peter J.
Hamilton, Colonial Mobile (Boston, 1897), p. 189.

54 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
the records in 1774. It is altogether uncertain how long Israel was
in Florida.6
Three other Jews appear in the records of British West Florida.
One was Isaac Mendes, a Jamaican who is probably identical with
a Jew of the same name who was in Albany with the British troops
in 1756, and one who was in Curagao on and off from 1758 to 1779.7
Colonial Jews were constantly on the move, partly because their
business dealings took them from one place to another, partly be-
cause the economic frontier shifted frequently and they had to fol-
low it. Another Jew, Samuel Judah, received grants of real estate in
Pensacola in 1767.8 A third, Alexander Solomons' brother Haym
(not the famous revolutionary patriot; there were at least three
Haym Solomons/Salomons in the British colonies of North America
at the same time), was clerking in Pensacola for the firm of McGil-
livray and Strothers at least as early as 1770 and stayed in West
Florida longer than any of his coreligionists, fleeing from the Span-
ish after Gilvez' invasion of 1781.9
Like many other frontier merchants, storekeepers, business agents,
or peddlers, these men lived by their wits in a challenging society,
scratching out a living, contributing what they could to the develop-
ment of the province. They were entrusted with commercial re-
sponsibilities by the civil and military authorities, acted as agents
for planters and other traders, and served many economic functions,
although most of the time they were unable to accumulate any cap-
ital in an environment where specie was always scarce. The three
partners-de Palacios, Israel, and Solomons-were known to be
Jews: a record of taxes paid by all owners of slaves in 1769 reads in
a telling sort of shorthand: "Jews on 2." But not one anti-Jewish
slur appears in any document, even in the testimony of a French-
man in New Orleans who accused de Palacios of dodging arrest,

6. WFP 575:1-4; 577:48; 583:33-43; 601, pt. 1:55; 602:55-56; 612:236-41;
615:226-70, 477-79, 480-85; 625:29, 225; 632:98, 134; Public Record Office,
London, Treasury I, Bundle 440, p. 110, copy in American Jewish Archives,
Cincinnati; LHQ 10 (1927):148-50, 23 (1940):55-68; Clinton N. Howard, The
British Development of West Florida, 1763-1769 (Berkeley, 1947), pp. 59, 66.
7. WFP 574:428; 584, pt. 2:429; 586:330-31, 625; 610, pt. 2:312-13; 602:
116-21, 218-22; 632:136, 147; Strachan and Co. Letter Book, National Library
of Scotland, Edinburgh, p. 176; Isaac S. Emmanuel and Suzanne A. Emmanuel,
History of the Jews of the Netherlands Antilles (Cincinnati, 1970), 2:655, 661,
695, 699, 701-7, 712, 829, 832, 1033, 1069.
8. Howard, British Development, p. 72. This is the only reference to the man.
9. WFP 580:171, 282; 595, pt. 3:784-815.

Jews in West Florida / 55
or in the references to the accusation that Major Farmar had smug-
gled flour out of the colony for sale in New Orleans with the con-
nivance of de Pallacio.10 Certainly a handful of Jews would not be
regarded as constituting a social problem in an area where the
Protestants were bending every effort to gain the trust of the French
Catholics, but that they were called no names even when they got
into trouble is worthy of note. Whether their neighbors, customers,
creditors, or fellow-traders thought of them in any special way can-
not be ascertained, but if so small a group of men had been sub-
jected to constant contempt, it seems unlikely that they would
have remained in the province.
It is equally worthy of comment that these merchant-venturers
felt no qualms about isolating themselves from fellow-Jews for so
long a time. Pensacola and Mobile offered none of the Jewish asso-
ciations of other communities, and it is unlikely that they ever con-
ducted Jewish services in the settlements, yet the Solomons brothers,
de Palacios, Israel, Mendes, Judah, and perhaps others remained for
long periods of time. That this should not be interpreted as evidence
of total indifference to their Jewish heritage is indicated by the
active role which several of them took in Jewish life during periods
of residence elsewhere. Samuel Israel was a participating member
of Shearith Israel Congregation of New York from 1783 to 1786.
De Palacios took the role of an important communal leader in
Charleston in 1786 when he laid one of the cornerstones of the new
Jewish cemetery wall. These people had not come to West Florida
in order to abandon their religion or to hide it."
British acceptance of Jewish settlers contrasted vividly with
French legal barriers and Spanish exclusionary policies. When the
Spanish first took possession of Louisiana from the French, their
hold on the colony was so weak that no notice was taken of the
Monsanto family and its illegal presence in New Orleans. But
General Alejandro O'Reilly's arrival in 1769 portended disaster for
Isaac Monsanto. Within a few weeks the new governor decreed
the expulsion of all foreign merchants: some British citizens, a few
Italians, and "three Jews named Monsanto, Mets, and Brito, who
had . made some illegal shipments and had correspondents in
10. LHQ 10 (1927):148-51; Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, p. 189; WFP 574:
11. Publication of the American Jewish Historical Society, no. 21 (1913), pp.
107, 142, 148-49, 159; Barnett A. Elzas, The Old Jewish Cemeteries (Charles-
ton, 1903), p. 103.

56 / Eighteenth i-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
Vera Cruz, C;tmpeche, the nearby presidios, and other places.'12
Although O'R illy said in a letter to Monsanto that the expulsion
of "your entire family" was "a consequence of an order of the King
which expressly forbids all Jews from residing in this state," the
major motivate n of the expulsion was economic: Spanish control of
commerce in and out of New Orleans." One need search for no
secret evidence. A small-scale Jewish trader named Isaac Henriques
Fastio who worked in and around Point Coupee was left undis-
turbed! After all their property was expropriated, the Monsanto
brothers were permitted to return gradually to Spanish territory.
So much for "c n order of the King which expressly forbids all Jews
from residing ii this state."
Governor O Reilly gave the foreign merchants, including the
members of th Monsanto firm, only a brief time to get out. Their
affairs were placced in the hands of court assignees. Isaac Monsanto
was apparently permitted to take only his slaves with him. Seven-
teen years late- the proceeds of the settlement of his accounts had
still not been transferred to the family. He was already dead, and
attorneys and the bureaucracy had eaten up his assets. The liquida-
tion was equiv dent to confiscation.14
Where were the members of the Monsanto family to go after
thirteen or foui teen years of residence and business activity in New
Orleans? Their decision to seek refuge in British West Florida was
probably influenced by many factors: the proximity of Florida; a
large number of business contacts and customers in the British
colony; the ho)e of retrieving their position and possessions in a
short time; certainly the freedom which West Florida offered in
contrast to the prejudice which had affected them to some degree
under the Frer ch and which now gave the Spanish an excuse for
the expropriation of the fruits of hard labor. Isaac Monsanto and
some of the members of his family were in Pensacola as early as
January 1770, raising money through mortgages on their slaves.
There is no i dication in any of the extensive West Florida
records that eilher Mets or de Britto journeyed to Pensacola. By
June, some of the Monsanto brothers were in Manchac, a town
12. Lawrence iKinnaird, ed., Spain in the Mississippi Valley, 1765-1794,
vol. 1, The Revolutionary Period, 1765-1781, Annual Report of the American
Historical Association, 1945 (Washington, 1949), p. 97.
13. Papeles pr ocedentes de la Isla de Cuba, Archivo General de Indias,
legajo 188, reel 2, Library of Congress.
14. LHQ 28 (1945):579-91.

