Still sparsely populated and insecure, Florida remained loyal to the crown during the American Revolution. St. Augustine became a major garrison town and a refuge for loyalists from the rebellious colonies farther north. The British took Savannah in 1778, and the attempt of an allied patriot and French force to recapture it failed disastrously at the Battle of Savannah (October 8, 1779). Increasingly bitter partisan warfare between patriots and loyalists marked the last stages of the war in Georgia.
At the close of the Revolutionary War in 1783, the Treaty of Paris returned Florida to Spain. Most of the European population left. The arrival of new, mostly English-speaking settlers and the rapid growth of the American Republic to the north made Spanish authority in Florida uncertain at best.
Several independence movements centered on Amelia Island defied Spanish authority and
sought to attach Florida to the United States. Although these all failed, the repeated
violations of Spanish territory by both sides during the War of 1812 and General Andrew
Jackson's expeditions against the Seminole Indians in Florida convinced the Spanish to
dispose of their troublesome colony on the best terms they could get. Spain ceded Florida
to the United States by treaty in 1819, with the actual transfer of authority occurring in
1821. The Florida portion of the Golden Crescent was at last joined to Georgia under
United States sovereignty. Many places such as St.
Augustine, Fort Frederica, and Savannah bear witness to the long struggle for control of
this part of the continent.