Pensacola History – Part II
In our last article we mentioned that Pensacola is a city located in the Florida Panhandle and had the nickname of “The City of Five Flags” because of the five governments to rule over it throughout the course of its history: Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Confederate States of America.
We also touched on some of the pre-European and Spanish histories of the area. In this post, we’ll be continuing with the Spanish, British, and United States history in Pensacola.
History of Pensacola
The French started exploring the lower Mississippi during the late 17th century in hopes of colonizing the region as part of New France (La Louisiane) in North America. Worried that Spanish territory would be threatened, the Spanish founded a new settlement in western Florida. The Spanish established a fortified town near what is now Fort Barrancas. This town laid the foundation for the permanent European-dominated settlement of what is present-day Pensacola.
A tri-racial creole society formed during the early years of settlement. Because it was a fortified trading post, the Spanish had stationed mostly men there. Some of these men married or had unions with the Pensacola, Creek, or African women, both slave and free. Spain encouraged slaves from the southern British colonies to come to Florida for refuge and promised freedom in exchange for conversion to Catholicism.
In 1763 the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in an exchange following the British victory over France and Spain in the French and Indian War. The British dubbed Pensacola as the capital of their new colony in West Florida. After that, the British began strengthening the defenses around the mainland area of Fort Barrancas and built the Royal Navy Redoubt.
In 1764, a colonial assembly was established, and George Johnstone was appointed as the first British Governor. When the American War of Independence broke out, the colonists remained loyal to the Crown. In 1778, the Willing Expedition, a military expedition launched on behalf of the American Continental Congress, went down the Mississippi with a small force of men, ransacking plantations and estates until ultimately being defeated by a local militia. After this, the area received a small number of British reinforcements.
British military resources were stretched, and Pensacola was pretty low ranking on their list of priorities. Because of this, only a small number of British military forces were ever sent to defend Pensacola. In other colonies, however, such as South Carolina, the British were sending a large number of soldiers to defend the area.
Spain joined the rebel’s side of the American Revolution in 1779 and captured the city in the 1781 Battle of Pensacola, thereby gaining control of West Florida. After the war was over, the British ceded West Florida and East Florida to Spain as part of a peace settlement.
During the end of the War of 1812, American trooped launched an attack against the British and Spanish garrisons protecting Pensacola, which surrendered after two days of fighting. Spain and the US negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819, where Spain sold the Floridas to the US for $5 million. Pensacola became part of the United States of America in 1821.
Pensacola, Florida has a lot of interesting history. Not only does Pensacola have amazing national parks, but it also has tons of history packed into its forts and surrounding areas. If you’re in Pensacola and are looking to take a break from its history and step back into some present-day fun, come fish with us at Rock Bottom Charters!