Jews in West Florida / 57
on the Mississippi at its confluence with the Iberville, where they
had already carried on a great deal of trade and where they possi-
bly had possessed a warehouse prior to their departure from New
Orleans. For more than twenty years thereafter, members of the
Monsanto family firm, until the death of each, conducted a busi-
ness operation that ranged through British territory (prior to its
loss to the Spanish in 1779-81) and, illegally, across the lines to
Spanish possessions. They were in and out of Pensacola and Mobile,
but concentrated much more in Manchac, then ultimately in Pointe
Coupee, Natchez, and New Orleans. As early as 1773, Jacob
Monsanto was jailed in Natchitoches for smuggling, but no refer-
ence was made to the fact that he was a member of the exiled
Jewish family-so much for the contention of Governor O'Reilly.
The experiences of members of the family after 1781 is not of con-
cern here, for there is no indication that they had any meaningful
contacts with Pensacola or Mobile following the defeat of the
British. Manchac, too, lost its commercial significance after its con-
quest by the Spanish. Only Benjamin remained in the territory
which had formerly been part of West Florida. He and his bride
Clara lived on a farm in the Natchez area, and he represented the
family's business interests in that section of Spanish Louisiana from
1787 until his death in 1794.15
A number of interesting aspects of the Monsanto family's life in
West Florida bear consideration. One relates to the marriage of
two of Isaac's sisters. Gracia married Thomas Topham in Manchac
or Pensacola, possibly even in Natchez. The date of the wedding is
also unknown, although it must have been quite early in the 1770s.
Topham was a merchant speculator to whom only a few references
have been preserved in the British or Spanish records. Even the
date of his death is uncertain, but it occurred no later than 1784.
Angelica married a much more prominent and successful man, a
Scotsman named George Urquhart, probably in Pensacola in 1772.
Urquhart had been in Pensacola since 1766, when he was appointed
deputy collector of His Majesty's customs in the port. He was an
aggressive, dynamic man who aroused the respect of his fellow-
citizens and built up a valuable estate before his death in 1779.
Urquhart served as a justice of the peace and was a member
of the Provincial Assembly. Even if none of the Monsanto men be-
15. Korn, Early Jews, pp. 35 ff., follows each member of the Monsanto
family to his or her death, across the lines of place and time.

58 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
came a leader, Angelica had married one.16 It is fascinating to
attempt to surmise why neither Gracia nor Angelica, nor the third
sister Eleanora, who married a French settler in St. Domingue in
1773, married until after they left New Orleans. It is unlikely that
none of the three could have fallen in love or been fallen in love
with in New Orleans, or that Gracia and Angelica preferred Protes-
tant Englishmen. One of two explanations is possible, or perhaps
a combination of both. Perhaps Isaac, the head of the family, had
been opposed to their marrying out of the faith, but now he had
lost his will to power, his control over their decisions, his ability
to direct the family's actions, so broken was he by the loss of his
prestige and the confiscation of his possessions.17 The other possi-
bility is that even the more tolerant environment of West Florida
could not overcome the feeling of isolation and alienation which
the family's expulsion had produced. Exile and privation may well
have persuaded them that the maintenance of their Jewish identity
was purposeless.
This is not to suggest that any of the members of the family were
baptized or-other than Angelica after her second marriage, to the
pious Dr. Robert Dow-became a sincere Christian. When Jacob
Monsanto petitioned the Council of West Florida for a grant of
land in 1772, his application was denied because "the Petitioner
cannot hold lands-untill naturalized, being a foreign Jew."18 The
emphasis was, of course, on his nationality rather than on his re-
ligious identity. In 1775, Jacob was joined by his brother Manuel in
the request for permission to erect further buildings on the public
land in Manchac where they already occupied a store. This applica-
tion was granted, without reference to the fact that Jacob and
Manuel were aliens.19 What had happened between 1772 and 1775
was probably that George Urquhart had increased his influence, and

16. The available information about Topham and Urquhart is summarized
in Korn, Early Jews, pp. 47-48, 50-51, largely derived from references in WFP
and from legal papers in the New Orleans Notarial Archives.
17. Isaac seems to have been dogged by bad luck during his remaining
eight years. He must have lost all of his slaves through mortgage foreclosures.
His sisters described him as being "in complete poverty because of his great
losses" in a petition to the New Orleans courts. He was a country storekeeper
at the time of his death, and his stock of goods was not worth very much. The
Spanish seem to have succeeded in breaking him psychologically as well as
economically: Korn, Early Jews, pp. 37-40.
18. WFP 634, pt. 1:4.
19. WFP 634, pt. 1:236-37.

Jews in West Florida / 59
the council simply found it inexpedient to think of his brothers-in-
law as foreigners. In 1776, when a moratorium on land grants was
lifted, 700 acres were awarded to Jacob, located, hardly by coinci-
dence, just north of Angelica and George's plantation on the Missis-
sippi.20 Beyond Urquhart's political clout, the Monsanto brothers
carried some economic influence of their own. Their business ac-
tivity-primarily illegal trade with the settlers across the Mississippi
in Spanish Louisiana, in contravention of Spanish law-was an
extension of British colonial policy. They were desirable residents
indeed. They served British interests as long as the British con-
trolled West Florida.
But whether or not British West Florida offered land, religious
tolerance, and social acceptance was inconclusive. What the Mon-
santo family, and other Jews, required for the formation of a stable,
growing community was extensive population growth and large-
scale economic development. The "peculiar people" needed a larger
seed-bed than Pensacola and Mobile in eighteenth-century Florida
could provide. That had to wait until the nineteenth century. Mean-
while, the story of the Monsanto family, and of de Palacios, Israel,
the Solomons brothers, Mendes, and Judah was simply a preliminary
episode on the Gulf coast.
20. WFP 608:362; 634, pt. 2:383.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier:

Abode of the Blessed or Field of Battle?


IF there had been a Florida tourist and convention bureau or a
Walt Disney enterprises in 1775, surely one of their ad writers
would have been a Philadelphian named William Bartram. As the
modem reader confronts Bartram's mellifluous prose extolling the
natural wonders of the Floridas, he must remind himself that he
is reading neither a pitchman's praise of "Underwater Acres" nor a
description of a hortensus inclusus taken from a medieval fable.
"How happily situated is this retired spot of earth! What an elisium
it is! where the wandering Siminole [sic], the naked red warrior,
roams at large, and after the vigorous chase retires from the scorch-
ing heat of the meridian sun. Here he reclines, and reposes under
the odoriferous shades of Zanthoxilon, his verdant couch guarded
by the Diety [sic]; Liberty, and Muses, inspiring him with wisdom
and valour, whilst the balmy zephyrs fan him to sleep."' From the
heights of royal palms to the depths of bubbling springs, the good
naturalist gives a tour of Florida north of Cape Canaveral.
Included in this description are Bartram's human encounters.
Since his purpose was to collect natural wonders, the people he con-
sulted along his journeys were the inhabitants of the frontier:
planters, traders, and Indians, exactly those persons to whom we
would go for interviews today for an oral history project.
What is amazing, as one looks into Bartram, is the total lack of
direct reference to attitudes of hostility at a time when the clouds
of revolution were gathering. Nevertheless, it is William Bartram
who introduces Cowkeeper, a principal Seminole chief, a band of
1. William Bartram, The Travels of . (New Haven, 1958), p. 69.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 61
young warriors on the trail of some runaway lovers, and the traders
seeking to draw a livelihood out of the precarious exchange econ-
omy of the eighteenth-century frontier. From the Cowkeeper, Bar-
tram received the name Pucpuggy, or Flower Hunter; from the
young warriors he gathered impressions of native American hos-
pitality and hostility; from the traders he obtained guidance along
the roadways of the forest.2 It would have been pleasing if Bartram
had introduced some other colorful characters then resident in
Florida, but he had to continue his search for more specimens for
the garden of his patron, Dr. John Fothergill of London.
From Florida, Bartram traveled north, for his next intended in-
vestigations were in the uplands of South Carolina. In Charleston,
he called on several persons familiar with the state's western fron-
tier, one of whom was John Stuart, since 1763 the King's superin-
tendent for the Indians south of the Ohio. Well might Stuart have
queried Bartram, rather than vice versa, since it would be only
three months before rising political tempers in South Carolina
would force Stuart to flee his white house on Tradd Street to face
the uncertain life of a government official in exile. The patriots
were convinced that Stuart planned to arm the Indians and incite
the slaves.
Despite Stuart's age, fatigue, and bodily infirmity, he fled South
Carolina, boarding a British vessel and taking passage south. He did
not go immediately to sanctuary in Florida but stopped at the plan-
tation of a friend outside Savannah, Georgia. Stuart was so con-
vinced of his innocence that he consulted a few prominent Georgia
patriots, whom he tried to persuade of his good intentions. When
his efforts proved unsuccessful, and fearing that the Georgians
would seize him and send him back to South Carolina, he took ship
again and sailed on to the relative safety of the British post at St.

