Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the records of their proceedings, the undersigned Commissioners have directed their Secretary to deposit in the Department of State of the U.S. in pursuance of the provisions of tho 11th Article of the Treaty aforesaid.

“The undersigned will add nothing further than to say, that as the full amount of the sums allowed to the different claimants is $5,454,545. 13, while the Treaty limits the extent of the liability of the U. S. 'to an amount not exceeding five millions of dollars,' the Commission found it necessary to abate each claim allowed 'pro rata.' This ratable abatement of each claim according to its amount equals 84 per cent. So that the claimants, instead of receiving the full amount of their respective claims as allowed, will be entitled to receive only the balance, after this per centage is deducted. The schedule D will show the full amount of the claim allowed, the amount after the abatement, being the balance due the claimants, which is the snm awarded by this board to them respectively. This schedule D is in addition to the documents the Commission have believed it to be their duty to furnish, for the purpose of showing the sums awarded, and to whom due. And as it has been merely extracted from the journal of its proceedings, which will be lodged with the Department of State, the schelule itself may be transferred by it to the Department of the Treasury, as a guide to direct its payments. And the Commission would recommend its speedy publication for the information of all those whom it may concern, or the adoption of any other mode which the proper officers of the U. S. may think more convenient for the attainment of this object.

“All of which is respectfully submitted.
“Washington, 8th June, 1824.

“H. L. WHITE.
“W. Kixg.

"LITT. TAZEWELL, “Attest:

"T. WATKINS."

1 This report was published in the National Government Journal, June 26, 1824, and a list of the awards in the next number. The following papers of the commission are in the Department of State: 1. Journal. 2. Register of claims received. 3. Claims adjndged. 4. Claims adjudged : awards and decisions. 5. Claims admitted. 6. Report of Commissioners, with a list of awards. There is also a thin quarto volume, containing an alphabetical list of the names of claimants, which was begun but not completed.

CHAPTER D.

EAST AND WEST FLORIDA CLAIMS.

Florida.

Acting on the assurance of Livingston and Monroe Question as to West

that West Florida was comprised in the cession of

Louisiana,' Congress, in extending the customs laws over the ceded territory, authorized the President, whenever he should deem it expedient to do so, to erect “the bay and river Mobile" and the adjacent territory into a separate district.? When the Spanish Government protested against this measure, assurances were given that the United States, reserving their claims in that quarter as a subject of discussion and arrangement with Spain, meditated in the mean time no act inconsistent with the peace and friendship existing between the two nations.3 In the summer of 1810, however, while the Spanish monarchy was in the throes of dissolution, a revolution occurred in West Florida. Baton Rouge was seized, and a convention was held by which the independence of the province was declared and an application made for its admission into the American Union. The President repulsed this application, but determined to take possession of the territory as part of the Louisiana purchase. It was accordingly occupied by the American forces, but only as far as the River Pearl. The territory between that stream and the Perdido was permitted still to remain in the possession of Spain.

On the 3d of January 1811 President Madison sent to Provision for Occupying

Congress a secret message in which he recommended

the expediency of authorizing the Executive to take temporary possession of any part of the Floridas, in pursuance of arrangements with the Spanish authorities; or without such arrangements, in caso those authorities should be subverted and there should be apprehension of the occupancy of the territory by another foreign power. Acting on this message, Congress, in secret session, on the 11th of January, “taking into view the peculiar situation of Spain and her American provinces,” and “the influence which the destiny of the territory adjoining the sonthern border of the United States may have upon their security, tranquillity, and commerce,” resolved that the United States could not “without serious

East Florida.

1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. II. 561. 22 Stats, at L. 254.

3 Message of President Jefferson to Congress, November 8, 1804, Am. State Papers, For. Rel. I. 63.

* Am. State Papers, For. Rel. III. 394-400.

5 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. III, 539; Adams's History of the United States, V. 305-315.

