The Panton and Leslie Office In Pensacola
THE BULOW PLANTATION
and ZEPHANIAH KINGSLEY
If Americans would not migrate into Spanish Florida, Englishman would. One of the
families Zespedes recruited was the Bulows whose BULOW PLANTATION, forty miles south of St.
Augustine at Ormond Beach,
successfully grew sugar cane and cotton. Despite the success of the Bulow
family, plantation development did not attract Spanish planters
who found Cuba, Puerto Rico,
PLANTATION OF ZEPHANIAH KINGSLEY ON ST GEORGE ISLAND
On St. George
Island, the Spanish attracted a unique
colonist in Scotsman ZEPHANIAH KINGLEY,
who established in 1817 a sugar plantation which still stands today. Upon his
death, his wife, Anna Madgigine Jai, daughter of a West African ruler, managed the massive
plantation. While mixed marriages were common in Spanish East Florida, When Florida joined the USA, the Kingsley family were pressured until they left for Cuba. When slavery was abolished in the USA, Miss Jai returned to Florida and in an epic court case obtained the estate again, only to sell it for a rightful price..
THE PANTON, LESLIE and COMPANY
While Spanish Florida had few farmers
and planters, many English fur traders remained in Florida
reluctant to desert the profits found in the forests of West
Florida. Since the Spanish had little to offer the Creek Indians
in this area, Spanish officials realized that English traders had the loyalty
of the Indian tribes and provided some economic benefits to Pensacola.
Zespedes wished to maintain good relations with the
increasing number of Creeks fleeing Alabama
Territory as American
settlers moved westward. He realized the Indians would provide a buffer zone
between St. Augustine
and the American settlements.
to develop a strong alliance with the Creeks, the Spanish allowed a Charleston merchant WILLIAM PANTON and his business partner JOHN LESLIE to establish a fur trade business in West Florida. The PANTON,
LESLIE, AND COMPANY developed a lucrative fur trading empire with
offices at Pensacola and Apalachicola.
The picture shows company headquarters in Pensacola,
based upon a 1900 drawing by E, D. Chandler.
The firm sold the Indians every conceivable product, excepting rifles which
were disallowed by Spanish law. In East Florida,
the Spanish selected the FORBES AND COMPANY to handle the fur trade.
William Panton's success was helped by his
friendship to an unusual Creek chief, named ALEXANDER McGILLIVRAY, the half-breed son of a Scotch
merchant and a Creek French squaw. Despite a fancy Charleston education, McGillivray chose to
live with the Creeks and emerged as their elected leader. McGillivray operated
a prosperous cotton plantation and trained Creek couriers to write messages in
Latin and Greek so white settlers couldn't decipher them. McGillivray traveled
to New York
and tried to convince President George Washington to protect Indian farming
rights in the West.
pledge of friendship with the Spanish in 1784 encouraged other Creek chiefs to
seek Spanish support. The Creek leader became an important customer of Panton and visited Pensacola
so frequently, Panton
invited McGillivray into the local Masonic Lodge. In the game of diplomacy both
the Creeks and the Spanish shared the desire to prevent American expansion into
THE ANGRY FRONTIER
Despite Indian friends, the Spanish faced continual armed conflict
along its Northern borders, particularly in West Florida.
When France ceded the region
in 1763, the French did not accurately define the boundaries. England had
recognized Spain's claim that 30 degrees, 38 minutes North latitude was the
border; later accepted 30 degrees as the border. American frontiersmen accepted
none of these early agreements.
frontiersmen, this empty wilderness belonged to those daring enough to
homestead the frontier. Years of Spanish rule, they noted, had resulted in few
settlements. Spain's talks
with Washington's administration had resulted
in no binding assurances that armed Indians would use Spanish Florida as a refuge.
relations between Spain and
the United States
had deteriorated toward armed conflict. After serious incidents between the
Spanish and American merchants on the Mississippi River, Spain closed the port of New Orleans
to American vessels. This cut off water access to the Gulf for American
frontiersmen and endangered Pensacola
with invasion from the North.
Ano added cause of
serious confrontation was the policy the Spanish had to give asylum to runaway
slaves from Georgia and South Carolina. Southern
planters joined the frontiersmen in the desire to drive the Spanish out of Florida. In 1790 the
Federalists in Congress, trying to stop the escalation of conflict, sent
American surveyor Andrew Ellicott
to survey a boundary with the Spanish. Unfortunately, the Creeks prevented this
intrusion into Indian hunting grounds and the survey was halted.
Spanish leaders met with American diplomat Thomas Pinckney and agreed to make the "Mississippi River
the western border of the United States"
excepting New Orleans.
This Treaty of San Lorenzo
assured American vessels access through New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico and
temporarily muffled the Warhawk demands to seize
Spanish Florida.. The United States
told Spain they would try to
control settlement in the Western territories of Georgia
and South Carolina.
The Treaty delayed confrontation, but did not satisfy the Southern frontiersmen.