2. Ibid., p. 118; William Bartram, Travels in Georgia and Florida .
1773-1774: a report to Dr. John Fothergill (annotated by Francis Harper),
Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, no. 33, pt. 2, pp. 121-242.
3. Committee of Intelligence in South Carolina to John Stuart, 29 June
1775, Gage Papers, vol. 131, William L. Clements Library, University of Mich-
igan, Ann Arbor; Patrick Tonyn to Lord Dartmouth, 1 July 1775, ibid.; Lord
William Campbell to Lord Dartmouth, 31 August 1775, British Public Record
Office, Colonial Office, ser. 5, vol. 396, p. 276 (microfilm from the Library of
Congress); John Stuart to the South Carolina Committee of Intelligence, 18
July 1775, Gage Papers, vol. 131. Colonial Office materials hereafter cited as
CO5/vol: page.

62 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
In many ways there could have been no worse place for John
Stuart to locate than in St. Augustine. There he was at perhaps the
farthest point from the territory of the native Americans whom he
called his charges. To be sure, he was within a reasonable distance
of the Seminole villages, but they were a minor fraction of his
superintendency. To reach the closest villages of the Lower Creeks
it was nearly 400 miles by trail. Even greater distances lay north
to the Upper Creeks and the Cherokees or west to the Choctaw and
Chickasaw towns. Had distance been the only difficulty, Stuart
would have been fortunate indeed, but supplies for presents or to
trade were extremely short. Moreover, it was possible that any-
thing shipped to St. Augustine might not arrive, since the patriots
kept a small offshore fleet which, on one occasion, was successful
in seizing a shipload of ammunition. The patriots who seized the
ammunition might attempt to abduct Stuart and carry him back to
Charleston to face his accusers.4
Yet another problem facing the superintendent in St. Augustine
was the royal governor, Patrick Tonyn. From the outset there seems
to have been friction between the two men, especially since Tonyn
was convinced that Stuart was not doing his job properly. In one of
a number of letters criticizing Stuart, Tonyn asserted that the
superintendent stood in need of a strong spur. Perhaps the basic
reason for their disagreements was Tonyn's insistence that every
one of Britain's native auxiliaries be ready at a moment's notice
to aid in the defense of East Florida. Tonyn was sure that his
province might be invaded or that he might invade Georgia. Why,
he fumed to Clinton and Germain, and sotto voce to David Taitt
(one of Stuart's deputies), couldn't John Stuart get the Indians
organized and ready to assist him? Why couldn't the Seminoles be
prepared and readily available, and why couldn't the Creeks and
Cherokees harass the Georgia frontier in order to distract attention
from a British invasion or spoil hopes for an American penetration
of East Florida?5
4. Sir James Wright to Lord Dartmouth, 20 June 1775, in G. W. J. De-
Renne, ed., "Letters from Governor Sir James Wright to the Earl of Dart-
mouth and Lord George Germain, Secretaries of State for America, from
August 24, 1774, to February 17, 1782," Collections of the Georgia Historical
Society (Savannah, 1873), 3:189-90.
5. Patrick Tonyn to Lord Dartmouth, 20 September 1775, C05/555:194-95;
same to same, 22 July 1775, ibid.:136; same to same, 15 September 1775, ibid.:
171-72; same to same, 18 December 1775, C05/556:157; same to Sir Henry
Clinton, 8 June 1776, ibid.:683-88; private talk of Patrick Tonyn to Pumpkin

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 63
As if their personalities and practices did not provide conflict
enough, the two men even disagreed over certain individuals in
whom to place trust. Some of Stuart's deputies in the Indian country
were regarded by Patrick Tonyn as potentially pro-American, which
Stuart found irritating. The superintendent, on the other hand, was
never impressed by the Georgia refugee-turned-partisan-leader
Thomas Brown, in whom Tonyn had great faith. While Stuart was
willing to use Brown's services in the Indian country (which he did
in 1776), he was never thoroughly committee to the raiding and
cattle stealing which Brown's East Florida Rangers and a few
Indians committed on the Georgia frontier throughout most of the
war. Even in the crucial matter of the Indian trade, the two dis-
agreed: Tonyn wrote home in support of William Panton, while
Stuart favored the former Augusta traders Jackson and McLean.6
Lest one carry this personality clash too far and use it alone as
an explanation for Stuart's removal to West Florida, it should be
pointed out that the superintendent simply had to be nearer to his
charges. His friend and long-time British supporter in the Upper
Creeks, Emistisiguo, was urging that he transfer to Pensacola. Ac-
cordingly, John Stuart moved from St. Augustine to Pensacola in
the summer of 1776, leaving East Florida on June 8 and arriving in
West Florida on July 24.7
Now that the superintendent was closer to the tribes in his care,
let us consider the predicament of the southern Indians at the out-
break of war. In another essay I have suggested that there was a
trinity of dispossession created by the colonials, a triune composed
of land the father, trade the son, and rum the spirit, albeit unholy.8
On the eve of the Revolution these forces weighed as heavily as
From the alluvial fields of the Cherokee farmers to the savannas
of the Seminole drovers, the southern tribesmen (and likewise their
brothers in the North) were hounded by Americans grasping for
land. Through the gaps, up the rivers, across the Piedmont, and
along the trails pushed the settlers, seizing, renting, and purchasing
King and Kalige, 8 December 1775, ibid.: 161-63; Tonyn to Taitt, 3 September
1776, C05/78:53.
6. John Stuart to Dartmouth, 19 January 1776, C05/77:38.
7. Emistisiguo to John Stuart, 20 September 1775, CO05/77:56-57; John
Stuart to Germain, 23 August 1776, C06/77:126.
8. "Southern Indians in the American Revolution" (Paper presented to the
Southern Historical Association, November 1972, Miami, Florida).

64 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
land. Only two years before the Revolution, in 1773, the Cherokees
joined their neighbors the Creeks in an official cession known as
the New Purchase. In 1775 some North Carolina speculators led by
Richard Henderson persuaded the Cherokees to cede most of what
is today Kentucky and middle Tennessee. Even after the outbreak
of hostilities, the Georgians clamored for land. A group headed by
Jonathan Bryan demanded a tract near St. Marks, approval for
which they asked of the Cowkeeper.9 Even the Choctaws and the
Chickasaws had to be wary of their lands, although not to the
same degree as the Creeks and the Cherokees. The British already
planned to request a cession from the Choctaws as part of the policy
aimed at a formal boundary delineation for West Florida; at
Natchez the settlers were expanding to such a degree that the
Chickasaw could never be sure whether the trespassers would come
by the Mississippi or down the Tennessee and then overland to
take up tribal lands.
Losses to trade were even more frequent than losses of land, and
of course there were times when one served the other. Inflated
prices and shortened steelyards cost the Indians dearly in terms of
a balance of payments, but perhaps more devastating in the long
run was the effect of the trade on the economy and the ecology of
the native Americans. As the natives would admit without hesitation,
their dependence on European manufactured goods was complete.
"We have been used so long to wrap our children up as soon as
they are born in goods procured by the white people that we can-
not do without. . ."10 Interwoven also is the impact on the south-
eastern game supply of hunting for trade. Certainly the increasing
use of the musket had its effect. As naturalist Mark Catesby pointed
out in the 1720s, "Before the introduction of firearms amongst the
American Indians, (though hunting was their principal employ-
ment) they made no other use of the skins of deer, and other beasts,
than to cloath themselves, their carcasses for food, probably, their
being of as much value to them as the skins; but as they now barter
the skins to Europeans, for other clothing and utensils they were
before unacquainted with, so the use of guns has enabled them to
9. Tonyn to Dartmouth, 22 July 1775, C05/555:136. For a general discus-
sion of the pressures on the southern Indians in 1775, see the author's Southern
Indians in the American Revolution (Knoxville, 1973), pp. 3-16.
10. Georgia Treaty with the Upper Creeks, 18 June 1777, Treasurer's and
Comptroller's Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and History,

