|2nd Spanish Period
East Florida returned to Spain's Charles III
The Treaty of Paris gave control of East Florida (and West Florida) back to Spain's King Charles III.
While he was an absolute monarch, he also followed enlightenment principles. He would start a process
of reform in Spain with the Church. Charles had only become King of Spain in 1758 before giving away
East and West Florida to the British. He would die in 4 years leaving King Charles IV king. King
Charles IV would remain on the thrown until Napoleon would replace him with Napoleon's brother
Joseph. In Europe King Charles would be faced with the birth of Republican France and then the
upheaval caused by Napoleon.
The 2nd Spanish period was set with difficulties almost before it began. John Cruden began a plot to
seize control of the colony when the British received the news of the transfer by the Treaty of Paris.
Governor Vizente Manuel de Zespedes
The new Spanish governor was Governor Vizente Manuel de Zespedes. He was a sixty-three year old
veteran of the army commanding an advance force of 500 soldiers. He arrived on June 26 on the San
Matias. Zespedes met with British Governor Patrick Tonyn and gave him the official papers signed by
King George III. The formal ceremony transferring control to the Spanish occurred July 12, 1784. On
July 14 Zespedes issues a proclamation announcing the beginning of his governorship. Arriving with the
convoy was Father Miguel O'Reilly and Father Francisco Traconis. Father Camps celebrated a
thanksgiving mass the next day. By September Father Thomas Hassett reached East Florida. The
transfer took one year. A census was made to determine who would be staying. The last English officials
left in June of 1785. The last of the British subjects were gone in December, 1785. The remaining
English influence was the firm of Paton, Leslie and Company that the Spanish kept to trade with the
Zespedes held his Indian meeting in 1784 with ex-Governor Tonyn. In March Cowkeeper or Secoffee,
the Seminole chief, had died. This made the transition easier since Cowkeeper was anti-Spanish.
An Opportunity of Freedom - Zespedes Proclamation of July 26, 1784
This proclamation prohibited any of the departing ships from taking passengers of any color status
without a license from Zespedes. Blacks had twenty days to clarify their status and obtain a work
permit. At least 251 of these were made to the Spanish government. The British protested but to no
This attitude carried over into the return of runaway slaves from Georgia with the governor affirming that
East Florida would not cooperate with Georgia on the return of runaway slaves because Georgia had
not seen first to cooperate prior to 1763. "One of the provisions of the old rule is that no fugitive Negro
from Georgia be returned , as the London court refused to reciprocate." Vincente Manuel de Zespedes
to John Houstoun Governor of Georgia November 28, 1784.
Thomas Bell - Pirates
January 24, 1785 a pirate attack took place at Jesse Fish's home on Anastasia Island. Four men
anchored west of the island and rowed to shore. After looting the house they returned to their boat
except for Thomas Bell who fell wounded. He died on the town plaza and his body was shown on the
gallows of the Castillo the next day.
Opinion (Independent Gazetteer, Philadelphia, June 17, 1788)
A paragraph in your Saturday's paper, under the Savannah head, complains of the Spaniards in Florida,
for harbouring and protecting our runaway negroes. But why do we complains of the Spaniards in
Florida, for harbouring and protecting our runaway negroes. But why do we complain of the Spaniards?
Is not the State of Massachusetts guilty of the same crime? It is a well known fact that the state has not
only given freedom to their own negroes, but it protects those runaways who come from other States.
Now it seemeth to me inconsistent for us to threaten the Spaniards, and accuse them of injustice, for
doing that which we suffer to be done among ourselves. If our government has not energy enough to
remedy the evil at home, how can we expect to do it abroad? It is high time for us to bestir ourselves;
for if matters are suffered to go on this way, our slaves will all leave us, and we at the southward, shall
be under the necessity of making slaves of ourselves; of being reduced to a level with negroes and
labour, like the people of New-England. This will never do....and if the Governor of St. Augustine, or
the people of Massachusetts, should "attempt a repetition of this unjust and ungenerous conduct," of
making our negroes freemen, "the affair will be treated some other way, besides remonstrance only."
United Columbia Alexandria, March 3 Extract of a letter form St. Augustine, East-Florida, dated
January 12, 1789 (The American Herald and the Worcester Recorder, March 26, 1789)
Our vessels are received with the greatest cordiality by the Spaniards. -- Governour Zelpadez, pays the
greatest attention to every American who comes properly recommended; and the friendly treatment our
countrymen receive from the Officers of the Irish brigade stationed in this town, must lay every American
under the greatest obligations to their hospitable sons of Hibernia, --- Flour and all kinds of provisions
from the United States find a good market here, the commerce in the above articles being entirely free.
This indulgence we owe to the uncultivated state of this province; for St. Augustine, the garrison of St.
John's and St. Mary's, are the only inhabited parts of East-Florida, and these are occupied by men of
the military professions, who raise nothing except money, the whole of which is laid out in American
Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada
Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada became the second governor of Spanish East Florida from July 1790
through March 1796. He had been the Governor of Honduras till this new assignment. His most notable
achievement was building the Cathedral Basilica.
Return of Slaves
May 17, 1790 a royal order was issued directing the Governor of East Florida to apprehend and lock
up all Negroes escaping from the United States and return them to after those claiming ownership had
proved their ownership and paid costs.
American Intelligence. (The Pennsylvania Mercury, and Universal Advertiser, Philadelphia,
October 19, 1790) Savannah, September 23.
A letter from St. Mary's, dated the 10th inst. received by a mercantile house in this city the 19th,
contains the following intelligence, viz.
"We have the pleasure to inform you that the King of Spain has ordered the governors of the Floridas
not to receive any Negroes from the United States of America. An officer arrived here ten days past
from the Governor of East-Florida with a proclamation to this purport. Enclosed you have a copy of the
Governor's orders to his officers commanding on the frontiers, which you may publish, if you see fit, as
coming from James Seagrove, Esq. collector of St. Mary's, lest the information should be doubted."
By a royal schedule of the 17th of last May, his Majesty has been pleased to declare, that the practice
of giving freedom to the Negroes from the United States, who should take refuge in Spanish territories,
shall cease for the present; of which I give you notice, that you should so give to understand to any
Negroes who may seek protection on this frontier. St. Augustine, 23d August, 1790. (signed) Juan
Nepomacena de Quesada, Governor East-Florida.
To the Commanding Officers of St. Mary's River, Florida.
Official Information (City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, Charleston, March 19, 1792)
The following is delivered by James Seagrove, commissioner on the part of the United States to his
excellency Don Juan Nepomucena de Quesada, governor of the province of East Florida for his
That in order to prevent fugitive slaves from the United States taking shelter in Florida, his excellency the
governor will be pleased to offer his proclamation, ordering all officers civil and military within this
colony, but particularly those on the river St. Mary, to stop all such fugitive slaves and without delay
convey them to the Spanish post on Amelia island, there to be detained until a person properly
authorized by the United States shall there call and receive them paying, at same time, a reasonable price
for their maintenance, and also, expense of conveying from the place where taken, to the place of
confinement. The sum to be agreed on by his excellency and the commissioners.
That notice be given as soon as possible by the officer commanding at Amelia to the commanding
officers at the American post on St. Mary's, when any fugitive slaves from the United States are under
That his excellency would be pleased to issue severe orders against any person harboring or concealing
such fugitive slaves, but that they be obliged to make them prisoners, and deliver them without delay to
the nearest Spanish port, and from thence to be conveyed to the general place for receiving them at
That his excellency will be pleased to order that all fugitive slaves belonging to the United States who
have taken shelter in Florida since the date of his Catholic majesty's order on that head, be immediately
restored on the preceding terms.
The commissioner is ready to confer on, and explain any matter relative to the preceding, being with
possible respect--his excellency's devoted very humble servant,
The following is a translation of governor Quesada's reply to the preceding.
The governor of East Florida answers as follows to what has been proposed by James Seagrove, Esq;
authorized for the purpose by a credential letter from his excellency Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of
State to the United States of America, regarding the negro slaves who may escape from said nation to
Immediately on the receipt of the royal schedule ordering that the freedom that used to be granted to
runaway negroes should cease, the necessary proclamation was issued and the proper directions
forwarded to the river St. Mary's.
It is not for the present convenient that the deposit for such run aways should be at Amelia island; I think
that this town is the securest and most proper place.
It remains at the option of the gentleman, commissioner, whether the said runaways shall be employed in
the public works (in which case nothing will be charged for their maintenance or he appoint an attorney
here to take charge of them, their labor, substance, and remitment to the owners in any manner he may
think proper. But if the aforesaid commissioner wishes that the run-aways should be kept in prison
without working, the owners must pay for the maintenance administered, and likewise allow a
reasonable gratification to the soldiers or sailors which government, if required will furnish to conduct
them to the frontiers.
