The colonies of East Florida and West Florida remained loyal to the British during the war for American independence, but by the Treaty of Paris in 1783, they returned to Spanish control.
Americans move into Florida during the American Revolution
After 1783, Americans immigrants moved into West Florida. In 1810, these American settlers in West Florida rebelled, declaring independence from Spain. President James Madison and Congress used the incident to claim the region, knowing full well that the Spanish government was seriously weakened by Napoleon’s invasion of Spain.
The United States asserted that the portion of West Florida from the Mississippi to the Perdido rivers was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Negotiations over Florida began in earnest with the mission of Don Luis de Onís to Washington in 1815 to meet Secretary of State James Monroe. The issue was not resolved until Monroe was president and John Quincy Adams his Secretary of State.
John Qunicy Adams Committed to American Expansion
While West Florida had already been annexed by the United States, no one recognized the American claim. Still, Spain was incredibly weak and had little control over its territory. Spain’s weakness gave the United States a unique opportunity to seize Florida. In addition to Spain’s troubles, the Secretary of War, Henry Calhoun, had dispatched Andrew Jackson to quell Seminole raids into Western Florida and Georgia. This military action quickly became the first Seminole War. As part of this action, Jackson moved into Spanish territory without consent.
Categories: United States History