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EXILES OF FLORIDA:
THE CRIMES COMMITTED BY OUR GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE MAROONS,
WHO FLED FROM SOUTH CAROLINA AND OTHER SLAVE STATES,
SEEKING PROTECTION UNDER SPANISH LAWS.
JOSHUA R. IDDINGS.
"I, as commander of the army, pledged the national faith that they
should remain under the protection of the United States."
4 COLUMBUS, OHIO:
PUBLISHED BY FOLLETT, FOSTER AND COMPANY.
W .- -- 1
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858,
BY FOLLETT, FOSTER & CO.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District
7 3 2,-
unwu ~ r i4A*Zri- '- -.' Nr?.? *5~p r*:~:,~- ~1
THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE SO LONG HONORED ME
WITH THEIR CONFIDENCE,
THIS WORK IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED.
J. R. GIDDINGS.
DISCARDING that code of morals which teaches the sup-
pression of truth, for the purpose of upholding the honor,
either of the Government, or of the individuals who wield
its admuii-i.tration, the Author of the following work has
etille:avorie' l to give a faithful record of those interesting
Events wlich appear directly connected with the Exiles of
I, Torn from their native land, their friends and homes, they
were sold il the markets of Carolina and Georgia. Feeling
the hand of oppression bearing heavily upon them, they fled
to Florid.a, and, under Spanish laws, became free. Holding
lands oft' the Spanish Crown, they became citizens of that
'Te'rrit-ry, entitled to protection. To regain possession of
their truant bondmen, Georgia made war upon Florida, but
failed to obtain her object.
At a time of profound peace, our army, acting under the
'irectii,:i:.:f the Executive, invaded Florida, murdered many
of tihee- ftXrei lti, and brought others to the United States
and c,:>nigne~d them to slavery. An expensive and bloody
war followed; but failing to capture more of the Exiles, our
army was withdrawn.
This- war was followed by diplomatic efforts. Florida
was purchased; treaties with the Florida Indians were made
and violated; gross frauds were perpetrated; dishonorable
expedients were resorted to, and another war provoked.
During its protracted continuance of seven years, bribery
and treachery were practiced towards the Exiles and their
allies, the Seminole Indians; flags of truce were violated;
the pledged faith of the nation was disregarded. By these
means the removal of the Exiles from Florida was effected.
After they had settled in the Western Country, most of
these iniquities were repeated, until they were driven from
our nation and compelled to seek an asylum in Mexico.
Men who wielded the influence of Government for the
consummation of these crimes, assiduously labored to sup-
press all knowledge of their guilt; to keep facts from the
popular mind; to falsify the history of current events, and
prevent an exposure of our national turpitude.
The object of this work is to meet that state of circum-
stances; to expose fraud, falsehood, treachery, and other
crimes of public men, who have prostituted the powers of
Government to the perpetration of murders, at the contem-
plation of whichh our humanity revolts.
The Author has designed to place before the public a
faithful record of events appropriately falling within the
purview of the proposed history; he has endeavored, as far
as possible, to do justice to all concerned. Where the action
of individuals is concerned, he has endeavored to make them
speak for themselves, through official reports, orders, letters,
or written evidences from their own hands; and he flatters
himself that he has done no injustice to any person.
Crcmstances attending the Early History of Slavery in the Colo-
nies. Exiles: efforts to restore them ....................... 1
tr efforts to restore Exiles............................... 16
.ostalities maintained by Georgia; First Seminole War commenced 28
Hostilities ........................................... 46
edarte of the Government to restore Exiles to servitude... 57
effbrts to enslave the Exiles ............................ 69
Commencement of the Second Seminole War .................. 97
tes continued ......................................... 115
otlils continued........................................ 125
War continued-Peace declared-General Jessup assumes
command of the Army ....................... .....1. 5 135
CHAPTER XI. PAG
General Jessup overthrows his own efforts in favor of Peace....... 142
The renewal and prosecution of the War ...................... 156
Vigorous prosecution of the War................................ 172
Great difficulties interrupt the progress of the War.............. 189
Difficulties in enslaving Exiles continued..................... 214
Further difficulties in the work of enslaving the Exiles ........... 224
Total failure of all efforts to enslave the Exiles ............... 233
Further difficulties in prosecuting the War .................... 251
0 CHAPTER XIX.
Hostilities continued........................................ 274
Hostilities continued........................................ 284
Close of the War ............................................ 308
History of Exiles continued ................................. 317
The re-union and final Exodus .............................. 323
EXILES OF FLORIDA.
CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE EARLY HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN THE
S Misantuof Fl lrda-Boundares of Carolina-Ens leaving Indians -They flee from their
SMatpr-Afcans follow the example--Spealh policy in regard to Fugitive Slaves-
Coa dnem.aad the surrender of alea- Florida refuses -Colony of Georgia establish-
S ed-Its object-Exlescalled Seminolos Slavery introduced into Georgia-Seminole
bdans separate from Creeks -.Saes ePspe tfom Gergia-Report of Committee of
( B y Report of General Lee Treaty of Augusta Treaty of Galphniton Singular
Seonduct of Georgia War between Creeks and Georgia Resolution of Congress -
T'aty of Shoulderbone- Hostilitie continue-Georgia calls on United States fbr
essutlene Commissioners sent to negotiate Treaty Failure Col. Willett's mission
Ob^e, head men and Warriors repair to New York-Treaty formed Secret article
i i'., oamA was originally settled by Spaniards, in 1558. They
e: 'ethe first people to engage in the African Slave trade, and,
eightt to supply other nations with servants from' the coast of
ainea, --The Colonists held many slaves, expecting to accumulate
Stealth by the unrequited toil of their fellow-man.
Carolina by her first and second charters claimed a vast
extent of Country, embracing St. Augustine and most of
Florida. This conflict of jurisdiction soon involved the Colonists
Hostilities. The Carolinians also held many slaves. Profiting
00.] by the labor of her servants, the people sought to increase
their wealth by enslaving the Indians who resided in their
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
vicinity. Hence in the early slave codes of that colony we find
reference to "negro and other slaves."
When the boundaries of Florida and South Carolina became
established, the Colonists found themselves separated by the terri-
tory now constituting the State of Georgia, at that time mostly
occupied by the Creek Indians.
The efforts of the Carolinians to enslave the Indians, brought
with them the natural and appropriate penalties. The Indians soon
began to make their escape from service to the Indian country.
This example was soon followed by the African slaves, who also fled
to the Indian country, and, in order to secure themselves from pur-
suit, continued their journey into Florida.
We are unable to fix the precise time when the persons thus ex-
iled constituted a separate community. Their numbers had become
so great in 1736, that they were formed into companies, and relied
on by the Floridians as allies to aid in the defense of that territory.
They were also permitted to occupy lands upon the same terms that
were granted to the citizens of Spain; indeed, they in all respects
became free subjects of the Spanish crown. Probably to this
early and steady policy of the Spanish Government, we may attri-
bute the establishment and continuance of this community of Exiles
in that territory.1
A messenger was sent by the Colonial Government of
South Carolina to demand the return of those fugitive
slaves who had found an asylum in Florida. The demand was
made upon the Governor of St. Augustine, but was promptly
rejected. This was the commencement of a controversy which has
continued for more than a century, involving our nation in a vast
expenditure of blood and treasure, and it yet remains undetermined.
