Year of Publication

1995

Degree Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Schafer

Second Advisor

Dr. Dale Clifford

Third Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Furdell

Abstract

The 1795 rebellion in East Florida was a short lived affair, barely extending south of the St. Johns River, and resulting in the deaths of only three Spanish soldiers. Thirty-three of the sixty-seven people identified as rebels by the Spanish escaped across the St. Marys River into Georgia. The remainder were arrested and temporarily imprisoned in the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Though harsh sentences were handed down by a Spanish court in 1798, none were ever carried out. Almost all of those implicated in the insurrection were Anglo settlers. Some had been in East Florida since the British period of rule (1763-1784), others had entered the province after the Spanish returned in 1784, but the majority of the rebels migrated to East Florida from the United States after 1790 when Spain relaxed immigration laws for the province.

This thesis proposes that there were three main causes of the 1795 rebellion. First, it resulted from the liberalization of East Florida's immigration laws in 1790 which attracted many troublesome settlers to the province. Second, it was an eruption of the settlers' pent-up frustration with Spanish rule which impeded their prosperity and infringed upon their security. Finally, the timing of the rebellion was influenced by the activities of French revolutionary agents in Georgia and South Carolina.

The most important source of information on the Second Spanish Period in East Florida (1784-1821), is the East Florida Papers deposited in the Library of Congress, microfilm copies of which are located at the PK Yonge Library at the University of Florida. These papers contain the entire collection of government documents for this period. Most are written in Spanish, but many of the bundles used in this thesis also contain letters in English written by the Anglo settlers who could not speak Spanish.

The word "Anglo" is used in this thesis to describe East Florida's English-speaking settlers who resided primarily in the St. Johns, Nassau, and St. Marys river valleys. Though a few of these settlers were born in Europe, the vast majority were American-born Protestants.

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