Fulwar Skipwith Founds Another Nation
Fulwar Skipwith was an important figure in the establishment of Louisiana.
After spending time as a diplomat in Europe, Skipwith moved to ‘West Florida’ where he was part of a revolt which declared an independent nation and named him Governor.
Well I’ve done it. I’ve discovered the Founding Father with the best name (sorry William Whipple).
Fulwar Skipwith was only 16 years old when he dropped out of the College of William and Mary to join the Continental Army. This was just in time to participate in the Victory at Yorktown.
A distant cousin of Thomas Jefferson, Skipwith began a career as a merchant, specializing in tobacco which his father produced on the family plantation.
By 1786, Fulwar traveled to London on business. He would remain in Europe for the better part of a decade.
Soon after George Washington assumed the presidency, Skipwith was chosen as an American Consul which made him a diplomat and representative of the United States in foreign policy. This seems to have been a position at which he excelled and by 1795 Fulwar was chosen as the Consul-General to Paris.
In this position, he served directly under then Minister to France James Monroe.
Unfortunately, Monroe’s time as Minister was not to Washington’s liking and after two years he was recalled. This reflected poorly on Skipwith for a brief time.
Eventually, Fulwar returned to North American, just in time for another revolution…
Skipwith moved to what was then West Florida, now a part of the State of Louisiana.
This area was technically part of the Louisiana Purchase but, like the rest of modern Florida, was still occupied by Spain.
Shortly after Fulwar’s arrival, this area broke out into rebellion. Well, it was more like a civil war. You see, an influx of Americans had arrived to in area that was filled with Loyalist who moved there after the Revolutionary War. In addition to the Spanish who governed the area, Three groups all vied for power.
Skipwith’s camp (the Americans) took control of the area and declared an independent nation.
The first governor of the independent State of Florida was Fulwar Skipwith.
President James Madison was not happy about this situation.
He did not want to send soldiers into an area which was occupied by Spain, a friendly nation who was a vital ally during the Revolutionary War. On the other hand, this was technically American territory.
Most of all, Madison was upset with Florida declaring itself independent. Skipwith wanted to negotiate terms for his new State instead of simply being annexed, given a territorial governor, and being told what to do.
Madison made the decision to send soldiers in and take control of the area.
The Floridians, who were greatly outgunned and out-manned, read the situation correctly and soon conceded defeat. Truthfully, Skipwith always expected to be absorbed into the Unite States (hence why he was Governor and not President). He just wanted West Florida to be its own State.
Instead, West Florida was absorbed into Louisiana (with a small part going to Mississippi).
All in all, Fulwar Skipwith, having officially served for just twelve days, was the first and only person ever chosen as Governor of the independent State of Florida.
As for Skipwith, there is not a lot of literature out there about him. There is a brief discussion in ‘How the States Got Their Shapes’ which is a great book that tells a lot of interesting stories from across the United States. You can pick it up from Amazon through our affiliate link below.
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