The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Florida Land Titles and British, Not Just Spanish, Orgins

Featured Article

    All Florida lawyers should know that the state traces its colonial heritage back to Spain, and many, particularly real estate practitioners, are aware that some Florida land titles begin with a grant from the Crown of Spain. Relatively few, however, know that title to a smaller number of parcels began with a grant from Great Britain. How this happened is an interesting, if relatively unknown, facet of Florida’s legal background. First let’s reacquaint ourselves with certain aspects of colonial American history.

    The Colonial Situation
    Spanish Explorer Don Juan Ponce de Leon was certainly not the first individual to see Florida, but he was the first to make an official record of his visit. In 1513, at the high point of the Easter season, he came ashore, probably near what is now St. Augustine, and named the peninsula “La Florida,” perhaps signifying the “Flowery Land.”1 Folklore suggests that Ponce de Leon was looking for a legendary “fountain of youth” when he landed in Florida. Although he never found the fabled fountain, his “discovery” of Florida won him a place in history and the name he gave stuck.

    Nevertheless, Ponce de Leon’s efforts on behalf of the Spanish crown were only part of a much larger mosaic formed by Spain. Not long before the conquistador visited Florida, a remarkable year in Spanish history set that nation on a course toward a vast empire and the role of a major world power for roughly three centuries. That year was 1492. It was the stage for two major events: First, King Ferdinand’s and Queen Isabella’s forces finally vanquished the Moors, ending centuries of struggle by pushing them back to North Africa,2 and second, they funded Columbus’ epic voyage of discovery to the New World. Spain’s claim to vast areas in the Americas that formed much of her empire was based on a document titled “Bull of Pope Alexander Conceding America to Spain,”3 in which the Pope gave his blessing to Spanish discoveries and conquests in the New World (with exceptions for Portuguese interests in Brazil).

    Spanish treasure fleets sailed the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Pacific. Spain governed all of Central America, much of both North and South America, and even the far-away Philippine Islands. Spanish claims of sovereignty in Florida, which began when Ponce de Leon came ashore in 1513, ended when Spain ceded Florida to the U.S. in 1821. Nearly three centuries of Spanish hegemony in Florida was, however, broken by a 20-year hiatus from 1763 to 1783, when Great Britain exercised dominion over “the Floridas,” known then as East and West Florida.

    The primary focus here is on the relatively brief 20-year period of Britain’s rule. The British presence in Florida resulted from the interplay of European military conflict, diplomacy, and politics manifested primarily in two separate treaties: the Peace of Paris of 1763 and the Treaty of Paris, signed at Versailles in 1783.4 Britain was a party to both. In The Age of Revolution, Winston Churchill commented on Britain’s negotiating strategy with the other European powers and explained the overall context under which Spain transferred her holdings in Florida to Britain in 1763, noting that “Britain’s acquisitions under the terms of the Peace of Paris in 1763 were nevertheless considerable. . . . From Spain she received Florida.”5

    Churchill was not the only commentator to discuss the 1763 treaty. It brought to a close what U.S. students usually refer to as the French and Indian War (the American portion of the Seven Years War).6 Notice again that the date of acquisition was 1763. This preceded the Declaration of Independence by only 13 years, and in reality meant that there were 15 English colonies in America, south of Canada, when the Revolutionary War began. Neither of the Floridas gave any appreciable aid or comfort to their rebelling neighbors to the north, and when the Revolutionary War ended, they neither expected nor even appeared to seriously want independence from Great Britain.

    Once again, we can look to Churchill to explain the dynamics of European diplomacy, this time commenting on the armistice reached in Paris 20 years later in 1783. Churchill’s explanation makes it clear that the American Revolution was only one theatre in a larger, worldwide struggle mainly involving the European powers. According to Sir Winston, the outcome left England “heavily battered,” but “undaunted.” Among other things, the agreement required Britain to transfer Florida back to Spain and specified certain details about how to accomplish this transfer, details which would prove to be important in considering land titles.7

    The treaty between Britain and Spain took into consideration British land grants in Florida and property rights arising thereunder. It specified how, after the transfer, Spanish authorities were obligated to treat landowners from the British period. Legal ramifications of such property rights became critically important to American authorities who had responsibility for settling titles to land after Florida had been transferred to the U.S. in 1821. For a clear understanding of real estate ownership rights, specific sections of both the treaty transferring Florida from Britain back to Spain in 1783 and the treaty transferring Florida from Spain to the U.S. in 1821 must be analyzed.

