Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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List of Illustrations

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

I have many wonderful people to thank who have shared insights and lent encouragement over the years in which this book came to fruition. Robert May has been an extraordinary and unstinting supporter, reading numerous draft chapters, tendering sage counsel, and boosting this project from...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

The imperial map of North America changed dramatically and frequently from the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 to the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Whether by choice or compulsion, European powers transferred vast continental expanses among themselves with scant regard...

Part I: Struggles for Empire in Peace and War, 1762–1787

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Prologue. The Open and Hidden Features of Peace: Louisiana, Florida, and the Imperial Settlement of 1762–1763

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pp. 11-20

On January 13, 1762, Charles Wyndham, second Earl of Egremont, sent momentous instructions from his majesty’s privy council to General Jeffrey Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America. The long war against France had just entered a new stage. Great Britain...

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1. Maritime and Interior Colony: Beginnings of British West Florida, 1763–1766

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pp. 21-44

George Johnstone was a lobbyist about London with a clear mission in early 1763. As a naval captain just out of wartime service, he desired an honorable station in Britain’s triumphant empire. Eyeing a Florida governor’s post, he made his case in an unsigned brief to the Board of Trade...

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2. The Conundrum of “Spanish- French” Louisiana British: Imperialism and the Mississippi-Gulf Frontier, 1766–1775

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pp. 45-68

On December 12, 1771, Lt. John Thomas, British Indian agent at Manchac, expressed contempt for those he called the “Spanish French”—French commandants in the Mississippi Valley who now served the Spanish crown in Louisiana. Thomas’s disdainful words exemplify the English...

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3. Opening Salvos in a Revolutionary War, 1776–1779

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pp. 69-90

The conde de Aranda, Spanish ambassador at Paris from 1773 to 1787, was a brilliant observer of international affairs. While viewing the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War as a boon to the Bourbon powers, he also looked at events with sober realism. On July 24, 1775, he informed...

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4. Multiple Conflicts: Warfare and a Disputed Peace, 1779–1783

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pp. 91-114

A hawk by temperament, Bernardo de Gálvez was already readying an offensive against British West Florida when definite news of war reached him in early August 1779. Not even a hurricane, which struck New Orleans on the 18th, stayed his resolve. A few days later, he warned the public...

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5. Bidding and Conspiring for Access to the Realm, 1783–1787

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pp. 115-134

The British cession of both Floridas to Spain is one of the more significant if often overlooked consequences of the American Revolutionary War on a continental scale. English imperial visions of unrivaled power from the Gulf to the Upper Mississippi were suddenly eclipsed. Bonds of monarchical...

Part II: New Empires, New Republics, 1787–1803

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Prologue. Wilkinson and the Imperial Self

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pp. 137-140

James Wilkinson of Lexington, Kentucky, made his own bold entry into Louisiana by pledging loyalty to Spain while still a U.S. citizen and a supposed patriot. He did so in a remarkable “Declaration” of August 21, 1787, transmitted in person to Miró and Navarro in New Orleans.¹ His...

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6. License to Venture: Colonization and Commercial Adventurism

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pp. 141-163

The year 1787 was a turning point in borderlands contention between Spain and the United States. It was also a high point for Esteban Miró and Martín Navarro, whose recommendations shaped Madrid’s new initiatives for coopting and countering American frontiersmen. The results...

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7. Frontier Separatism and Integration

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pp. 164-186

Decoding cyphers was sometimes a difficult task for Esteban Miró and James Wilkinson in their confidential correspondence. At one point in 1789 or 1790, Miró confessed that he could “only guess at the meaning of the first five lines” of the Kentucky powerbroker’s recent letter. In another...

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8. Conspiracies and International Turmoil

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pp. 187-208

In December 1787, Governor Vicente Manuel de Zéspedes of East Florida welcomed Thomas Powell of Charleston, South Carolina, to St. Augustine. The visitor was no ordinary guest since he had been corresponding for several months with Zéspedes about an alleged anti-Spanish conspiracy in...

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9. Intrigues across Creek Country and Beyond

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pp. 209-232

Arturo O’Neill, Spanish commandant at Pensacola, strongly admired Alexander McGillivray for leading the Creeks into an alliance with Spain in 1784. Much had changed since both men had been on opposing sides in the battle of Pensacola three years before. Though McGillivray had been...

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10. The Imperial Question at Century’s End

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pp. 233-256

Captain Isaac Guion, U.S. army officer at Fort Massac on the Ohio, had the honor of leading the first detachment of soldiers down the Mississippi in the summer of 1797 to take charge of Spanish posts on the river’s east bank ceded by treaty to the American republic. Though the U.S.-Spanish...

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Conclusion. The Impermanence of Boundaries

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pp. 257-266

Intrigues proliferated in frontier regions where diverse interests contended for power, but where no single nation or imperial power predominated. As a result, individuals and groups commonly grasped for advantage by masking motives, angling for allies across ethnic or territorial...

Notes

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pp. 267-336

Bibliography

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pp. 337-364

Index

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pp. 365-375