Sherry Johnson


Florida is the neglected stepchild of Spain's American empire, wrote Carl L. Swanson in his introduction to the reprint of Joyce Harman's Trade and Privateering in Spanish Florida, 1732-1763.1 Written in 2004, Swanson's observation decrying the limited number of books that dealt with early Florida was not too far from the mark. Like Jane Landers'observation on the difficulty in placing Florida into one historical tradition or another, such statements underscore the obstacles in crafting a cohesive article that overcomes the problems not encountered in writing historiographical essays for the other centuries of La Florida.2 The challenges begin when one realizes that the eighteenth century is an artificial construct, whether examined within British imperial, Spanish imperial or Native American history. With the exception of Sir Francis Drake's raids in 1586, British imperial historians mark the beginning of their interest with the founding of South Carolina in 1670. Spanish imperial and/or Latin American historians speak of Spain's "long seventeenth century," but they cannot agree as to when the long century ended neither for the rest of the Americas nor for the Borderlands.3 Historians of Native American societies constantly stress that the indigenous people had very different ways of looking at their world and their relationships with Europeans.