    Relevant Treaties

    For Americans, the main consequence of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 was the official conclusion of the Revolutionary War. Even casual students of American history recall that John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin (the first U.S. ambassador to France) were instrumental in negotiating its terms.

    On the other hand, American historians have been, for the most part, uninterested in aspects of the overall settlement that delineated rights of British land grant holders in Spanish colonial Florida. Little comment on this narrow subject is found in the relevant literature. The section of the 1783 treaty between Britain and Spain addressing British property rights (referred to as the Treaty of Versailles) is found in Article V, a translation of which is quoted below:

    His Britannic Majesty moreover cedes and guarantees, in full ownership, to his Catholic Majesty, Eastern Florida as well as Western Florida. His Catholic Majesty agrees that the British inhabitants or others who may have been subjects of the King of Great Britain in said lands, may withdraw in all safety and liberty, where it seems good to them, and may sell their goods and transport their effects as well as their persons without being hindered in their emigration, under any pretext at all, except that of debts or criminal process. . . .8

    A close reading of these terms reveals that they are not overly generous to “British inhabitants or others who may have been subjects of the King of Great Britain.” This point will soon become more evident when these terms are compared to and contrasted with corresponding terms of the 1821 treaty transferring Florida from Spain to the U.S.

    First, however, notice the terms here. British inhabitants or subjects were granted treaty rights to “withdraw in all safety and liberty, where it seems good to them, and may sell their goods and transport their effects. . . without being hindered in their emigration.” In other words, they could “sell out and move on,” and nothing was stated specifically about ownership of real property, unless such property rights were included in the term “goods.”

    Nearly 40 years later, when Spain transferred Florida to the U.S., the treaty language regarding real estate ownership by individuals was markedly different and considerably more advantageous to the property owner. Perhaps this divergence can be explained by the relative differences in bargaining power and negotiating skill between Britain and Spain in the first treaty, and between Spain and the U.S. in the second. Or, as is perhaps more likely, the difference could have resulted from a greater emphasis on private property rights by American negotiators than demonstrated by their Spanish counterparts in the earlier document.9

    In any event, the later treaty (negotiated in 1819, effective in 1821) contained the following language regarding private property rights:

    All the grants of land made before the 24th of January 1818, by His Catholic Majesty or by his lawful authorities in the said Territories ceded by His Majesty to the United States, shall be ratified and confirmed to the persons in possession of the lands, to the same extent that the same grants would be valid if the Territories had remained under the Dominion of His Catholic Majesty. But the owners in possession of such lands, who by reason of the recent circumstances of the Spanish Nation and the Revolutions in Europe, have been prevented from fulfilling all the conditions of their grants, shall complete them within the terms limited in the same respectively, from the date of this Treaty; in default of which the said grants shall be null and void — all grants made since the said 24th of January 1818, when the first proposal on the part of His Catholic Majesty, for the cession of the Floridas was made, are hereby declared and agreed to be null and void.10

    Notice carefully the first sentence of Article 8: The U.S. agrees that all grants before January 24, 1818, from the King of Spain (or his lawful authorities ), shall be “ratified and confirmed to persons in possession” of the property, just as if Spain still ruled in Florida. This agreement by the U.S. was of paramount importance to property owners in territorial Florida whose property rights were founded on grants from either Spanish or British authorities. Owners with valid real estate rights in Spanish Florida (prior to the cut-off date expressed in the Treaty of January 24, 1818) could expect such rights to be equally enforceable under American jurisdiction.

