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Discovering the Historical Rivalry: East vs. West Florida – A Traveler’s Guide

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East and West Florida, once separate Spanish colonies, played a significant role in the historical development of the southeastern region of the United States. Located on the Gulf Coast, these territories have been subject to various changes in ownership and control over the centuries. This article explores the complex history of East and West Florida, highlighting the major powers that ruled these regions.

Spanish Rule: The Early Years

For much of their early history, both East and West Florida were under Spanish control. East Florida, comprising present-day Florida, was established as a Spanish colony in 1565, with St. Augustine as its capital. West Florida, comprising parts of present-day Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, was also under Spanish rule, having been established in 1699 with Pensacola as its capital. The Spanish maintained control over these territories, establishing settlements, fortifications, and promoting trade with their other colonies in the Caribbean and South America.

British control: The Treaty of Paris

The balance of power in East and West Florida shifted in 1763 with the Treaty of Paris, which marked the end of the Seven Years’ War. As part of the treaty, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in exchange for the return of Havana, Cuba, which had been captured by the British. The British divided Florida into two separate colonies: East Florida and West Florida. St. Augustine remained the capital of East Florida, while Pensacola remained the capital of West Florida. During British rule, these areas experienced significant growth, with increased settlement and economic development.

American Acquisition: The Adams-Onís Treaty

The United States, seeking to expand its territorial holdings, expressed interest in acquiring Florida from Spain. Tensions between the two nations escalated, resulting in the First Seminole War in 1817. In 1819, the Adams-Onís Treaty was signed between the United States and Spain, ceding both East and West Florida to the United States. This acquisition marked an important milestone in the expansion of the United States, providing access to valuable ports and strategic locations along the Gulf Coast.

Statehood and Beyond

Upon their acquisition, East and West Florida became incorporated territories of the United States. East Florida became part of the new state of Florida when it was admitted to the Union in 1845. West Florida, however, was divided and incorporated into the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The historical legacy of East and West Florida can still be seen today in the region’s culture, architecture and landmarks.


Control of East and West Florida has changed throughout history. From Spanish rule, to British control, to becoming part of the United States, these areas have played a pivotal role in shaping the southeastern region of the country. The diverse influences and historical events that unfolded in East and West Florida have left a lasting impact on the region’s culture and heritage, making it a fascinating destination for travelers seeking to explore the rich history of the Sunshine State.


Who controlled east and west Florida?

East Florida and West Florida were both controlled by different colonial powers before becoming part of the United States. East Florida was controlled by the Kingdom of Great Britain until 1783, after which it was transferred to Spain. West Florida, on the other hand, was initially controlled by Spain and was later annexed by the United States.

When did East Florida become part of Spain?

East Florida became part of Spain in 1783. It was ceded to Spain by the Kingdom of Great Britain as part of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War.

When was West Florida annexed by the United States?

West Florida was annexed by the United States in 1810. The region was under Spanish control, but American settlers in the area rebelled against Spanish rule and declared the Republic of West Florida. Shortly after, the United States intervened and incorporated the region into its territory.

Who controlled East Florida after Spain?

After Spain, East Florida was briefly controlled by the United States. It was acquired from Spain through the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. However, it was not until 1821 that the United States officially took control of East Florida and it became a U.S. territory.

When did Florida become a U.S. state?

Florida became a U.S. state on March 3, 1845. It was the 27th state to join the United States. Prior to its statehood, Florida had been a U.S. territory for several decades.