|Old Capitol Building in Tallahassee|
January 31, 1861
As the month of January 1861 came to an end, Floridians found themselves as members of a controversial but fledgling independent republic. In fact, the state had become one of the least populated independent republics in the world.
The free and slave population of Florida combined had totaled only 140,424 people of all ages in the 1860 census. Of all the states east of the Mississippi at that time, only Delaware had fewer people. Of this total, only 19,605 were white males aged 15-49, the primary demographic for military service in the coming war, and some of these were certain to take up the Union cause.
|U.S.S. Wyandotte at Pensacola, 1861|
Fort Clinch on Amelia Island, still in an unfinished state, remained nominally in Federal hands as no Florida troops had been sent to take it, while Fort Taylor and the East and West Martello Towers in Key West, Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas and Fort Pickens at Pensacola Bay remained firmly in possession of the United States.
|Lt. Adam J. Slemmer, U.S. Army|
Florida would spend only one month as an independent republic. The secession convention had authorized the state to send delegates to a meeting of the Southern states set for February in Montgomery, Alabama. That meeting would lead to the formation of the Confederate States of America. But for one month, from early January to early February of 1861, the flags (there were more than one) of an independent nation flew proudly over the public buildings and military positions of the state.
To learn more about the historic sites and points of interest in Florida, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/florida.