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officer, with a force of marines seized Fort Barrancas, six iniles below Pensacola, and began to collect a force of Creeks, at the same time proclaiming his intention to invade Louisiana; and in September a British force attempted to reduce Fort Bowyer, which had been established by the United States at the entrance of Pensacola Bay in 1813. The attempt failed, and early in November 1814 Jackson marched to Pensacola and took possession of the place—a step which led to the immediate evacuation of Fort Barrancas by the British. In his dispatches General Jackson praised the correct conduct of his troops, but, as a matter of course, the march of a considerable military force, only a part of which was composed of regulars, and of which a portion was made up of friendly Indians, was attended with some depredations on private property.'
December 26, 1817, Mr. Calhoun, who was then SecWest Florida and the
retary of War, ordered General Jackson to Fort Scott,
Georgia, to take command of the forces of the United States against the hostile Seminole Indians. General Jackson reached Fort Scott on the 9th of March, and on the following day assumed command. On the 25th of March, writing to Mr. Calhoun, he reported that “the Indians had demanded arms, ammunition, and provisions, or the pos. session of the garrison of St. Marks of the commandant,” and that the governor of Pensacola bad said he “presumed possession would be given from inability to defend it.” “The Spanish Government is bound by treaty,” said General Jackson, commenting on this situation, “to keep her Indians at peace with us. They have acknowledged their incompetency to do this, and are consequently bound by the law of nations to yielil us all facilities to reduce them. Under this consideration, should I be able, I shall take possession of the garrison as a depot for my supplies, should it be found in the hands of the Spaniards, they baving supplied the Indians; but if in the bands of the enemy I will possess it for the benefit of the United States, as a necessary position for me to hold, to give peaco and security to this frontier, and put a final end to the Indian warfare in the South.” General Jackson also stated that he had ordered supplies for Fort Crawford by water, and bad written to the governor of Pensacola that if be interrupted their passage he should “view it as aiding our enemy and treat it as an act of hostility.” Immediately after writing this letter, General Jackson began an active movement against the Indians, whom he attacked and drove before him; and, believing that some of the hostiles had fled to St. Marks, he directed his m:rch to that fortress. “As advised,” he said, “I found that the Indians and negroes combined and demanded a surrender of that work; the Spanish garrison was too weak to defend it, and there were circumstances reported producing a strong conviction in my mind that, if not instigated by the Spanish authorities, the Indians had received the means of carrying on the war from that quarter; foreign agents who have been long practicing their intrigues and villanies in this country, had free access into the fort; St. Marks was necessary as a depot, to insure success to my operations. These considerations determined me to occupy it with an American force.” The fortress
'H. Report 99, 20 Cong. 2 sess.; Adams's History of the United States, VIII. 317–330; Am. State Papers, Mil. Aff, I. 698-708.
was accordingly occupied ;' and General Jackson, having heard that the Indians at war with the United States had free access to Pensacola, determined to make a movement west of the Appalachicola and, if the report proved to be correct, occupy Pensacola. On the 21st of May he entered and occupied the fort of St. Michael commanding that town; but the fort made only a show of resistance. The governor of Pensacola bad previously retired to Fort Carlos de Baranças; and General Jackson now demanded of him the surrender both of this fortress and of the town. The demanı was refused, and on the 25th of May the fortress was besieged. It surrendered on the evening of the 27th after having made a spirited resistance. In August 1818 tbe United States ordered St. Marks and Pensacola, with the Baranças, to be restored to Spanish authority. During these operations of the United States forces against the Seminoles much property of Spanish subjects was plundered and destroyed. Spain protested against General Jackson's course, and demanded indemnity. The United States, while ordering the captured places to be evacuated, assumed responsibility for his acts.3
The ninth article of the treaty between the United
States and Spain of 1819 closes with the following by the United States.
stipulations: “And the high contracting parties, respectively, renounce all claim to indemnities for any of the recent events or transactions of their respective commanders and officers in the Floridas.
• The United States will cause satisfaction to be made for the injuries, if any, which, by process of law, shall be established to have been suffered by the Spanish officers, and individual Spanish inhabitants, by the late operations of the American army in Florida.”
