This is the published and somewhat revised version of a bicentennial symposium held in Pensacola in March 1976 at the University of West Florida. The results of four previous symposiums on eighteenth-century Florida held on other Florida campuses also have been published. Characteristic of this type of publication, the quality, ranging from excellent to poor, varies with each chapter. The editor’s introduction is perfunctory, and there is no index. The commentaries on the papers of two of the panels are also included.
The essays do not all fit the title. For example, the chapter, “The Southern Contribution: A Balance Sheet on the War of Independence,” by Robert Rutland is unrelated to Florida, which remained loyal to the crown. The short, unannotated chapter, “What Our Southern Frontier Women Wore” by Anna Eberly, while interesting, would be more appropriate as a newspaper article than as a chapter of a scholarly tome. Thomas Ledford tells us about the 1974 discovery of a well in the center of St. Augustine that was filled with debris by the English about 1784. He then analyzes the debris left by the English and also other “British Material Culture in St. Augustine.” The chapter by Theodore Corbett entitled “The Problem of the Household in the Second Spanish Period,” which was from 1783 to 1821, represents good research and solid information but is unrelated to the rest of the text. It belongs in the state historical journal. Certainly Albert Manucy’s “Changing Tradition in St. Augustine Architecture” is a first-rate piece of research and certainly has been worked into a quality chapter with his superb drawings, complementing his previous excellent monograph. Michael Gannon on religion and Leitch Wright on East Florida’s loyalty to the crown basically repeat their previously published works in their respective fields.
What struck me as most interesting was the commentary by George C. Rogers who is editor of the South Carolina Historical Magazine. He doubts the total loyalty of Florida to the crown and offers some small evidence. This debate—the search for some patriotic stirrings—has been a part of the bicentennial research. Personally I agree with Professor Wright that loyalty was nearly total. What opposition existed was internal and directed against personalities in the ruling circle, but not against England. Nonetheless Rogers’ comments are a worthy contribution.