The constant escape of slaves, and the difficulties resulting there-
from, constituted the principal object for establishing a free colony
between South Carolina and Florida, which was called Georgia
(1) Vide Bancroft's and Hildreth's Histories o the United States.
(2j Vide both Histories above cited.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 3
It was thought that this colony, being free, would afford the
planters of Carolina protection against the further escape of their
slaves from service.
These Exiles were by the Creek Indians called Seminoles,"
which in their dialect signifies "runaways," and the term being
frequently used while conversing with the Indians, came into almost
constant practice among the whites; and although it has now come
to be applied to a certain tribe of Indians, yet it was originally
used in reference to these Exiles long before the Seminole Indians
had separated from the Creeks.
L < Some eight years after the Colony of Georgia was first establish-
ed, efforts were made to introduce Slavery among its people. The
ordinary argument, that it would extend the Christian religion, was
brought to bewr upon Whitfield and Habersham, and the Saltzber-
and Moravians, until they consented.to try the experiment, and
Geutia became thenceforth a Slaveholding Colony, whose frontier
bordered directly upon Florida; bringing the slaves of her planters
into the very neighborhood of those Exiles who had long been free
Sunder Spanish laws.
A difficulty arose among the Creek Indians, which event-
ally becoming irreconcilable, a chief named Seacoffee,
Swith a large number of followers, left that tribe-at that time resid-
S.within the present limits of Georgia and Alabama-and con-
.. ing their journey south entered the Territory of Florida, and,
manerthe Spanish colonial policy, were incorporated with the Span-
, ,, q i.ulation, entitled to lands wherever they could find them un-
1 oidupied, and to the protection of Spanish laws.1
From the year 1750, Seacoffee and his followers rejected all
k authority, refused to be represented in Creek councils, held
lives independent of Creek laws, elected their own chieis, and
n all respects became a separate Tribe, embracing the Miokasukies,
bh whom they united. They settled in the vicinity of the Exiles,
Shoeiated with them, and a mutual sympathy and respect existing,
F' l) 1de sbhoblcmnft MiStory of Indian Tribe.
4 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
some of their people intermarried, thereby strengthening the ties of
friendship, and the Indians having fled from oppression and taken
refuge under Spanish laws, were also called Seminoles, or run-
After Georgia became a Slaveholding Colony, we are led to
believe the practice of slaves leaving their masters, which existed
in South Carolina, became frequent in Georgia. But we have no
definite information on this subject until about the commencement
of the Revolutionary War (1775), when the Council of Safety for
that colony sent to Congress a communication setting forth, that a
large force of Continental troops was necessary to prevent their
slaves from deserting their masters.' It was about the first com-
munication sent to Congress after it met, in 1776, and shows that
her people then sought to make the nation bear the burthens of
their slavery, by furnishing a military force sufficient to hold her
bondmen in fear; and if she adheres to that policy now, it merely
illustrates the consistency of her people in relying upon the freemen
of the North to uphold her system of oppression.
General Lee, commanding the military forces in that
1776.] colony, called the particular attention of Congress to the
fact, that slaves belonging to the planters, fled from servitude and
sought freedom among the "Exiles of Florida."
There also yet remained in Georgia many descendants of those
who, at the establishment of that colony and since that time, had
opposed the institution of Slavery. These people desired to testify
their abhorrence of human servitude. They assembled in large
numbers, in the district of Darien, and publicly resolved as follows:
"To show the world that we are not influenced by any contracted
"or interested motives, but by a general philanthropy for all man-
"kind, of whatever climate, language or complexion, we hereby
"declare our disapprobation and abhorrence of slavery in America."
The public avowal of these doctrines, naturally encouraged slaves
to seek their freedom by such means as they possessed. One day's
(1) Vide American Archives, Vol. I. Fifth Series: 1852.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
travel would place some of them among friends, and in the enjoy-
ment of liberty; and they were sure to be kindly received and
respectfully treated, soon as they could reach their brethren in
Florida. Of course many availed themselves of this opportunity
to escape from service.
The Exiles remained in the undisturbed enjoyment of liberty
during the war of the Revolution. The Creeks were a powerful
and warlike people, whose friendship was courted during the san-
guinary struggle that secured our National Independence. During
those turbulent times it would not have been prudent for a master
to pursue his slave through the Creek country, or to have brought
him back to Georgia if once arrested.
The Exiles being thus free from annoyance, cultivated the friend-
ship of their savage neighbors; rendered themselves useful to the
Indians, both as laborers and in council. They also manifested
much judgment in the selection of their lands for cultivation-loca-
ting their principal settlements on the rich bottoms lying along the
Appalachicola and the Suwanee Rivers. Here they opened plant-
ations, and many of them became wealthy in flocks and herds.
Immediately after the close of the war, the authorities
of Georgia are said to have entered into a treaty with the
Creek Indians, at Augusta, in which it is alleged that the Creeks
agreed to grant to that State a large tract of land, and to restore
such slaves as were then resident among the Creeks. But we find
no copy of this treaty in print, or in manuscript. As early as
1789, only six years after it was said to have been negotiated,
Hugh Knox, Secretary of War, in a communication to Congress,
declared that no copy of this treaty was then in the possession of
Congress; and it has not been since reprinted. Indeed, it is
believed never to have been printed.
The difficulty between Georgia and the Creeks becoming
more serious, the aid of the Continental Congress was
invoked, for the purpose of securing that State in the enjoyment of
what her people declared to be their rights. Congress appointed
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
three commissioners to examine the existing causes of difficulty, and
if possible to negotiate a treaty with the Creeks that should secure
justice to all the people of the United States.
Communities, like individuals, often exhibit in early life those
characteristics which distinguish their mature age, and become
ruling passions when senility marks the downhill of life. Thus
Georgia, in her very infancy, exhibited that desire for controlling
our National Government which subsequently marked her manhood.
Possessing no power under the Constitution to enter into any treaty
except by consent of Congress, her Executive appointed three
Commissioners to attend and supervise the action of those appointed
by the Federal Legislature. The time and place for holding the
treaty had been arranged with the Indians by the Governor of
Georgia. At Galphinton,1 the place appointed, the Commissioners
of the United States met those of Georgia, who presented them with
the form of a treaty fully drawn out and ready for signatures, and
demanded of the Commissioners of the United States its adoption.
This extraordinary proceeding was treated by the Federal Commis-
sioners in a dignified and appropriate manner, in their report to
Congress. One important provision of this inchoate treaty stip-
ulated for the return to the people of Georgia of such fugitive
negroes as were then in the Indian country, and pf such as might
thereafter flee from bondage.