Instructions to Matthews and McKee.

inquietude see any part of said territory pass into the hands of any foreign power,” and that “a due regard to their own safety" compelled them to provide, under certain contingencies, for the temporary occupation of the said territory,” the territory so occupied to be held “subject to future negotiation.” As to West Florida, Congress had, as we have seen, already empowered the Executive to exercise acts of possession; but as East Florida unquestionably still belonged to Spain, it was necessary to confer upon the President special powers in regard to that province in order to insure the object expressed in the resolution. Congress therefore authorized the President to take possession of and occupy all or any part of East Florida, “in case an arrangement has been, or shall be, made with the local authority of the said territory, for delivering up the possession of the same, or any part thereof, to the United States; or in the event of an attempt to occupy the said territory, or any part thereof, by any foreign government.” For the purpose of occupying and holding the territory, the President was authorized to employ the Army and Navy of the United States; and the sum of $100,000 was appropriated" for defraying such expenses as the President may deem necessary for obtaining possession as aforesaid, and the security of the said territory."

January 26, 1811, Mr. Monroe, as Secretary of State, instructed Gen. George Matthews and Col. John McKee,

as commissioners for carrying the act of Congress into effect, to repair to East Florida with all possible expedition, keeping their mission secret; and if they should find Governor Folk or the local authority existing there inclined to surrender the province in an amicable manner, they were to accept the abdication in behalf of the United States, and, if necessary, agree to restore the country at a future period to the lawful sovereign. They were authorized, if necessary, to assume the debts due by Spain to the inhabitants of the territory; to guarantee titles to land; to permit the Spanish civil functionaries to retain their otfices, and, if necessary, to advance a reasonable sum for the transportation of the Spanish troops. If no such arrangement could be made they were instructed to keep on the alert, and on the first undoubted approach of a foreign power to take possession of the territory. In that event they were to exercise a sound discretion as to making promises, taking care to commit their government no further than necessary. A similar course was enjoined in regard to that part of West Florida still held in the name of Spain."

It does not appear that McKee acted under this comAction of Matthews. mission; but Matthews accepted it, repaired to the

Florida frontier, and took up his residence at St. Marys. He found, however, that the governor and local authorities were loyal to Spain, and not inclined to deliver up the territory; nor was there any sign of an attempt on the part of any foreign power to seize it; and the general contentment of the inhabitants, arising from the agricultural prosperity of the country, was enhanced by the profits of the vastly increased trade which the United States nonimportation act diverted to the neighboring province and of which Fernandina, on Amelia Island,

13 Stats. at L. 471; Am. State Papers, For. Rel. III. 571. 2 H. Report 99, 20 Cong. 2 sess.; Am. State Papers, For. Rel. 111.571.

was the chief entrepót. Nevertheless, there was along the border a certain element, largely composed of persons who had emigrated from the neighboring States, which, though incompetent to effect a revolution without external aid, was willing to undertake a revolt if properly supported. This support Matthews promised, and on March 14, 1812, more than a year after his mission began, a party of men, supplied with arms partly from the United States arsenal at Point Peter, assembled at Roses Bluff, across the river from St. Marys, and raised the standard of revolt against the government of East Florida. On the 16th of March they attacked the town of Fernandina. Coincidently, several l'nited States gunboats took a position opposite the town, and the Spanish commandaut, having been informed that they intended to assist the insurgents, surrendered to the latter, who took possession of the place and raised the "patriot flag." The next day General Matthews crossed the river with a detachment of the regular army and took formal possession of the town in the name of the United States, subject to the President's approval. Within a few days the insurgents, accompanied by a body of United States regulars and some volunteers from Georgia, set out for St. Augustine. Their procedure was systematic. Marching a little in advance of the American forces, the insurgents would take possession of the country and raise the “ patriot flag," and then in the character of "the local authorities,” surrender the territory to General Matthews, who would receive possession of it in the name of the United States. In this way lie received possession of the country all the way to St. Augustine, to which place siege wis laid in the latter part of March.

The measures adopted by General Matthews for obRevocation of Mat- taining possession of Amelia Island and other parts of thews's Powers.

