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West Florida Controversy

West Florida Controversy

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The West Florida Controversy was a series of border disputes between Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 over the region known as West Florida
West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...

. The controversy commenced immediately after Spain received the colonies of West and East Florida
East Florida
East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763–1783 and of Spain from 1783–1822. East Florida was established by the British colonial government in 1763; as its name implies it consisted of the eastern part of the region of Florida, with West Florida comprising the western parts. Its capital...

 from the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 following the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

, and continued for nearly four decades. Initial disagreements were settled with Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined the boundaries of the United States with the Spanish...

 of 1795, but contention rose again following the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 in 1803. The controversy led to the secession of the bulk of West Florida, known as the "Republic of West Florida", from Spanish control in 1810, and its subsequent annexation by the United States. In 1819 the United States and Spain negotiated the Adams–Onís Treaty, in which the United States purchased the remainder of Florida from Spain.

History


Britain formed the colony of West Florida
West Florida
West Florida was a region on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico, which underwent several boundary and sovereignty changes during its history. West Florida was first established in 1763 by the British government; as its name suggests it largely consisted of the western portion of the region...

 out of territory it received from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in the 1763 Treaty of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1763)
The Treaty of Paris, often called the Peace of Paris, or the Treaty of 1763, was signed on 10 February 1763, by the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement. It ended the French and Indian War/Seven Years' War...

, which ended the French and Indian War
French and Indian War
The French and Indian War is the common American name for the war between Great Britain and France in North America from 1754 to 1763. In 1756, the war erupted into the world-wide conflict known as the Seven Years' War and thus came to be regarded as the North American theater of that war...

 (the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

). In this treaty it received all of Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida
Spanish Florida refers to the Spanish territory of Florida, which formed part of the Captaincy General of Cuba, the Viceroyalty of New Spain, and the Spanish Empire. Originally extending over what is now the southeastern United States, but with no defined boundaries, la Florida was a component of...

 from Spain, and nearly all of French Louisiana
Louisiana (New France)
Louisiana or French Louisiana was an administrative district of New France. Under French control from 1682–1763 and 1800–03, the area was named in honor of Louis XIV, by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle...

 east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 from France. Finding the new territory too big to govern from one capital, the British divided it into two new colonies: West Florida, with its capital at Pensacola
Pensacola
Pensacola is a city in the western part of the U.S. state of Florida.Pensacola may also refer to:* Pensacola people, a group of Native Americans* A number of places in the Florida:** Pensacola Bay** Pensacola Regional Airport...

, and East Florida
East Florida
East Florida was a colony of Great Britain from 1763–1783 and of Spain from 1783–1822. East Florida was established by the British colonial government in 1763; as its name implies it consisted of the eastern part of the region of Florida, with West Florida comprising the western parts. Its capital...

, with its capital at St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

.

Twenty years later, Britain ceded both Floridas to Spain following the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. They did not, however, specify the boundaries of West Florida, which had changed over the course of British stewardship. In the British period West Florida's northern border was initially set at the 31st parallel north
31st parallel north
The 31st parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 31 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean.Part of the border between Iran and Iraq is defined by the parallel....

, but was moved to 32° 22′ in 1764 in order to give the West Floridians more territory, including the Natchez District
Natchez District
The Natchez District was one of two areas, the other being the Tombigbee District, that were the first to be colonized by British subjects from the Thirteen Colonies and elsewhere in what was West Florida and would later become the Mississippi Territory. The district was recognized to be the area...

 and the Tombigbee District
Tombigbee District
The Tombigbee District, also known as the Tombigbee settlements, was one of two areas, the other being the Natchez District, that were the first to be colonized by British subjects from the Thirteen Colonies and elsewhere in what was West Florida and later became the Mississippi Territory...

. Spain insisted that its West Florida claim extended fully to 32° 22′, but the United States asserted that the land between 31° and 32° 22′ had always been British territory, and therefore rightfully belonged to the United States. After years of disagreement, the dispute was finally resolved with Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty
Pinckney's Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. It also defined the boundaries of the United States with the Spanish...

 in 1795, in which both parties agreed on the 31st parallel as the boundary between the United States and West Florida.

Things remained in this state for several years, but the border dispute flared back up following the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 of 1803. The United States now laid claim to the region of West Florida between the Mississippi and the Perdido River
Perdido River
The Perdido River is a river in the U.S. states of Alabama and Florida. The river forms part of the boundary between the two states along nearly its entire length and drains into the Gulf of Mexico...

s, asserting it had initially been part of French Louisiana. Spain held that such a claim was baseless. However, a group of American and British settlers in that part of West Florida who had become discontent with the Spanish colonial government revolted, declaring a Republic of West Florida in 1810. After 90 days the United States occupied and annexed the territory, and Spain, then embroiled in the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 with France, could do little to protest.

In 1819 the United States and Spain negotiated the Adams–Onís Treaty, in which Spain sold the remainder of West Florida and all of East Florida to the United States.

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