#OnThisDay: The Florida Purchase Treaty, 1819. Consider the US without it!

Here I am, with another little history lesson. I hope I’m not losing my audience. My blog is about my journey as a writer. I write history and historical fiction, so continuing to study history and sharing some of what I learn is an integral part of my blog.

Last week I admitted how little I knew about the Spanish-American War. In today’s blog, I’ll admit how little I knew, or at least remembered, about the Florida Purchase. If history could be taught in story form instead of lists of battles and dates, I think we’d all retain more of it later in life.

As you read my post, I want you to think about what the map of the United States would look like today if not for this 1819 treaty.

In case you’re ever on “Jeopardy!”

The Adams-Onis Treaty was negotiated and signed by U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams on February 22, 1819. That’s 202 years ago today. Luis de Onis, the 1809-1819 Spanish Envoy to the United States, negotiated and signed for Spain; hence, the name Adams-Onis Treaty. It’s also known as the Florida Purchase Treaty, the Treaty of 1819, and the Trans-Continental Treaty.

What the treaty accomplished

The United States was still in its infancy as a nation in 1819. It had won two major wars against Great Britain, but it was just 40 years old. The map of the United States was still in flux. In fact, it still is with the possibility of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico possibly gaining statehood status. In 1819, the vast West was still occupied by native peoples and enormous herds of bison and other native animals.

Under this treaty, Spain gave up its claim to the Florida peninsula as well as the panhandle of Florida, the coastal lands of Alabama and Mississippi, and part of Louisiana. The United States temporarily gave up Texas. The boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase were more accurately defined, and the boundary between Spanish Mexico and the United States was settled. Spain relinquished its claim to the lands north of the 42nd parallel known as the Oregon Territory. (The 42nd parallel later formed the northern boundaries of California, Nevada, and Utah.)

What if…?

When I’m writing fiction, I often ask myself, “What if…?” Asking myself that questions leads to plot twists in my fiction, but it can lead to some fascinating theories of how history could have turned out differently if certain events had not happened. I touched on this question in last week’s blog post, #OnThisDay: Remember the Maine! What you might not know, when I asked how history would have unfolded if the Americans had known that the sinking of the Maine was an internal accident and not an act of war by Spain.

Imagine how the United States would look today if the Adams-Onis Florida Purchase Treaty hadn’t been signed and ratified.

There would be no Disney World or Cape Canaveral. Or, if there were, they’d be in Spanish Florida.

Photo credit: Justin Novello on unsplash.com

There would be no white sandy Gulf of Mexico beaches in the United States.

There would be nowhere in the southeast for people from the cold northern states to retire to or spend their winters.

The 55th Super Bowl wouldn’t have been held in Tampa, Florida earlier this month.

There would be no American Floridians creeping along at a snail’s pace on the curvy mountain roads in western North Carolina because they’re terrified of curves and hills. They’d be Spanish Floridians.

All jokes aside, we’d be importing lots of vegetables and citrus fruits from Spain because that’s who would still own what we know now as the state of Florida. And perhaps Spain would still control the Oregon Territory. The map of the United States would look quite different than it does today. Our history would be quite different, and we would lack many of the natural and cultural resources we enjoy today that make our country what it is.

I have given a simplified description of the Adams-Onis Florida Purchase Treaty in this blog post, but on this 202nd anniversary of its signing, I believe we Americans can be glad it was negotiated and signed.

Since my last blog post

I’ve been reading, writing, and enjoying both. The part of North Carolina I live in, dodged the snow and ice that much of the U.S. has been dealing with. The people of Texas and other areas without electricity and safe drinking water are in my prayers. Mississippi was hit hard, too, but hasn’t received much national publicity.

The first crocus of the year opened near our side porch and the daffodils are coming up. I look forward to spring with great anticipation.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Soroosh, a new novel by Laleh Chini, and listening to The Unwilling, by John Hart.

Find time for your favorite pastime.

Even if you won’t wear a mask to protect yourself, please wear one out of respect for others. We’re all in this Covid-19 pandemic together and it will take all of us working together to get out of it faster.

Note to my neighbors and friends in Canada (including author Laleh Chini): This is “Freedom to Read Week” in your country.

Thank you for dropping by my blog.