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 65
slaughter far greater number of deer and other animals than they
did with their primitive bows and arrows. This destruction of deer
and other animals being chiefly for the sake of their skins, a small
part of the venison they kill suffices them; the remainder is left to
rot; or becomes a prey to the wolves, panthers, and other voracious
beasts. With these skins they purchase of the English, guns, powder,
and shot, woollen cloth, hatchets, kettles, porridge-pots, knives,
vermilion, beads, rum, etc.""11
Interrelated with the trade and with the land was that demonic
presence, rum. To the dismay of both tribal leaders and British
officials, the traders carried thousands of gallons of rum into the
Indian country. During one ninety-day period, for example, the
trading houses at Pensacola imported and dispensed 30,000 gallons
of rum. While there is no village-to-village distribution or even a per
capital consumption figure, one can cite Charles Stuart's lament over
the incidence of drunkenness in the Choctaw towns, which one
chief explained in these terms: passion for alcohol was like a man's
passion for a desirable woman.12
After the coming of the Revolution, the pressures on the southern
tribes intensified. Certainly there was no relief from demands for
their lands; indeed, if they were not careful, it was possible that
choosing the wrong side in the conflict would cost them dearly.
True, they could play off those who vied for their allegiance, but
picking their way without falling was no easy task. In time of war,
trade became even more crucial; if the normal commercial channels
became clogged, the natives would be the last to receive any of the
imported goods so necessary to their well-being. Since in time of
peace the slightest interruption in the trade tipped the scales, in
time of war they became imbalanced completely. Ironically, the
river of rum never stopped flowing, even in the most difficult times,
when commerce seemed at a standstill otherwise.
To the traditional pressures even more were added. Now the
supplications by the several factions of white men entreated not
only trade and friendship but also assistance in battle, or, failing
that ultimate step, at least neutrality. Former brothers (the Ameri-

11. Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Ba-
hama Islands, 2 vols. (London, 1771), 1:ix.
12. John Stuart to Germain, 26 October 1776, C05/78:15-19; Charles
Stuart's Report of his visit to the Choctaw country, 1 July 1778, C05/79:196-

66 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
cans and the British) told them opposing stories; the Spanish
stepped up their visits; intertribal divisions were exacerbated.
Among the Upper Creeks a division which had been pro-French
(led by the Mortar) versus pro-British (led by Emistisiguo) could
now be transposed into pro-British and pro-American, depending
in part on who rose to leadership in the place of the murdered
Mortar. Emistisiguo, of course, hoped that he could dominate not
only the Upper Creeks but also the Lower Creeks, and perhaps the
Seminoles as well.
Hopes for tribal unity were killed off in the face of the Revolu-
tion. Creek loyalties would be torn between the British officials and
the American representatives. So intense would feelings become
at one point during the war that a group of pro-American tribesmen
raided an Anglophile settlement and came close to capturing David
Taitt, the Creek deputy, and Alexander Cameron, the Cherokee
deputy, who had fled his place of appointment in the face of
invading American troops.13
The Lower and Seminole Creeks in Florida were frustrated be-
cause they faced English, American, and Spanish emissaries, as well
as the internal divisions of the British (governor against Indian
superintendent) and the Americans (land speculators and frontiers-
men versus commissioners of the states and the Continental Con-
gress). Likewise the Choctaws, Cherokees, and Chickasaws had
divided opinions within their tribes. Although the British and
American factions of these tribes were perhaps never so sharply
defined as they were in the towns of the Creek Confederacy, the
divisions nevertheless were there. While it may be said that self-
interest generally dominated the decision-making of village and
tribal councils, often gifts or rum along with some good words were
most persuasive.
When it comes to assessing the military significance of the tribes
from Florida to Virginia, the complexities are compounded. In East
Florida, for example, if one views the struggle in terms of partisan
raiding on the Florida-Georgia frontier, there were numerous times
when there were Seminole or Lower Creek warriors with units such
as Thomas Brown's East Florida Rangers. But most of the warriors
acted independently, so that it could not be said with much author-

13. Alexander McGillivray to John Stuart, 21 September 1777, CO05/79:38;
Stuart to Germain, 6 October 1777, ibid.:29.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 67
ity that the Seminoles or the Lower Creeks were at war with the
Americans, since, as tribal subdivisions or village units, they were
On the other hand, in West Florida there was one major example
during the war when large bodies of tribesmen came forward to
assist the British, as had so long been anticipated: when the Spanish
threatened to capture the British post at Pensacola in 1780. Fearful
lest this cut off trade and eliminate the presence of their British
friends, hundreds of Creek warriors and several hundred Choctaws
came to the support of General John Campbell and his beleaguered
Even General Campbell credited the Indians with saving the post
in 1780, amazing praise indeed from one who disliked the Indians
only slightly more than he despised his assignment to what he con-
sidered a backwater of the British universe. Unfortunately for the
general, he did not translate grateful words into a consistent policy
of cultivating helpful auxiliaries. Rather, in late 1780 and early 1781
he played the proverbial shepherd, crying "wolf" so often that
when the Spanish came to besiege in the spring of 1781, he could
persuade only a few Creeks and a couple hundred Choctaws to
support him. The Choctaws left enraged when their successful sally
through the Spanish lines was unsupported by any British troops.
Encouraged, the Spanish pressed on, and the British, disheartened,
especially when a chance shot struck their powder magazine, ca-
Although the Creeks had served at Pensacola, participated in
some random frontier raids, and scouted for the British army at
Savannah, they had not joined the Cherokees in the tribe's ill-fated
but major assault on the frontier in 1776. That reluctance proved
fortunate for the Creeks, since the Cherokees had been punished
War came to the Cherokee frontier in part because of Revolu-

14. John Campbell to Alexander McGillivray, 22 November 1780, C05/82:
15. Talk of Frenchumastabie, Great Medal Chief of the Choctaw, to Came-
ron, 1 April 1781, C05/82:210; Deposition of Henry Smith, May 1781, CO5/
597, pt. 2:739-40; John W. Caughey, Bernardo de Gdlvez in Louisiana, 1776-
1783 (Berkeley, 1934), chaps. 11, 12, passim; George C. Osborn, "Major Gen-
eral John Campbell in British West Florida," Florida Historical Quarterly 27
(1949):317-39; Cecil Johnson, British West Florida (New Haven, 1943), p. 217;
Royal Gazette (South Carolina), 12 May 1781, p. 2; ibid., 23 May 1781, p. 2.

