This is my very first attempt at an AU. I’d like to acknowledge llamaman2, thegrumpykestrel, & whitey_nl. Their AUs of the Channel Islands Federation, the Dominion of Westralia, & the Dominion of Newfoundland & Labrador inspired me to take the leap & attempt my first AU. I’m basing it on the former British colony of West Florida. Basically, it’s a what-if look at how things might have turned out had Britain retained a portion of its West Florida colony after 1783. But I’m an absolute novice when it comes to drawings, so please bear with me.
The Dominion of West Florida
West Florida is a dominion of the British Commonwealth, like Canada, New Zealand or Australia. It lies along the northern Gulf of Mexico, bordering the US states of Alabama, Georgia & Florida. Its eastern border is formed by the Apalachicola & Chattahoochee rivers, with the western border following the Perdido river. The northern border is the latitude line of 31 degrees. West Florida has a total area of just under 23,000 square kilometres, with a population of just over 925,000. A large proportion of the population lives along the coast, particularly in the capital Pensacola. Other major population centres include Panama City, Crestview, Port St. Joseph (Port St. Joe) & West Point (Apalachicola). West Florida lies in the US Central time zone. Historically, the West Florida economy has depended on farming, forestry & lumber. Import-export shipping in the ports of Pensacola & Panama City, as well as shipbuilding & commercial fishing have long been important industries. More recently, growth of tourism & the hospitality industry has been a major contributor to the West Florida economy.
Under the 1763 Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years' War, Spain agreed to cede its Florida territories to Britain. France also ceded much of its Louisiana colony east of the Mississippi River to Britain. From this territory, two provinces were established. East Florida, with its capital in St. Augustine & West Florida, with Pensacola as its capital. West Florida was a strip along the Gulf Coast, bounded by the Mississippi River & Lake Pontchartrain in the west, by the 31st parallel to the north & the Apalachicola River to the east. New British settlers arrived, including some from the thirteen colonies. Surveyors mapped much of the landscape & coastline. Attempts were also made to develop relations with the native Seminole people. The first colonial assembly was established in 1764. Ten years later, West Florida was invited to send delegates to the First Continental Congress, but they declined the invitation. Once the American Revolutionary War had broken out, the colonists remained overwhelmingly loyal to the Crown.
Spain officially entered the American Revolutionary War in May 1779. Two months later, the governor of Spanish Louisiana, Bernardo de Gálvez began a series of military operations against the British province of West Florida. By April 1780 Gálvez had captured all British territory west of the Perdido River, including Baton Rouge & Mobile. Despite the Pensacola garrison surviving a long siege, the 1783 Peace of Paris required Britain to cede all Florida territories west of the Perdido River & east of the Apalachicola River back to Spain. In 1813, British West Florida was invaded by American forces, led by future American president Andrew Jackson, during the War of 1812. However, the terms of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war in 1815, called for all occupied territory to be returned. The pre-war boundaries between Canada, British West Florida & the United States were to be restored.
By the middle of the 19th Century, the colonial population was granted self-government, & in 1907 was declared a full dominion of equal status to others such as Newfoundland & New Zealand. As part of the British Empire, forces were contributed from the 1st West Florida Regiment during World War I. The regiment’s battle honours include Gallipoli, Somme, & Ypres. It was following their World War I service that the regiment received their “Royal” prefix. West Florida again supported the Commonwealth during World War II, mainly contributing naval units to serve alongside British & Canadian allies in the Atlantic & Mediterranean theatres. West Florida was a founding member of NATO & often hosts allied forces at their naval facilities in Pensacola & Panama City, as well as the main air base near Valparaiso. They have also been a regular participant in various United Nations peacekeeping missions.
There will be more to come soon, hopefully including my first attempts at some ship drawings.