    The Territory of Florida
    (1821 – 1845)

    Florida’s territorial government began with immediate ceremonies conducted in the capitals of both provinces — Pensacola and St. Augustine — in 1821. One of the most vexing problems facing the new territorial government, and especially its courts, was the multifaceted issue of land ownership and property rights. The U.S. was prepared to recognize private rights of land owners from the Spanish era, and also from the earlier British period, so long as these rights were legitimate under terms of the treaty with Spain. However, the procedure and substance of securing land ownership at the beginning of the territorial period was ripe for abuse. Under the treaty, the U.S. acquired all the land in Florida that had not been transferred into private ownership prior to the treaty cut-off date (January 24, 1818). To determine which claims of private ownership were genuine (and which were not), American officials needed full access to Spanish colonial real estate records. Although the treaty clearly provided for transfer of the “archives and documents” directly related to property (see Article II),11 this critical transfer was only partially made.12 Each acre of Florida that had gone into private hands under a Spanish (or British) grant meant one less acre for government ownership. It did not take long for any corrupt Spanish colonial officials, land speculators, and other associated characters to see the implications of this and face the temptation to present false land grant documents to American officials. Consequent problems for territorial administrators and courts multiplied in the confusion of sovereignty changes since many original land records against which to compare fraudulent claims were missing. However, the story of Florida’s missing Spanish real estate records has already been recounted,13 and the main issue here is the fate of land owners claiming title based on British land grants once the U.S. assumed jurisdiction.

    The U.S. Supreme Court Weighs In

    Case decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with land grant issues in Florida under both Spanish and British sovereigns have been identified, and an addendum listing more than 50 such cases is attached. These decisions comprise the substance of Florida land grant jurisprudence. The first two listed (both involving Spanish grants) establish basic guidelines and judicial philosophy for dealing with Florida land grant issues. To better understand British land grants as the authority for Florida real estate titles, U.S. v. Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, 31 U.S. 691 (1832), and U.S. v. Juan Percheman, 32 U.S. 51 (1833), will be examined rather closely. The first case, Arredondo, is the more widely cited of the two. It involved a greater amount of land by far, a tract of some 289,645 acres in the “County of Alachua.”14 Supreme Court Justice Baldwin wrote the court’s opinion. He began by referring to the 1821 treaty under which Spain ceded Florida to the U.S.; then he described the acts of Congress which set up a process for separating parcels owned by private parties from those owned by the U.S. pursuant to terms of the treaty. Congress created “tribunals” of land commissioners to deal with the smaller claims, up to a specified maximum, and referred larger claims to federal territorial courts in Florida for disposition by territorial judges subject to appeal and final review by the U.S. Supreme Court.15

    The court explained that the system Congress established for determining rightful ownership of Florida land was in turn based on a process Congress had previously used for achieving similar objectives in Missouri and Arkansas.16 Of course, these states were created out of the earlier Louisiana Purchase made by the U.S. in 1803. Next, the court considered its jurisdiction to hear and decide the Arredondo dispute and, in an important ruling, stated that this case was its “first final adjudication” of the treaty and other laws under which the U.S. would administer ownership of land in Florida.17 The court clearly framed the main issue as: “The only question depending [is] whether the claimants or the United States are the owners of the land in question.”18 To lay a foundation for reaching this issue, the court next addressed the way a royal monarchy like Spain was governed and how the English common law and the Acts of Congress compared. Then the court noted, “We are also required to finally decide ‘all other questions properly arising between the claimants and the United States.’”19

    In an important observation regarding validity of colonial land titles in Florida, the court noted that Article 8 of the 1821 treaty between Spain and the U.S. “names only grants” as the vehicle to transfer land from the crown into private hands. Congress (in subsequent enactments) expanded the court’s authority regarding land titles so that, “Whether, then, the present claim is by patent, grant, concession, warrant, or order of survey, or any other act which might have been perfected into a complete title, by laws, usages, and customs of Spain, is immaterial as to our power to hear and determine.”20

    After concluding that it had jurisdiction and briefly discussing deadline requirements that claimants must meet, the court turned from general principles of law to the specific issues before it. Its opinion continued for more than 25 pages, discussing such issues as whether fraud was present; how prior cases impact the present one; more comment on the power of a Spanish king; whether certain conditions have been met; and a detailed construction of the terms of the Treaty of 1821. Ultimately, the court concluded “that the title of the claimants is valid, according to the stipulation of the Treaty of 1819, the laws of nations, of the United States, and of Spain.”21

