Several other principles of Georgias charter serve to further explain Georgias ready compliance with Edmund Charles Genets plan to liberate Florida from Spanish rule. For instance, one of Georgias founding principles had been the maintenance of citizen-based militias, which Oglethorpe had felt was a necessary precaution against any future likelihood of an army led revolt (Goon, 2002). Unfortunately, this principle later placed Georgia in a position where it had to rely on its own meager militia for defending its interests against both the Spanish and the Indians. Georgias situation was only exacerbated by Washingtons refusal to assist Georgia in removing the Indian population from its borders, and his promise that the government would not occupy Indian lands without tribal consent. To make matters worse, the 1790 Treaty of New York invalidated all earlier treaties made between the Creeks and the Georgia government and actually returned certain lands that were already occupied by Anglo-Americans to the Creeks (Morris, 2003). Nor surprisingly, therefore, the Georgians were more than ready to protect their own interests by falling in with the plans of the French Revolutionary government to liberate Florida.
Georgia had also a long tradition of expecting that the colony would be economically self-sufficient through adopting the principles of mercantile economics, preferably at the expense of Spain (Goon, 2002). Thus, the Georgians were extremely envious of the Spanish monopoly of the southern postwar Indian trade. In fact, it is more than evident that the backcountry Southerners, especially Samuel Hammond, were as motivated by the lure of destroying this trade monopoly, as they were by the prospect of regaining their land or solving their problems vis-a-vis the Spanish and Indian antagonism (Morris, 2003).
Of course, it can be argued that Georgia was always more of a Loyalist colony and that as late as 1776, it had still not committed itself to the Revolution.
However, the fact remains that ultimately Georgia realized that its best interests lay in politically and socially collaborating with the other colonies (Goon, 2002). This realization could not have changed just a mere two decades after America declared itself independent. In fact, Georgias commitment to the United States is evident in several issues of the State Gazette of South Carolina as well as the Georgia Gazette, which carried warnings to violators of Washingtons newly introduced laws forbidding trade with belligerents and acceptance of foreign military commissions (Morris, 2003). Thus, if plans to invade Florida continued, it was purely at the behest of a group of backcountry Southerners led by men such as Samuel Hammond, Abner Hammond, and Thomas Carr. Of these, Samuel Hammond in particular was in a position to recruit and utilize state missions for Georgia to the Creek Frontier since he held the position of commander of the Chatham County militia (Morris, 2003).
However, the actions of the Southerners cannot be misinterpreted as treasonous. Instead, as the preceding discussion has shown, the plan to liberate Florida was motivated more by local interests and a southern version of patriotism, namely, a commitment to a place, a people, and a past. for, as Wyatt-Brown notes of such incidents, “misjudgments were frequent, and community evaluations were sometimes ambiguous, perhaps wrongheaded.” but, it must be remembered that such misguided actions were not entirely without justification since in the early 1790s, the needs of Georgia and South Carolina had clearly diverged from that of national interests for peaceful relations with the Creeks and Spanish ruled Florida (Morris, 2003).
Goon, R. “The Classical Tradition in Colonial Georgia.” Georgia Historical
Quarterly. Spring 2002. Vol. 86:1, p. 1, 17p.