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Date: 08 Feb 2012 22:07:00
Title: 1763 - 1821

St Augustine – A Bit More History
 
 
 
 
 
 
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British rule: In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War and gave Florida and St. Augustine to the British, in exchange for the British relinquishing control of occupied Havana. With the change of flags, almost all of the population of 3,100 Spaniards departed from St. Augustine.

 

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James Grant was appointed the first governor of East Florida, and served from 1764 until 1771, when he returned to Britain due to illness. He was replaced as governor by Patrick Tonyn. During this time the British converted the monks quarters of the former Franciscan monastery into military barracks which were named St. Francis Barracks. They also built the King's Bakery which is believed to be the only extant structure in the city built entirely in British period.

 

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The Lieutenant Governor of East Florida under Governor Grant was John Moultrie who was born in South Carolina; he had served under Grant as a major in the Cherokee War and remained loyal to the British Crown. Moultrie's brother William Moultrie of whom Fort Moultrie in South Carolina is named was a general in the Continental Army. His brother Thomas was a captain in the American 2nd South Carolina Regiment who was killed in the Battle of Charleston, while his half-brother Alexander became the first Attorney General in South Carolina and was held prisoner in St. Augustine while John was acting British Lieutenant Governor. Moultrie was granted large tracts of land in the St. Augustine vicinity upon which he established the plantation of "Bella Vista" he owned another 2,000-acre plantation in the Tomoka River basin named "Rosetta". While acting as the lieutenant governor he lived in the Peck House on St. George Street.

 

 

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Another large development effort during the British period was the establishment in 1768 of the colony of New Smyrna, by Andrew Turnbull a friend of Grants. Turnbull recruited indentured servants from the Mediterranean, primarily from the island of Minorca. The conditions at New Smyrna were abysmal, prompting the settlers to rebel en masse in 1777 and walk the seventy miles to St. Augustine, where Grant gave them refuge.

The story of the Minorcan colony (as the entire group came to be known) is told, fictionally, in the book Spanish Bayonet by Stephen Vincent Benet, a prominent descendant of one of the leading Minorcan families of the town. The Minorcans, stayed on in St. Augustine through all the subsequent changes of flags, to become the venerable families of the community, marking it with language, culture, cuisine and customs.

 

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1763 map of St. Augustine, capital of British East Florida drawn by Thomas Jeffrey of the Royal Engineers

 

 

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Second Spanish rule: The Treaty of Paris in 1783, gave the American colonies north of Florida their independence and ceded Florida to Spain in recognition of Spanish efforts on behalf of the American colonies during the war. On the 3rd of September 1783, by Treaty of Paris, Britain also signed separate agreements with France and Spain, and (provisionally) with the Netherlands. In the treaty with Spain, the colonies of West Florida, captured by the Spanish and East Florida were returned to Spain, as was the island of Minorca, while the Bahamas' Islands, Grenada and Montserrat, captured by the French and Spanish, were returned to Britain.

Florida was under Spanish control again from 1781 to 1821, but St. Augustine since 1784. During this time, Spain was being invaded by Napoleon (1808 and 1814) and was struggling to retain its colonies. Florida no longer held its past importance to Spain, thus, in 1821 the Adams-Onis Treaty peaceably turned the Spanish colonies in Florida and, with them, St. Augustine, over to the U.S. as a way of compensating the American government for the civil claims that were in part caused by undefined border areas with Spanish territories.

 

 

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ALL IN ALL A RICH TAPESTRY


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