    In the second case, United States v. Percheman, the court explained its views on how land owners should be treated after American jurisdiction over their parcels was obtained. Even though the Percheman decision also adjudicated a Spanish land grant, comments of the court quoted here are equally applicable to British land grants in Florida. To help readers understand, the court described the geography and arithmetic of the Florida acquisition as follows:

    The United States had acquired a territory containing near thirty millions of acres, of which about three millions had probably been granted to individuals. The demands of the treasury, and the settlement of the territory, required that the vacant lands should be brought into the market; for which purpose the operations of the land office were to be extended into Florida. The necessity of distinguishing the vacant from the appropriated lands was obvious; and this could be effected only by adopting means to search out and ascertain pre-existing titles.22

    The court also explained its attitude concerning persons who owned real property in Florida prior to the U.S. acquisition in the following manner:

    Florida was a colony of Spain, the acquisition of which by the United States was extremely desirable. It was ceded by a treaty concluded between the two powers at Washington, on the 22d day of February 1819. . . .

    “His catholic majesty cedes to the United States in full property and sovereignty, all the territories which belong to him situated to the eastward of the Mississippi, by the name of East and West Florida.” A cession of territory is never understood to be a cession of the property belonging to its inhabitants. The king cedes that only which belonged to him. Lands he had previously granted, were not his to cede. Neither party could so understand the cession. Neither party could consider itself as attempting a wrong to individuals, condemned by the practice of the whole civilized world. The cession of a territory by its name from one sovereign to another, conveying the compound idea of surrendering at the same time the lands and the people who inhabit them, would be necessarily understood to pass the sovereignty only, and not to interfere with private property.23

    Application of American Law to British Land Grants in Florida

    Subsequent to the acquisition of Florida by the U.S., Congress established a territorial court system (with appellate jurisdiction leading ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court) and provided for land commissions in both East and West Florida. This legal machinery was designed to sort out the tangle of ownership to those parcels of land which belonged to private parties (relying on legitimate claims), thus, separating them from the balance of the Florida territory, which now belonged to the U.S. government.

    With respect to the legitimacy of British land grants, the land commissioners and the courts faced the legal issue of how to reconcile ownership rights afforded to private parties under the Treaties of 1783 (Florida transferred from Britain back to Spain) and 1821 (Florida transferred from Spain to the U.S.). Recall that private property rights agreed to by the U.S. were relatively generous. The Americans said they would recognize “all the grants of land. . . by His Catholic Majesty or by his lawful authorities. . . ratified and confirmed to the persons in possession. . . to the same extent that the same grants would be valid if the Territories had remained under. . . His Catholic Majesty.” Consider the situation of land owners from the British period (1763-1783), since their rights under the treaty shifting Florida to Spain (1783) basically boiled down to the right to “sell out and move on” without official Spanish interference. But what if land owners stayed in Spanish Florida — what real property rights did they achieve then? Or, if they sold their holdings, did the purchasers get a good title? Would it be honored by the Spanish colonial officers? One authority in this field says,

    British grants to crown favorites also dotted the landscape of East and West Florida. Approximately forty-five such grants took up valuable lands in West Florida and caused much concern for Governor Peter Chester. Chester found most of these grants, made by the orders in council, were not settled upon his taking command at Pensacola in 1770. Certain conditions were attached to these grants. These included settlement within three years by white Protestants of one third of each grant.. . . At the close of the British period, in 1783-84, many of these grants were sold to residents and returning Spanish speculators. Some of them were later recognized by Spanish authorities, however, many were not. They were to come back later as the basis for some of the fraudulent grants recognized in the early American period of occupation. . . .