The Commissioners appointed by Congress waited at Galphinton
(1) This was the residence of George Galphin. an Indian trader, who, in 1773, aided in
obtaining a treaty by which the Creek Indians ceded a large tract of land to the British
Government. Georgia succeeded the British Government in its title to these lands, by the
treaty of peace in 1783 Some fifty years afterwards, the descendants of Galphin petitioned
the State of Georgia for compensation, on account of the services rendered by Galphin in
obtaining the treaty of 1773. But the Legislature repudiated the claim. The heirs, or
rather descendants of Galphin, then applied to Congress, who never had either legal or
beneficial interest in the lands obtained by the treaty. The Representatives from Georgia
and from the South generally supported the claim. Northern men yielded their objections
to this absurd demand, and in 1848 a bill passed both Houses of Congress by which the
descendants of Galphin, and their attorneys and agents, obtained from our National Treas-
ury $243,871 86. and the term Galphin has since become synonymous with "pecula-
tion" upon the public Treasury.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
several days, and finding only two of the one hundred towns com-
posing the Creek tribe represented in the council about to be held,
they refused to regard them as authorized to act for the Creek
nation, and would not consent to enter upon any negotiation with
them as representatives of that tribe. This course was not in ac-
cordance with the ideas of the Commissioners appointed by Georgia.
After those of the United States had left, they proceeded to enter
into a treaty with the representatives from the two towns, who
professed to act for the whole Creek nation.
This pretended treaty gave the State of Georgia a large territory;
and the eighth article provided, that the Indians shall restore all
S the negroes, horses and other property, that are or may hereafter
be among them, belonging to the citizens of this State, or to any
"other person whatever, to such person as the governor shall
This attempt to make a treaty by the State of Georgia, in direct
violation of the articles of Confederation, and to bind the Creek
nation by an act of the representatives of only two of their towns,
constitutes the first official transaction of which we have document-
ary evidence, in that long train of events which has for seventy
years involved our nation in difficulty, and the Exiles of Florida
in persecutions and cruelties unequaled under Republican govern-
The Commissioners of the United States made report of their
proceedings to Congress; and those of Georgia reported to the
governor of that State.2 Their report was transmitted to the
Legislature, and that body, with an arrogance that commands our
admiration, passed strong resolutions denouncing the action of the
,, Federal Commissioners, commending the action of those of Georgia,
Sand asserting her State sovereignty in language somewhat bom-
(1) Vide Report of Hugh Knox, Secretary of War, to the President, dated July 6, 1789.
American State Papers, Vol. V. page 15, where the Treaty is recited in full.
(2) Vide papers accompanying the Report of the Secretary of War, above referred to,
marked A, and numbered 1, 2 and 3.
8 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
S Soon after the making of this pretended treaty, the
Creeks commenced hostilities, murdering the people on the
frontiers of Georgia, and burning their dwellings. The Spanish
authorities of Florida were charged with fomenting these difficul-
ties, and the Congress of the United States felt constrained to
interfere.1 The Commissioners previously appointed to form a
treaty with the Creeks, were, by a resolution of the Continental
Congress, adopted Oct. 26, instructed to obtain a treaty
with the Indians which would secure a return of all pris-
oners, of whatever age, sex or complexion, and to restore all fugitive
slaves belonging to citizens of the United States.2
This resolution was the first act on the part of the Continental
Congress in favor of restoring fugitive slaves. It was adopted
under the articles of Confederation, before the adoption of our
present constitution, and of course constitutes no precedent under
our present government; yet it introduced a practice that has long
agitated the nation, and may yet lead to important and even san-
Without awaiting the action of Congress, the authorities
of Georgia, by her agents, entered into another treaty, at a
place called Shoulderbone," by which the Creeks appear to have
acknowledged the violation of the Treaty of Galphinton, and again
stipulated to observe its covenants.3
We have no reliable information as to the number of the Creek
towns represented at the making of this third treaty by Georgia.
The whole transaction was by the State, in her own name, by her
own authority, without consent of Congress, and all papers relating
to it, if any exist, would of course be among the manuscript files
of that State. It is believed that Georgia never printed any of
these treaties; and we can only state their contents from recitals
(1) Vide letter of James White to Major General Knox, of the 24th May, 1787. Amer-
ican State Papers, Vol. II, Indian Affairs.
(2) American State Papers, Vol. V, page 25.
(8) Vide Documents accompanying the Treaty of New York; Am. State Papers, Vol. I,
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
which we find among the State papers of the Federal Government.
It is however certain, that the Creeks denied that any such treaty
had been entered into; and they continued hostilities, as though no
such treaty had been thought of by them. This pretended Treaty
of Shoulderbone exerted no more moral influence among the Creeks
than did that of Galphinton. The war continued between the
people of Georgia and the Creeks. The savages appeared to be
aroused to indignation by what they regarded as palpable frauds.
Excited at such efforts to impose upon them stipulations degrading
to their character, they prosecuted the war with increased bitterness.
The natural results of such turpitude, induced Georgia to be
one of the first in the sisterhood of States to adopt the
Federal Constitution (Aug. 28). Her statesmen expected
it to relieve their State from the burthens of the war which then
devastated her border.
Soon as the Federal Government was organized under
the constitution, the authorities of Georgia invoked its aid,
to protect her people from the indignation of the Creek Indians.
General Washington, President of the United States, at once
appointed Commissioners to repair to the Indian country, ascertain
the real difficulty, and if able, they were directed to negotiate a
suitable treaty, in the name of the United States. The State of
Georgia claimed title to the territory ceded by the treaties of Gal-
phinton and Shoulderbone; while the Creeks entirely repudiated
them, declaring them fraudulent, denying their validity, and refus-
ing to abide by their stipulations. The governor of Georgia placed
in the hands of the Commissioners of the United States, a list of
property which had been lost since the close ..hli Revolution by
the people of Georgia, for which they demanded indemnity of the
Creeks. This list contained the names of one hundred and ten
negroes, who were said to have left their masters during the
Revolution, and found an asylum among the Creeks. The Treaty
of Galphinton contained a stipulation on the part of the Creeks, to
-return all prisoners, of whatever age, sex or color, and all negroes
lu THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
belonging to the citizens of Georgia, "then residing with the
Arrangements had already been made with the chiefs, warriors
and principal men of the Creek nation, to meet the Commissioners
of the United States at Rock Landing, on the Oconee River. The
Commissioners were received by the Indians with great respect
and formality; but soon as they learned that the Commissioners
were not authorized to restore their lands, they broke off all nego-
tiation, promising to remain in peace, however, until an opportu-
nity should be presented for further negotiations.
The failure of this mission was followed by the appointment of
Col. Willett, an intrepid officer of the Revolution, who was author-
ized to proceed to the Creek nation, and, if possible, to induce its
chiefs and headmen to repair to New York, where they could nego-
tiate a new treaty, without the interference of the authorities or
people of Georgia.
Col. Willett was successful. He induced the principal chief,
McGillivray, the son of a distinguished Indian trader, together with
twenty-eight other chiefs and warriors, to come on to New York, for
the purpose of forming a treaty with the United States, and settling
all difficulties previously existing between Georgia and their nation.
On their way to New York, they were received at Philadelphia, by
the authorities of that city, with great ceremony and respect. Their
vanity was flattered, and every effort made to induce them to
believe peace with the United States would be important to both
At New York they found Congress in session. Here they
mingled with the great men of our nation. The Columbian
Order," or "Tammany Society," was active in its attentions.