Every claimer must prove his property in the negroes reclaimed either by a certificate of the government
or by other documents sufficiently proving his lawful right.
An order will be issued fixing a penalty on any inhabitant who harbors a fugitive slave.
There is no account of even a single negro slave being in the province who fled from the United States
within the term that passed from the date of the royal schedule in question to the promulgation of it in
Florida, but even in case there were such fugitives, it is the opinion of they government that they ought
not to be restored nor can it be agreed to without an express order from the king.
Juan Nepanuceno de Quesada, St. Augustine in Florida.
To his excellency Don Juan Nepomuceno de Quasada, governor of Florida, &c. &c.at St. Augustine.
The beforementioned commissioner on the part of the United States is of opinion
That the government of East Florida does not choose to be responsible for any fugitive slaves from the
United States which in future may shelter themselves in this province---it will be for the interest of their
owners that immediately on discovery, they be confined in prison there to remain until properly applied
In order to give as little trouble as possible to government on this occasion; the commissioner has agreed
with George Fleming, Esq; of this city, to furnish such fugitive slaves a may be confined in prison with the
usual allowance of provisions.
It is also understood by the commissioner that in case any assistance should be required from the
soldiers of this government in conveying such slaves to the frontier on the river St. Mary's there to be
delivered up, that a reasonable gratification be allowed and paid by the person receiving them. Which
said three clauses were agreed to by government.
St. Augustine in Florida.
7th Aug. 1791
Department of state to wit.
The preceding five pages contain true copies of the papers which passed between James Seagrove,
Esq; duly authorised to act therein by the president of the United States and Don Juan Nepomuceno de
Quesada, governor of East Florida. Certified under my hand and seal of office this fifteenth day of
The probable date for the building of the current Tovar house is post 1791 when Geronimo Alvarez
bought the property.
Father Thomas Hassett
Father Thomas Hassett was a new priest for St. Augustine in 1783. Father Miguel O'Reilly was another
Irish priest who had trained in Spain. Father Francisco Troconis y Rosas was appointed by Governor
Zespedes "to teach the poor without charge." He was the chaplain of the Royal Hospital. In 1791 Father
Troconis was promoted to Cuba. Father Hassett started (or continued) the school from 1787. To see
how busy the Fathers were see the baptism list for 1800. Another important Irish person in the city was
Carlos Howard, the secretary of the government.
The original parish church was located where A1A Alehouse is today. It was called Nuestra Senora de
los Remedios. The second parish church was located on St. George Street south of the plaza. On
February 13, 1788 government officials, at the urging of Father Hassett, ordered work to begin on a
suitable Catholic Church. The Spanish crown approved the plans in March of 1790. The Cathedral was
started in 1793 in Spanish mission style. It represents the oldest Catholic congregation in the United
States with records dating back to the 16th century. The original architect was Mariano de la Rocque.
The contractor was Don Miguel Ysnardy (who acquired the title of Steward of the building).
The Cathedral (picture) was dedicated on December 8, 1797 the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
There are three people buried inside the Cathedral: Father Camps, Don Miguel Ysnardy, and Father
Font who died within a year of his arrival in St. Augustine (January 13, 1793). The Cathedral has parts
of the old Numbre de Dios, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe de Tolomato, and Nuestra Senora de la
Soledad within its building stones as they were all torn down for the building of the Cathedral. (Deaths
from 1784 - 1809)
Colonel Bartolome Morales became the acting Governor of East Florida in March 1796. Enrique White
the official governor was ill. Morales was governor until June 1796. He would also serve as acting
governor in 1800 during another illness of Governor White.
Brigadier Enrique White become governor in June 1796 and served until March 1811. He was born in
Dublin, Ireland. Before coming to St. Augustine he served as Governor of West Florida from May 1793
through March 1811. He officially gave the name Fernandina to the town on Amelia Island. When
Governor White died he was buried in Tolomato cemetery in St. Augustine.
This Day's Mail (The Minerva & Mercantile Evening Advertiser, New York, June 21, 1797)
Savannah, June 2. The following authentic information is received by Capt. Cooke, from a
correspondent of St. Mary's.
Town of St. Mary's in Georgia,
24th May, 1797.
Yesterday returned to this place, James Seagrove, Esq. commissioner from the United States of
America, to the government of Florida; and Thomas King, Esq. agent from the state of Georgia. These
gentlemen have been at St. Augustine, for a month past, during which time an agreement took place for
an exchange of all fugitive slaves from the United States, or his Catholic majesty's province of East
Florida, from the 2d of September, 1790, until the 19th inst. All fugitives, prior to the 2d of September,
1790, remain to be settled by the king of Spain and the United States.
It is with pleasure we inform, from undoubted authority, that Mr. Seagrove has entered into a treaty with
the Spanish government, whereby a total stop is put to all fugitive slaves, or servants, being eople of
color, from receiving countenance or protection in Florida. Should any such people go there, on being
discovered, they will be thrown into prison, until demanded by their owners, when they will be delivered
This treaty, we are informed, extends to horses, cattle, and all other property, that may stray or be
stolen, and be taken into Florida, are to be returned without delay or expense. The United States are
reciprocally bound to the Spanish Government, so soon as the President and Senate of the same, shall
approve and ratify this treaty.
Twenty seven of the American Fugitive Slaves were brot to this place on the 22d inst. in the sloop
Harriet, Captain Cooke from St. Augustine, well secured in irons. They are now safely lodged in the
new prison in this town, until proof be made by their owners. Eleven runaways are left in prison in St.
Augustine, as as hostages for the return of an equal number now detained in Georgia, belonging to
Spanish subjects. A list of the negroes delivered up, will be forwarded to be published. The
commissioners speak in high terms, of the polite treatment they experienced from Governor White, as
well as from gentlemen individuals. There appeared a great desire in the government and many of the
subjects to have these runaways sent back, as they had become so great a nuisance to that country, that
most of them were chained, and at work among the convicts.
16 Feb 1800
Penalver to White
Don Miguel Ysnardy, Captain of Militia, Coucilman and general Depositary has served for years as
Steward of Building of St. Augustine wih zeal and honor acording to the information given me by
Privisor the Don Thomas Hassett.
He has petitioned me to dispatch him the formal title and desirous of doing so without prejudice to the
regalia of the Royal Patronage which you exercise I propose it to you so that with your consent I am
executing it. God guard you many years.
Don Manuel Solana House
This house at 20 Charlotte Street was located on the site of much earlier houses including a tabby house.
Manuel Solana built the house after 1788. The house later became the home of Oliver Bronson, Jr. a
county commissioner after the Civil War. The house stands as a good example of Spanish Colonial
architecture of the 2nd Spanish period. The main section of the house was constructed of coquina. This
house has a loggia built on the rear (visible from Aviles Street). The flooring is all wood.
Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada and the Rebellion of 1795
1790 saw the arrival of a new Governor --- Juan Nepomuceno de Quesada. In June of 1795 East
Florida was invaded by Georgians and unhappy Floridians. The invaders were able to capture Fort
Juana (June 30) on July 9 the invaders who were comprised of former British subjects, American
transplants into Florida and Georgians crossed the St. Johns River. They were lead by Richard Lang, a
local trouble maker. San Nicholas was overrun and Lieut Ignacio Lopez and 28 members of the Catalan
Light Infantry were captured. The San Simon, a Spanish gunboat, and its crew were also captured.
They flew the French flag over the forts. By August 2 the captives were abandoned and the rebels had
retreated north of the St. Mary's River. 67 people were considered rebels by the Spanish government.
Daniel Hogans, Richard Malpas, Solomon King, and George Arons died in the Castillo as prisoners.
Francis Goodwin went insane. None of the sentences were carried out.
Chapel in the Castillo
This time period also saw the building of the Chapel in the Castillo. This was also engineered by
Mariano de la Rocque.
Because the Georgians did not comply with the terms of the 1791 agreement on runaway slaves with the
Georgians trying to show legal claims with simply a sworn statement. The agreement was officially
St. John's Eve
St. John's Eve, June 23, was a one observer described it, "the great drama of this light-hearted people,"
a time of general merrymaking based on the ancient summer solstice celebration. Maskers delighted in
dressing up as highborn persons of the opposite sex -- the women representing the ancient chivalry on
gaily comparisoned steeds, and the men wearing the trappings of the ancient dames. This small carnival,
which sometimes stretched to three days, featured posey dances, parades and heavily decorated altars
set up all over town where young dark-eyed girls offered bouquets to male passersby who took their
Extract of a letter from Newport, in the State of Georgia (Supplement to the City Gazette &
Daily Advertiser - Charleston S. C., June 24, 1795)
Yesterday arrived the schooner Rhoda, Whipple, New-Orleans, 15 days.
