Joseph Cotto, 7/6/2016 [Archive]

America's 14th and 15th Colonies

By Joseph Cotto

The Fourth of July has come and gone, a with it the annual reminder about a group of brave souls who sparked a revolution against an evil empire.

At first, many of their neighbors did not join up, but eventually all of Britain's American colonies saw the light. Thus the country we now know and love was born. Right?


Contrary to what many believe, Britain had not thirteen, but fifteen American territories. The youngest of these were East and West Florida; the former stretching from St. Augustine to the Apalachicola River, and the latter extending from there to Lake Pontchartrain.

When fellow Britons to the north requested revolutionary unity, Floridians of all stripes stood together and told them to go to hell.

According to the late, great historian Caroline Mays Brevard, this was because Florida "had been so well treated that she had not the same causes for complaint against the mother country that the older colonies had. She remained under British rule through the Revolutionary War, and gave refuge to many English sympathizers from Georgia and South Carolina.

"Yet there must have been a few who were for the cause of independence, for in 1776 the governor of East Florida called on the militia to join the royal forces to repel invasion and to prevent any more men from joining their 'traitorous neighbors.' When the astonishing news of the Declaration of Independence reached St. Augustine, the people rushed in wild excitement to the public square and burned Hancock and Adams in effigy."

Brevard wrote these words in 1904, but age has not eroded their truth.

Before we go any further, consider that scores of Americans not only opposed breaking away from Britain, but actually took up arms to prevent this. Then ponder two separate colonies sticking with George III and being ostracized simply for not engaging in militant treason.

Did these actions make Floridians any less 'American'? If so, why? It is often said that the thirteen colonies had good reason for flying the coop, but if two other territories stayed, then might we have skewed perspectives on the Revolutionary War?

Seeing as Florida hardly ever gets a mention, that is safe to assume.

"During the next two years several thousand loyalists moved from Georgia and South Carolina into Florida, and there was bitter feeling among the colonies," Brevard mentioned. "An invasion of Florida was planned, but not carried out, and though an expedition was fitted out at St. Augustine to invade Georgia, this also failed. Later in the war other expeditions were planned on both sides, but were not carried out."

As an American -- the natural-born citizen kind, at that -- I have mixed feelings about commemorating the rebellion against our country's motherland. As a native Floridian, there is no question that, had I been of fighting age during this war, I would have proudly donned a red coat.

Florida has traditionally been quite proud of its Britishness, going so far as to make the St. Patrick's Saltire -- a powerful symbol of Irish unionism -- its state flag. I am a constitutional monarchist by political conviction, knight-slash-nobleman by royal decree, and Anglophile by heritage and personal taste. ,

Therefore, none should be surprised that an Anglo-cultured native Floridian knight-slash-noble does not feel solidarity with 'patriots' like Hancock and his ilk.

On that note, Florida was eventually adopted by Uncle Sam. He propelled humankind in terms of individual rights and civil liberties. Capitalism has flourished throughout the United States unlike anywhere else. The American Dream is awesome in every way conceivable.

Still, I maintain that America would have been more exceptional in self-governing British colonies grounded by Enlightenment ideals, reveling in the Protestant work ethic. Ironically, the federal government has amassed more power over local affairs than Westminster ever dreamed of.

The United States is, essentially, the New World's European Union. Both the founders and the loyalists would surely be displeased.

Unity at last -- from beyond the grave and far too late.


Copyright 2016 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

Download Joseph Cotto's color photo - Download Joseph Cotto's black and white mug shot photo
Why not run a cartoon with the column? We recommend the cartoons below as a good compliment to Joseph Cotto's topic.
Click on the thumbnail images to preview and download the cartoons.

Related Cartoons

Trump Fourth of July COLOR
By: Rick McKee

June 30, 2016

Trump Fourth of July
By: Rick McKee

June 30, 2016

Divided Spirit of '16-COLOR
By: R.J. Matson

July 1, 2016

Divided Spirit of '16
By: R.J. Matson

July 1, 2016

We do not accept and will not review unsolicited submissions from cartoonists.
Sales & Information: (805) 969-2829
Billing Information: (805)
Technical Support:

FREE cartoons for your website if you're already a paying print subscriber!
Artwork and columns are copyrighted by each creator. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service