WILLIAM BOWLES: FLORIDA'S FREELANCE RADICAL
The Spanish Florida-United States border problem was further
complicated by the presence of colorful opportunists who profited from the
region's lack of political control. None was more troublesome than WILLIAM AUGUSTUS BOWLES, a former
British naval officer. While visiting Florida
during the American Revolution, he lost his rank due to insubordination,
insulted his commander, and threw his uniform intothe Gulf. Bowles escaped into the
forests of West Florida, where he was adopted by the Creeks. In 1781, he gained
a pardon when he led some Creeks to the rescue of Pensacola, then under seize by a Spanish
accepted a job as an Indian agent, but was considered an unreliable and
ruthless individualist. When the Spanish regained Florida
in 1783, Bowles was told to leave, but instead elected to wage a personal war
against the Penton
and Leslie Company and its monopoly of the fur trade in West Florida. Gaining the support of the Nassau
firm of Bonamy & Miller, Bowles tried to get the
English to support him in an attempt to overthrow the Spanish in Florida.
rejected Bowles' plans and the Spanish sought the help of Alexander
McGillivray. Within weeks McGillivray's men captured Bowles and brought him to
the Spanish in Pensacola.
The Spanish tried to convince the daring Englishman to join the Spanish navy,
but when Bowles refused them, he was sent to a prison in the distant Spanish Philippines.
years later, Bowles was reassigned to Madrid,
but escaped off the coast of British West Africa.
Bowles was treated as a wayward hero in London, but he elected to return to Florida in 1791 to renew his personal war against Spain.
By now, his Creek friends had deserted him and Bowles was recaptured and sentenced
to Morro Castle prison in Havana,
down by the plague and on his death bed in prison, Bowles was visited by the
Governor of Cuba
who wanted to see the celebrity prisoner. Bowles informed his guard, "I
am sunk low indeed, but low enough to greet a Spaniard." The death of
Bowles, however, did not lessen the conflict along the borderlands. Bowles was
merely a symptom of Spain's
lack of control of its frontier.
LAST STAND IN FLORIDA
Spain's attempts to improve its colonial system in La Florida proved
futile due to the increasing involvement of the United States with the War in
Europe between Napoleon and the monarchs of Europe, including England and
Spain. In 1803, Thomas Jefferson obtained the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon who commandeered New
Orleans from Spain
when he occupied Madrid.
Now Florida was even separated from Texas and the rest of the Spanish New
reluctant to sell Florida to the United States, but Warhawk
Southerners, angry over Creek refuge in Florida, runaway slaves, and Spain's
lack of Florida development, invaded Florida
without Federal authority. In 1810 a band of frontiersmen crossed the Mississippi and seized the town of Baton
Rouge, calling it "the
Republic of West Florida."
18ll,Brigadier General Mathews ,
former Governor of Georgia, and St. Johns planter Colonel John McIntosh organized "the Patriots", a group
of American settlers who wanted a
"Republic of East Florida." With the promise of 200 acres of Florida land as an incentive, dozens of Georgia farmers joined McIntoch
on an attack on St. Augustine.
They destroyed Spanish plantations and left only after a British fleet
becoming a political liability to Spain. Panton
and McGillivray had died. The Spanish government owed the Panton
and Company some $200,000 for services and the
construction of now empty warehouses and wharves. Pirates and adventurers were
making South Florida their headquarters. Georgia planters were organizing slave raids
of the War of 1812 between the United States and England,
placed Spain, an ally of England,
in a perilous position. England utilized Florida ports for supplies, particular
naval products. Spain
further angered Southern leaders by allowing the British to construct a fort at
Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola
destruction of Fort
Mims, an outpost in Alabama gave General Andrew Jackson the reason in invade Florida in pursuit of
both the escaping Creeks and the British fur traders who sold weapons to the
Creeks. The United States
Government did not authorize Jackson's
invasion. His superior Secretary of War John C. Calhoun wanted to remove
Jackson, but ironically Secretary of State John Quincy Adams defended Jackson's response.
Jackson entered Pensacola and placed Spanish officials in
their own dungeons. He scared the British fleet out of the port. Only the
British movement on New Orleans prevented Jackson from taking command of Florida.
War of 1812 ended English protection of the coast of Spanish Florida, the town
of Fernandina was seized in June of 1817 by Gregor McGregor, a colorful adventurer
who was just a shade north of being a pirate. American troops from Georgia had to enter Amelia Island
to oust McGregor's band from starting a piracy center. Later that year Jackson returned to Florida
to capture Indian agents and punish them, an embarrassment to Spanish leaders.
LAST DAYS OF SPAIN IN FLORIDA
Officials in the James Monroe administration realized that unless Florida was obtained,
the Southern frontier would remain an unsettled mess. John Quincy Adams sought out the Spanish Foreign minister de Onis
with the offer to trade ownership of Florida for the claim by the United States
that a section of Texas was part of the Louisiana Purchase. Spain rejected such a humiliating proposal as
well as Adams' additional acceptance that the United
States would pay all war damages caused by Jackson's Florida
invasions and Indian attacks on Americans.
passed before Spain was
willing to send negotiator General
Francisco Vives to New
York to end Spain's
two hundred forty year Florida
rule. Vives became reluctant when he discovered that
Northerners did not share Southerners desire to invade Florida. He backed away from a full
commitment. It was not until 1821 that the Spanish Crown recognized there was
no alternative to yielding Florida.
They could not stop an American invasion, not with Spain's Latin American colonies in
the Spanish yielded Florida to the United States.
It meant the end of Spanish rule in North America along the Atlantic