In his annual message of December 3, 1822, President Legislation by Congress. Monroe recommended that legislation be adopted to
carry the foregoing stipulations into effect by vesting the necessary power in the district court of the Uniteil States at Pensacola or in some special tribunal. By an act of March 3, 1823, Congress author. ized and directed the judges of the snperior courts at St. Augustine and Pensacola “to receive and adjust all claims, arising within their respective jurisdictions, of the inhabitants of said territory, or their representatives, agreeably to the provisions of the ninth article of the treaty with Spain, by which the said territory was ceded to the United States." By the second section it was provided that, in all cases in which the judges should decide in favor of the claimants, "the decisions, with the evidence on which they are founded, shall be
reported to the Secretary of the Treasury, who, on being satisfied that the same is [sic] just and equitable, within the provisions of the said treaty, shall pay the amount thereof
Among the persons found in the fortress was an Englishman named Arbuthnot, who, with another Englishman named Ambrister, captured near “Bowlegs town,” was, by order of General Jackson, tried by a courtmartial and executed for exciting “savage and negro war.” (Wharton's Int. Law Digest, I. sec. 348a; Parton's Life of Andrew Jackson, ch. 34; Am. State Papers, Mil. Aff. I. 207, et seq.)
2 Am. State Papers, Mil. Aff. I. 690-696.
to the person or persons in whose favor the same is adjudged.” 1 Where the decision was adverse to tbe claimant, no further proceedings were authorized.
When the judges came to execute this statute, claims Claims Prior to 1818
were made before them for losses occasioned by the Rejected by the
three invasions of 1812-13, 1814, and 1818; and such Treasury.
claims in each class as were established by the proofs were allowed and certified to the Secretary of the Treasury. The judge for East Florida, at St. Augustine, allowed many of the claims of 1812–13; and the judge for West Florida, at Pensacola, allowed claims not only of 1818, but also of 1814. The claims of 1814 were 43 in number, and their nominal amount was $84,970.63. The judge for West Florida, before whom they were preferred, awarded upon them in all $72,639.06. He disallowed $12,331.56, for insufficiency of proof. When the decisions in favor of the claimants were reported to the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Crawford, who then held that office, set aside all the awards for 1814, on the ground that General Jackson's entrance into West Florida was justified by the law of nations, and that the claims were not within the treaty. In the exercise of a similar discretion Mr. Rush, as Secretary of the Treasury, in 1826 rejected the claims for losses by the invasion of East Florida in 1812–13, on the ground that the “late” operations of the American army in Florida, mentioned in the treaty, meant only the operations of 1818 and comprehended none of an earlier date.
In passing upon the cases before him Mr. Rush Decisions on Various rejected certain claims for the loss of slaves on the Claims.
following grounds: " It is not believed that the words or intention of the ninth article of the treaty will warrant a confirmation of the judge's decision in these cases. The slaves had all left their masters prior to the invasion of 1818, and were a part of the community of Suwanee Indians for the time beingat least when that invasion took place. Those who were killed by the attack on that Indian settlement, or who were blown up at the negro fort, must necessarily be lost to their owners; and as to those who were taken prisoners, the owners must be left to such remedies for recovering possession of them as the common course of law would afford. On these grounds, if on no other, the cases are, one and all, excluded from confirmation."
Other claims were rejected by Mr. Rush, in which it appeared by the evidence that the damages and losses were occasioned by hostile Indians who were opposed to the American army. Mr. Rush rejected these claims on the ground that their allowance would involve "a forced construction of the treaty, the principle of which, if admitted, right open a door to numerous and remote claims never within the contemplation of the contracting parties."
13 Stats. at L. 768.
3 H. Doc. 67, 24 Cong. 2 sess. The blowing up of the “negro fort," mentioned by Mr. Rush, took place in 1816. The fort in question was erected by the British during the war of 1812, at Bonavista, on the eastern branch of the Appalachicola River, 15 miles above its mouth and 120 miles east of Pensacola. After the close of the war it was used by Indians
From the executive decisions rejecting the claims Appeal of Claimants to
prior to 1818, en masse, the claimants appealed to ConCongress.
gress. They pointed out that the word “late" was not in the Spanish text of the treaty. The English and Spanish texts of the two paragraphs in question are as follows:
“And the high contracting parties, “Las altas partes contratantes, respectively, renounce all claim to renuncian reciprocamente todos sus iudemnities for any of the recent derechos á indemnizaciones por qualevents or transactions of their re- quiera de los ultimos acontecinienspective commanders and officers in tos y transacciones de sus respectivos the Floridas.
comandantes y oficiales en las “The United States will cause sat. Floridas. isfaction to be made for the injuries, “Y los Estados Unidos satisfarán if any, which by process of law shall los prejuicios, si los hubiese habido, be established to have been suffered que los habitantes y oficiales Españby the Spanish officers and individ- oles justifiquen legalmente haber ual Spanish inbabitants by the late sufrido por las operaciones del Exer. operations of the American army in cito Americano en ellas." Florida.”
