More on Florida in the 1830s
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Though it had been settled since 1565, Florida was still a frontier outpost in the 1830s. The largest city, Tampa Bay, had only 1700 residents, compared to 30,000 in nearby Charleston, South Carolina. The whole territory had but two roads, slowing the mail and all other forms of communication to a crawl, even by the standards of the time.
The most established municipality, St. Augustine, maintained its old-world charm, with a society of Spanish and Minorcan descendants who entertained the soldiers, ran a library, and staged the occasional concert. Outside of the towns, however, backwoods customs flourished. "Even in 1835," writes Mahon, "country-dwelling whites were known as 'crackers.'" The Harvard-educated Surgeon Motte described them more candidly:
"They were mostly small farmers who had emigrated from different States and settled in Alachua County to plant corn, hoe potatoes, and beget ugly little whiteheaded responsibilities."
Mahon 132-34, Motte 90.
Part 2, War: l