They escorted the delegation to the city, and entertained them with
a public dinner; and made McGillivray, the principal chief, a
member of their society. In this way, the minds of the Indians
were prepared for entering into the treaty which followed.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
SThere was, among the people of the entire nation, an
intense anxiety to render every part of the Union satisfied
and pleased with the Federal Government, then just formed, as
they felt that their only hope of prosperity depended upon a con-
tinuance of the federal union. There was also a general sympathy
throughout the nation with the slaveholders of the South, who were
supposed to have suffered much, by the loss of their servants,
during the war of the Revolution; few people at that time realizing
thu moral guilt of holding their fellow-men in bondage.
While the revolutionary contest was going on, many slaves in
the Southern States escaped from the service of their masters, and,
5 nder the proclamations of various British commanders, enlisted
into the service of his Britannic Majesty; and having taken the
oath of allegiance to the crown of England, were regarded as Brit-
ish subjects. Others escaped with their families, and getting on
board British vessels, sailed to the West Indies, where they
settled as "free persons." Thus, while one class of masters had
sustained great losses by the enlistment of their slaves, another
class had suffered by the escape of their bondmen, through the aid
of British vessels; while a third sustained an equal loss by the
escape of their servants to the Seminoles in Florida. These three
different interests united in claiming the aid of government to
regain possession of their slaves, or to obtain indemnity for their
The timely arrival of Mr. Pinckney, secured the insertion of a
clause in the Treaty of Paris, providing that his Britannic Majesty
should withdraw his troops from all American forts, arsenals, ship-
yards, etc., without destroying ordnance or military stores, or
"carrying away any negroes or other property of the inhabitants."
This provision was regarded by the slaveholders of the South as
securing a compensation to all those whose slaves had enlisted in
the British army, as well as to those whose slaves .had escaped to
the British West India Islands by aid of English vessels; while
those whose servants were quietly living with the Seminoles, had
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
not been provided for by the treaty of peace.1 These circumstan-
ces rendered the owners of the Exiles more clamorous for the inter-
position of the State Government, inasmuch as the federal authority
had entirely omitted to notice their interests, while it was supposed
to have secured a compensation to the other two classes of claim-
It was under these circumstances, that General Washington pro-
ceeded to the negotiation of the first treaty, entered into under our
present form of government. The chiefs, headmen and warriors of
the Creek nation were present at New York: Georgia was also
there by her senators and representatives, who carefully watched
over her interests; and General Knox, the Secretary of War, was
appointed commissioner to negotiate a treaty, thus to be formed,
under the personal supervision of the President.
The object of the President was effected, a treaty was formed,
and bears date August 1, 1790. It constitutes the title-page of
our diplomatic history. This first exercise of our treaty-making
power under the constitution, was put forth for the benefit of the
Slave interests of Georgia. It surrendered up to the Creeks certain
lands, which the authorities of Georgia claimed to hold under the
treaty of Galphinton, but retained substantially the stipulation for
the surrender of negroes, which had been inserted in that extraor-
By the third article of this new treaty, it was stipulated as fol-
The Creek nation shall deliver, as soon as practicable, to the
" commanding officer of the troops of the United States stationed
" at Rock Landing, on the Oconee River, all citizens of the United
" States, white inhabitants or negroes, who are now prisoners in
"any part of the said nation. And if any such prisoners or
" negroes should not be so delivered, on or before the first day of
(1) The reader need not be informed, that these demands of indemnity for slaves were
promptly rejected by the English government; and Jay's Treaty of 1794, surrendered them
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
,"June ensuing, the governor of Georgia may empower three
." persons to repair to the said nation, in order to claim and receive
. "'such prisoners and negroes."
Historians have. referred to this clause as containing merely a
s -pulatioi for the surrender of prisoners; 1 but the manner in
which the term "negroes" stands connected in the disjunctive form
S with that of prisoners," would appear to justify, at least to some
extent, the subsequent construction put upon it, so far as regarded
I negroes then resident with the Creeks; but it certainly makes no
allusion to those who were residing with the Seminoles in Florida.
It is a remarkable feature of this treaty, that the Creek
chiefs, principal men and warriors should, in its first article,
profess to adt; not only for the Upper and Lower Creek Towns, but
for the Seminoles who were in Florida, protected by Spanish laws.
They had not been invited to attend the negotiation, had sent no
delegate, were wholly unrepresented in the Council; indeed, so far
as we are informed, were wholly ignorant of the objects which had
called such a council, and of the fact even that a council was held,
or a treaty negotiated.
Our fathers had just passed through seven years of war and
bloodshed, rather than submit to "taxation without representa-
lioe;" but this attempt to bind the Seminole Indians to surrender
up the Exiles, who were their friends and neighbors, and who now
stood connected with them by marriage, and in all the relations of
domestic, life, without their consent or knowledge, constitutes an
inconsistency which can only be accounted for by the desire then
prevalent, to gratify and please those who wielded the slaveholding
influence of our nation.
Another extraordinary feature of this treaty may be found in the
secret article, by which the United States stipulated to pay the
Creeks fifteen hundred dollars annually, in all coming time. The
reason for making this stipulation secret is not to be learned from
any documentary authority before the public, and cannot now be
(1) HIldreth, in his History of the United States, speaks of in that light.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
accounted for, except from the delicacy which the authorities of our
nation then felt in taxing the people of the free States, to pay
southern Indians for the return of those Exiles. And it is inter-
esting at this day to look back and reflect, that for nearly seventy
years the people of the nation have contributed their funds to sus-
tain the authority of those slaveholders of Georgia over their bond-
men, while Northern statesmen have constantly assured their
constituents, they have nothing to do with that institution.
It would be uncharitable to believe, that General Washington
was at that time conscious that he was thus precipitating our nation
upon a policy destined to involve its government in difficulties,
whose termination would be uncertain.
After the treaty had been agreed to by the parties making it,
General Washington met the chiefs, headmen and warriors, as-
sembled in the Hall of Representatives, in the presence of members
of Congress and a large concourse of spectators. The treaty was
publicly read, and to each article the Indians expressed their assent,
and signed it in the presence of the people, each receiving from the
President a string of wampum. The President then shook hands
with each, which concluded the ceremonies of the day.
The treaty was transmitted on the following day to the Senate,
accompanied by a Message from the President, saying : "I flatter
"myself that this treaty will be productive of present peace and
"prosperity to our Southern frontier. It is to be expected, also, that
"it will be the means of firmly attaching the Creeks and neighboring
"tribes to the interests of the United States." The President also
alluded in his message to the treaty of Galphinton, as containing a
stipulation to cede to Georgia certain other lands, which it was
believed would be detrimental to the interests of the Indians, and,
therefore, that covenant had been disregarded in the "treaty of
New York." In another Message to the Senate, on the eleventh
of August, the President says: This treaty may be regarded as
" the main foundation of the future peace and prosperity of the
" Southwestern frontier of the United States."