    The Second Spanish Period, as it is called in Florida history, begins in 1783-84, when the British returned the Floridas to Spain. Like the Spanish before them, many of the British period settlers sought their fortunes elsewhere and abandoned the colonies. However, a significant number remained to continue their lives, most notably the firm of Panton and Leslie, the famous Indian trading company. treaty there were stipulations to the recognition of grants given during the British period were spelled out in later Spanish laws. Most notably was the law requiring all holders of grants to lay their evidence before the Intendant and petition that official for recognition. An attorney for the Royal Treasury would then conduct an investigation and return his findings to the Intendant for final decision. Appeals could be made to the Supreme Board of the Treasury, but this was seldom done.. . .24

    Ultimately, when considering legal validity of British land grants under the standards of American law after Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, courts had to determine what legal status these British grants were given by the Spanish authorities between 1783 (when Spain reacquired Florida) and 1821 (when Spain transferred Florida to the U.S.). The reason for this was the controlling language in the treaty between Spain and the U.S., which specified “all the grants of land made before the 24th of January 1818, by His Catholic Majesty or by his lawful authorities. . . shall be ratified and confirmed. . . . ”

    Consequently, from a legal perspective, if land owners with claims based on British land grants were afforded valid title by the Spanish authorities after Spain reacquired Florida from Britain, then those same land grants should be recognized as genuine under U.S. law based on the specific language of the 1821 treaty. Support for this viewpoint can be found in “Report on British Claims” produced by Samuel R. Overton and Joseph M. White in 1825.25 in its most pertinent parts, the report states,

    In the treaty between Spain and the United States no provision was made for British claimants, but only such as emanated from his Catholic Majesty and his lawful authorities; and, by the law organizing this board of commissioners, none are to be examined except those claimed and owned, bona fide, by American citizens, and for which no compensation has been made by the British government. . . .

    It is believed that the commissioners have no power to declare a forfeiture in those cases where the claim exceeds 3,500 acres. Here they are only intended to act as an inquest or court of inquiry, and furnish Congress with the facts upon which a forfeiture may be declared. It is their province to ascertain what lands belong to individuals, as distinguished from those which have accrued to the United States under the treaty. . . .

    From every view which we have been enabled to give this subject, we are constrained to declare all British claims within our jurisdiction, which were not confirmed by Spain or disposed of in conformity with the fifth article of the treaty of 1783, forfeited, void, and of none effect. They are not valid by the law of nations, and would not be considered valid under the Spanish government. We are, therefore, convinced that they are not valid and correct; and, agreeably to the provisions of the law organizing this board, they must be rejected. . . .26

    In addition to the previously considered authorities, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled directly on validity of British land grants in Florida in at least two cases. Both of these decisions were handed down in 1834. During the 1830s and 1840s, the Supreme Court ruled in nearly 50 decisions regarding Florida land grants from the colonial era. In addition, a few cases were decided in the late 1800s, and even the early 1900s. But the bulk of the court’s work on these cases was done during the 1830s and 1840s.

    A review of this body of jurisprudence shows the key to be an integrated whole, with each case forming a link in a continuing chain. The majority of these holdings involve Spanish transactions, but two were located which deal with British land grants. The first of the latter cases is United States v. Frances P. Fatio’s and Louisa Hallowe’s Heirs, 33 U.S. 492 (1834). It was an appeal from the Superior Court of East Florida — the opinion was written by John Marshall. Facts of this case and the decision of the Supreme Court demonstrate in a clear and logical fashion how a land grant from British authorities could form the basis for a valid title to real property in Florida.

    First, the claimants asserted that their ancestor, Philip P. Fatio, deceased, had received a grant of 10,000 acres from the governor of East Florida while Great Britain ruled in “the Floridas.”27 Next, they cited the 1783 treaty between Britain and Spain which allowed property owners in East and West Florida a specific period of time in which to sell their holdings and move. The claimants also cited an additional portion of the treaty which gave Spain the option to grant property owners from the British period more time to settle their business affairs. The court noted that Spain allowed British property owners the opportunity to stay in what was now Spanish Florida and become “Spanish subjects,” and that “[t]he ancestor of the petitioners remained and took the oath of allegiance, and the lands were surveyed and confirmed to him by the Spanish authorities.”28