15 thoughts on “#OnThisDay: The Florida Purchase Treaty, 1819. Consider the US without it!

  1. Janet I am sure that your historical novels/short stories, will be very, very successful. I can forecast that success based on the beautiful and artistic way that you narrate these interesting and well investigated vignettes of US history. Lovely, quite lovely indeed. All the best to you and from Spain, me, a Spaniard that once lived in beautiful Florida, wishing you a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for your complimentary words, Francisco. I value your opinions. I hope you’re right about my novels and short stories as I’m trying to find my authentic writing voice. Yesterday was in the low 70s F. here with splendid sunshine. Today is gloomy, with temps sliding downward throughout the day and leading to heavy rain this evening. Yesterday teased us, but with the crocuses and daffodils beginning to bloom, I know spring is on the way — and can’t get here soon enough for me. Have a lovely and relaxing weekend on the Mediterranean. J

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you Janet. Your weather sounds a lot like our weather right now. And yes, our almond trees and all manners of flowers are beginning to bloom. Soon the trees will have leaves and we will be in Spring. Our mass vaccination begins in April and in Europe one must have a vaccination passport in order to travel. So I am hoping to be able to have that done before the end of June but I have to wait, as we all must, for the government to send us an SMS with the date and time…
    I think you will most definitely find your voice and write interesting and well written novels, Janet. You have the drive, the willpower and you’re putting in the work. That amounts to developing talent and I reckon that by now you’ve got sufficient. Look forward to reading book one when it comes out. All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’re very kind and supportive, Francisco. I appreciate it. Being over 65 years old, I was able to get my first Moderna Covid shot on February 13 and will get my second one on March 13. That will help me to feel a little more at ease after the end of March, although I’ll continue to take all precautions. I don’t know that I’ll change any habits. I’d like to return to in-person church services, but I understand that some of the attendees are refusing to wear masks. Go figure! Very inconsiderate. I will probably feel safe to go into a grocery store again. We’ve been placing our orders online and picking them up in the parking lot. No personal contact. I pick up prescriptions at the drive-through window at the pharmacy and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. One good unexpected result of the shutdown and mask-wearing is that there has been very little influenza here this winter. The North Carolina governor loosened many restrictions on restaurant capacities and bars as of 5pm today (Friday) but I won’t feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant for several more months even if things continue to improve. It is feared there will be another spike in cases in April. A new variant is spreading through New York and appears to be more contagious and able to somewhat get around the vaccine. Time will tell. It seems that one-third of Americans still say they won’t get the vaccine. If that holds true, it will be difficult for us to reach “herd immunity” and the virus will continue to mutate. I’m glad we didn’t know last February how long the pandemic would last and that more than 500,000 Americans would die from the virus. I’m glad God doesn’t let us know the future. – J

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amen Janet. God is still in control. Man suggests and God acts. If God didn’t want us to have a vaccine we would not have one. In my country they have vaccinated 5% of the population, and now they are vaccinating those over 80. I am 65 so I must wait until they reach the 60-69 age group. But I agree, I will not change the habits I’ve had to acquire. In Spain mask wearing is mandatory everywhere, not optional, so everyone must wear it, even in bars, removing it only while eating and smoking is barred. This is a long term situation but with discipline, hygiene and prudence, we can overcome the virus. Take good care and enjoy the weekend. Here our weather today is beautiful, most certainly anticipating spring although starting Monday we’ve forecast rain for the whole week!
    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for highlighting this important historical addition to the US. Last month on my blog I talked about Spanish Fort Mose in Florida and this month I wrote a story about the women of the second Anza expedition to CA. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great to connect with you, Rebecca! Thank you for finding my blog and leaving a comment. I’ll look for yours. My second Covid-19 shot this weekend has laid me low with a high fever and aches, so I haven’t been on the computer until just now. I haven’t posted my blog for today, which I usually post at 7 a.m. on Mondays. I’ll catch up, though. It’s better than contracting Covid!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Rebecca. I finally got a chance to visit your website and blog. I’m impressed with your knowledge of the American West and Latin American history. I enjoyed the blog posts I read today, and you can be sure I’ll come back for more. I noticed in a sidebar you listed my blog as one you follow. Thank you for the publicity! I’m feeling much better. Thanks for your feel better wishes.


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