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 15
T- -On the ninth of August, a motion was made in the Senate to
*sfer the treaty to a select:committee, which was rejected by a vote
Soften nays to eight yeas; and on the twelfth, it was approved by
Svote of fifteen yeas to four nays; but we have no report of any
discussion upon the subject, nor do we know at this day the objec-
tions which dictated the votes given against its ratification.1
(1) Vide Annals of Congress, Vol. I, pages 1068-70-74.
FURTHER EFFORTS TO RESTORE EXILES.
Seminoles repudiate Treaty of New York Attempts to induce Spanish authorities t
deliver up the Exiles Their refusal -Lower Creeks hostile to Treaty McGillivray-
His parentage and character Georgia hostile to Treaty Makes war upon Creeks -
General Washington announces failure to maintain Peace- General Knox's recommen-
dation Decision of United States Court Exertions Combination of various classes
of Claimants Washington finds his influence powerless Appoints Judge Jay Fail-
ure of claims on England Condition and habits of Exiles Effect on Slaves of Georgia
Treaty of Colerain Commissioners of Georgia leave Council in disgust Election of
the elder Adams His Administration Election of Jefferson His Admipistration.
THE long pending difficulties between Georgia and the neighbor-
ing tribes of Indians were now (1791) believed to be permanently
settled, and it was thought the new government would proceed in the
discharge of its duties without further perplexity. But it was soon
found impossible for the Creeks to comply with their stipulations.
The Seminoles refused to recognize the treaty, insisting that they
were not bound by any compact, arrangement or agreement, made
by the United States and the Creeks, to which they were not a
party, and of which they had no notice; that they were a separate,
independent tribe; that this fact was well known to both Creeks
and the United States; and that the attempt of those parties to
declare what the Seminoles should do, or should not do, was insult-
ing to their dignity, to their self-respect, and only worthy of their
contempt. They therefore wholly discarded the treaty, and repu-
diated all its provisions. They resided in Florida, under the
jurisdiction of Spanish laws, subject only to the crown of Spain.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 17
There they enjoyed that liberty so congenial to savages, as well as
civilized men. The Creeks dared not attempt to bring back the
Exiles by force, and the Government of the United States was
unwilling to invade a Spanish colony for the purpose of recapturing
those who had escaped from the bonds of oppression, and had
become legally free.
1 ] In this state of affairs, an agent by the name of Seagrove
was sent to Florida for the purpose of negotiating with the
Spanish authorities for the return of the Exiles. He had been agent
to the Creek Indians, and well understood their views in regard to
the treaty. When he reached Florida, he found the authorities of
that Province entirely opposed to the surrender of any subjects of
the Spanish crown to slavery. The Exiles were regarded as holding
the same rights which the white citizens held; and it was evident,
that the representatives of the King of Spain encouraged both the
Seminole Indians ard Exiles, to refuse compliance with the treaty
of New York.1
Nor was the Creek nation united upon this subject. The lower
Creeks," or those who resided on the southern frontier of Georgia,
were not zealous in their support of the treaty; and it was said that
McGillivray, the principal chief of the Creeks, was himself becom-
ing unfriendly to the United States, and rather disposed to unite
with the Spanish authorities. This man exerted great influence
with the Indians. He was the son of an Indian trader, a Scotchman,
by a Creek woman, the daughter of a distinguished chief. He had
received a good English education; but his father had joined the
English during the Revolution, and he, having been offended by
some leading men of Georgia, had taken up his residence with the
Indians and become their principal chief, in whom they reposed
Amid these difficulties, the people of Georgia manifested an
equal hostility to the treaty, inasmuch as it surrendered a large ter-
(1) Vide Correspondence on this subject between Seagrove and the War Department.
American State Papers, Vol. V, pages 04-5, 320, 386, 387, and 392.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
ritory to that State, which the authorities of Georgia pretended to
have obtained by the treaty of Galphinton. The general feeling in
that State was far from being satisfied with the action of the Fed-
eral Government. Seagrove, writing to the Secretary of War on
this subject, declared, that "to such lengths have matters gone,
" that they (the Georgians) now consider the troops and servants
"of the United States who are placed among them, nearly as great
"enemies as they do the Indians."
Under these circumstances, the Governor of Georgia was address-
ed, by order of the President; but he evidently participated in the
popular feeling of his State. While the Spanish authorities and
Seminoles, both Indians and Exiles, repudiated the treaty of New
York, Governor Tellfair, of Georgia, declared that the people of
his State would recognize no treaty in which her commissioners
were not consulted." Instead of observing its stipulations of peace,
he proceeded to raise an army; invaded the Creek country, attacked
one of their towns said to be friendly to Georgia, killed some of
their people, took others prisoners, burned their dwellings, and
destroyed their crops.
The Creeks declared their inability to return the Exiles,2
and, on the thirtieth of January, General Washington, in
a Special Message to Congress, announced the failure of all efforts
to maintain tranquillity between the people of Georgia and the
Creek Indians. Such were the difficulties surrounding the subject
of regaining the Exiles, that General Knox, Secretary of War, in a
written communication addressed to the President, recommended
that Congress should make an appropriation to their owners, from
the public treasury, as the only practicable manner in which that
matter could be settled.3 This communication was transmitted to
Congress by the President, accompanied by a special message,
recommending it to the consideration of that body; but the mem-
(1) American State Papers, Indian Affairs." Vol. II, p. 806.
(2) Vide talk of principal Chief at Treaty of Colerain.
(8) Vide Annals of Congress of that date.
TIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
bers appeared unwilling to adopt the policy thus suggested. They
seem to have entertained doubts as to the propriety of appropria-
ting the money of the people to pay for fugitive slaves. They
respectfully laid the Message, and the recommendation of the Sec-
retary of War, upon the table, and ordered them to be printed.1
The claimants of the Exiles were again encouraged and strength-
ened in their expectations by the excitement prevailing in the
southern portion of the Union, arising from a decision of the Circuit
Court of the United States, held at Richmond, Virginia. At the
commencement of the war, the States prohibited the collection of
debts due British subjects from citizens of the Colonies. These
debts had remained unpaid for some sixteen years; and although
the debtors entertained an expectation of paying them at some
future period, many intended meeting those demands by the funds
which they supposed would be awarded them as indemnity for
slaves carried away in British vessels during the Revolution, and
for those enlisted into the British army.
These laws, enacted at the commencement of the Revolution,
were declared by the Court to have been superseded by the
treaty of peace, in 1783; and the debtors in the several States
thus became liable to the payment of those debts, while their
demands of indemnity for slaves were pending, and the British
Government had thus far refused to acknowledge their validity.
These claimants became impatient of delay, and demanded that
another treaty be formed with England, by which they could obtain
indemnity for the loss of their slaves. These uniting with those
who claimed a return of the Exiles in Florida, constituted an influ-
ential portion of the people of the Southern States, whose joint
influence was exerted to involve the Government in the support of
Notwithstanding these clamors, the Government was powerless
as to obtaining relief for either class. The British Ministry
(1) Vide papers accompanying the Treaty of Colerain. American State Papers, Vol. I,
N Indian Affairs."
TUB EXILES 0F FLORIDA.
refused indemnity, and the Seminoles, supported and encouraged
by the Spanish authorities, were inexorable in their refusal to sur-
render the Exiles.