Extract of a letter from Newport, in the State of Georgia, to a gentleman in this city.
"May 26, 1795. I have been credibly informed that gen. Clarke, of this state, who took a commission in
the French service, has been the last week to inspect the sea-board and in-let of St. Mary's river, and is
now actually building a fort on the said river for carrying on an expedition against the Spainards. I was
also informed, by a gentleman lately from St. Augustine, that the inhabitants of East-Florida in general,
and a large majority of those of West-Florida, are disposed to revolt; and they are determined, as soon
as Clarke enters the Spanish territory, to join him. Numbers of young men here feel anxious to obtain
commissions in the expedition against the Floridas.
May 27. Arrived here, at this instant, two Spanish soldiers, deserters from the garrison of St. Augustine,
who say desertions daily take place, and that they are in a staring condition there."
State of Muskogee
In 1795, along with the Seminoles, William August Bowles formed a short-lived state in northern
Florida known as the "State of Muskogee", with himself as its "Director General". In 1800, declared war
on Spain. Bowles operated two schooners and boasted of a force of 400 frontiersmen, former slaves,
Spain offered $6,000 and 1,500 kegs of rum for his capture. He was transported to Madrid Charles IV
of Spain's attempted to make him change sides. He then escaped, commandeering a ship and returning
to the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1803, not long after having declared himself 'Chief of all Indians present' at a trial council, he was
betrayed and turned over to the Spanish and died in prison in Havana two years later.
The United States took note (From Carlos Martínez de Yrujo in St. Augustine):
18 May 1803. James Madison knows how much trouble “the Adventurer Bowles” has given Spain.
Was assured in his conference with James Madison and Dearborn that the U.S. would take efficacious
measures to apprehend Bowles whenever he was in U.S. territory. Encloses a copy of a letter just
received from Henry White, governor of East Florida, reporting that “the Incendiary Bowles” is within U.
S. territory. Friendship and the shared interest of Spain and the U.S. in cutting the thread of the intrigues
and machinations of “this daring Adventurer,” as well as the spirit of the [Pinckney] treaty, require the U.
S. government to take the most active measures to apprehend Bowles. Does not doubt that James
Madison desire to promote the peace and welfare of U.S. citizens and harmony between the U.S. and
Spain will lead to his giving this request the attention it merits and that Bowles, if within the U.S., will be
Enrique White and General Jorge Biassou
.On June 5, 1796 Enrique White became the governor. He would remain governor through 1811. Don
Enrique White was a Dublin-born man before he became the Governor. He was born in 1741 and from
the age of 22 spent his life in the service of the Spanish Crown. He served some time as an officer in the
Louisiana Regiment. He never married and owned no real estate. He owned several slaves Jorge
purchased in 1789 from Brigadier Don Eugenio O'Neill, Col of the Irish Regiment. Josefa Simona
(female) purchased in St Augustine from Antonio Berta. Gracia purchased the same year from his
predecessor in office Brigadier Don Juan Nepomuceno Quesada. They were all freed at his death.
In January of 1796 General Jorge Biassou, his wife Romana Jacobo and twenty-three of his followers
arrived in St. Augustine from Havana, Cuba. General Biassou was given command of a black militia unit
in the summer of 1800 to reconnoiter and provide intelligence south of St. Augustine at the plantation of
Josiah Dupont near Matanzas. On July 14, 1801 General Biassou died at his home in St. Augustine and
was buried in the Tolomato cemetery. (See Reconstructed Houses for information on General Biassou's
Treaty of Friendship with the United States
On August 2, 1796 the United States and Spain proclaimed a treaty of friendship. One point that would
be used against East and West Florida was article 5 which talked about controling the Indians within the
American and Spanish borders. This would be used to justify invasions of East and West Florida and
the First Seminole War. (See Treaty)
Father Miguel O'Reilly
Father Miguel O'Reilly held school in St. Augustine. His house on Aviles Street was restored and
opened as a museum by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
In 1800 a congress of Seminoles and Lower Creeks elected adventurer, William Augustus Bowles,to be
the director of their new State of Moskogee, which promptly declared war on Spain. For the next three
years, Bowle's followers wreaked havoc in Florida. They raided plantations and supplies outside St.
Augustine, and abducted and killed slaves and settlers.
A Small fire in the Church
7 Nov 1800
White to O'Reilly
I find very convenient the proceeding that in your letter of yesterday you intimate should be used to find
out if there was any delinquency in the unfortunate fire which reduced to ashes the Altar of this Church
where the Image of Our Lady of the Rosary was located and who is culpable of it. But for that it will be
necessary for you to be pleased to inform me if in addition to the Sacristan, whose carelessness inclines
one to believe he was careless of the misfortune, there is any other person who severs in the Church
could give the reason for it, so that with this news I may be pleased to govern and institute the
proceeding which I am going to begin without prejudice to the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction which I will aid
as the circumstances require.
1800 Illness of Governor White
Lieutenant Colonel Morales and royal auditor Zamorano held positions of leadership in 1800 due to the
illness of Governor White from 1800-01.
Governor Don Enrique White died in the city of St. Augustine on April 13, 1811. Lorenzo Capo for 40
years the sexton of the church was appointed the director of the funeral ceremonies and a catafalque of
wood covered with black cloth was built by Antonio Llambias who also made the wooden coffin. The
body was prepared for burial by Andres Pacetti, the barber, and Maria de la Luz and Maria Molla, who
also made a pair of back cloth shoes for the corpse. Preparation for the burial included an 8 pecos
shave for the corpse. The ladies also bathed and dressed the corpse.
The priest was Father Miguel Crosby. A gravestone was to be made measuring 6 feet long by 3 feet
wide and 2 inches thick. This should be somewhere in Tolomato Cemetary.
Attack by the Miccouskee Indians on Dupont and Boelli Plantations
In 1802 an attack was made on the plantations of Dupont and Bonelli 30 miles south of St. Augustine.
The elder son, Thomas Bonelli, was killed in the attack and his body was taken to St. Augustine. Joseph
Bonelli's wife and family were held captive by the Mioccouskees for almost two years (see Slave Claims
for full depositions.) The Miccouskee band would later become part of the Seminole nation.
Joseph Bonaparte becomes King Jose I
In August 1808 Joseph Bonaparte was made King of Spain by his younger brother. King Jose would
never be fully in control of Spain and even after attempting to abdicate was forced by his brother to stay
until 1810. During his reign Venezuela declared independence. Joseph would later live in the United
States residing first in New York and Philadelphia and later New Jersey.
The 2nd Spanish period saw the building of the City Gate . The gate was built in 1808. This replaced the
wooden opening that had been placed there in 1739 called La Leche Gate. The engineer was Captain
Manuel de Hita who recommended a masonry replacement of the wood guard houses. The new gate
was called the "Land Gate". . The two four foot square coquina pillars frame an opening 12 feet wide.
Each pillar is 14 feet high. The twin towers of white masony were trimmed with red plaster and each
roof was capped with a pomegranate the symbol of fertility.
Father Felix Varella
Father Felix Varella (picture of St. Augustine sculpture) spent his boyhood in St. Augustine at this time
with his grandfather, an officer in the Castillo. He went to Spain and participated in the creation of the
1812 Spanish Constitution. He was buried in the Tolomato Cemetery but later removed to Cuba
Extract of a letter (New York Herald, March 10, 1802)
"I am sorry to inform you that our neighbours in East Florida are in a dreadful situation at present. That
infamous fellow Bowles, has at length brought the Indians and Spaniards to open hostility. Four months
past, the Machasooky-Town Indians, (where General Bowles makes his head-quarters) took from the
plantation of F. P. Fatio, Esq. on the river St. John's,49 of his negroes, which were conveyed to
Bowles; Mr. Fatio's son followed a few weeks after to the Indian-town, and saw Bowles, but could not
recover one of his negroes, and not without great difficulty got back himself, being greatly insulted, and
having his horses taken from him. A gentleman from New-England named Hull, commonly called Judge
Hull, obtained from the Governor of Florida, leave to form an extensive settlement at the Mantanzas,
about 60 miles to the southward of St. Augustine; the same spot where Dr. Turnbull had his Greek
settlement. Mr. Hull had brought from the northward, a number of settlers, with whom he began to
prepare for planting; But Bowles's Indians came, whipped some, plundered the whole of them of every
thing they had, and drove them out of the country. This took place about a month or six weeks past.
