Hidden History: There Were 15 (not 13) Colonies in the Revolutionary War

The Lost History of America

First Documentary (2018)

Film Review

This documentary traces the hidden history of St Augustine (Florida), the first permanent European settlement in North America. It was founded in 1565 by Spanish colonists, 42 years before the English founded Jamestown (Virginia), the first “official” North American colony. History textbooks gloss over the fact that England had 15, not 13 North American colonies at the time of The Revolutionary War. They always neglect to mention East and West Florida (which were transferred from Spain to England by the 1763 Treaty of Paris. For two main reasons 1) because the Florida colonies fought for the British rather than the colonists and 2) because under Spanish rule, both East and West Florida outlawed slavery and offered sanctuary to runaway slaves.

After the war, the US ceded East and West Florida to Spain as a reward for Spanish financial and military support. However the land came the condition, imposed by Secretary of State (and slaveholder) Thomas Jefferson, that both colonies would cease to provide sanctuary for slaves from northern states.

The Seminole tribes ignored Jefferson and continued to shelter runaway slaves in Florida swamps where slave catchers couldn’t pursue them.

In 1812, the governor of Georgia raised a private army, assisted by the US Navy, to invade Florida in a military action known as the Patriot’s War. A coalition of Seminoles and freed slaves attacked the new plantations opened up by northern settlers, burned them and freed their slaves. In 1818 General Andrew Jackson launched the infamous Seminole War in retaliation.

In 1821, Spain officially ceded Florida to the US, forcing most of the free African families who had founded St Augustine to flee to the Bahamas – where the British had banned slavery.

The Real Cause of the Revolutionary War: Preserving Slavery

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Black Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America

Professor Gerald Horne

In this lecture about his 2014 book, African American history professor Gerald Horne exposes important events that triggered the so-called War of Independence. He makes a compelling case that the decision of the 13 colonies to declare independence in 1776 was a direct result of George III’s 1775 decision to establish all-black Ethiopian regiments to fight colonial regiments in Virginia (the colony that produced Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and other high profile members of the independence movement). Odd, isn’t it, that white historians neglect to mention this important fact in our high school textbooks?

According to Horne, there was a clear precedent for arming African troops in North America. In the 18th century, both the French (who occupied Quebec) and the Spanish (who occupied Florida) armed escaped slaves to attack the English colonies. Collaboration between the armed Africans and black slaves led to several major slave revolts in the 18th century. Two of the most important were the 1712 slave uprising in Manhattan (backed by the French) and the  1739 Stono’s Revolt in South Carolina (led by a coalition of Spanish armed Africans from St. Augustine Florida and Portuguese-speaking slaves from Angola).

Horne also believes the timing of the 1776 “War of Independence” also related to Britain’s decision to abolish slavery in 1772 – and fears King George would extend the ban on slavery to the 13 colonies.

In summing up, Horne traces how this willingness to go to war over the diabolical (but immensely profitable) institution of slavery would shape the ruthlessly greedy and mean-spirited character of the American nation. Unlike the US, Canada, which never adopted slavery nor fought two wars to preserve it, has made a genuine effort to look after its poor and underprivileged. Horne gives the example of the universal single payer health system.

Horne believes this hidden history also accounts for the special persecution of the descendents of slaves, as opposed to non-US natives with black skin.

There is a very long introduction. The actual talk starts at 9:24.