    The claimants presented the case for their title to the American land commissioners and received a favorable report based on the May 26, 1830, act of Congress, which stated in part,

    that all claims derived from the former British government, contained in the reports of the commissioners of East Florida, who did not avail themselves of the treaty between Spain and England, signed at Versailles on the 20th of January 1783, by leaving said province, but who remained in the same and became Spanish subjects, and whose titles were approved by the Spanish authorities, and have been recommended by the commissioners, or the register and receiver acting as such, be, and the same are hereby confirmed.29

    After citing this portion of the record, which seems clearly dispositive of the case, Justice Marshall added two small technical corrections to the material quoted above by stating, “The treaty referred to in the above recited act, was evidently intended to be that of the 3d of September 1783, and the article is the fifth of that treaty, and not the third, as alleged in the petition.”30 Finally, the court concluded its decision in favor of the claimants by ruling that, “In addition to the above laws and treaties, the petitioners have proved a possession, which constitutes a title by prescription, by the laws of Spain. It is therefore considered, adjudged and decreed, that the decree of the superior court of East Florida, be affirmed.”31

    The legal reasoning we see in this U.S. Supreme Court opinion plainly shows how a British land grant, given by British authorities during Great Britain’s period of dominion in Florida, resulted in a valid title to land, confirmed by the U.S. judicial system. In plain language, the process took four basic steps: 1) the British governor at the time granted the land; 2) the owner remained in Florida after the province was transferred back to Spain; 3) the owner took the “oath of allegiance” and had his land surveyed and “confirmed to him by the Spanish authorities;” and 4) under American law, these circumstances constituted a valid and genuine title to Florida land recognized as such by the U.S.

    In the second case involving a British land grant, U.S. v. William Gibson, et al., Heirs of Francis P. Fatio, deceased, 33 U.S. 494 (1834), the court said it involved the “same questions” as the other Francis P. Fatio case discussed. Once again, Chief Justice Marshall wrote the opinion, but this time the land in question involved two grants: the first for 10,000 acres made by British Governor Grant, and the second for 760 acres made by Governor Tomyn. As before, title was confirmed for the claimants, and since Justice Marshall said that the “same questions are involved” as in the previous case,32 we can safely assume that the Supreme Court followed the same pattern of legal reasoning to reach its conclusion.


    Threads of Florida history, prior to acquisition by the U.S. in 1821, are woven primarily into Spanish cloth. But as demonstrated here, the interplay of European and North American military, diplomatic, and political events resulted in a 20-year period of British sovereignty in Florida from 1763-1783. During this time, people settled in the province, farms and businesses were established, and real estate was owned under grants from the crown. When British Florida passed back again into the hands of Spain and then later on to the U.S., difficult legal questions arose concerning validity of real estate titles originating from British grants construed under American law.

    Could a British land grant be the first link in a valid chain of title under U.S. legal and judicial standards? Based on the historical record reviewed here, that question was answered in the affirmative for some parcels and in the negative for others. As demonstrated from authorities cited, the primary difference between success or failure of a title under a British land-grant was how that title was treated by Spanish legal authorities during the intervening Spanish period, prior to transfer of Florida to the U.S. If the title was confirmed by Spanish law, authorities reviewed here indicated that it would be considered valid under American law. Consequently, if they looked backward far enough, some land owners in Florida today and the attorneys who advise them might very well find that their claim of ownership rests solidly on the initial foundation of a land grant from the British crown.

    1 Robert J. Huckshorn, ed., Government and Politics in Florida 7 (Univ. Fla. Press, 1991). See also Whitfield’s Notes, Legal Historical Background of the State of Florida 215, which states “.. . Easter Sunday, called Pascua Florida in the Spanish language” as a possible reason for the name given.
    2 Library of Congress County Studies, Spain, The Golden Age, Ferdinand and Isabella,
    3 Whitfield’s Notes, Legal Historical Background of the State of Florida 98-99.
    4 Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, The Age of Revolution 160-62, 240-41 (1967).
    5 Id. at 160-62.