About three weeks ago, a party of the same Indians plundered Mr. Dupont, who lived about 30 miles
south of Augustine, of ten grown negroes, and the same day killed a young man named Bonnelly, carried
off his mother and three sisters. Four days past, a party of friendly Indians, who had been selling their
deer-skins, horses &c. in this town, and who were well known to belong to towns who never favoured
Bowle's measures, were met by some of the inhabitants of Florida, within three or four miles of this
place, on the Spanish territory, when four of them were shot. This ill-timed imprudent act, will in all
probability, bring a general Creek war on the Floridas. The thinly scattered inhabitants are flying in all
directions for safety---some to Augustine, some to the Islands on the sea-coast, and several have come
to our side of the St. Mary's river. It is now evident, that all the settlements in Florida will be totally
broken up, and of course those restless Americans who have gone there, will wish themselves once
more quietly settled under a government which is both willing and able to protect the lives and property
of its citizens. What renders the situation of the planters in Florida more deplorable is, that the whole
force of the province, militia included, is by no means equal to meet a body of three hundred Indians in
the woods. Add to this, that there is not a single military post on the frontier towards the Indians. Poor
encouragement this indeed, for emigrants to that country."
Capt. Marden (The Times and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1802)
Capt. Marden, arrived yesterday from St. Johns, East Florida, informs, that in consequence of the
predatory war now waged by the Indians under the direction of Bowles, the residents on St. Johns river
were removing their property as fast as possible; and the settlements were nearly deserted. About three
weeks since, thirty Chehaw Indians, (a town on the American line) were killed near Ford's Bluff by a
scouting party; and the day before Captain Marden sailed, a party of Indians came down, and
plundered one of the plantations:--- they were pursued by a detachment of Spanish troops from
Augustine, overtaken and fired upon. The troops succeeded in recovering the property; and it was
supposed severely wounded many of the Indians, the traces of much blood being visible --- three of the
Spaniards were also wounded.
Bowles had declared to Mr. Fatio, who had gone in search of his negroes, that his principal object in
declaring war, was to obtain plunder, that he had directed the Indians to shed no blood, but to take as
many prisoners as possible, with the view of being well paid for their ransom.
Letters from Augustine (The Times and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, April 10, 1802)
LePaine, an Indian chief, of Lachaway, distance of about 70 miles from St. Augustine, being desirous to
be on the same friendly footing with the Spanish government, as he and his tawny brethren formerly
were, called a meeting of all the Indian chiefs of the Creek nation, who duly attended, except the chief of
the Masesoake, where the noted Bowles is harbored. At the meeting it was unanimously agreed to
deliver up Bowles to his excellency Henry White governor of St. Augustine, together with all the white
prisoners who were taken, and the negroes and property of every description. For this purpose Paine
sent in a flag of truce to the governor, who readily acceded to the terms proposed by the Indians, adding
that in future no Indians, would be permitted to come within the settlement with their guns, tomakawks,
knives, or any warlike instruments, but to leave the fame at the different frontier stations in Florida---
that on agreeing to those terms he would conclude a peace with them, and as soon as the prisoners &
property were returned, he would give up the Indian prisoners now in the fort of St. Augustine. It is
expected this treaty will be immediately ratified. Lieutenant colonel John McQueen, of the horse, bearing
a commission from the king, is now out with a party of his troop, at the Muskettos, to prevent further
depreations of the savages, till the treaty is ratified and promulgated.
Hispanic America begins the road to freedom from Spain
Columbia becomes independent of Spain on July 20, 1810. On September 16, 1810 Mexico gains its
independence from Spain. September 18, 1810 Chile becomes independent. Paraguay celebrated its
independence on May 14, 1811.Venezuela won its freedom on July 5, 1811. Argentina became
independent on July 9, 1816. Most of the other Latin American countries would become independent in
1821. The center of the Spanish Empire would remain Cuba until the United States ended it's Latin
American empire in 1898 (along with Puerto Rico).
Geronimo Alvarez and the 1812 Constitution Monument
The monument in the plaza was built in 1813 by the Constitutional City Council of St. Augustine with
Geronimo Alvarez (owner of the Oldest House) as mayor under the superintendence of Don Fernando
de la Maza Arrendondo. In response to the new constitution as were monuments over Latin America.
The King was restored to the throne, the constitution was disregarded, Father Varela fled to New York
under sentence of death. The monument in the plaza survived the transfer of Spanish Florida to America
because of the refusal of Alvarez to allow it to be torn down and it may be the only surviving monument
in honor of the March 9, 1812 Constitution. Father Varela returns to St. Augustine and lived in what is
today the courtyard of the Cathedral not far from the Constitution monument.
King Ferdinand VII reestablished on the throne
The King reestablished an absolute monarchy and rejected the Constitution of 1812. King Ferdinand
had reneges on his promise to the Cortes to support the Constitution. He restores absolute rule and
persecutes his liberal opponents.
His behaviour alienates many royalists in Latin America and thus hastens the liberation movements which
are already under way. Ferdinand proposes to send an army across the Atlantic to suppress the
rebellious colonists, with enthusiastic support promised by fellow rulers in the Holy Alliance, Spain
revolts again with another successful liberal revolution in January 1820.
Patriot Rebellion (See Defenses of St. Augustine)
Another threat to Spanish control occurred in the Patriot Rebellion that started on March 13, 1812.
John Houston McIntosh was the leader of this rebellion that was supported by the U.S. Government.
Governor Juan de Estrada stopped them at Fort Mose (almost the gates of St. Augustine). In June of
1812 the new governor, Sebastian Kindelan worked with the Seminoles to enlist them in a fight against
the invaders. After an ambush of Captain John Williams (U.S.M.C.) by Seminoles and blacks the
Americans pulled back to the St. Johns River. By May, 1813 the American troops were gone. Prince
Witten (Juan Bautista) the son-in-law of Biassou was the leader of the black militia that defeated
Captain Williams. Whitten was an excaped slave from Georgia in 1786. His family was baptized in 1792
and his marriage was blessed by the Catholic church.
Letter (Savannah Evening Ledger, March 26, 1812)
A letter from St. Mary's dated the 21st inst. states, that "The Patriots took possession of Amelia-Island
on the 17th inst. and the next day gave it up to the U. States, under certain conditions, together with the
Islands of Talbot and Fort George, and all the country North of the river St. John's. A detachment of the
U. States troops are now at Fernandino, and the American Flag is flying there. No regular troops could
have conducted themselves with more order and decorum than the Patriots. Every respect was paid to
the feelings and property of the inhabitants. The Patriots will cross the St. John's, on their way to
Augustine, this evening or tomorrow.
Revolution in Florida (Savannah Evening Ledger, April 2, 1812)
We are under obligations to several of our southern friends for communications respecting the revolution
in Florida, received by last mail. The information the contain has been mostly anticipated by passengers
and arrivals. The volunteer corps between this and Amelia, it will be seen by the orders of General
Floyd, in this afternoon's paper, are ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's
warning. Every thing is represented as wearing a hostile aspect at the southward. Latest accounts
mention that those opposed to the late government in Florida, had crossed the St. John's, compelled a
garrison in their way to surrender, and were on marching to St. Augustine. A detachment of United
States' troops, it was said, had received orders to proceed to the newly captured garrison and to
occupy it until ordered to the contrary.
Proclamation of Lud Ashly (Augusta Chronicle April 24, 1812)
The Charleston Mail has furnished us with the following intelligence from Florida; likewise with a
bombastic and ? proclamation of Lud Ashly, styling himself Colonel Commandant of the army of the
Republic, and dated at Camp, on the Plains before Augustine, 14th April 1812, and first year of the
It was the opinion of the officers at Amelia that the fortress of St. Augustine would be in possession of
the U. S. troops before Saturday last.
It was the opinion of the officers at Amelia that the fortress of St. Augustine would be in possession of
the U. S. troops before Saturday last.
There were two or three small English armed vessels in the harbor of St. Augustine, when our Gun-
Boats were off that place; and an American boat which was sent in to sound the bar, was fired upon by
the Spaniards. On the 10th inst. a smart firing of both great guns and small arms was heard by our
vessels in the offing, from the Fort at St. Augustine; but the cause was not ascertained.
While the brig Vixen was crusing off St. Augustine, she fell in with the British brig Colibri, and from the
manosuvres of the latter Capt. Gadsden was led to suppose that it was the intention or expectation of
her commander that an engagement would ensure between them, as he made every exertion to get the
weather gage of the Vixen; both vessels had all hands to quarters, matches lighted, &c. but after
manoeuvering in this way for about half an hour, they parted without either vessel hailing the other. ---
The Cotibri is a much heavier vessel than the Vixen.
Proclamation (Savannah Evening Ledger April 23, 1812)
By the local and constituted authority of the territory, late province of East Florida now in convention at
Head Quarters, on the plains before St. Augustine.