At that early period of our history, the subject of slavery greatly
perplexed the Federal Administration; nor was the genius, or the
influence of Washington, sufficiently powerful to silence the mal-
contents. He was fortunate in selecting Judge Jay, of New York,
as a Minister Plenipotentiary, for negotiating a treaty with Great
Britain. This illustrious patriot possessed great purity of character;
had long been distinguished for his devotion to the welfare of the
nation; and, although a Northern man, Southern slave claimants
could raise no objection to him.
But every step towards the adjustment of the claims arising
for slaves carried away by the English ships, or enlisted into
the British army, had the effect to render the owners of Exiles
more importunate. There was only one recourse, however, left for
the Administration; they could do no more than to call on the
Creeks for a new treaty, in order to adjust these claims.
1 As the President was about to take measures for obtain-
ing another treaty with the Creeks, news arrived from
England that Judge Jay, in forming a new treaty with the British
Crown, had been constrained to surrender all claims of our citizens
for slaves carried from the United States in British vessels during
the war, or for those who had enlisted into the British service.
This news created much excitement among the slaveholders of the
Southern States. The treaty was denounced by the public Press,
and a strong effort was made to defeat its approval by the Senate
But failing in that, the slave power was rallied in opposition to
making any appropriation, by the House of Representatives, for
carrying the treaty into effect, and perhaps at no time since the
Union was formed, has it been in greater danger of disruption; but
the friends of the treaty prevailed in both Houses of Congress, and
it became a paramount law of the nation.
While these incidents were transpiring, the Exiles were engaged
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
in cultivating their lands, extending their plantations and increasing
their flocks and herds, and consolidating their friendships with the
Indians around them. Of all these facts the bondmen of Georgia
had full knowledge. It were impossible for them to contemplate
their friends, in the enjoyment of these rights and privileges, with-
out a strong desire to share in those blessings of freedom. The
example of the Exiles was thus constantly exerting an influence
upon those who remained in bondage. Many of them sought
opportunities to flee into Florida, where they, in like manner,
became free subjects of Spain.
This condition of things induced General Washington to make
another effort to remedy existing evils, and prevent their recurrence
in future. He took measures to obtain the attendance of the Chiefs,
head men and warriors of the Creek nation, at a place called Cole-
rain, for the purpose of forming another treaty. He again ap-
1796.] pointed Benjamin Hawkins, George Clymer and Andrew
Pickens, Commissioners, to meet the Indians in Council,
and agree upon the proper adjustment of pending difficulties.
These men were interested in the institution of Slavery, and were
supposed to be perfectly acceptable to the claimants, as well as to
the authorities of Georgia.
The parties met at the place appointed, and proceeded to
the consideration of the proposed treaty. The Creeks were not
disposed to make further grants of territory; nor were they able to
give any better assurance for the return of the Exiles than had
been given at New York. They insisted that, by the treaty of
New York, they were only bound to return those negroes who had
been captured since the treaty of peace between the United States
and Great Britain; these they had delivered up, so far as they
wwre able to surrender them. They admitted there were more
negroes among them, whom they might probably obtain at some
future day, and expressed a willingness to do so. It is however
evident, from the talk of the various Chiefs, that they had no idea
of returning those Exiles who were residing in Florida-no allusion
THE EXILES OP FLORIDA.
being made to them by either of the Commissioners, on the part of
the United States, nor by the Indians. The Council was also
attended by Commissioners on the part of Georgia, who attempted
to dictate the manner of transacting the business, and, even in
offensive language, charged the Commissioners of the United States
with improper conduct; but in no instance did they name the
Seminoles, nor allude to any obligation, on the part of the Creeks,
to return the Exiles resident among the Seminoles. It should
however be borne in mind, that these Commissioners on behalf of
Georgia left the council in disgust, before the close of the negotia-
tion. In the treaty itself, however, there is a stipulation that the
treaty of New York shall remain in force, except such parts as
were expressly changed by that entered into at Colerain; and that
portion of the treaty of New York by which the Creeks assumed to
bind the Seminoles, was not changed.1
The seventh article of the Treaty of Colerain reads as follows:-
"The Creek nation shall deliver, as soon as practicable, to the
" Superintendent of Indian Affairs, at such place as he may direct,
" all the citizens of the United States, white inhabitants and negroes,
" who are now prisoners in any part of the said nation, agreeably to
" the treaty at New York; and also all citizens, white inhabitants,
"negroes and property, taken since the signing of that treaty. And
"if any such prisoners, negroes, or property, should not be delivered
" on or before the first day of January next, the Governor of Georgia
"may empower three persons to repair to the said nation, in order to
"claim and receive such prisoners, negroes and property, under the
"direction of the President of the United States." This stipulation
was understood by the Creeks, and they were willing to perform it;
but it is very obvious, from all the circumstances, that they had no
idea of binding the Seminoles to return the Exiles resident 6n
(1) Vide the papers accompanying this Treaty when submitted to the Senate. They are
collected in the second volume of American State Papers, entitled Indian Affairs." They
will afford much interesting matter as to the doctrines of State Rights" and Nullifca-
tion, which it is unnecessary to embrace in this work.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
The State of Georgia obtained very little territory by this treaty,
and no further indemnity for the loss of their fugitive bondmen.
The people of that State, therefore, were greatly dissatisfied with it.
But the extraordinary feature of this treaty, consists in the sub-
sequent construction placed upon it by the authorities of Georgia,
who, twenty-five years subsequently, insisted that the Seminoles
were in fact a part of the Creek tribe, bound by the Creek treaties,
and that the Creek nation were under obligation to compel the
Seminoles to observe treaties made by the Creeks.
In each of the treaties made between the State of Georgia and
the Creeks, as well as in that made at New York, between the
United States and the Creek nation, attempts had been made to
bind the Seminoles, although that tribe had steadily and uniformly
denied the authority of the Creeks to bind them; and being sus-
tained by the Spanish authorities, it became evident that all further
efforts to induce them to submit to the government of the Creeks
would be useless. This independence they had maintained for
nearly half a century. They had in no instance acknowledged the
authority of the Creeks since they left Georgia, in 1750; nor is it
reasonable to suppose the authorities of that State, or those of the
United States, were ignorant of that important circumstance.
The flagrant injustice of holding the Creeks responsible for fugi-
tive slaves resident in Florida, and under protection of the Spanish
crown, must be obvious to every reader; and the inquiry will at
once arise, Why did the Creek chiefs at New York consent to
such a stipulation? The answer perhaps mays be found in the
secret article of that treaty, giving to the Creeks fifteen hundred
dollars annually, forever, and to McGillivray twelve hundred dollars
during life, and to six other chiefs one hundred dollars annually.
These direct and positive bribes could not fail to have effect. The
necessity for keeping this article secret from the Indians generally,
and from the people of the United States, is very apparent; as the
propriety of thus taking money, drawn from the free States to bribe
Indian chiefs to obligate their nation to seize and return fugitive
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
slaves, would have been doubted by savages as well as civilized
men. But the duty of the Creeks to seize and return the Exiles
was legally recognized by the treaty of Colerain, which admitted
the treaty of New York to be in force. This was regarded as a
continuance of the claims of Georgia, although the Creeks appear to
have had no idea of entering into such stipulations.
