George Johnstone has never received the scholarly attention he fully merits. Historians have assessed him, usually briefly, as governor of West Florida, or as naval commander, or as a member of parliament. Nevertheless, none has considered his important role in East India Company politics, nor, until Bombast and Broadsides, has one synthesized the various roles in which Johnstone was entrusted with high responsibilities.
Through research in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Kew, London, Philadelphia, and Washington in largely unpublished manuscripts, together with the use of secondary sources, the author has been able to present the first coherent picture of Johnstone, a vigorous and intelligent but turbulent and always controversial figure. Johnstone was effective as a colonial governor at a difficult time; in the navy he performed several coups de main; in parliament he was formidable in debate but an opportunist; and at East India House he was a doughty, conservative, and largely successful defender of the proprietary interest.
Bernard Romans's A Concise Natural History of East and West Florida, William Bartram's Travels, and James Adair's History of the American Indian are the three most significant accounts of the southeastern United States published during the late 18th century. This new edition of Romans's Concise Natural History, edited by historian Kathryn Braund, provides the first fully annotated edition of this early and rare description of both the European settled areas and the adjoining Indian lands in what are now the states of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Romans's purpose in producing his Concise Natural History was twofold: to aid navigators and shippers by detailing the sailing passages of the region and to promote trade and settlement in the region. To those ends, he provided detailed scientific observations on the natural history of the area, a summary of the region's political history, and an assessment of the potential for economic growth in the Floridas based on the area's natural resources.
A trained surveyor and cartographer and a self-taught naturalist, Romans supplied detailed descriptions of the region's topography and environment, including information about the climate and weather patterns, plants, animals, and diseases. He provided information about the state of scientific inquiry in the South and touched on many of the most important intellectual arguments of the day, such as the origin of the races, the practice of slavery, and the benefits and drawbacks of monopoly on trade.
In addition, Concise Natural History can be placed firmly in the genre of colonial promotional literature. Romans's book was an enthusiastic guide aimed at those seeking to establish modest holdings in the region:
"What a field is open here! . . . No country ever had such inexhaustible resources; no empire had ever half so many advantages combining in its behalf!" Romans explained how settlers should travel to the area, what they would need in terms of provisions and tools, and what it would cost to have their land surveyed. In addition to providing an abundance of practical advice, Romans also offered information about the history of earlier settlements, including the earliest and most complete account of New Smyrna near St. Augustine.
Romans also presented unique information about the various Indian tribes he encountered. In fact, historians agree that among the most useful portions of the book are Romans's descriptions of the largest Indian tribes in the 18th-century Southeast: the Creeks, Choctaws, and Chickasaws. Romans's account of the diet of the Creeks and Choctaws is one of the most complete available. And his description of the location of Choctaw village sites is one of the best sources for this information.
British West Florida encompassed the panhandle of the modern state of Florida, about half of present-day Alabama, large portion of Mississippi, and some of Louisiana. The British were of diverse opinions regarding the territory. Some British politicians thought the Florida’s full of strategic and economic potential. Others, perhaps without political affiliation, thought it strange that, having conquered developed Spanish possessions of known wealth, such as the Philippines and Cuba, Britain had been persuaded to return them in exchange for Florida, an undeveloped region of unknown worth. That Spain had never been economically successful in its Florida possession was of little concern. The economic self confidence of the British was the outgrowth of a century and a half of establishing initially profitless colonies and making them valued possessions.
The author’s primary goal is to consider how these people achieved or failed to achieve their ambitions, whether the province as a whole was economically viable, and whether the generally held belief that West Florida was an economic failure is a fair judgment. A secondary aim is to analyze key aspect of the subject that have been neglected in older standard works on the economic life of British West Florida, including the maritime life of the province, the institution of slavery, and the potentially great immigration scheme sponsored by the Company of Military Adventures.
The Gulf coast of Florida and Alabama is a fragile combination of barrier islands, low-lying marshes, and highly erodable mainland shores. In addition to sea-level rise, winter storms, and altered sediment supplies, hurricanes frequently damage or destroy the human developments and infrastructures that line this coast. Indeed, a single storm can cause billions of dollars in losses. Memories of such hurricanes as Camille, Frederic, Opal, and Andrew cause great concern for residents and property owners alike; events of equal magnitude are always just beyond the horizon and the uninformed have much to lose.
The authors of Living on the Edge of the Gulf seek to counteract potential loss by providing an illustrated introduction to coastal processes, a history of hazards for the region, and risk-reduction guidance in the form of site evaluations, community mitigation techniques, and storm-resistant construction practices. Risk maps that focus on individual coastal beaches are designed to assist property owners, community planners, and officials in prudent decision making, while a review of coastal regulations helps owners to understand and navigate various permit requirements.
This latest book in the Living with the Shore series replaces the earlier guide Living with the West Florida Shore and supplements the Alabama portion of Living with the Alabama/Mississippi Shore.
The flamboyant military career of a colonist loyal to the British crown before the Revolution.
"An engaging biography [and] a colorful tale. . . . Robert Farmar, a son of New Jersey, used his position among that colony's elite to secure a commission as a captain in the British Army during the War of Jenkins' Ear and King George's War, serving in the unsuccessful assaults at Cartegena, Cuba, and Panama and then in the disaster at Fontenoy in Flanders and in the reversals at Rocoux and Laffeldt. . . . During the Seven Years' War he participated in the capture of Havana.