Whereas, the inhabitants within the late province aforesaid, from the most interesting considerations to
themselves and their posterity, did on the thirteenth day of March last declare themselves a free and
independent people and no longer subjects to the tyranny and oppression of the Spanish government---
that as a free people they assume the government in their hands, liberty and property or the same. And
whereas it is represented that certain evil disposed persons, are inciting disaffection to the cause in which
the great mass of the people are engaged, and are now holding correspondence with, abetting and
exciting to resistance and opposition, many persons residing within the town of St. Augustine, a place
now actually invested and summoned to surrender, and are at the same time, stipulating by vile and
infamous devies, certain ****************************** And whereas, persons of this
discription have on every principle of political justice and humanity, forfeited their claim to that protection
which prisoners of war would be entitled to claim, and have subjected themselves to the pains and
penalties attached to treason.
Be therefore known, to all whom it doth or may concern, that from and after the twelfth day of April
inst. if any person or persons within the said territory, late province, of East Florida shall have to
resistance, abet, or in any manner whatever, correspond with the governor or inhabitance of S.
Augustine, encourageing resistance or opposition to the local or constituted authority of said territory, all
and every such person shall be declared guilty of high treason, and shall, on convicton thereof, suffer
death; that all person or persons who shall abet, encourage or incite
And where it has been represented to the authority aforesaid, that many persons have from other causes
than those of disaffection to the cause in which the patriots are engaged, and a tender of their personal
services withheld, who now conceive themselves debarred the privilege; those of this description are
now invited to come forward and join us in the common cause---and free persons of color, who this
authority is willing to believe, have been deluded by designing and insidious persons, to whom the same
privileges will be secured that they may enjoy, and protected, provided that each and every person and
persons of the description aforesaid, render him or themselves at head-quarters, in ten days from the
date thereof, in default of which their estate, real and personal, is, and they are hereby declared
confiscated to and for the benefit of the patriots.
Given under our hands at head-quarters, on the plains before St. Augustine, this 4th day of April, A. D.
1812, and of the 1st year of the Republic.
[Two sentences in the above proclamation, are omitted for local reasons.]
Supply from British (Augusta Chronicle May 1, 1812)
A gentleman direct from Cumberland Island, states that the garrison of St. Augustine have lately
received a large supply of provisions by two British vessels, and have collected upwards of 300 head of
cattle in the country, which they brought to town in defiance of the patriot force; who have not
approached nearer than four miles of the fort, and that our ships of war, on that station have received
orders to interrupt no vessels bound in or out of that place.
Exceeding Instructions (Savannah Evening Ledger, May 8, 1812)
A gentleman who dined with Mr. Lewis, the ? of Amedia, on Sunday last, and who left St. Mary's last
Monday, states, that Mr. ? hearing the rumor of gen. Mathews having exceeded his instructions, and of
the arrival of governor Mitchell at St. Mary's, to supercede him in command, waited on the governor to
know what course he should pursue, and was directed to continue the exercise of his forces at the
custom-house as heretofore. Our command had heard of no battle between the patriots and the garrison
of St. Augustine, as was reported yesterday (See letter to editor May 14, 1812)
St. Augustine will soon fall (New Hampshire Patriot, May 12, 1812)
St. Augustine, by the last accounts, was in possession of the Spaniards. All the young soldiers had
deserted from the garrison, leaving about 60 or 70 old men, who it was expected could not long hold
out, as they were in possession of but little provision. The U. S. brig Vixen had lately arrived at Amelia
Island from before St. Augustine. While our gunboats were at St. Augustine, there were in the harbor
two or three small English armed vessels. While cruising off that place the Vixen fell in with the British
brig Colibri, of more than equal force, with who it was expect she might have a brush. Everything was
prepared on board both vessels for an engagement. The finally passed each other without hailing.
Added Bounties (Savannah Evening Ledger, May 21, 1812)
Mr. Evans will oblige a number of subscribers by inserting the foregoing proclamation in his paper; also,
the following extracts from the minutes: ---
At a meeting of the constituted authorities of East-Florida, May 10, major J. Crighton, chairman.
Having taken into consideration the brave and soldier-like conduct of sergeant John Garnett and the late
William Dill, in the affair of the 8th instant, at San Pablo, where they gallantly defended themselves
against the attack of fourteen Spaniards, and, after killing one and wounding four others, finally repulsed
Therefore resolved, That 500 acres of land be added to their respective bounties, and that making one
thousand acres of land each. Such present support may be given to the widow of the latter, as on
enquiry may be deemed necessary.
Resolved, That this resolution be read, and the thanks of the meeting returned to serjeant Garnett, on
parade, at 10 o'clock am.m, as a mark of their public approbation.
Signed by Order,
D. S. H. Milder, Secretary
Deserted. (Savannah Evening Ledger, Jun. 16, 1812)
On the 27th May, from the encampment before St. Augustine,
Josiah Earp, a private of capt. Haynes' troop of light dragoons, aged 30 years; five feet seven inches
high, fair complexion, sandy hair and blue eyes; born in Virginia, and by occupation a farmer.
Also Caleb Holder, of the same troop; 24 years old, six feet high; fair complexion, but much freckled
and brown hair. He is stout made, and knock-kneed; born in South-Carolina; by occupation a farmer.
Thirty dollars, with all reasonable expenses will be paid to any person who will apprehend the said
deserters, and deliver them to an officer of the United States army, or lodge them in gaol, giving
information thereof; or Ten Dollars for either of them.
* * *
T. A. Smith,
Lieut. Col. Commanding,
Camp, before St. Augustine. 10th June, 1812.
By June 18th another deserter was added: Francas Day, a private of the same troop of 26 years; five
feet nine inches high; sallow complexion, brown hair, and dark eyes, born in South-Carolina; by
occupation a farmer.
Sebastian Kindelan y Oregon (O'Regan)
Brigidier Sebastian de Kindelan y Oregon was Governor of East Florida from June 11, 1812 to June 3,
1815. He was the son of Vicente Kindelan Luttrell and Irishman who settled in Spain
Savannah Evening Ledger July 30, 1812
We are informed, that general Matthews, major Long and col. Isaaccs, are expected in town this
evening, direct from St. Augustine, where their services can be no longer useful to their country---the
senate of the United States have refused to sanction offensive measures against that garrison. ---
Augusta Chronicle, July 24.
Savannah Evening Ledger, August 4, 1812
The remainder of the detachment from this place to East-Florida, consisting of part of the Republican
Blues, returned yesterday morning, as good health and spirits as their comrades who had preceded
them. They are all in good order, and wince as little at the rigor of "the tented field," as the best
disciplined regulars. The honor and independence of our country can never suffer whilst hands of such
gallant soldiers are determined to maintain its rights.
Died in St. Augustine (Savannah Evening Ledger, August 13, 1812)
Charles Armstrong, a native of South-Carolina, overseer of Don Bartelo de Castero, on St. John's river,
aged 26 years.
1813-1814: The Red Stick War, Colonel Andrew Jackson became a national hero after his victory
over the Creek Red Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. After his victory, Jackson forced the
Treaty of Fort Jackson on the Creek, resulting in the loss of much Creek territory in southern Georgia
and central and southern Alabama. The Creek Civil War, known as the Red Stick War results in the
migration of between 2,000 and 2,5000 Muskogee-speaking refugees into Florida.
End (Augusta Chronicle, October 9, 1812)
A Spanish schooner which had left Augustine about the 19th ult put into Tybee on the 1st inst--The
Capt of which reported, that two days before he sailed the United States troops under the command of
Col. Smith had broken up their encampment before Augustine, and fallen back to St. John's River. The
gates of Augustine had been opened and the Governor's Proclamation issued offering a free pardon to
all those inhabitants who had been compelled to join the Patroits. The Spaniards had taken about ten of
the Patriots, who had been active in the rebellion; they had been tried and condemned to be shot and the
execution condemned to be shot, and the execution was to take place in a few days. They are in daily
expectation of a reinforcement of one thousand men from Havanna, and also of strong reinforcements
from the Indians.
Ten Dollars Reward (Savannah Evening Ledger, October 31, 1812)
Will be paid, for securing in any goal, in the seaboard counties, my wench Fanny, who absconded on
the 7th of this month; it is expected she will make for St. Augustine, where she was lately from. Fanny, i
a likely, stout, tall, black, well made wench, a large round visage, a little pock-marked, with remarkable
long hair, which she keeps plaited in front. She carried off a variety of clothing, so that her dress cannot
be well described; she speaks the Spanish language, and may attempt to pass as free.
Masters, of vessels an others are cautioned against taking her out of the state.
John C. Bowler,
Riceboro, Liberty co.
A Challenge. (Savannah Evening Ledger, December 17, 1812)
The commandant at St. Augustine, Don Manuel Solana, has written and published a challenge to John
H. McIntosh, esq. of Georgia, (a distinguished character among the revolutionists of East-Florida)
daring McIntosh to meet him, the said Manuel Solana, "any where on this side of St. John's river on foot
or on horseback, by night or by day, and with any ares [he} may appoint."---Louisville, (Geo.)