East Florida were disavowed by the United States, and his powers were revoked. Governor Mitchell of Georgia was appointed to succeed him, with instructions to withdraw the American troops anal restore to the Spanish authorities the country thus taken from them. Monroe, referring to the employment of American troops to dispossess the Spanish authorities by force, said: “I forbear to dwell on the details of this transaction, because it is too painful to recite them.” At the same time Governor Mitchell was directed to obtain from the Spanish authorities "the most satisfactory assurance” with respect to the immunity of those inhabitants who had acted with General Matthews. This proved to be a troublesome subject of negotiation, and together with certain other causes operated to postpone the final evacuation of the province till May 1813.'

The transaction thus briefly narrated was attended Injuries to Inhabitants

with lamentable results to the inhabitants of East of East Florida.

Florida. A judge of the United States, charged with the duty of investigating the subject, described the injuries inflicted by the invaders in the following terms:

“The difficulty of obtaining supplies for such a force led them at once to look to the resources of the country; and the large droves of cattle with which the country then abounded were immediately and unhesitatingly seized upon to relieve their necessities, and foraging parties, consisting both of regular troops and patriots, were sent out in all directions

1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. III. 543, 544, 545, 571.

to collect cattle and other means of subsistence for the army. These forag ing parties most generally consisted of the patriot or volunteer troops, sometimes under the command of a regular officer, but the fruits of their expeditions were usually shared by the American and patriot troops indiscriminately. The cattle which they drove into camp, or collected and retained at the posts and stations in the country, to be used from time to time as they were wanted, were used by the regulars as well as the volunteer troops and patriots.

Besides the camp of the American and patriot troops before St. Augustine, there were also, from time to time. several other camps and stations about the country occupied by United States troops or volunteers and patriots, from whence marauding and foraging parties were constantly going forth; and in the course of the summer and fall almost every plantation and farm had been visited and plandlered. Most of them had been abandoned by their owners, but whether abandoned or not, the foraging parties usually helped themselves to what they wanted or could find. The corn on hand in the corn houses, of the previous year's crop, was eagerly sought for and used up; the fences thrown down, and the growing crops exposed to destruction, as well as used or fed upon by their horses; movable property of every description plundered or destroyed, and buildings and fences burned, sometimes from design (especially when the owners were particularly loyal to the Spanish Government), and often by accident, from camp fires, or negligence in occupying the buildings; and the cattle and hogs in the ranges killed or driven off to the camps of the invading army. And this state of things continued, but growing daily worse and worse, until the American troops were finally withdrawn from the province in May 1813.

“During this time, however, and before the evacuation of the province, other American troops came into it besides those which have already been mentioned as having made the first incursion; some small parties or companies of regulars or volunteers joined the forces before St. Augustine; and in tho summer or fall of 1812 Colonel Newnan entered the province with a battalion or detachment of volunteers, and after remaining a short time on the St. John's river made an expedition into the interior against the Seminole Indians.

“A detail of some of the more revolting instances of robbery and plunder and wanton destruction on the one hand that occurred during this period, or of individual cases of hardship, ruin, and beggary on the other, is hardly called for, and perhaps not proper in this general statement, though they might tend much to illustrate the general character of the injuries of that period. Suffice it to say that before or when the United States troops finally evacuated the country, the whole inhabited part of the province was in a state of utter desolation and ruin. Almost every building outside of the walls of St. Augustine was burned or destroyed; farms and plantations laid waste; cattle, horses, and bogs driven off or killed, and movable property plundered or destroyed; and in many instances slaves dispersed or abducted. So far as the destruction of property of every kinil was concerned, the desolation of the Carnatic by Hyder Ali was not more terrible and complete.”!

In 1814, during the war between the United States Invasion of West Florida in 1814.

and Great Britain, General Jackson, having destroyed

the power of the Creek Indians, determined to reoccupy Mobile, which had been occupied by the United States during the war and then abandoned, and to seize Pensacola, which had been the principal source of supplies of the Creeks in their hostilities with the United States. In this design he was confirmed by the fact that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico were becoming the theater of active military demonstrations on the part of the British. Early in July 1814 he gave orders for the reoccupation of Mobile Point. In the following month Major Nicholls, an Irish

Bronson, J., Case of Ferreira, S. Misc. Doc. 45, 34 Cong. 3 sess. 16, 47.

« ZurückWeiter »