The Gadsden flag, which is a yellow flag with a coiled snake on it. The text reads "Don't tread on me"

Gadsden in Florida: Treading on Tampa

Gadsden’s Florida Connection (And It Isn’t Only the County)

a black-and-white illustration of a segmented snake, with different British colony abbreviations at each segment. Below the image are the words "Join, or Die" — this is the start of the Gadsden Flag that would become the Don't Tread on Me Florida License Plate
“Join, or Die” — this is the start of the Gadsden Flag that would become the Don’t Tread on Me Florida license plate.  Gadsden has another Florida connection, too.
Image via the United States Library of Congress

In response to yesterday’s post about the face-palm-i-ness of the Don’t Tread on Me Florida license plate, Florida historian Joey Vars sent me the following information. These are his words, with his sources at the end of the post:

Gadsden Purchase in the Southwest

“James Gadsden was the grandson of Christopher Gadsden and is significant in Florida’s territorial history. James is largely known for the Gadsden Purchase in 1853. That purchase includes portions of southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. He was also the aide-de-camp of General Andrew Jackson during the first stage of the Seminole War in 1818. He would become instrumental in forming the Treaty of Payne’s Landing in 1832.

Gadsden in Tampa Bay

“However, in late 1823, as response to the Treaty of Moultrie Creek, Colonel Gadsden was ordered to mark the boundaries of a new military reservation in Tampa Bay and scout the location of a new fort. His ship arrived in early 1824. It landed on the southeastern portion of the interbay peninsula — an area today known as Gadsden Point.

“After leaving a marker on the shoreline for Brooke’s pending arrival, Gadsden and his men trekked 12 miles north to the mouth of the Hillsborough river where William Hackney’s plantation was located. Now technically within the boundaries of the newly established military reservation, he commandeered Hackney’s plantation home as headquarters while soldier’s constructed what would become Fort Brooke — the foundation for Tampa and all those who inhabit the region today.

“Why didn’t Hackney tell James Gadsden to ‘not tread on me’, as his
grandfather famously empowered the Patriots? Well, Hackney was in Pensacola on business when Gadsden and his men arrived. When he returned home later in the spring to hundreds of soldiers, barracks, and a small cantonment, there was little he could do to get his property back. Hackney’s family was embroiled in litigation with the federal government until the late 1880s over the wrongful possession of the Hackney property.”

Gadsden Research Links