Susan Schwartz


When newly appointed governor James Grant arrived in St. Augustine on August 29, 1764, the tiny population greeted him with all the pomp and circumstance they could muster.1 A few weeks later, attended with "all due Solemnity" by the members of the Governor's Council, civil and military officials, and "many other Gentlemen of Distinction," Grant took his oaths of office.2 As Grant thanked his subjects for their deferential welcome, he was unaware that he had entered into the beginnings of a political morassan imperial crisis that would culminate in the separation of the American mainland colonies from Great Britain. In contrast to the kind wishes,of Grant's constituents, colonists elsewhere on the continent were beginning to protest new Parliamentary taxation measures. Within a few months, many of those neighboring colonists would rise up against their royal governors and other British officials. James Grant's term as governor of East Florida coincided with the enactment of the Stamp Act in March 1765 and the implementation of the Townshend Duties in June 1767, both of which were crucial moments on the path to Revolution.3 This path to independence, however, was no foregone conclusion. In the colony's first years, its "infant" status necessitated a heavy reliance on the neighboring colonies of Georgia and South Carolina, colonies which did side with the patriot cause. Such reliance put East Florida at risk of being drawn into the imbroglio between Great Britain and the American colonies.4 As Grant's tenure progressed and East Florida matured, the colony pulled more firmly away from the patriot leanings of their nearest neighbors. This twisted path between loyalty and revolt, long ignored by historians, underlines the importance of proximity, contingency, and individual action in the history of the British colonies and the imperial crisis.