When Florida Touched the Mississippi

The calm, winding Perdido River currently serves as Florida’s western boundary, but that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, for much of the 18th and early 19th centuries, Florida’s territory extended all the way to the Mississippi River!

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Dr. Andrew Turnbull and the Origins of New Smyrna Beach

The British only owned Florida for a brief moment (1763-1783), but during that time they did take a stab at turning the territory into a productive colony.  In 1764, the British Parliament set aside £500 (British pounds sterling) as a bounty for cultivating silk, cotton, and indigo in East Florida, and authorized generous land grants for citizens who stepped forward to develop these industries.

A General Map of the Southern British Colonies (1776). Note the separation of East and West Florida.

A General Map of the Southern British Colonies (1776). Note the separation of East and West Florida.

Dr. Andrew Turnbull, a Scotsman and a physician, convinced a number of his wealthy friends in Britain to take advantage of these offers and start a new colony in East Florida.  Turnbull planned to employ a number of Greeks from Asia Minor as laborers for his new venture.  He chose a Greek labor force because he felt they would be more accustomed to the warm climate they would encounter in Florida, and because he believed he would be able to convince a good number of them to leave the Ottoman Empire, where labor conditions were tough.

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A New and Accurate Map of East and West Florida

On this date in 1763, King George III of England issued a royal proclamation that, among other things, divided Florida into two provinces, East and West, separated by the Apalachicola/Chattahoochee Rivers.

The British controlled Florida from 1763-1783, when, following the American Revolution, the Treaty of Paris in 1783 returned Florida to Spanish control until it became a territory of the United States in 1821.

A New and Accurate Map of East and West Florida (1763)

A New and Accurate Map of East and West Florida (ca. 1763)