68 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
tionary turmoil, but more specifically because of long-standing
grievances held against the patriots, the Virginians in particular.
The Virginians were so obnoxious at land-grabbing and what the
southern Indians considered bad behavior that the word "Virginian"
was a term of derogation applied to any greedy, abusive colonial,
even if he had descended from Pocahontas. Pressure in the form of
land cessions and seizures was so great by the spring of 1776 that
the Cherokees were driven to push back the encroaching settlers.
Northern Indian visitors bearing black belts and British officials with
supplies served only to encourage, not directly to incite, the Chero-
kees in the early summer of 1776.16
With the advantage of hindsight we may judge the Cherokees
foolish; but before we generalize so grandly, let us remember that
they were a threatened nation seeking to maintain what they con-
sidered justly theirs and necessary to their tribal autonomy and
integrity. What if they had succeeded? One wonders sometimes if
we have not made victory and truth synonymous.
The strikes by the Cherokee warriors aroused the southern
patriots. From Virginia to Georgia there was now an effective
rallying cry: an Indian attack blamed on the machinations of British
emissaries, a perfect accusation, for it rallied the faithful, con-
firmed the wavering, converted the undecided, and ostracized the
disloyal. South Carolina made more capital out of the frontier in-
cidents, since the Cherokee invasion came hard on the heels of the
abortive but alarming Clinton-Parker expedition. The juxtaposition
of these events rendered credible the tale that it was all of a piece,
a conspiracy (in terms of which the Americans had come to visu-
alize British policy) designed to crush the people of the South
between redcoats and redskins. The thrill of alarm tingled Ameri-
can spines from Brunswick to Pittsburgh and gave the southern
leaders much to work with in raising forces. If these attacks were
British plans, what would be the next perfidy? asked the Ameri-
Within four months after the first Cherokee strikes, Virginia and
the two Carolinas, with moral support and a bit of minor assistance
from Georgia, had raised 6,000 men and sent them trampling into
the Cherokee country. From upper South Carolina through the

16. The discussion of the Cherokee War is drawn from O'Donnell, Southern
Indians, chap. 2.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 69
mountains of western North Carolina and west into Tennessee
country, the monsters with the white eyes had gone, scattering
people, destroying crops in the fields as well as in storage for winter,
and leveling several towns. Known as the Cherokee War of 1776,
this conflict broke the tribe's power for the duration of the war, if
not for the century. Without provisions, since in the Overhill towns
alone the Americans had destroyed 60,000 bushels of grain, the
tribe was at the enemy's mercy. The images of their devastated
lands were projected by patriot commissioners into the minds of the
other southern tribes.17 So effective was the Cherokee story as
American propaganda that the British Indian agents wrote again and
again that no words, goods, or professions of friendship would ever
erase this vision from the imagination of the other tribes.
It is, then, none too surprising that while the Creeks were willing
to assist the British garrison at Pensacola, they were unwilling to
penetrate Georgia unaccompanied by British troops. On one occa-
sion in early 1779, a sizable band of warriors and partisans reached
the Georgia frontier and waited for British troops to arrive and
join them. When an advancing corps turned out to be Americans,
the Indians chose to withdraw. The Cherokees had paid too heavily;
the Creeks were unwilling to endanger themselves.18 Another factor
in the Creek reluctance was their long-standing feud with the Choc-
taws. Over the years, since the withdrawal of the French, this
struggle of forest warriors had been fomented by the British on the
principle of divide and conquer. With the coming of the Revolu-
tion, the British had attempted to stop the war; conferences at Pen-
sacola in 1776 and at Mobile in 1777 had urged peace. To be sure,
many in both tribes welcomed the end of hostilities, since, as one
chief explained, "We in this part of the Nation are made very poor
by so long a War not being able to hunt, to feed, and Cloath our
Women and Children as we used to do, and as the rest of our
nation can now do."19 Both accepted the opportunity for truce and

17. George Galphin to Willie Jones, 26 October 1776, Papers of the Conti-
nental Congress, National Archives, no. 78, 13:17-20.
18. David Taitt to Lord George Germain, C05/80:234; Andrew Williamson
to Benjamin Lincoln, 19 January 1779, Andrew Williamson Papers, University
of South Carolina, South Caroliniana Library, Columbia.
19. Georgia Treaty with the Upper Creeks, 18 June 1777, Treasurer's and
Comptroller's Papers, North Carolina Department of Archives and History;
John Stuart to Germain, 23 August 1776, C05/77:128; same to same, 10
March 1777, C05/78:105.

70 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
welcomed the idea of peace, but neither trusted the other. Upper
Creek warriors would think twice before leaving their homes and
families exposed to the possibility of a raid by Choctaw gunmen
or a surprise attack by pro-American Lower Creeks.
Choctaw raiders against Creek enemies, or vice versa, was not
the only battle scenario beyond the colonial frontiers. Choctaws
had served at Mobile and continued to raid there even after it fell
into Spanish hands, had assisted in the Mississippi River patrol, and
had gone to Pensacola both in 1780 and in 1781. Their involvement
came more because of British appeals than as a result of direct
American contact. Attempts by the Spanish to influence them also
deepened their involvement in the struggle.
The Chickasaws were in a position similar to that of the Choctaws.
Their distance from the American settlements made them some-
what less susceptible than either the Cherokees or the Creeks. Un-
fortunately for the Chickasaws, they did have land much desired
by the Americans, or more appropriately, the Virginians, who even
in time of war sought to expand under the pretext of military neces-
sity. Toward the end of the war, the Chickasaws became embroiled
in a dispute with Virginia over some western Kentucky land which
the Commonwealth wanted as a site for a fort and a settlement.20
Even so, there was little or no direct military conflict between the
Chickasaws and the patriots.
Thus, through the early years of the war, each of the major
southern tribes had contact and conflict, to a greater or lesser de-
gree, with the rebellious colonials. For the faraway Chickasaws and
Choctaws the threat was still largely in the future, while for the
Creeks, and especially for the Cherokees, the dangers were im-
Of great concern to all the southern tribes had been the policy
of the British Indian department. Throughout the first four years
of the war, Superintendent Stuart had labored to hold the Indians
"firm in their attachment to his Majesty's service." But war had
disrupted the careful machinery constructed by John Stuart, and
he had been driven away from his headquarters in Charleston.
From exile, first at St. Augustine and then at Pensacola, he had
worked for the implementation of royal policy. The southern tribes

20. Chickasaw to the Rebells [sic], 8 March 1789, Papers of the Continental
Congress, National Archives, no. 51, 2:41-42.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 71
looked to him as the British spokesperson and their friend in time
of need.
It was to their dismay, then, that news came in the spring of 1779
that John Stuart had died in March.21 The termination of Stuart's
superintendency was certainly the end of an era in British Indian
policy. Almost immediately a series of abrupt changes were insti-
tuted in the regulation of Indian affairs. Jealous local officials in
West Florida moved to strip the Indian department of its inde-
pendence by claiming control over it and appointing commissioners
to serve ad interim until Stuart's successor could be named. Only
the mediation of General Campbell kept the veteran Indian agents
from refusing to cooperate.22
More significant, however, were the attitude displayed and the
actions taken by Lord George Germain. The American secretary had
become alarmed by the enormous amounts of money drawn by
Stuart during the war. Added to Germain's basic concern about
spending was the debate over war expenses raging in Parliament
during 1778 and 1779. At one point the bills of John Stuart had
been challenged specifically by the opposition. Consequently, even
before he learned of Stuart's death, Germain had determined that
the Indian superintendents in America would have to be on strict
budgets and operate under the supervision of the commanding
military officer in the district. Any extraordinary funds would have
to have the explicit approval of the military. And to insure the
diminution of power once held by the superintendent, Germain
divided the southern superintendency into two districts, with in-
structions for the new officials that they would have to travel
through their territories at least a part of each year.23
The largess which the southern Indians had received for so many
years was now to end. With Stuart gone and no successor to claim
his place and perquisites, the British southern Indian department
would be reduced to a mere cipher. There would be, at least at
first, the problem of a recognizable authority figure if the wrong
official was chosen. One can only wonder in this connection why
21. Alexander Cameron and Charles Stuart to Germain, 26 March 1779,
22. General John Campbell to Stuart and Cameron, 27 March 1779, C05/
23. Germain to Cameron and Brown, 25 June 1779, C05/81:123. For
further discussion and documentation concerning Germain's rationale and ac-
tions, see O'Donnell, Southern Indians, pp. 88-91.