It was pointed out by Mr. Joseph M. White, the delegato from Florida, in an argument submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs in 1826, that no word corresponding to late was to be found in the Spanish draft of the treaty. It was also urged by him that instead of the word “Florida,” which is found in the English draft, the Spanish has the words "en ellas," referring by necessity to "las Floridas," and consequently including both East and West Florida, which would not have been the case had it been intended to provide exclusively for the losses of 1818, which were almost wholly confined in West Florida.
By a report of March 10, 1826, the Committee on Adverse Reports. Foreign Affairs reported adversely to the claimants."
The report stated that the Secretary of the Treasury, before excluding the claims of 1812-13 and 1814, applied to the Chief Magistrate, under whom the treaty was framed, and was confirmed by him in the opinion that Article IX. embraced no claims prior to 1818. As to the English and Spanish texts of the treaty, the committee, while admitting that the word “late" was not in the Spanish text, maintained that this did not alter the sense of the stipulations; that though the word
operaciones” was not qualified by any term corresponding to the word "late,” yet the two clauses were connected in the Spanish text by the conjunction“y," and that the term “ultimos” in the first paragraph necessarily limited the sense of the word “operaciones” in the secoud. These
and fugitive slaves as a rendezvous and stronghold. General Jackson on April 23, 1816, demanded of the governor of Pensacola the “prompt interference of the Spanish authorities to destroy or remove from our froutier this banditti." The governor, while concurring in General Jackson's view as to the character of the establishment, stated that he was unable to act in the matter without orders from his captain-general, to whom he had written on the subject nearly two months previously. The fort was attacked by United States forces July 27, 1816, and, a hot shot entering the magazine, was blown up and completely destroyed. (Am. State Papers, For. Rel. IV. 555-560.)
H, Report 112, 19 Cong. 1 sess.
views were formally adopted by the Committee on the Judiciary in the next House of Representatives.
February 26, 1829, Mr. Everett, from the CommitMr. Everett's Favor
tee on Foreign Affairs, made an elaborate report in able Report.
favor of the payment of the excluded claims, accompanied with a bill for that purpose. The committee would, said Mr. Everett, forbear to pursue a verbal discussion of the treaty as being necessarily unsatisfactory in its nature. The renunciation and the stipulation for indemnity seemed to be coextensive; and this being so, if the losses sustained by the Spanish inhabitants in 1812 and 1814 were not provided for, then Spain had not renounced her claims on the United States for those losses. This would be to suppose that a considerable and not the least embarrassing part of the controversy between the two governments remained unsettled by the treaty of 1819, though it was intended, and in its preamble it was declared, to be a settlement of “all their differences and pretensions.” While the American Executive regarded the stipulation for indemnity as extending only to the cases in 1818, it was evident that the inhabitants of East and West Florida understood it to extend to the losses in 1812 and 1814, since all but five of the cases presented to the judge of the superior court of East Florida were for losses sustained in 1812–13. The committee, said Mr. Everett, had come to the conclusion that the claims of 1812-13 and of 1814 were entitled to the favorable consideration of Congress. The claims of 1812–13 appeared to be highly meritorious. An agent of the United States, clothed with large discretionary powers and with the control of funds from the public treasury, and having a force of United States troops, approached and entered Florida. It was natural that the inhabitants should repose great confidence in his promises of protection. Although his movements were disavowed by the Executive, their most important results were to a certain extent sanctioned by the occupation of the province, on behalf of the United States, for a twelvemonth after General Matthews was superseded. The transaction was one no doubt of a peculiar nature, not likely to occur again in our history, and difficult to be adjusted, in all its consequences, on ordinary principles of legislation. The committee were disposed to recommend a liberal course; and this they did with the more confidence as the amount involved, though highly important to individuals, in its importance to the United States bore no comparison with the beneficial consequences of the cession of Florida. The case of the claimants of 1814 was, said Mr. Everett, somewhat different; but it appealed, in the judgment of the committee, in a high degree to the equity of Congress. The Government of Spain was in 1814 at peace with that of the United States; but the authorities of West Florida were unable, had they been disposed, to prevent the violation of their territory by the hostile arms of Great Britain, aimed against the United States. In this situation of things the American commander, without express authority from his government, but in the exercise of a wise discretion for the public good, found it necessary to invade a province whose political situation was so anomalous. The committee found it stated by the delegate from Florida, whose means of information were ample, “that it was
H. Report 16, 20 Cong. 1 sess.