On January 1814 the Constitucion Monument was placed in the Plaza de la Constitucion. While the
Spanish constitution was overturned the monument and its tablets remained.
Negro Fort- In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British Royal Marines established what was known
as the Negro Fort on Prospect Bluff along the Spanish side of the Apalachicola River. At the conclusion
of the war the British left the fort with the Seminoles and free blacks. The Seminoles left for their villages
leaving the free blacks in charge of the fort. By 1816 over 800 freedmen and women had settled around
the fort, there were also friendly natives in the area. In July 1816, a supply fleet for Fort Scott reached
the Apalachicola River. Colonel Duncan Lamont Clinch (April 6, 1787 – October 28, 1849) took a
force of more than 100 American soldiers and about 150 Lower Creek warriors, including the chief
Tustunnugee Hutkee (White Warrior), to protect their passage. The forces' two gunboats took positions
across the river from the fort. As the American expedition drew near the fort on July 27, 1816, black
militiamen had already been deployed and began skirmishing with the column before regrouping back at
their base. At the same time the gunboats under Master Loomis moved upriver to a position for a siege
bombardment. Negro Fort was occupied by about 330 people during the time of battle. At least 200
were freedmen, armed with ten cannons and dozens of muskets. The blacks in the fort fired their cannon
at the U.S. soldiers and the Creeks. The Americans fired back. The gunboats' ninth shot, a "hot shot" (a
cannonball heated to a red glow), landed in the fort's powder magazine. The explosion leveled the fort
and was heard more than 100 miles (160 km) away in Pensacola. Of the 320 people known to be in the
fort, including women and children, more than 250 died instantly, and many more died from their injuries
soon after. The survivors were taken prisoner and placed into slavery under the claim that Georgia slave
owners had owned the ancestors of the prisoners. Once the US Army destroyed the fort, it withdrew
from Spanish Florida.
Neamathla, issued a warning to General Gaines that if any of his forces crossed the Flint River, they
would be attacked and defeated. The general to send 250 men to arrest the chief in November 1817
but a battle arose and it became the official opening engagement of the First Seminole War.
Death of General Buckner Harris
With the death of General Buckner Harris, on May 5 1814 at the St. Mary's River, the Patriot
movement collapsed. Buckner was a Private in the army of General Nathaniel Greene in the
Revolutionary War but was a General in the War of 1812. The newspapers reported his death as killed
in battle but he was actually slain by an assassin for the reward money offered by the Spanish Governor
of Florida. His family had resided in St. Augustine, East Florida. His widow moved with her younger
children to Jackson, Miss.
Jose Maria Coppinger
Coppinger served as governor between January 6, 1816 through July 10, 1821. He served as Captain
of the Regiment of Hibernia. His later career would include fighting to reestablish Spanish control of
A new governor, Jose Coppinger arrived in St. Augustine in 1815.
Green Flag Republic
In 1817 at Fernandina, Gregor McGregor would proclaim the Green Flag Republic. When this failed
Luis Aury raised the flag of Mexico over Fernandina and declared himself the head. Finally the U.S. sent
troops and they would remain in Fernandina until the end of the 2nd Spanish period.
In 1817 the church had Father Crosby from Wexford, Ireland and a Franciscan priest for the garrison.
Reinforcements (American Daily Advertiser, July 13, 1818)
Capt. Bateson, of the sloop Frolic, who arrived here yesterday morning (Charleston), left St. Augustine
on Thursday. He informs us, that a Spanish corvette of 26 guns, a brig of 20 guns and an hermahrodite
brig of 18 guns, arrived off that place on Sunday last in a short passage from Havana, having under
convoy the schooners Barbarita and Santo Rosa, loaded with munitions of war, clothing, provisions, and
about 20,000 dollars in doubloons, for the use and pay of the soldiers at that post.
Carnival (Fairbanks, The Spaniards in Florida)
Masks, dominoes, harlequins, punchinellos, and a great variety of grotesque disguises, on horseback, in
cars, gigs, and on foot, paraded the streets with guitars, violins, and other instruments; and in the
evenings, the houses were open to receive masks, and balls were given in every direction. I was told that
in their better days, when their pay was regularly remitted from the Havana, these amusements were
admirably conducted, and the rich dresses exhibited on these occasions, were not eclipsed by their more
fashionable friends in Cuba; but poverty had lessened their spirit for enjoyment, as well as the means for
procuring it; enough, however, remained to amuse an idle spectator.
A Posey Dance (A Brief Account of St Augustine and its environs, John Whitney 1873)
The females of the family erect in a room of their house a neat little arbor, dressed with pots and
garlands of flowers, and lit up brightly with candles. This is understood by the gentlemen as an invitation
to drop in and admire the beauty of their decorations. In the meantime, the lady who has prepared it,
selects a partner from among her visitors, and in token of her preference, honors him with a bouquet of
flowers. The gentleman who receives the bouquet becomes then, for the once, king of the ball, and leads
out the fair donor as queen of the dance; the others take partners, and the ball is thus inaugurated, and
may continue several successive evenings. Should the lady's choice fall upon an unwilling swain, which
seldom happened, he could be excused by assuming the expenses of the entertainment. These
assemblies were always informal, and frequented by all classes, all meeting on a level; but were
conducted with the utmost politeness and decorum, for which the Spanish character is so distinguished.
Another tradition was on Good Friday a man representing St. Peter dressed in rags delighted groups of
boys lying in wait around town by throwing his mullet net to capture them.
Houses built during 2nd Spanish period that are still part of St. Augustine today: Canova - de Medicis
House, Ximenez-Fatio House , Segui-Smith House, Gaspar Papy , Pedro Fornells, Manuel Solana
House and the Huertas-Canova House (Prince Morat House).
Important (Savannah Republican, April 3, 1817)
A gentleman of veracity, who arrived on Saturday last, in the southern stage, and who left St. Augustine on
the 12 instant, states, that a new Governor was daily expected there from Havana, who had authority from the
Spanish Government, to SELL the Province of EAST-FLORIDA to the Americans, if they were inclined to
become purchasers. The reason given for this extraordinary measure, was the continual state of alarm in
which the province was kept by the patriots. Charleston City Gazette, 31st ult. ---[STUFF!]
From the South (Savannah Republican, July 17, 1817)
By the passengers in the sloop Hermit, arrived yesterday from St. John's, via St. Mary's, we gain intelligence
that a small military post on the St. John's River, called Fort Nicholai, was evacuated on the 4th instant, by the
Spaniards, who made their escape in two gun-boats, after having burnt the houses, spiked the guns, and
destroyed a few small arms and military stores, which they could not conveniently carry with them. This
measure was adopted through absolute dread of general MacGregor's forces, whose name spreads terror
through the country.
An advance party had been stationed at a position about eight or ten miles from Amelia, called the Narrows, to
command its entrance.
St. Augustine will next command MacGreggor's attention. It will be attacked as soon as reinforcements arrive,
from the north, which are hourly expected. The governor, Mr. Coppinger, is represneted to be a spirited
officer, and will make a stout resistance, if his troops can be induced to fight.
A frigate of 28 guns, and upwards of 300 men, was hourly expected at Amelia, from New-York, when our
informant sailed. A Portuguese schooner (formerly the Roger, privateer, of Norfolk) and a large Spanish
schooner were at Amelia at the time of its capture; the former was condemned, and the latter having but a few
package of goods, and a number of passengers, released.
A pilot-boat schooner, formerly the Rebecca, of this port, had received a commission, and sailed on her first
cruize, being the only vessel of war fitted out since the establishment of the new government.
MacGregor has established a post-office department, and a court of admiralty, of which John D. Heath, esq.
formerly an eminent lawyer, of this city, has been appointed judge. We also learn that a newspaper, printed in
English is shortly to appear.
Latest from the Spanish Patriots. (Savannah Republican, August 9, 1817)
We have been favored with an extract of a letter from an officer now with general MacGregor. the writer is a
gentleman of high minded feelings, a man of honor.
Fernandina, July 11.
Will none of the young Virginians come to our standard? They are the men for this business. Their high
sentiments of honor, their detestation of every thing mean, their love of liberty and their desire to promote the
happiness of mankind, eminently qualify them for important services in this patriotic undertaking. Our attack
upon this place was daring in the extreme, and but for the pusillanimity of our enemy, the consequences to us
might have been disastrous. We have possession of all the country as far as St. Augustine, where the enemy
has collected all his forces, and where they will probably wait for our attack. The lieutenant colonel is now in
advance with a body of infantry and cavalry. Others will move on soon, and I hope ere long, we shall show
ourselves before Augustine. ---Enquirer.
