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About Fulwar Skipwith
Fulwar Skipwith (February 21, 1765 — January 7, 1839) was an American diplomat and politician, who served as a U.S. Consul in Martinique, and later as the U.S. Consul-General in France. He was instrumental in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and was president of the Republic of West Florida in 1810.
Skipwith was born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, and was a distant cousin of U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. Skipwith studied at William and Mary College, but left at age 16 to enlist in the army during the American Revolution. He served at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. After American Independence was achieved, he entered the tobacco trade.
Following the French Revolution of 1789, Skipwith was appointed as US Consul to the French colony of Martinique in 1790. He experienced the turmoil of the revolution, and the aftermath of the abortive slave insurrection in Martinique before departing in 1793. In 1795, Monroe appointed him Consul-General in Paris under Ambassador James Monroe.
June 2, 1802, Skipwith married Louise Barbe Vandenclooster, a Flemish baroness. Her sister was Thereze Josephine van den Clooster.
The Republic of West Florida
In 1809, Skipwith moved to Spanish West Florida. As a member of the first West Florida judiciary, he took part in the 1810 West Florida rebellion against Spain, and served as the president of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. On October 27, 1810, West Florida was annexed to the United States by proclamation of U.S. President James Madison, who claimed it as part of the Louisiana Purchase. At first, Skipwith and the West Florida government were opposed to the proclamation, preferring to negotiate terms to join the Union as a separate state. However, William C. C. Claiborne, who was sent to take possession, refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the West Florida government. Skipwith and the legislature reluctantly agreed to accept Madison's proclamation.
Skipwith was elected to serve in the Louisiana State Senate. In December 1814, during the War of 1812, Magloire Guichard and Skipwith sponsored a legislative resolution to grant amnesty to "the privateers lately resorting to Barataria, who might be deterred from offering their services for fear of persecution." This led to the pirate Jean Lafitte and his men joining in the defense of New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans, when the city was attacked by British forces in January 1815.
In 1827, Skipwith, Armand Duplantier, Antoine Blanc, Thomas B. Robertson and Sebastien Hiriart received permission from the Louisiana state legislature to organize a corporation called the Agricultural Society of Baton Rouge. The purpose of the society was as follows, "The sole and special objects of the said society shall be the improvement of agriculture the amelioration of the breed of horses of horned cattle and others and in of all the several branches relative to agriculture in a country." The organization, like most in the state at that time, was racially segregated to exclude non-white people.
Skipwith died at his Monte Sano Plantation on the bluffs above Baton Rouge on January 7, 1839 at age 73.