John H. Hann


Before 1764, did Spanish Florida possess the traditional municipal in titution known the cabildo? Since the 1964 publication of John Jay TePask's The Governorship of Spanish Florida, 1700-1763, the more common opinion among authorities on Colonial Florida is that St. Augustine housed the cabildo only from the time of Pedro Menendez de Avile's founding of the city in 1565 until about 1570 when most of his fellow migrants left the colony.1 Paul E. Hoffman and Eugene Lyon took a similar stand in 1969, arguing that because St. Augustine lacked a cabildo in the mid-sixteenth century, the governor could not comply with the Crown's requirement of a yearly audit of accounts by "availing himself of the laws that allowed him to audit the royal books with the aid of two regidores and a notary."2 Amy Bushnell challenged that conventional wisdom a dozen years later in The King's Coffer, maintaining that the cabildo survived in Florida long after the time of Pedro Menendez and presenting as her most detailed evidence the administration of Juan Marquez Cabrera.3 In a more recent work, David J. Weber reaffirmed the older position, highlighting the cabildo's tendency to fall into disuse in frontier communities like St. Augustin in which governors and their subalterns were military officers."