Panton, Leslie and Company

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PANTON, LESLIE AND COMPANY began trading with the Native peoples of the American Southeast during the Revolution. Scottish Loyalists William Panton, John Leslie, and Thomas Forbes fled to Florida, and after the 1783 Treaty of Paris gave the territory back to Spain, the firm was allowed to continue to operate out of St. Augustine and Pensacola. In 1785, Spain granted the company the exclusive right to trade with the Creeks, and in 1788 Spain broadened the grant to include the Choctaws and Chickasaws. The firm supplied the tribes with munitions, rum, and other assorted goods in exchange for deerskins, furs, bear oil, honey, and foodstuffs. The company expanded its reach as far as the Bahamas, Texas, Louisiana, and Yucatán, and it continued to trade as John Forbes and Company until 1847. These prominent traders were able to survive and profit in a violent and volatile setting during a period of massive, rapid historical change. Their papers, scattered in archives throughout Great Britain, the United States, Spain, and Latin America, detail their commercial exploits and open the world of late-eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Native Americans to interested researchers.


Coker, William S., and Thomas D. Watson. Indian Traders of the Southeastern Spanish Borderlands: Panton, Leslie & Company and John Forbes & Company, 1783–1847. Pensacola: University of West Florida Press, 1986. The foreword by J. Leitch Wright, Jr. eloquently describes the activities and importance of the company.

Matthew HoltJennings

See alsoIndian Trade and Traders .