72 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
Germain named Thomas Brown as superintendent for the Chero-
kees and Creeks while placing Alexander Cameron, the long-time
Cherokee deputy, in charge of the Choctaws and Chickasaws. The
secretary seemed determined indeed to break the power of the
Indian department. Whether his accusations of embezzlement
against Stuart and his deputies were sincere has not been deter-
mined, but certainly his general attitude toward the departments,
both north and south, was negative. The altered Indian policy, how-
ever, might best be seen in terms of economic and political pressures
on the English government at the time.
Certainly the changes in policy restricted the efforts of Cameron
and Brown as they attempted to deal with their new responsibilities.
From a base at Pensacola, Cameron laid plans for supervising the
Choctaws and the Chickasaws.24 Thomas Brown, on the other hand,
returned north as the British were successful in recovering first
Georgia and then South Carolina. In order to be nearer the tribes
under his care, Brown elected to locate at Augusta, Georgia, where
he could serve in the dual capacity of superintendent of the Atlantic
division and as commandant of the British post there.25
Thus, for a time Florida would not be the center of the operations
for the Indian departments as it had been during the years 1775-80.
Only when the Americans drove the British out of Georgia in 1782
would Thomas Brown return to St. Augustine to take up his resi-
dence and attempt to deal with the Indians from that location.
Alexander Cameron would not leave Pensacola to visit the Indian
country as Germain had demanded. Rather, he sought every excuse
not to leave and all the while stayed in constant disagreement with
General Campbell. When Pensacola fell in 1781, Cameron traveled
cross-country to Savannah, where he died in December 1781.26
During the years 1780-82, the southern Indians, and the Creeks
and Choctaws in particular, strove to assist the British in defending
their positions in North America. As mentioned, the Choctaws and
Creeks aided at Mobile and Pensacola. When Augusta was be-
sieged, a few Cherokees slipped in to assist the British, but it was
24. Cameron to Germain, 20 December 1775, C05/81:42; Cameron's
Estimate for the necessary men and expenses for the department, December
1779, ibid.:55.
25. Germain to Brown, 5 July 1780, C05/81:171; Thomas Brown's estimate
for expenses, 10 March 1780, ibid.:153.
26. Brown to Clinton, 28 December 1781, C05/82:283; Royal Georgia
Gazette, 3 January 1782, p. 2.

The Florida Revolutionary Indian Frontier / 73
to no avail. When Brown surrendered the post in 1781, he was
accompanied back to the British lines by the Indians who had been
with them.27
Upon his return to St. Augustine in 1782, Thomas Brown faced
the difficulty of operating his division from a great distance. All
through the fall and winter of 1782-83, a stream of visitors from
the southern and northern tribes presented themselves in St. Au-
gustine. The little city was alive now with loyalists of two skin
pigmentations. In January 1783, Brown estimated his Indian callers
at 2,000. The Indians promised their undying loyalty and requested
Brown's assurance that, even from his isolated position in East
Florida, he would still be able to afford them aid and trade.28
The natives who rode the forest pathways in late 1782 and early
1783 hoped that they would not be abandoned by the British and
left at the mercy of the avaricious "Virginians." Thus, when word
came in 1783 that the British were to evacuate the Floridas and
cede them to the Spanish, leaving the tribes at the mercy of the
Americans, the southern Indians were stunned. "I cannot take a
Virginian by the hand," exclaimed one chief; "take us with you."29
So great was the immediate clamor that both Brown and the com-
mandant at St. Augustine were convinced that thousands of Indians
were determined to abandon their homelands rather than face un-
checked American expansion. Given time and soothing words, how-
ever, the natives were persuaded that it was not in their best interest
to leave. Their only way out seemed to lie in a marriage of con-
venience with the Spanish, an alliance to which they would come
out of necessity.30
Florida would thus be the scene of the parting of the southern
Indians and their long-time British friends, as well as the locale for

27. Brown to Germain, 9 August 1781, C05/82:252; Royal Gazette (S.C.),
30 May 1781, p. 3; Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Depart-
ment of the United States, ed. Robert E. Lee (New York, 1870), p. 369.
28. Brown to Shelburne, 25 September 1782, C05/82:343.
29. Substance of an Indian Talk delivered to Tonyn, McArthur, and Brown,
15 May 1783, in Joseph B. Lockey, ed., East Florida, 1783-1785. A File of
Documents Assembled, and Many of Them Translated (Berkeley, 1949), pp.
30. Brown to Lord North, 24 October 1783, C05/82:403; McGillivray to
Brown, 30 August 1783, ibid.:405; Arturo O'Neill to Jose de Ezpeleta, 19
October 1783, in John W. Caughey, McGillivray of the Creeks (Norman, Okla-
homa, 1938), pp. 62-63; J. H. O'Donnell, "Alexander McGillivray: Training for
Leadership, 1777-1783," Georgia Historical Quarterly 49 (June 1965):172-86.

74 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
establishing a new relationship between the tribes and the Spanish.
Bartram's Elysium had turned out to be less an abode of the blessed
or a field of battle than a seat of administration and a place of
refuge. By harboring refugees, housing public officials, and hosting
visitors (Indians or otherwise), St. Augustine and Pensacola estab-
lished a pattern which the entire state would follow in the years

Black Life and Activities in West Florida and

on the Gulf Coast, 1762-1803


BETWEEN 1762 and 1803, when Spain controlled Louisiana, and
after 1784, when she resumed sovereignty over West Florida, black
people there were an indispensable part of the population; through
their involvement in the daily life of the area they made an en-
during Afro-American imprint, giving dimensions and directions in
black-white relations distinctively affecting the life styles, cultures,
and history of the area. Slavery dominated the life of black people
as before, but declining Spain, as it faced the imperial problems
of preserving its overseas empire against superpower England and
the rising United States, evidenced a willingness, as it struggled
for survival, to soften some of the constraints imposed by slavery.
Whether enlightenment or survival was the chief motivating factor,
some benefits accrued to blacks.
In essence, the status of all blacks was fixed by the Code Noir
which had been drawn up in Paris at the request of the French
Crown to meet the enormous increase of Negro slaves under the
rule of the Company of the Indies.' To this were added the Spanish
regulations from the Sietes Partidas, which complemented the code.2
The harmonization which followed gave slavery in this part of what
1. Roland McConnell, Negro Troops of Antebellum Louisiana, A History of
the Battalion of Free Men of Color (Baton Rouge, 1968), p. 4.
2. Helen T. Catterall, ed., Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and
the Negro, vol. 3, Cases from the Courts of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Missis-
sippi, and Louisiana (Washington, 1932), p. 612.

76 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
would become the United States a genre that was singular, if not
At the outset, slaves were recognized as human beings and not
mere property. Next, they were made Catholic, and as such were
to be administered the sacraments of baptism, marriage in the
Roman Catholic Church, and burial according to the rites of the
church. Slave families were not to be broken or slaves sold before
the age of fourteen. Slaves ill treated by their masters could
report them to certain officials of the province. If slaves were
brought to trial, they could appeal cases to the Superior Court. Pro-
visions of adequate food, clothing, and care during illness and old
age were specified in the code. Slaves were not to be denied the use
of Sunday and holidays entirely for themselves. They were allo-
cated small plots of land, the products from which they could sell
for their own profit.
Freed slaves were to be granted the same privileges and immuni-
ties enjoyed by persons born free. Avenues to freedom included self-
purchase, meritorious deeds, will or wish of the master, and the
tutoring of his children. Racial admixture, which the code pro-
hibited, was recognized by the term gens de couleur, people of
color. Because of the scarcity of European women, a social tendency
toward miscegenation appeared and continued throughout the
period of slavery, resulting in time in the mixed group outnumber-
ing the nonwhite group.
In West Florida, the slave code, reflecting the influence of Geor-
gia, South Carolina, and the sugar colonies, was more strict. An act
of December 20, 1766, applied to government of slaves.3 They were
not allowed to go two miles from their premises or plantations with-
out a ticket or pass, the penalty being twenty lashes on the bare
back. They could not engage in business on their own account nor
could they keep hogs, cattle, or poultry. They were prohibited from
carrying firearms beyond the cleared ground of their owners. En-
forcement of slave laws raised questions. For example, manumis-
sion occurred only after the payment of security to prevent the
freed person from becoming a public charge.
Slavery appeared more harsh in West Florida and East Florida
than in Louisiana. But, generally speaking, according to contempo-
rary soldier Captain Bernard Romans, who wrote A Concise Natural
3. Cecil Johnson, British West Florida 1763-1783 (New Haven, 1943), pp.

