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West Florida

West Florida was from 1682 until 1762 a part of the French colony of Louisiana when it was ceded to British. It was lost to Spain in 1769. After the sale of the Louisiana Territory to the United States in 1803, resentment of Spanish rule in West Florida by British settlers resulted in a rebellion in 1810 and establishment of the Free and Independent Republic of West Florida. On September 23, after meetings beginning in June, rebels overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge.

The boundaries of West Florida included all territory south of the 31st parallel, west of the Perdido River (now in Florida), and east of the Mississippi River, but north of Lake Pontchartrain. The southern boundary was of course the Gulf of Mexico. It included part of the Florida Panhandle, and the lower portions of what is now Alabama and Mississippi and the Louisiana parishes of East Baton Rouge, East and West Feliciana, Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, St. Tammany and Washington.

The capital of the Republic of West Florida was St. Francisville. The first governor was Fulwar Skipwith whose great-granddaughter, Leila Lee Roberts, of Staten Island, N.Y., has donated the original copy of the constitution of the West Florida Republic and supporting papers to the Louisiana State Archives.

West Florida was annexed by proclamation by James Madison, President of the United States with possession taken of St. Francisville on December 6, 1810 and of Baton Rouge on December 10, 1810.

The Free and Independent State of West Florida flew the Bonnie Blue Flag, a single white star on a blue backgound that was later flown in its early days by the Confederate States of America.

See also East Florida

Further reading