Spanish Cruelty (Savannah Republican, August 16, 1817)
A person who arrived in this place yesderday from Amelia states that, an expedition sent by MacGregor on the
St. John's river were attack by a party of Spaniards and negroes, on the 22d ult. --- 15 of the patriots were
killed, their ears cut off, and carried to St. Augustine, for which the Spanish government gave fifty dollars a
pair!! How the optics of the royal agents must have been regaled at the sight? Oh! most impious! most
Dash at St. Augustine (Savannah Republican, August 23, 1817)
The accounts from Amelia are so contradictatory, that we scarcely know to what we are to give credence.
The last arrival from St. Mary's furnishes intelligences of the situation and prospects of general MacGregor,
immediately the reverse of that we published in our paper of Saturday. It is now stated that a gentleman who
came passenger in the Humming Bird, from the above place, and who left Amelia on thursday last, brings the
information, that the general had not been deserted by many of his men, as reported---that his force, which
had at one time sunk to twenty, and even ten men---was about one hundred---that by the arrival of the Buenos
Ayrean armed brig Patriots, of 16 guns, a reinforcement had been received of 300 men, whilst 400 more were
expected from New-York, in the brig Morgiana --- that it was the intention of the general, shortly to make a
dash at St. Augustine, and that the spirits of the men were good, and no disposition evinced to evacuate
Amelia --- Charleston Southern Patriot.
MacGregor's Expedition (Savannah Republican, September 6, 1817)
Some of our republican journals, (says the New-York Columbian) as they are called censure general
MacGregor for disturbing the harmony and quiet of East Florida.---Had the general succeed in taking St.
Augustine, the same sycophants would have extolled him. We hope he will yet do it, and contribute ultimately
to the emancipation of Mexico, &c. when those who dispise principle, will have an orrportunity of adoring
That the Floridas must finally be annexed to this union is certain: but if those territories serve the purpose of
opening a communication between the United States and the patriots of the south, we ought to rejoice at the
reduction of St. Augustine and the capture of Pensacola---as the possessions of the latter would give a
commanding station on the Gulf of Mexico. If a cause be just, let us not decry it, because its advocates may
be few or week. Perservance will crown MacGregor with success. We believe he acts by the authorization of
the independent governments of South America. We cannot therefore re-echo the notes of a writer in the
National Intelligencer, merely because a few slave holders feel groundless alarm, or because their speculations
in Florida may be thwarted.
Violations of law we shall never palliate. We are convinced that MacGregor is the friend of order. Certain it is,
that some unprincipled adventures quitted his service on perceiving that lawless plunder would not be
suffered, and that strict subordination must be observed. A gentleman arrived in the Commodore Porter,
informed us of these facts; and from his character, we place entire confidence in his assertion.
We are persuaded, that the letter in the Intelligencer is a gross misrepresentation, in part.
We are persuaded, that MacGregor's plans are popular in Florida, and that the people lamented his delay.
We are assured, that the inhabitants of Amelia Island are delighted with the security and civil liberty they now
enjoy for the first time.
We are assured, that some mercenary Americans are enraged because their infernal trade of smuggling slaves
hitherto uninterrupted, is now baffled. As these wretches were in collusion with certain Spaniards, they
naturally united with each other to asperse MacGregor.
It is a fact, that the cargo of slaves shipped from Havana to Amelia Island, to be bought into the United States,
were found on trial to belong to a merchant in Wilmington, (N.C.)
MacGregor is doing what our government ought to be ashamed of omitting to do. He is prohibiting smuggling
and checking the slave trade. He has a printing office now under way, and our informant declares, that the
acverest penalties are denounced against smmuggling in the orders, &c. now publishing---Yes! whilst our
Colonizing Societies and other societies were meeting and mouthing, thousands of slaves were pouring into
the Southern states by the St. Mary's &c. And now the negro traffickers, the men-stealers, are in tears. Hence
the fabricated published against MacGregor.
Why the United States was worried about Florida
To James Madison from Edmond Kelly, [ca. 30] October 1817
I do not like to dwell on the weakness of the country but a little attention to east Florida by a majority of
Congress (not like Marrt of this District orangemen) would be desirable & a purchase of it at double the value
preferable to any aggression on Spain Direct or indirect—one Gibtr is sufft for England for unless all the
republic from Savanna to Pittsburgh is abandoned you Cannot permitt her to occupy east florida—as to what I
recommend respecting the Estabt of Manufactures of Cotton Woollen cloths Delf & Hardware it is
unnecessary for me [to] argue to a Statesman that self preservation require them—british monopoly is the
sword which murders freedom & what freeman would not break it—it is a good Example which others may
follow—as my ruin is Identified with the success of british Intrigues I hope you will excuse this obtrusion of
my sentiments I seek no confidence or Emolument & anxious only to defend myself no traitors Censures can
affect your obt st
However another version would be the safe haven it gave escaped slaves. The First Seminole War was
basically a war against escaped slaves. British Florida would have been well defended by the British Empire.
Spanish Florida was a lawless state.
1817-1818: American soldiers invade Spanish Florida, burning Seminole towns and capturing escaped
slaves, in what comes to be known as the First Seminole War.
Letter from Adams to Onis
The pressure had been on Spain since 1805 to turn Florida over to the United States. See copy of letter from
Adams to Onis over the state of affairs of East Florida and especially Fernandina.
1819 Description of St. Augustine from New England Palladium & Commercial Advertiser
Boston, MA July 6, 1819
A letter from a gentleman in the South, to his friend in Washington City , gives the following description
of the town and fortress of St. Augustine :
As I have just returned from St. Augustine , (on a jaunt of curiosity,) I presume a description of the
place will not be uninteresting to you
St. Augustine is situated on the Main , about two miles within the bar, immediately opposite the inlet ; it
is not passable for vessel drawing over fifteen feet of water. The Island of Matanzies runs nearly parallel
with the ocean, and forms a point of the south end of St. Augustine inlet. This is principally solid rock,
composed of the concretion of shells, and is what is generally made use of for building in the city, and is
hewn out in large blocks. It is better calculated for the construction of fortification than any other material
I am acquainted with and with proper cement, forms a solid mass of rock.
Fort St. Marks is built of this rock, and presents a most formidable appearance upon entering the
harbour. It is situated on the northern extremity of the City of St. Augustine , commanding the entrance
of the harbor, and is sufficiently elevated to secure the city from attacks from that quarter. In the rear of
the city in an impenetrable marsh, nearly encircling it ; on the margin of which are erected six redoubts.
The fort is twenty feet high and the walls twelve feet thick; it mounts 36 guns ; it is four square, with a
bastion at each corner, each mounting eight 24 pounders with a glacis encircling the work.
The city contains about 500 houses, built of the kind of stone before described ; has a population of
5,000 souls, principally Minorcans and natives of the province. There are the remains of a convent and
government house the latter occupied by black troops. The Catholic Church resembles an old Gothic
building. The city exhibits the remains of ancient splendor, but is now evidently going to decay.
The situation of the country contiguous is very low, but exceeding well adapted to the cultivation of
vegetables of every description in the southern country. The atmosphere is perhaps less humid than any
country I have been in, and is, I conceive, better calculated for northern constitutions than any southern
station I have visited.
Fish in great abundance is to be caught in the harbor, but, owing to the indolence of the inhabitants, the
market is badly supplied. Oranges are indigenous in this section of the country, also many other delicious
The lands on the river St. Johns are considered the most fertile, and most advantageously situated for
planters ; after passing twenty miles up, it changes its direction, and runs parallel with the ocean for 150
miles. I am under the impressions that the port of St. Johns will be particularly well calculated for
commercial men, and men of enterprise, as the bar is much better, and after passing the bar, vessels may
go one hundred and fifty miles without the least impediment.
