Florida became a U.S. possession in 1821 and formally a territory in March 1822; statehood followed in 1845. During the territorial era (1821–45), Florida was a sparsely settled frontier and a veritable rogues’ paradise, which attracted escaped slaves and fugitive debtors, thieves, and other lawbreakers from neighboring states. As northeastern states retreated from the use of public punishments, Florida's territorial justice system retained fines, short confinement in county jail, whipping, and the pillory for white offenders, and cropping, branding, nailing to a post ...

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