David H. White


From 1783 to 1801 the trading company of Panton, Leslie had a virtual monopoly on the Indian trade in Spanish Florida. This organization, composed mostly of Britishers, was established during the British period in Florida and was allowed to continue operations after the retrocession of Florida to Spain in 1783. Its function was to supply the Indians with trade goods to bind them closer to Spain and, if possible, to prevent them from forming commercial ties with American or British traders. Theoretically, the company’s activities were confined to the Florida Indians, but the firm also traded with Indians and white settlers in American territory. By 1801 it had entered the burgeoning cotton trade. Upon the death in 1801 of the dominant partner, William Panton, John Forbes, a Scotsman, like Panton, assumed the leadership of the organization. The name was changed to the John Forbes Company in 1805, but the natives of the region continued to call the company Panton, Leslie for years afterwards.