Amelia Island Affair


Amelia Island Affair

The Amelia Island Affair was an episode in the history of colonial Florida.

The Embargo Act (1807) and the abolishment of the American slave trade (1808) made Amelia Island, on the coast of Spanish Florida, a resort for smugglers with sometimes as many as 300 square-rigged vessels in its harborFact|date=August 2007. To Amelia in June, 1817, came Gregor MacGregor, a Scottish adventurer styling himself the "brigadier general" of the United Provinces of the New Granada and Venezuela and general-in-chief of the armies of the two FloridasFact|date=August 2007. A peripatetic military adventurer, McGregor raised funds and troops for a full-scale invasion of Florida throughout the United States, but he squandered the money on luxuries in the United States and as word of his conduct in South American wars reached the United States, much of his invasion force deserted. Nonetheless, he overran the island with a small force, but left for Nassau in September.

His followers were soon joined by Louis-Michel Aury, formerly associated with McGregor in South American adventures, and previously leader of a pirates' gang on Galveston Island, TexasFact|date=August 2007. Aury assumed control of Amelia, got a legislature elected, set a committee to drawing a constitution, and invited all Florida to unite in throwing off the Spanish yoke. The United States, which had plans to annexe the peninsula, sent a naval force which captured Amelia Island on December 23, 1817, and put an end to the republic. The island was returned to the Spanish prior to 1821.


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