Trade and Privateering examines the illegal yet highly profitable and mutually beneficial trade between Spanish Florida and the English colonies on the eastern seaboard in the mid-18th century. In St. Augustine, the arrival of subsidies from Spain was erratic, causing shortages of food and supplies, so authorities ignored the restrictions on trade with foreign colonies and welcomed British goods. Likewise, the British colonists sought Spanish products from Florida, especially oranges. But when England and Spain became declared enemies in the War of Jenkins' Ear and the French and Indian Wars, this tacit trade arrangement was threatened, and the result was a rise of privateering in the region. Rather than do without Spanish goods, the English began to attack and capture Spanish vessels with their cargoes at sea. Likewise, the Spaniards resorted to privateering as a means of steadily supplying the Florida colony. Harman concludes that, both willingly and unwillingly, the English colonies helped their Spanish neighbor to sustain its position in the Southeast.
Carl E. Swanson is Associate Professor of History at East Carolina University and author of Predators and Prizes: American Privateering and Imperial Warfare, 1739-1748, which won the John Lyman Award from the North American Society of Oceanic History.