Black Life in West Florida / 77
History of East and West Florida, Negroes were better treated there
than in Carolina.4
Most of the families in West Florida, according to the petitions
for land, did not own slaves at the outset. Most of those who did
owned from three to eight. There are, however, several instances
where large numbers were owned, and the influx of loyalists after
the outbreak of the Revolution brought several families with fifty or
more. In 1770, the firm of McGillivray and Strothers reported it
owned forty slaves. Attorney General Weggs claimed twenty-two
in 1772. In 1776, Samuel Hancock listed forty-five, and Richard
Ellis had the largest number on record, eighty-one.5
One of the most celebrated settlers of West Florida was William
Dunbar, successful planter and pioneer scientist, who had a planta-
tion just north of Manchac where he practiced diversified agricul-
ture, cultivating corn, rice, indigo, tobacco, and, later, cotton and
green vegetables. He kept a diary from which it is known that he
treated his slaves humanely. He allotted them small plots of land
where they could raise vegetables for their own use and for profit.
They were not required to work on Sunday, but if they did, they
were rewarded for it. At times they were given days off to work
their own plots.
Dunbar engaged eighteen slaves in processing barrel staves for
the West Indies market at a rate of 5,000 a week.6 On one occasion
he claimed having 60,000 barrel and 40,000 hogshead staves on the
riverbank ready for shipment. Slaves became specialists in this oper-
ation, working as "fullers," "sawyers," "rivers," bolterss," and "cart-
In spite of Dunbar's treatment of his slaves, two fled his planta-
tion, and three others, to his great consternation, were ringleaders
in a would-be slave insurrection. There was an immediate investiga-
tion. One of the slaves, courageous to the end, committed suicide by
drowning. Three of the others, after being tried according to the
law of the province, were hanged within ten days of the plot.
Now and then a slave attained a position of inestimable value and
worth to the entire community. Such was the case of Antonio Proc-
tor, property of the Indian trading firm of Panton, Leslie and
Company, headquartered at Pensacola. Having become knowledge-
4. Ibid., p. 177.
5. Ibid., pp. 175-76.
6. Ibid., p. 184.

78 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
able of the Indian character and language, he became one of the
firm's interpreters to the Indians.7 His work was so effective and he
became so influential among the Indians that he was engaged to
serve as interpreter for the Spanish, and later for American, officials.
He acquired his freedom and a land grant in 1816 for having done
"much to pacify the province" during the War of 1812 when Florida
was attacked by the patriots and their Indian allies.
Of an enduring nature was the emergence of the cotton culture
and textile complex of the period. Not only was cotton cultivated
by slave labor, but a Mr. Krebs at Pascagoula developed a primitive
mechanical cotton gin at which he employed a number of slaves.
Two shoveled seeds from under the mill while a third made it work
by turning a wheel, and another slave baled the cotton by wetting
and stomping it in large canvas bags.8
Sometimes slaves assisted in the advancement of science. While
serving as escort and guide for William Bartram, who was searching
the Floridas and the western parts of Carolina and Georgia for use-
ful plants and vegetables, a slave of Major Farmar aided in finding
near Taensa Bluff certain pharmaceutical plants like citronella,
which was diuretic, carminative, and powerful as a febrifuge when
made into a tea.9
Quite apart from the regular types of work they were expected to
perform, slaves in New Orleans and vicinity engaged in other activi-
ties. In his tailoring business, Populus employed seven slaves who
were considered the best in his factory.10 Temba was a hunter, and
Pedro was the overseer on Mr. Lebreton's plantation.:" Mulet, who
belonged to Mr. Lippinot, was skilled in many trades and was hired
out at times. According to witnesses, he was known to have "skills
particularly as blacksmith, mason, cooper, roofer, strong long
sawyer," and could mix with these a little rough carpentry and
rough joinery.12 D. Gilberto Antonio St. Maxent's Negroes, number-
ing 169 without counting small children, were almost all skilled.
7. Rosalind Parker, "The Proctors-Antonio, George and John," Apalachee,
Publication of the Tallahassee Historical Society (1946), p. 19.
8. Johnson, British West Florida, pp. 182-83.
9. Peter J. Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, An Historical Study, largely from
Original Sources, of the Alabama-Tombigbee Basin from the Discovery of
Mobile Bay in 1519 until the Demolition of Fort Charlotte in 1821 (Boston and
New York, 1897), p. 240.
10. Catterall, Judicial Cases, p. 422.
11. Ibid., p. 424.
12. Ibid., p. 430.

Black Life in West Florida / 79
They worked at his several dwellings and plantations and around
New Orleans. He not only raised agricultural products on two large
plantations but owned and operated a rum distillery, a cattle ranch
with over a hundred head, and a lumber mill. In all of these he
used slave labor.13
Now and then slaves became fixtures in institutions and performed
public service. Miguel the Negro was part of the law enforcement
agency, as public executioner. His duty was to lead convicted crim-
inals, with rope around their necks, through the streets to the public
square. He was preceded by the town crier, who announced the
crime and the punishment, and was followed by military units.
Arriving at the public square where the gallows were located,
Miguel would then perform the act of execution. It is not unlikely
that the same Miguel performed other law enforcement duties when
required; these were the days of the chamber of torture in New
A second example of slaves performing a public service involved
the New Charity Hospital constructed by Don Andres de Al-
monester y Royas in 1795. He included in his gift to the city a do-
nation of five slaves whose usage was clearly delineated." First,
there was a mulatto named Domingo, whose occupation was that of
phlebotomist (the art and practice of bloodletting) and who was
instructed in surgery and performed these functions in the ward.
Another Negro named Paugui was to be concerned with sanitation
and with the service and cleanliness of the sick poor people. The
third, a Negro named Gayllard, was to cultivate the kitchen and
botanical gardens which the founder had established for the poor.
The fourth and fifth slaves, Magdalena and Juana, were to be used
in washing the linen of the hospital.
There was another side to slavery: the inevitable quest for free-
dom on the part of the enslaved. Cimarrons were runaway slaves
who escaped deep into remote swamps or bayous to build hide-
aways and headquarters. They organized themselves into bands
which raided plantations for weapons and food and committed
13. Caroline M. Burson, The Stewardship of Don Esteban Miro, 1782-1792,
A Study of Louisiana Based Largely on the Documents in New Orleans (New
Orleans, 1940), p. 107n.
14. "Constitution for the New Charity Hospital of New Orleans Constructed
by Don Andres de Almonester y Royas, 1793," trans. Wiley D. Stephenson,
for the WPA Survey of Federal Archives in Louisiana (Louisiana State Univer-
sity Library, and National Archives), p. 18.

