I did not realize until doing some research this evening that my neighbors and I are victims of American imperialism. Why didn’t anyone tell me this before? I am sorely oppressed! I knew that the Republic of West Florida, whose capital was in St. Francisville (the Republic was proclaimed literally a stone’s throw from where I live), had existed briefly. I also knew that we were not part of the Louisiana Purchase. But I believed the yanqui propaganda that the West Floridians wanted to be part of the United States. Actually, even though we all wanted to be Americans, we wanted to come into the Union under our own terms; the U.S. just came and took us without asking. According to the Britannica blog:
President James Madison, following the example of his friend and predecessor in office, Thomas Jefferson, quietly ignored the constitutional issues involved and on October 27 directed the governor of Orleans Territory to take possession of the baby republic. In justification he made vague reference to a “crisis…subversive of the order of things.”
On December 10, 1810, the 74-day-old republic was formally incorporated into the Orleans Territory and the U.S. flag was raised. In reporting on his actions to Congress, Madison came up with this wondrously obfuscatory clause: “In such a conjuncture I did not delay the interposition required for the occupancy of the territory….”
“Most people fail to realize that the Florida Parishes were not a part of the Louisiana Purchase,” said Hyde. “Instead, the region remained a part of the Spanish Empire. After a failed effort in 1804 to overthrow Spanish authority in the region, a far more organized rising occurred in 1810.”
Hyde said armed rebels stormed the Spanish fort at Baton Rouge early in the morning of Sept. 23, 1810, and “in a sharp and bloody firefight wrested control of the region from the Spanish.” Meeting at St. Francisville, the West Florida Assembly elected Fulwar Skipwith governor of the new republic and commissioned an army under General Philemon Thomas to march across the territory, subdue opposition to the insurrection, and seek to secure as much Spanish held territory as possible for the new republic.
“Eventually the territory of the republic extended from the Mississippi to the Pearl River,” Hyde said. “The republic endured for 74 days before being forcibly annexed by the United States, an event that essentially completed the Louisiana Purchase.”
A more detailed history of this unspeakable act of U.S. hegemony can be found here. Excerpt:
The rise and fall of the Republic of West Florida presents us with few genuine heroes. Of those who took action at the scene, all the leaders—with the possible exception of Fulwar Skipwith, the republic’s president—seem to have been land-grabbers, adventurers, or job-seekers. … At the upper reaches of the West Florida affair, President Madison seems merely to have engaged in the sort of unprincipled geopolitical maneuvering that one expects from a “statesman” seeking to augment national wealth and power. His actions in regard to the Republic of West Florida wrote a sorry chapter in the life of someone better remembered as a man of high principle, a champion of freedom, and the Father of the U.S. Constitution.
Clearly, we need a Crusade for West Floridian Dignity. I’ll bring the soiled bedsheet. Maybe we can get liquored up and occupy Ricky’s Audubon Lounge. Maybe we should first occupy Ricky’s, then get liquored up after liberating some Tito’s vodka. It’s hard being a revolutionary. I propose that we have some sort of cell meeting, and prepare for public action come Independence Day in September. Or at least an Independence Day Party. Maybe Hugo Chavez will spring for beer and Fritos. We need floats. We’ll make Ginger Snap, our local drag queen, our own Marianne. This has to happen! Washington can’t keep us in chains forever.
By the way, Texans, we were the original Lone Star State. See our flag above. Take that, Mrs. Dreher!
UPDATE: Did you know that Fulwar Skipwith, our noble governor, defenestrated by the imperialists, fought in the American Revolution, and was made consul general to — glory of Dreherian glories! — France? Perhaps it is time for us West Florida patriots to choose magnaniminity over vengeance (unless reparations are in the picture). Maybe instead of a Crusade for West Floridian Dignity, we should just celebrate Fulwar Skipwith Day. With drinking and lots of merrymaking. We will need to elect a poohbah to read Gov. Skipwith’s speech to our parliament. The folks at the other end of Royal Street actually have a parrot; perhaps they can be persuaded to let him perch upon the Skipwithian shoulder during the speech. A reparations fund from the US government could foot the bar tab.
This has potential. This has lots of potential. The Bopotamus Festival my Uncle Murphy founded did not long survive his demise. Could it be that the torch of tomfoolery has been passed to a new generation? Come on, children of the fatherland — the day of nonsense has arrived!
UPDATE.2: OK, first thing we need to do is to name a Government in Exile. I lay claim on the office of Consul to France. In fact, I will insist, Baby Doc-like, on being Consul to France for Life. I appeal to the French government to send me the application forms for a Legion d’Honneur. That, and Bretagne oysters, plus a case of Sancerre.
Who will be our President? Who will be our Poet Laureate? We need a competent Minister of War, seeing as how the sheriff’s department is supposed to be buying some sort of gunboat. This will come into the hands of the revolutionary government sooner or later. My Uncle Bully piloted the St. Francisville-New Roads ferry until it was retired a couple of years ago after the imperialists built a bridge over the Mississippi south of town. I propose bringing him out of retirement and making him Admiral.