Riot at St. Augustine (Daily American Beacon, June 20, 1820)
A letter from St. Augustine, dated 12th inst. gives the following particulars of the late disturbance there:
-- "We have experienced some unpleasant business lately; and as it will probably be much exaggerated,
I will furnish you with the particulars. One of the non-commissioned officers attached to the company of
Catalonians, gave a private in that company a severe dressing; which was resented by all his
companions, and about 10 o'clock the same night, the town was alarmed by the revolt of the two
companies of Catalonians and Malagans --- they marched from their barracks, (the Nunnery,) and
commenced firing their guns, and making as much noise as possible. --- The inhabitants alarmed, and
without arms, shut themselves up in their houses; but I believe they had no intention of injuring any of us;
for although upwards of fifty guns were discharged, no one was injured. The proceeded to the house of
the Governor, but he had retired to the Fort. -- They then proceeded to the gates of the town, fired their
guns over the heads of the centinels, and demanded the keys; but he had retired to the Fort. --- They
then proceeded to the gates of the town, fired their guns over the heads of the centinels, and demanded
the keys; but not obtaining them part of them jumped over the picquets. --- Sixteen of them deserted;
the remainder returned to the barracks, firing through the streets as before. the next day on of them at
Church took possession of the Governor's chair. Twenty-six of them are now confined in the Fort; their
punishment is not yet determined upon. We are all under arms, and perform duty day and night --- sixty
of the militia are put into actual service, and we now feel secure. It is expected that the ringleaders will
Florida (Vermont Gazette, July 4, 1820)
From St. Augustine, we learn that an officer of the regiment of Malaga recently struck a soldier of the
regiment of Catalonia, on which the latter turned out en masse to avenge their comrade. A great
disturbance took place, but no lives were lost; yet 25 men of the Catalonia regiment marched off with
their arms, &c. for Savannah.
East Florida (Richmond Enquirer, April 17, 1821)
Extract of a letter to a gentleman in this City from his friend in St. Augustine dated April 5, 1821
"I wrote to you a few days before I left Charleston, and intended to have written to you again on my
arrival at this place---but I have postponed it until I could either see or I am more of the country f
Florida. This town has been built a great many years and bears evidence marks of it, as it is completely
in ruins. It is the seat of government, and consequently the residence of the Governor, Mr. Coppinger;
who is a plain, civil, and apparently very friendly man....He seems to be very anxious to leave this place
and return to Cuba, his native place, and the residence of his wife and family, from whom he has been
separated several years; bet he and most of the Spaniards here seem very much mortified at the thoughts
of giving up a country which possesses a great deal of fine land, but from which they receive little or no
benefit---for there are not half a dozen Spanish settlements on this side the Cape.
"The town of St. Augustine can never be a place of any consequence, either for commerce or as a
deposit for the productions of the country; for there is a most difficult and dangerous bar at the mouth of
the river, which has not more than nine feet water at high tide, and the bar is said to shift with the winds--
so that it can never be a port of entry for large vessels; and the poverty of the surrounding country for 20
miles, is such as to prevent any kind of produce being brought here. The lands on the St. Johns are said
to be very fine; these are about 35 miles to the northward of this place, and flows in a semicircular form,
being equidistant from here for many sides. On this river are some settlements, and it is probable that the
principal port of entry on this side the Cape will be near the mouth of this river, as it has more water than
any other stream. The Musquit and Indian rivers, the one 60 and the other 90 miles to the South of this,
are siad likewise to have on them very fine lands well adapted to sugar, and many persons think for
coffee. But the indolence of the Spaniards is such that they have made no experiment of it. But the finest
part of the country lays to the west of this, and is called Alochua; it is said to be as rich as land can
possibly be. It is, however, in possession of the Indians, who will not willingly give it up. They are much
excited against the Spaniards, for having, (as they say and very justly,) sold them and their country; so
that is is safer for an American to travel into the interior of the country than for a Spaniard---though it is
by no means safe for either without an Indian guide, many of whom are constantly coming to this place.
There are a vast number of large grants for land embracing a great portion of the best land in the
country; but most of them are forfeited from non-compliance with the conditions of the original grant;
which generally required that they should be settled within a limited time. This will open the door for
disputes to all the large grants....As soon as it is safe to travel in the country, I mean to take a tour
"I shall remain here until the exchange of flags takes place. I did expect there would have been a great
many negroes imported here before it was given up, but not one has arrived here except a few brought
from the United States. Money appears to be scarce here, as in Virginia. Notwithstanding the ruinous
condition of the houses here, they ask the most extravagant prices for them, and they rent
proportionately high. There are a number of adventurers coming on here from Charleston and Savannah,
but no men of capital except one from Charleston, who has purchased a house in town and lands on the
Mosquito....The healthiness of this may induce many persons from S. Carolina and Georgia to retire
here in the sickly season. The inhabitants appear much mortified, that this long settled place is not to be
continued the seat of government. They are indeed deeply interested, as their town property will be
worth very little. I wait with great impatience to see the American flag supplant the Spanish. I think it will
be necessary to send a pretty strong force here at first, as well as to Pensacola; --- for the Indians are
by no means reconciled to the exchange, and many of them are under the impression that the Americans
intend to make slaves of them....There are a vast number of runaway negroes among them, who
probably from motives of policy inculeate their opinions. The appointment of Gen. Jackson as Governor
of Florida has mortified the Spaniards, and struck terror in the Indians, who appear to be panic struck at
the bare mention of his name. I think it would be unsafe to purchase lands here, until they are sold by the
authority of the United States."
Appointment (The New-York Columbian, May 8, 1821)
John Goodman, Esq. of this city, has been appointed by the President, Collector of the port of St.
American Troops (City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, Charleston, May 25, 1821)
A passenger in last evening's Sunday Stage, from St. Augustine informs us, that the American troops
destined for that quarter, had arrived, but would not be received by the Spanish Government. No
Newspaper had as yet been published, and would not, until the Americans had taken complete
The end of the 2nd Spanish period came with the Onis-Adams Treaty on February 22, 1819. The cost
would be 5 million dollars which was the same amount that the United States claimed that Spain owed
because of the capturing of American ships in the quasi war with France in the 1790s. James Monroe
was President of the United States and John Quincy Adams was his Secretary of State. The treaty was
ratified and the flags were exchanged on July 10, 1821.
Transfer of the Floridas (Camden Gazette, Camden, South Carolina July 26, 1821)
Charleston, July 17. Capt. Chester, of the sloop Wasp, arrived last evening from St. Augustine, informs
that the above territory was transferred to the American Government, through Col. Butler, the
Commissioner legally authorised to receive the same, on the 10th inst. --- At 8 o'clock, P.M. on the
above day, the American troops took possession of the Fort, and at 4 the Spanish troops departed, and
their flag was lowered from the Fort under a salute of 21 guns, which was returned by the U. S.
Schooners Tartar and Revenge.
Governor Coppinger in his proclamation to the Inhabitants of East Florida, after notifying them of the
change of government about to take place, expresses himself in the following manner, "I have already
stated to you the stipulation made by our government to secure to you the free exercise of the Catholic
Religion --- the possession of your property --- and all the enjoyments that the Treaty guarantees. I
have also informed you of the privileges and protection offered by our government to all those who may
wish to emigrate to any of the Spanish dominions and particularly to the Island of Cuba."
At 5:00 A.M. the Spanish flag was raised over the Castillo de San Marcos for the last time. 3:00 p.m.
The Tartar crossed the inlet. After the governor signed the official document transferring East Florida to
the US the Spanish flag was lowered and the American warships Tartar and Revenge gave a 21 gun
salute. 338 Spanish soldiers with 67 wives and children set sail for Cuba along with 173 government
employees with their wives and children. 68 free blacks and 94 slaves, 205 residents and 17 military
prisoners also left.
Spanish and some Timucuan vocabulary help
Go to American Territorial
|Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
2nd Spanish Period
1784 - 1821
ab urbe condita - 219 to 256
"Oblectat me, Roma, twas spectare ruinas;
Ex cujus lapsu gloria prisca patet."
|Constitution Monument and Government House
St. Augustine, Florida. Monument
Creator(s): Cooley, Sam A. (Samuel A.), photographer
Date Created/Published: [between 1861 and 1869]
St. Augustine, Florida. Catholic Church
Creator(s): Cooley, Sam A. (Samuel A.), photographer
Date Created/Published: [between 1861 and 1869]
St. Augustine, Florida. Entrance gate
Creator(s): Cooley, Sam A. (Samuel A.), photographer
Date Created/Published: [between 1861 and 1869]
|Chapel of St. Marks at Castillo
Library of Congress HABS
|U. S. Map
|William Augustus Bowles
|President James Monroe
|John Quincy Adams
Secretary of State
|John Houston McIntosh
|Like us on
|St. Augustine of Hippo
|King Charles III
(January 20, 1716 – December 14, 1788)
|King Charles IV
(December 14, 1788, until abdication March 19,
King Jose I
(1808 - 1813)
|General Duncan Lamont Clinch
Fort Clinch (and Fort Clinch State Park) on Amelia Island,
Florida is named for Clinch
|George Fleming ((1760-1821)
For his military service in Spanish East Florida, Fleming was granted 1,000 acres on the
west side of the St. John’s River northwest of St. Augustine by the Governor of Spanish
East Florida on October 29, 1790: “distinguished and extraordinary service, to which he
contributed both his property and person in defense of the said province at different
periods, sacrificing and abandoning his property, as a faithful subject, worthy of every
recompense for his love, fidelity, and patriotism”. (The beginning of Hibernia)
|French Associate of McGregor