James G. Cusick


Between 1784 and 1821, Spanish officials in St. Augustine regularly launched investigations into crime, covering cases that included slander, theft, burglary, assault, wounding, murder, and sex crimes, as well as specifically military offenses, like desertion. The records of their detective work are contained in the criminal court proceedings of the East Florida Papers, a well-preserved archive of what might be called C-CSI (or colonial crime scene investigation). In contrast to surviving records from earlier parts of the colonial period, which overwhelmingly describe highlevel crimes against Church and Crown such as heresy, piracy, and revolt, the cases in the East Florida Papers bear the characteristics of street crime. Everyone appears in them-sometimes as victim, sometimes as accused, most frequently as witness. They are a chronicle of injuries done to ordinary people, to children, slaves, free blacks, soldiers, sailors, and all ranks of men and women, from laborers to elites.