    “Britain’s acquisitions under the terms of the Peace of Paris in 1763 were nevertheless considerable. In America she secured Canada, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and the adjoining islands, and the right to navigate the Mississippi, important for Red Indian trade. In the West Indies Grenada, St. Vincent, Dominica, and Tobago were acquired. From Spain she received Florida.. . .

    “Spain regained the West Indian port of Havana, which controlled the maritime strategy of the Caribbean.” Id.
    6 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language 557 (2d College ed. 1979).
    7 Winston S. Churchill, A History of the English Speaking Peoples, The Age of Revolution 237-41 (1967).

    “The surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in Virginia had a decisive effect on British opinion.. . .

    “Nevertheless, by negotiations in which he displayed great skill, the Prime Minister succeeded in bringing the world war to an end on the basis of American independence. The French Government were now close to bankruptcy. They had only aided the American Patriot in the hope of dismembering the British Empire, and, apart from a few romantic enthusiasts like Lafayette, had no wish to help to create a republic in the New World. His own Ministers had long warned Louis XVI that this might shake his absolute monarchy. Spain was directly hostile to American independence. She had entered the war mainly because France had promised to help her to recapture Gibraltar in return for the use of her Fleet against England. But the revolt of the Thirteen Colonies had bred trouble among her own overseas possessions. . .

    “Spain was forced to join in the general settlement. Her American ambitions had melted away, her one gain in this theatre being the two English colonies in East Florida; but this was at the expense of the English retention of Gibraltar, the main Spanish objective. . . .

    “Thus ended what some then called the World War. A new state had come into being across the Atlantic, a great future force in the councils of the nations. The first British Empire had fallen. England had been heavily battered, but remained undaunted.”
    8 See Whitfield’s Notes, Legal Historical Background of the State of Florida 101, which also states “The treaty between Great Britain and Spain, 1783, in French appears in A Collection of All the Treaties of Peace, Alliances, and Commerce between Great Britain and Other Powers, Vol. 3 (p. 375), edited by Charles Jenkinson (London, 1785)” and also p. 230. See also Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People 267 (Oxford Univ. Press 1965) (“The entire transaction was called the Peace of Paris. Britain kept Gibraltar. . . but ceded Minorca and the Floridas to Spain.”)
    9 The chief American negotiator of this treaty was John Quincy Adams (Secretary of State at the time, and later President). See also Glenn Boggs, The Case of Florida’s Missing Real Estate Records, Fla. Bar J. 10-17 (Oct., 2003).
    10 See Whitfield’s Notes, Legal Historical Background of the State of Florida 101-106, which reproduces the Treaty of Amity, Settlement and Limits (between the United States of America and His Catholic Majesty).
    11 See Whitfield’s Notes, Legal Historical Background of the State of Florida 101-106.
    12 See Glenn Boggs, The Case of Florida’s Missing Real Estate Records, Fla. Bar J. 10-17 (Oct., 2003).
    13 Id.
    14 Arredendo, 31 U.S. 691 (1832).
    15 Id . at 706-709.
    16 Id. at 708.
    17 Id. at 710.
    18 Id. at 711.
    19 Id. at 716.
    20 Id. at 720.
    21 Id. at 722-49.
    22 Percheman, 32 U.S. 51, 89 (1833).
    23 Id. at 86-87.
    24 Dr. Joe Knetsch, The Impact of Spanish Land-Grants on the Development of Florida and the South Eastern United States,
    25 Samuel R. Overton and Joseph M. White, Report on British Claims, 4 American State Papers, Public Lands 250-253.
    26 Id. at 253.
    27 Fatio, 33 U.S. 492 (1834).
    28 Id.
    29 Id. at 492-93.
    30 Id. at 493.
    31 Id.
    32 U.S. v. William Gibson, et al., Heirs of Francis P. Fatio, deceased, 33 U.S. 494 (1834).

    Glenn Boggs is a professor at Florida State University’s College of Business. He is a 1975 honors graduate of FSU’s College of Law and a 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. After admission to the Bar, he spent a year in general practice and later served as unlicensed practice of law counsel with The Florida Bar. In 1981, he joined the faculty at FSU, where he teaches law-related classes to business students.