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.)
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.
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.