20 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI obligations, and the Indian question in West Florida was never satisfactorily resolved,” Kynerd writes. Likewise, Johnstone’s problems with the other officials in Pensacola were never satisfactorily resolved, nor was the growing dissatisfaction among the colonists with his heavy- handed governing. In early 1767, he was recalled and replaced by his long-suffering Lieutenant Governor Montfort Browne who pledged harmony within the government. Browne also began a campaign to promote settlement throughout West Florida. “From 1766 to 1769, about forty land grants were made in the Natchez district, but few were actually occupied or improved. In 1769, Lieutenant Governor Browne visited Natchez and fell under the spell of the place. He called the district one of ‘the most charming…in the world. He immediately lobbied for a division of the province. The Natchez district should be a separate province, and he should be the governor,’” writes Wells. But once again, troubles with the indigenous tribes put a damper on European dreams of Utopia. Along the Coast there were reports in 1768 and 1769 of settlers’ houses being burned and cattle being killed by bands of Biloxis and Pascagoulas, behavior allegedly encouraged by gifts from the governor of nearby Spanish Louisiana, Alexander O’Reilly. In January 1770, a settler reported that a small band of Choctaws entered Fort Panmure, as Rosalie was called by the British, and ransacked it. This incident created panic among the settlers and caused some of them to leave the area. One difficulty the British had in formulating a consistent Native American policy was their own inconsistency in establishing a provisional government. Governor Browne had been removed and was succeeded by Lieutenant Governor Elias Durnford (interim) and then by John Eliot. Eliot had been in town only a month when he hanged himself. Peter Chester was chosen as Eliot’s successor, and he would serve until the end of the British period. The English era saw a total of five governors over its sixteen years of existence. And yet the general peace following the Native American conferences held, the uneasiness of the settlers abated, and European settlement of West Florida began in earnest. As written in “British West Florida” FLGenWeb Project, “Before the summer of 1773, 400 families came from the Atlantic Seaboard in a body by way of the Ohio and Mississippi. The settlers from New England, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey usually came by way of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Numerous parties from the western portions of North Carolina and Virginia usually came by land.” Pensacola did not receive a great deal of this immigration, nor did the present-day Mississippi Coast. Presumably, the settlers were seeking farmlands, and thus flocked to interior areas. In 1770, slightly fewer than one hundred claims for land had been registered for the Mississippi region. This number more than doubled in 1773. As noted by the FLGenWeb Project, they soon discovered the country near Walnut Hills (Vicksburg), Natchez, Bayou Sara, and Baton Rouge were the real garden spots of what had come to be regarded as the Promised Land of America. This area along the Mississippi River thus became the destination of choice for most of the first settlers. British West Florida had few settlers in 1770, but over 3,000 persons lived in the area in 1774. A majority of these newcomers located in present-day Mississippi. Overall, the population of the colony more than trebled from 1765 to 1775. This influx from the Atlantic coast grew even stronger, for once again events far outside the borders of the future state of Mississippi altered the course of its history. Tensions between the American colonies and the mother country, England, primarily over tax issues, had been escalating since 1765. In 1773, while West Florida was experiencing a new wave of settlement, in Boston the colonist were throwing imported tea into the harbor. By 1775, when things looked rosy for Mississippi, hostile shots were fired in Lexington and Concord. And soon the hostilities were to spread beyond faraway New England. In July of that same year, a large store of British munitions in Fort Charlotte on the Savannah River was captured by Major James Mayson under orders from the South Carolina Provincial Congress, the first overt act of the American Revolution in that state. With the war beginning to hit close to home, many colonists from the Carolinas and Virginia, mostly Loyalists, began to head west. “In 1775, the Home Government (London) announced its intention that ‘West Florida was to become an asylum for distressed friends of England.’ Loyalists were welcomed to the colony, and Governor Chester was instructed to assist the settlers by utilizing money from the contingent fund With the framework for government of the new British territory thus in place, the British territorial officials took possession and began to settle in. The Spanish departed from Pensacola on September 2, 1763, and left with no problems.