Mark F. Boyd


Despite the loss of Florida to Great Britain in 1763, colonial officials in Cuba, probably reflecting the attitude of the Spanish Court, maintained a lively interest in their erstwhile province and preserved a hope of its eventual recovery. When the mounting tension in the British colonies to the north progressed from civil disorder to the revolutionary struggle, Spanish interest in the conflict became intense as the cherished hope began to exhibit the possibility of attainment. The meagerness of the news which reached that Court through random channels was insufficient to reveal the trend of events or determine the moment for decisive action. The situation demanded the deliberate collection of adequate intelligence, and by a Royal Cedula to the Governor of Cuba, dated February 28, 1776, the latter was directed to gather all possible information and dispatch suitable persons, preferably those connected with the Asiento, or in the guise of smugglers, to Pensacola, to Florida (meaning St. Augustine), and to Jamaica, for this purpose. Compliance resulted in the submission of various reports, certain of which are reproduced below to develop our theme. While these are mainly focused on relatively minor events, they nevertheless afforded the principal independent considerations which determined the Spanish intrusion in the struggle, and hence actually have a broader significance.