Amelia Island Affair

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The Amelia Island Affair was an episode in the history of colonial Florida under Spanish rule.

The Embargo Act (1807) and the abolition of the American slave trade (1808) made Amelia Island, on the coast of Spanish Florida, a resort for smugglers with sometimes as many as 300 square-rigged vessels in its harbor.[citation needed] In June, 1817, Gregor MacGregor, a Scottish adventurer styling himself the "Brigadier General" of the United Provinces of the New Granada and Venezuela and general-in-chief of the armies of the two Floridas,[citation needed] came to Amelia Island. A peripatetic military adventurer, McGregor commissionated by Simon Bolivar had raised funds and troops for a full-scale invasion of Florida, but squandered much of the money on luxuries; as word of his conduct in the South American wars reached the United States, many of the recruits in his invasion force deserted. Nonetheless, he overran the island with a small force, but left for Nassau in September.

His followers were soon joined by Louis-Michel Aury, formerly associated with McGregor in South American adventures, and previously leader of a pirates' gang on Galveston Island, Texas.[citation needed] Aury assumed control of Amelia, got a legislature elected, set a committee to drawing a constitution, and invited all Florida to unite in throwing off the Spanish yoke. For the very brief period that Aury controlled Amelia Island, the flag of the revolutionary Republic of Mexico was flown, which was the flag of his clients who were still fighting the Spanish in their war for independence at that time. The United States, which had plans to annex the peninsula, sent a naval force which captured Amelia Island on December 23, 1817.