St. Augustine Written Timeline

  • 1779
    Spain allied with France and declared war on England on June 16, 1779. No alliance was formally made between Spain and the Americans though Bernardo de Galvez, Governor of Louisiana, communicated directly with the Revolutionary leaders and the Spanish channeled money to aid the Americans.
    St. Augustine-based troops help defend Savannah against the French and Americans.
    The British brought 37 Charlestonians to St. Augustine and held them at the Castillo de San Marcos, called St. Marks at that time. Among the captives were three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge. Josiah Smith, a merchant and patriot, kept a 425 page detailed journal detailing this ordeal, a great source for scholars today.
    British capture Charleston, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence and South Carolina's lieutenant governors are sent to St. Augustine as prisoners.
    West Florida falls to Spanish forces. St. Augustine elects House of Commons.
    The Second Treaty of Paris is signed by the United States and Britain, ending the American War for Independence. The pact known as the Treaty of Versailles, signed between Britain, France, and Spain was signed on January 20, 1783. Spain managed to regain much of their former empire which this treaty, repossessing Minorca and Florida in exchange for the Bahamas and Gibraltar.
    The Second Spanish Period began in Florida, lasting from 1784 to 1821. The Treaty of Versailles, part of the Treaty of Paris of 1783, gave British residents of Florida 18 months to relocate. Spain extended an invitation to anyone who wished to stay and convert to Catholicism. St. Augustine became a mixture of cultures, Spanish, British, Greek, African, and French as recorded in the 1786 Hassett census.
    Father Thomas Hassett conducted a census of St. Augustine in 1786. This census accounts for the cities population, around 2,000 inhabitants at the time. Scholars rely on this census due to the ethnographic information it contains regarding the Mediterranean, African, Native, British and Spanish populous.
    On June 8, James Madison introduced his proposed amendments to the Constitution, later known as the Bill of Rights. By September 25, the First Federal Congress presented the state legislatures with 12 proposed amendments to the Constitution. The first two, concerning the number of constituents for each Representative and the compensation of Congressmen, were not ratified at that time.
    The French Revolution begins and evolves into a 25 year European War.
    Spain allows American settlers to immigrate into Florida.
    In 1786, the Spanish crown ordered the construction of a new parish church for St. Augustine. The cornerstone of the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine was laid in 1793, and the building was completed and dedicated in August 1797. Fathers Thomas Hassett and Michael O�Reilly were the parish priests at this time.
    Spain receded to France all of the land west of the Perdido River, in what was known then as West Florida. The Treaty of San Lorenzo was a formal recognition of boundaries between Spain and French territories in the Americas. This treaty established the boundary at the 31st parallel.
    In 1796 Spain and France signed the Treaty of San Ildefonso (Separate from the Treaty signed in 1800). This treaty allied to two nations against English and American intrusions. A series of treaties between these two powers would be signed in the following years, an attempt at maintaining power of the Mississippi as long as possible.
    On October 1, Louis A Berthier representing France and Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo for Spain signed the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. This treaty gave Louisiana to the French Republic, however the exact boundaries were never determined resulting in a dispute between the United States and Spain over the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase.
    Jorge Biassou (1741-1801) arrived in St. Augustine in 1796, with thirty loyal Haitian followers. He led the Haitian Revolution and later became a leader of a free black militia at Fort Matanzas. He lived in the Salcedo House on St. George Street, now Whetstone Chocolates. He died in 1801 and was buried in Tolomato Cemetery.
    Treaty of Amiens brings peace temporarily among France, Spain, England, and the Batavian Republic (Netherlands)
    Robert Livingston, James Monroe, and Barbe Marbois negoiated the Louisiana Purchase, signed on April 30, 1803 in Paris. Jefferson announced the treaty to the American people on July 4. The United States paid $15 million to the French Republic for 828,800 square miles of land. Jefferson pushed for the territory to secure the port of New Orleans for the United States.
    Spain's failure to compensate Americans for vessels seized by privateers originates the U.S. argument that a shortage has been acquired on the Floridas east of Perdido River, and that Spain could neither give nor sell the land to anyone except the U.S.
    The residents of St. Augustine erected the pillars of the City Gates using coquina blocks. The Cubo Line was also reconstructed at the same time. The City Gates still stand today, along with reconstructed portions of the Cubo Line marking the beginning of St. George Street leading visitors though the heart of the city.
    The people of West Florida met at Baton Rouge and declared themselves independent. Governor Claiborne, of the Territory of New Orleans, was sent by the President to take possession of the area for the United States.
    The United States Congress passed a secret authorization for President Madison to seize East Florida. General George Matthews was appointed by the President to lead an attack on Spanish Florida. Matthews recruited local Georgians as soldiers and promised land grants in Florida for those who fought against the Spanish. This invasion would lead to the Patriot War of 1812.