Republic of West Florida
|Republic of West Florida|
|Today part of||United States|
The Republic of West Florida was a short-lived republic in the region of West Florida in 1810. The United States and Spain held long, inconclusive negotiations on the status of West Florida. In the meantime, American settlers established a foothold in the area and resisted Spanish control. British settlers, who had remained, also resented Spanish rule, leading to a rebellion in 1810 and the establishment for exactly ninety days of the independent Republic of West Florida.
On September 23, 1810, after meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge and unfurled the flag of the new republic: a single white star on a blue field. This flag was made by Melissa Johnson, wife of Major Isaac Johnson, the commander of the West Florida Dragoons. The "Bonnie Blue Flag" that was flown 50 years later at the start of the American Civil War resembles it.
The boundaries of the Republic of West Florida included all territory south of the 31st parallel, west of the Perdido River, and east of the Mississippi River, but north of Lake Pontchartrain. The southern boundary was the Gulf of Mexico. It included Baldwin and Mobile counties in what is now Alabama; the Mississippi counties of Hancock, Pearl River, Harrison, Stone, Jackson, and George, as well as the southernmost portions of Lamar, Forrest, Perry, and Wayne counties; and the Louisiana parishes of East Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington. Despite its name, none of present-day Florida lay within its borders. The capital of the Republic of West Florida was St. Francisville in present-day Louisiana, on a bluff along the Mississippi River.
The Constitution of West Florida was based largely on the United States Constitution, and divided the government into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The legislature consisted of a Senate and House of Representatives. The Governor was chosen by the legislature. According to the constitution, the official name of the nation was the "State of Florida". The first and only governor was Fulwar Skipwith, a former American diplomat who had helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. In his inaugural address, Skipwith mentioned the possibility of annexation to the United States:
...wherever the voice of justice and humanity can be heard, our declaration, and our just rights will be respected. But the blood which flows in our veins, like the tributary streams which form and sustain the father of rivers, encircling our delightful country, will return if not impeded, to the heart of our parent country. The genius of Washington, the immortal founder of the liberties of America, stimulates that return, and would frown upon our cause, should we attempt to change its course.
- West Floriday, that lovely nation,
- Free from king and tyranny,
- Thru’ the world shall be respected,
- For her true love of Liberty.
American annexation of the Republic
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
On October 27, 1810, U.S. President James Madison proclaimed the annexation of the Republic of West Florida, based on a tenuous claim that it was part of the Louisiana Purchase. The West Florida government opposed annexation, preferring to negotiate terms to join the Union. Skipwith proclaimed that he was ready to "die in defense of the Lone Star flag." William C. C. Claiborne was sent to take possession of the territory, entering the capital of St. Francisville with his forces on December 6, 1810, and Baton Rouge on December 10, 1810. Claiborne refused to recognize the legitimacy of the West Florida government, however, and Skipwith and the legislature eventually agreed to accept Madison's proclamation.
- Confederate National and Bonnie Blue Flags.
- Dreher, Rod (19 June 2012). "West Florida Republic: The birth of US imperialism". BBC News Magazine. BBC. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- See inserted "Bonnie Blue Flag" image. The Republic of West Florida was also known as the Lone Star Republic.
- Bice, David A. (2004). The Original Lone Star Republic: Scoundrels, Statesmen & Schemers of the 1810 West Florida Rebellion. Clanton, AL: Heritage Publishing. ISBN 9781891647819.
- Davis, William C. (2011). The Rogue Republic: How Would-Be Patriots Waged the Shortest Revolution in American History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780151009251.