The Economy of British West Florida, 1763-1783

The Economy of British West Florida, 1763-1783

The Economy of British West Florida, 1763-1783

The Economy of British West Florida, 1763-1783

Excerpt

Most Englishmen and even most Americans do not know that there was a British colony of West Florida in the 1760s and 1770s. That the province remained loyal in the revolution and, upon its conclusion, became not a state of the brave new American republic but instead part of the old Spanish empire helps to explain West Florida's absence from revolutionary mythology. When the British acquired it by diplomacy as a spoil of war in 1763, nobody could foresee that the colony's future would be brief Many people believed that it would remain an unprofitable liability or, in contrast, would rival the older colonies farther north in population, prosperity, and political power.

During the Seven Years' War Florida had not been subjected to invading expeditions like those the British had launched against Havana, Manila, and Quebec. Little was known about Florida in Whitehall, although its vastness, which far exceeded that of the modern state of Florida, was so obvious that, very soon after British possession of Florida became sure, the British government decided to divide into two the new possession, which stretched all the way from the Mississippi to the Atlantic. Even so, each half was large, especially West Florida, which encompassed the panhandle of the modern state of Florida, about half of present-day Alabama, and a large proportion of what is now Mississippi in addition to some of Louisiana. This immensity was acquired 'in two stages. The original colony of West Florida, as defined in George III's proclamation of 7 October 1763, was

bounded to the southward by the Gulf of Mexico, including all islands within six leagues [i.e., eighteen miles] of the coast from the river Apalachicola to Lake Pontchartrain; to the westward by the said lake, the lake Maurepas, and . . .

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