In March 1812, a group of Georgia settlers known as the Patriot Army invaded Spanish East Florida with de facto support from the United States Government. They had hoped to convince the Spanish colonists to join them and declare Florida’s independence from Spain. The attempt ultimately failed, but during the Patriot Army’s temporary control of Fernandina, the group’s leaders drew up this constitution and formed a government for what they called the Republic of East Florida.
Washington April 4th 1812
An official letter respecting the late proceedings in East Florida accompanies this to you. It has been painful to disagree with you in regard to those proceedings but as the Govt. never contemplated taking possession of the Country, except by friendly arrangement with the Spanish Governor, or other authority there, or to prevent possession being taken by a foreign power, it has been impossible to act differently. It is a fact that the law, not only, does not authorize taking possession, on any other principle, but that there is a law of 1794, which forbids such a procedure under sever penalties.