The British Union Jack.
a large map showing
1763--1783 click here.
Link to the
Teacher Resource Page
for Florida Real Estate, Colonial Style
Florida Real Estate,
Florida Became a British Colony
1763, France, Britain, and Spain signed the Treaty of Paris at the
end of the French and Indian War. As part of the treaty, France gave
up almost all of its land in North America and Spain gave up
Florida. During the French and Indian War, Britain had captured
Havana, Spain's busiest port. Florida would become a bargaining
In exchange for Havana, the Spanish
traded Florida to Britain. The British then divided Florida into two
territories: East Florida and West Florida. This time was known in
Florida as the British Period. The Union Jack flew over Florida.
The British divided Florida into two distinct
colonies with the Apalachicola River as the boundary. Look at the
map above to see how much smaller West Florida is than East. St. Augustine
remained the capital of East Florida, while Pensacola became
the capital of West Florida. With poor road transportation
and an enormous voyage around the Florida Keys, the new arrangement
allowed more effective administration than the Spanish system.
Just like the thirteen colonies to the North, the two Floridas were
governed by appointed governor with a lieutenant governor and a chief
justice as primary staff members. The Crown also appointed a council to
serve as the colony's upper house while it was promised that an elected
lower house would
be chosen once the colonies developed a population.
The English had one major advantage over the Spanish: the ability to
recruit settlers, particularly families to the New World. The British
Parliament cooperated by setting a goal of channeling migration away from
the Indian lands west of the Appalachians to newly acquired Florida. The
Proclamation of 1763 outlawed settlement west of the Appalachians
while promoting Florida.
London Helps Out
The London Board of Trade advertised 20,000 acre lots
to any group willing to enter Florida. The land, however, had to be
settled within ten years with one resident per 100 acres. While the Privy
Council in London granted land titles, pioneer families could gain land
grants at the two colonial capitals. Former British soldiers were eligible
for special grants. Each pioneer settler was given 100 acres of land and
50 acres per family member. To recruit Southerners, slavery was allowed.
Each Florida was given a single regiment of professional soldiers, good
protection for the town folk, but these men were also hired to guard the
frontier from Indian attacks and the coast from pirate invasions. The
Governor had to summon the entire male population into a state militia to
assure security. Florida, like Virginia, made the Church of England
(Anglican) the official state religion. Keep in mind this is all happening
from 1763 on. This is right after the
was then bordered by the Apalachicola River, the Gulf of Mexico, and
the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of East Florida was St. Augustine.
East Florida had good, fertile soil and was excellent for farming.
In an attempt to bring settlers to East Florida, the British offered
land grants to settlers who would come to farm and also defend the
new British territory.
governor of East Florida was James Grant. Grant did more to increase
the population of East Florida than anyone else. He remained friends
with the Seminole Indians and traded goods with them. Grant also
encouraged settlers from North and South Carolina, Georgia, and
other British colonies to come and start plantations, or large
brought enslaved Africans with them to work on the plantations. The
slaves cleared land, built homes, took care of farm animals, and
planted and harvested crops. Many plantations were successful with
various crops such as citrus fruit, sugar cane, rice, and cotton.
Some plantations raised Indigo plants for making dark blue dye.
Life in a British Town
Florida's few towns filled up under British rule, but there was little
change in the two decades when England operated the two Floridas. St.
Augustine remained a village of narrow streets lined with squat coquina
houses and walled courtyards. The English residents, at first ignorant of
Spanish architecture, remodeled the houses until they discovered the
Spanish design kept out the winter wind and the summer mosquitoes. They
quickly adopted Spanish customs.
British town life may have lacked some of the earthy charm and
excitement of a Spanish military garrison, but it had families and thirty
or so ships per
year putting in at port. Tropical goods and lumber were sent to South Carolina; indigo dye
and naval products to the North. The work force was still quite limited,
but there was general optimism that British East Florida would soon
develop. The British also brought in an African-American slave populace
for the large plantations. Yes, Florida was a state that approved of
Pensacola and West Florida, with its sandy, coastal soils and heavy
forests, lagged behind in development. The region produced no staple,
money crops except lumber and furs. The pioneer homesteaders who entered
the area survived on crops of corn, beans, cotton, tobacco, and rice.
There were only a few plantations since the Tallahassee Hills were
considered less secure for the frontier farmer.
did not rule Florida for long. The colonies north of Florida were
tired of Britain's rule and decided to fight for their independence.
They began a war known as the American Revolution. During this time,
colonists who fought for independence were known as Patriots. Those
who sided with Britain were called Loyalists.
Most of the
war took place far north of Florida, but Florida suffered occasional
raids. In 1779, Spain took advantage of Britain's preoccupation with
the colonies and invaded West Florida. By 1781, Britain had lost
West Florida to Spain. At the end of the American Revolution, Spain
regained the rest of Florida.
After the American Revolution Britain lost control of
the thirteen colonies and had little
interest in keeping Florida. Florida was still isolated from the
original colonies and did not produce big profits for Britain. On
September 3, 1783, another Treaty of Paris was signed ending the
American Revolution. It was at this time that Britain recognized the
independence of the United States. England left Florida.
regained Florida, but its rule was short lived. The United States now
wanted control of Florida. Spain's attempt to bring settlers to
Florida failed, and by 1800 Spain's control of Florida had weakened.
Gaining control of Florida for the United States would mean gaining
control of the Mississippi River. That was an important route for
trade. At the same time, Britain also wanted to regain control of
1821, the United States was successful in purchasing Florida from
Spain. Florida became a territory of the United States.
The Kingsley Plantation, located near Jacksonville, is an excellent
example of what plantations were like when Florida was
transferred to the United States. The main house was constructed
in 1898 by John McQueen. It is connected to a smaller saltbox
house and kitchen. The grounds also include a barn and several
dozen slave cabins constructed of tabby, a mixture of equal
parts lime, water, sand, and oyster shells. The plantation was
located on an island to protect it from invaders and to prevent
slaves from escaping. Cotton, citrus, sugar cane, and corn were
In 1814, Zephaniah Kingsley moved to Fort George Island and
the plantation. He brought a wife and three children. His wife,
Anna Madgigine Jai, was from Senegal, West Africa, and had been
purchased by Kinglsey as a slave when she was 13 years old. She
actively participated in plantation management for 37 years,
acquiring her own land and slaves when freed by Kingsley in
In 1821, the United States purchased Florida from Spain. The
Americans replaced liberal racial policies with oppression. To
escape what Kingsley called a "spirit of intolerant prejudice,"
Anna and their five sons moved to Haiti.
Today the Kingsley Plantation is
the oldest plantation house in Florida. It is managed by the
National Park Service as an historic site and is open to visits
by the public.