80 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
crimes ranging from robbery to murder. The most daring and formi-
dable groups of cimarrons were led by Juan Malo, who was elected
chief because of his reputation for being daring and ruthless.15 He
had killed a man for refusing to carry out a simple command in
order to impress upon his confederates the need for men both bold
and obedient. His second in command was called Knight of the Axe
because he once killed a white man by splitting his head open with
an ax. Raids, robberies, and repeated acts of daring were everyday
occurrences. When one of Madame Mandeville's slaves objected
to their forcing and robbing the storehouse when they raided her
plantation, he was killed in cold blood.
The cimarrons became so bold and numerous that they set up
companies in different places. One such was Gaillare Village, from
which continuous crimes were perpetrated. Many plantations out-
side the city were abandoned. Masters were circumspect in scolding
their slaves for fear they would inform the cimarrons of the threat.
The crimes of the cimarron became so numerous and excessive
that the authorities of the provinces decided to send a military ex-
pedition against them in what became known as the Cimarron
While slavery was becoming more firmly established and en-
trenched as the principal labor force, free people of color emerged
as a third class, especially in New Orleans and its vicinity where
they became more numerous. This class was composed of two
groups: free Negroes who had acquired their freedom through acts
of bravery, as in the Indian war under the French, or through self-
purchase, manumission, or as descendants of free Negroes; and
people of mixed blood who had received their freedom because of a
special relationship with their masters, especially the Spanish mas-
ters who had freed their offspring.
This free black population increased not only through procreation
but also as a result of a pattern of cohabitation of Spanish officials
with women of color which became legalized and institutionalized
for Spaniards of rank in spite of the Code Noir, which they had in-
herited. Judge Isaac T. Preston, in the Badillo Case of 1851 involving
the cohabitation of a free woman of color with a Spanish officer for
fifty years and the subsequent property rights after his death, aptly
explained the arrangement: "By an express law of the Partidas,"
15. McConnell, Negro Troops, p. 22.
16. Ibid.

Black Life in West Florida / 81
whose origin may be traced to the administration of Spain by the
Roman Empire, "the governors of the province were forbidden to
marry, and were authorized to have concubines. . ." This became
the law of Louisiana under the Spanish. Since "there were in the
colony but few women of the white race and hardly any of equal
conditions with the officers of the Government troops . the in-
evitable consequence was . connection with women of color. This
custom, coming as it did from the ruling class, soon spread through-
out the colony. ." and became the leading source of manumissions
in Louisiana.17 Sometimes slave masters married the black mothers
of their children, but more often they freed them and the children
and established homes for them.
Even though the emergence of a class of free people of color was
more pronounced in Louisiana and areas above the Mississippi than
in Florida, where manumissions were less numerous, some blacks
in West Florida acquired freedom and property. Some became
slaveholders themselves. In 1792, Julia Vilars, a mulattress of good
character, was granted land in Mobile on the northeast corner of
St. Charles and St. Jago.18 The original plot of 60 by 120 feet was
later enlarged. During the same year, Martha Triton, a free black
woman, was granted the lot next door.19 Other examples of black
real property owners in Mobile include Mary Josephine, the Negro
blacksmith Joseph, Honore La Pointe, and Petit Jean.20 A free
mulatto, Auguste Colin, had a home on St. Francis Street, which
possibly he built. It was not far from the Royal Hospital. A Negro,
Charles, and his family were awarded 20 by 40 arpents of the sea-
shore at Pass Christian by deed of Julia de la Brosse, the widow
Carriere, November 5, 1799. The conveyance records that Charles
and his family had "rendered her many services in her sickness dur-
ing which she had become blind." Simon Landry, a mulatto from
Baton Rouge, acquired extensive river lands from McGillivray at
Seymour's Bluff in 1787.21 Here the river makes a double horseshoe
curve, coming back after several miles to within a few hundred
yards of its starting point; the bluff affords a beautiful view up
and down the river. This has long been the home of the Andrys and
near there many mulattoes lived, intermixed with the Chastangs,
17. Catterall, Judicial Cases, p. 612.
18. Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, p. 311.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Ibid., pp. 269-70.

82 / Eighteenth-Century Florida: Life on the Frontier
but in their French patois genealogically claiming descent from the
Creole Simon Andry or L'Andry.22
It was in New Orleans and vicinity that the group attained its
highest development and recognition as a class. Here blacks were
engaged in a variety of occupations and services. Juana, a free black
woman, owned a store with Old Peter in which they sold yard-
goods, thread, and buttons. They also made garments such as
shirts and smocks.23 Antonio, a mulatto, was a barber who owned
his shop. Jacques Bellaire, a free mulatto, owned a shoe shop where
he made and repaired shoes. Baranabe was a musician who taught
violin.24 Pierre Bailly owned a store which he operated on a flatboat
anchored on the batture of the river, fronting New Orleans. He also
hired out his slaves.25 Joseph Casenave, a free mulatto, after paying
cash for Magdalena and her little son, drew up papers for their
Jean Paquet, a free mulatto, purchased a tract of land, measuring
16 arpents in front from Huchet de Kerion on the German Coast,
for 13,000 livres.27 Jean Baptiste Chevalan and Celestine Govem-
berg purchased a tract of land on the post of the Atakapas on the
left bank of Bayou Teche. This tract was 4 arpents wide and 40
arpents deep. Jacob Allain, a free black, owned a tract of 480 super-
ficial arpents in Feliciana on the west bank of Bayou Sarah, three
and one-half miles from the entrance to the Mississippi.28 C. Case-
nave owned a tract fronting the Mississippi for 3 arpents in Burnt
Canas about 4 leagues from the city up the river.29 Marie Pechon
and her Frangois owned a plantation below the city on the
Jean Baptiste Bienville, a free mulatto of Baton Rouge who died

22. Ibid.
23. Catterall, Judicial Cases, pp. 434-85.
24. Dispatches of the Spanish Governors of Louisiana, Messages of Fran-
cisco Luis Hector, El Baron de Carondelet, Book 2, August 20, 1792 to March
28, 1798, WPA typescripts (Louisiana State Museum Library, New Orleans), p.
25. James A. Padgett, ed., "Some Documents Relating to the Batture Con-
troversy in New Orleans," LHQ 23 (July 1940):706-9.
26. Ibid., p. 441.
27. Ibid., p. 445.
28. Pintado Papers, Transcripts of Land Claims (National Archives), Book 7,
pp. 65-66.
29. Ibid., p. 38.
80. Catterall, Judicial Cases, p. 436.

Black Life in West Florida / 83
July 21, 1802, was one of the more wealthy free persons of color of
the period.31 He left an estate valued at 14,000 pesos free of debt.
His property descended to his three children, Basile, Julien, and
Frangois, who settled the inheritance outside the usual procedure.
The black Bienville appeared to have played a more important role
in Spanish West Florida than any other settler of his color. Obvi-
ously of French-African extraction, bearing an illustrious name, and
a resident of Point Coupee, Jean Baptiste was held in the highest
regard by the remnant of exclusive French people who domi-
nated Point Coupee, as well as by Spanish officers. His name ap-
pears in the succession of Pierre Avare, an Acadian bachelor, who
appointed his trusted friend as testamentary executor of his will.
Bienville had attended him during a prolonged illness. At his own
death, Bienville owned a plantation on the west side of the Missis-
sippi measuring 12 arpents in front with the usual depth of 40
arpents. All the timber in front had been felled. The estate included
a medium-sized house, a warehouse, a kitchen, necessary fences and
wells, and a number of Negro cabins and other small buildings. He
owned nineteen slaves.
In New Orleans a black man made his mark in the field of medi-
cine. He was James Derham, a correspondent of the eminent Dr.
Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, whom
he had met and sufficiently impressed so that the latter, a famous
abolitionist, presented him as the subject for discussion before the
Philadelphia Society on the evening of November 14, 1788.32 In his
presentation Dr. Rush referred to Dr. Derham as a former Negro
slave who had come to be regarded as "one of the most distin-
guished physicians in New Orleans." Born in Philadelphia to a
family who taught him to read and write, Derham was later ac-
quired by three physicians in turn, who gave him an opportunity
to acquire and develop his medical interests. Under the patronage
of Dr. Robert Dove of New Orleans, to whom he was last sold, he
developed his knowledge to the point that his master not only made
him his assistant but enabled him to buy his freedom on easy terms
over a period of three years. At the time of the Rush presentation,
Derham was said to be twenty-six years of age and earning $3,000

31. Spanish West Florida Documents, Federal Writers Project, typescript
(National Archives Library), 5:218, A.
32. Herbert M. Morais, The History of the Negro in Medicine (New York,
1967), pp. 8-10.