1797.1 Many circumstances now combined to quiet the appre-
hensions of the fugitive bondmen in Florida. The elder
Adams had been elected President in the autumn of 1796, and
assumed the duties of his office on the fourth of March following.
A descendant of the Pilgrims, he had been reared and educated
among the lovers of liberty; he had long served in Congress; he
had reported upon the rights of the people of the Colonies in 1774,
and was chairman of the committee who reported the Declaration
of Independence, in 1776, and to its doctrines he had ever exhib-
ited an unfaltering devotion. From such an Administration the
claimants in Georgia could expect but little aid.
Another consideration, cheering to the friends of Freedom, was
the total failure of the claims on Great Britain, for slaves lost
during the War of the Revolution. The influence of those claim-
ants was no longer felt in the Government. The public indignation
was also somewhat excited against the institution of Slavery by
incidents of a barbarous character, which had then recently trans-
pired in North Carolina. After the promulgation of the Declara-
tion of Independence, the Quakers of that State, conscious of its
momentous truths, proceeded in good faith to emancipate their
slaves; believing that the only mode in which they could evince
their adherence to its doctrines.
The advocates of oppression were offended at this practical recog-
nition of the "equal right of all men to liberty," and, to manifest
their abhorrence of such doctrines, arrested the slaves so emancipa-
ted as fugitives from labor. The Quakers, ever true to their
convictions of justice, lent their influence, and contributed their
funds, to test the legal rights of the persons thus set at liberty,
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
Before the proper tribunals of the State; and the question was
carried to the Court of Appeals, where a final judgment was rend-
ered in favor of their freedom. This decision appears to have
disappointed general expectation among the advocates of slavery,
and created much excitement throughout the State.
At the next session of the Legislature, an act was passed author-
izing persons possessing landed property to seize and reenslave the
people thus emancipated. But the planters of that State were
usually possessed of wealth and intelligence, and, holding prin-
ciples of honor, they refused to perform so degrading a service;
and the liberated negroes continued to enjoy their freedom.
But the opponents of liberty became so clamorous against the
example thus set in favor of freedom, that the Legislature passed
an amendatory act, authorizing any person to seize, imprison and
sell, as slaves, any negro who had been emancipated in said State,
except those who had served in the army of the United States
during the war of the Revolution.
Persons of desperate character, gamblers, slave-dealers and horse
thieves, were now authorized to gratify their cupidity, by seizing
and selling persons who had for years enjoyed their liberty; and
the scenes which followed, were in no respect creditable to the
State, to the civilization or Christianity of the age. Emancipated
families were broken up and separated for ever. In some instances
the wife escaped, while the husband was captured. Parents were
seized, and their children escaped. Bloodhounds were employed
to chase down those who fled to the forests and swamps, in order to
avoid men more cruel than bloodhounds.
The Quakers, so far as able, assisted these persecuted people to
escape to other States. Some left North Carolina on board ships;
others fled north by land; and many reached the free States, where
their descendants yet live. But even our free States did not afford
a safe retreat from the cruelty of inexorable slave-catchers. Those
free persons were seized in Philadelphia, and, under the fugitive
slave law of 1793, were imprisoned in that city; and, what excites
26 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
still greater wonder, were delivered up and carried back to
Some of these people, while in Pennsylvania, sent petitions to
Congress, praying protection against such barbarity; and great
excitement was aroused among Southern members by the presenta-
tion of such petitions. The Quakers of that State, and of New
Jersey, also sent petitions to Congress, praying that these people
may be protected against such piratical persecution. The popular
feeling of the nation was shocked at these things, and great indig-
nation against the institution, generally, was aroused.
We have no record of further attempts on the part of the claim-
ants to obtain a return of the Exiles, after the Treaty of Colerain,
until the close of Mr. Adams's administration. During that
period, the fugitives remained quietly in their homes, undisturbed
by their former masters. Their numbers were often increased by
new arrivals, as well as by the natural laws of population, and they
began to assume the appearance of an established community.
In 1801, Mr. Jefferson entered upon the duties of President.
He had himself penned the Declaration of Independence, and
manifested a deep devotion to its doctrines. Nor do we find that
any attempt was made by him for the return of the Exiles; nor
were there any measures adopted to obtain indemnity for the loss of
the claimants during the eight years of his Administration.
In 1802, a new law regulating intercourse with the Indian
tribes was enacted, by which the holders of slaves were secured for
the price or value of any bondmen who should leave his master and
take up his residence with any Indian tribe resident in the United
States, or Territories thereof--at least such was the construction
given to this statute.
The Creeks, Cherokees, and other Southern tribes, had gradu-
ally adopted the institution of Slavery, so long practiced by their
(1) Vide Annals of IVth Congress, 2d Session
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 27
more civilized neighbors, and thus became interested in every effort
to extinguish the hope cherished among their own bondmen, of
regaining freedom by fleeing from their masters. And many cir-
cumstances now appeared to favor the idea, that no more attempts
would be made to compel a return of the Exiles to bondage.
HOSTILIITES MAINTAINED BY GEORGIA.
Mr. Madison's election-His character-Desire of people of Georgia to enslave Exiles -
They demand annexation of Florida Congress passes a law for taking possession of
that Territory-General Mathews appointed Commissioner -Declyes insurrection-
Takes possession of Amelia Island-Spanish Government demands explanation- The
President disavows acts of Mathews Governor Mitchell succeeds Mathews Georgia
raises an Army Florida invaded -Troops surrounded by savage foes Their danger -
Their retreat Stealing Slaves Lower Creeks join Seminoles Georgia demands their
surrender Chiefs refuse Georgia complains President refuses to interfere -Another
invasion of Florida-- Towns burned; Cattle stolen Troops withdrawn from Amelia
Island Public attention directed toward our Northern frontier Lord Cockrane enters
Chesapeake Bay Issues Proclamation to Slaves Dismay of Slaveholders Slaves go
on board British ships-- Several vessels enter Appalachicola Bay Col. Nichols lands
there with Troops Gathers around him Exiles and Indians-- Builds a Fort, arms it,
and places Military Stores in its Magazines -Treaty of Peace with Eagland- Provision
in regard to Slaves taken away during War Claimants of the Exiles encouraged Col
Nichols delivers Fort to the Exiles- Their plantations, wealth, and social condition -
Our Army General Gaines represents Fort as in possession of Outlaws Plans for its
destruction Correspondence General Jackson's order Col. Clinch's Expedition -
Met by Sailing-Master Loomis and two gun-boats-Fort blown up -Destruction of
human life -Negroes captured and enslaved- Property taken- Claimed by Governor
of Florida- First Seminole War commenced.
WHEN Mr. Madison assumed the duties of President (March 4,
1809), the Exiles were quietly enjoying their freedom; each sitting
under his own vine and fig-tree, without molestation or fear. Many
had been born in the Seminole country, and now saw around them
children and grand-children, in the enjoyment of all the necessaries
of life. Many, even of those who fled from Georgia after the for-
mation of that colony, had departed to their final rest; but their
children and friends had been comparatively free from persecutions
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 29
since the Treaty of Colerain, in 1796. Discarding all connection
with the Creeks, and living under protection of Spain, and feeling
their right to liberty was self-evident," they believed the United
States to have tacitly admitted their claims to freedom. With these
impressions, they dwelt in conscious security, believing no further
attempts would be made to re~nslave them. Mr. Madison had
penned the memorable Address of Congress to the people of the
United States, published near the close of the old Confederation,
in which was reiterated, in glowing language, the doctrines of the
Declaration of Independence; and in the Convention that framed
the Constitution, he had declared it would be wrong to admit, in
that instrument, that man can hold property in man."
The people of Georgia were not satisfied with the existing
state of things. They were greatly excited at seeing those
who had once been slaves, in South Carolina and in Georgia, now
live quietly and happily in the enjoyment of liberty, with their
flocks and their herds, their wives and their little ones, around
them; but they were on Spanish soil, protected by Spanish laws.
The only mode of enslaving them was, firstly, to obtain jurisdiction
of the Territory; and the annexation of Florida to the United
States was, accordingly, urged upon the Federal Government.
Spain had acquired her American territories by conquest, and
was too proud to part with them. An excitement, however, was
raised in favor of its annexation; and this anxiety to secure the
slave interests of the South, soon extended to Congress,
and infused itself into the Executive policy of the nation.
A law was passed by the two Houses, in secret session, and approved
by the President, for taking possession of Florida. Gen. Mathews,
a slaveholder of Georgia, was appointed Commissioner for that
purpose. A few malcontents were found in the northeastern part
of the Territory; their numbers were increased by men of desperate
fortunes from Georgia; and an insurrection was proclaimed by the
Acting General. Mathews, commanding the insurgents, took pos-
session of Amelia Island, and of the country opposite to it on the
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
main land. The Spanish Government, on learning the outrage,
remonstrated with our Executive, who disavowed the acts of Math-
ews, whom he recalled; and proceeded to appoint General Mitchell,
the Governor of Georgia, to act as Commissioner, in place of
Mitchell, however, continued to hold military possession of the
island and part of the main land, and, in fact, continued to carry
forward the policy which Mathews had inaugurated. These things
occurred while our nation was professedly at peace with Spain, and
constituted a most flagrant violation of our national faith.
The Executive of Georgia, apparently entertaining the
idea that his State was competent to declare war and
make peace, raised an army, which, under the command of the
Adjutant General, entered Florida with the avowed intention of
exterminating the Seminoles, who had so long refused to surrender
the Exiles; while the real object was the recapture and reenslave-
nent of the refugees. The Creeks of the Lower Towns, however,
took sides with the Seminoles, in opposing this piratical foray of
slave-catchers. The army having penetrated a hundred miles or
more into Florida, found itself surrounded with hostile savages.
Their supplies were cut off; the men, reduced almost to a state of
starvation, were compelled to retrace their steps; and with great
loss the survivors reached Georgia. But they robbed those Spanish
inhabitants who fell in their way of all their provisions, and left
them to suffer for the want of food. Nor were the Georgians satis-
fied with taking such provisions as were necessary to support life;
they also took with them a large number of slaves, owned by
Spanish masters, with whom they resided.1
(1) The claims of these ancient Spanish inhabitants for indemnity against those robber-
ies, have been pressed upon the consideration of Congress for the last twenty-five years, and
were recently pending before the Court of Claims. When the bill for their relief was under
discussion before the House of Representatives, in 1843, Hon. John Quincy Adams pre-
sented a list of some ninety slaves, for the loss of whom the owners claimed compensa-
tion from the United States. But the discussions which arose on private bills were not at
that time reported; and neither this exhibit, nor the speech of Mr. Adams, are to be
found in the Congressional Debates of that day.
,WT11. ,` yrt- I
ITHE EXILES OF FLORIDA. .31
The people, and the authorities of Georgia, were greatly incensed
at the Creek Indians, who had assisted the Seminoles in defending
S themselves; and the Governor of that State demanded of the chiefs
a surrender of those individuals who had thus offended against the
sovereignty of that commonwealth. The chiefs refused to deliver
up their brethren, and the Governor complained to the President
of this disregard of slaveholding comity by the Creeks.
The Federal authorities appear to have felt very little interest in
the matter, and Georgia determined to redress her own grievances.
The Legislature of that State, deeming their interests neglected by
the Federal Government, passed resolutions declaring the occupa-
tion of Florida essential to the safety and welfare of their people,
whether Congress authorized it or not; and they passed an act for
raising a force to reduce St. Augustine and punish the Indians."
Under this declaration of war by the sovereign power of Georgia,
Another army was raised. Hunters, trappers, vagabonds, and men
of desperate fortunes, were collected from that State, from East
Tennessee, and from other Southern States, to the number of five
hundred; and Florida was again invaded. This expedition was
more successful, in some respects, than the first. They burned two
or three of the smaller Seminole towns, destroyed several cornfields
that had been planted by the Exiles, and drove back to Georgia
large herds of cattle, which they had stolen from the negroes; yet
the principal object of the Expedition failed: They were unable to
capture an individual, or family, of the Exiles. There were no
Spanish inhabitants in that part of Florida from whom they could
capture slaves, and they were compelled to return without human
victims, but with the loss of several individuals of their own party.
Thus, after a struggle of more than two years (ending May, 1813),
the State of Georgia found itself unable to conquer Florida or the
Seminoles, or to capture the Exiles Further prosecution of the
war was given up, the troops were withdrawn from Amelia Island,
and peace was restored.
This extraordinary proceeding, on the part of Georgia, appears
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
to have excited very little attention at the time; probably in con-
sequence of the more important operations that were then being
carried forward, upon our Northern and Northwestern frontiers.
Harrison at Tippecanoe, and at Maumee; and Scott and Van Rens-
selaer at Queenston, and along the Niagara frontier, were gallantly
confronting the British army, aided by powerful allies from the
various neighboring tribes of savages; and so greatly was the
attention of the people of the Northern States absorbed in these
operations, that they were scarcely conscious of the slave-catching
forays carried on by the State of Georgia. Indeed, during these
operations, the public men of that State were among the most
vehement advocates for a strict construction of the Federal Con-
stitution, and for maintaining the American Union.
These transactions upon our Southern frontier, called
1814.] attention of British Ministers to the Seminoles and the
Exiles. A hostile fleet entered Chesapeake Bay, under Lord
Cochrane, who issued a proclamation inviting all persons (meaning
slaves), who desired to emigrate from the United States, to come
with their families on board his Britannic Majesty's ships of war;
assuring them of the privilege of entering his Majesty's naval
service, or of settling with their families, as free persons, in either
of the British West India Islands. This proclamation was widely
circulated, and spread very general consternation along our South-
ern seaboard: it gave the slaveholders of Georgia occasion to look
to their own protection, and to secure the fidelity of those bondmen
who yet remained in the service of their masters.1
Two British sloops of war and some smaller vessels suddenly
appeared in Appalachicola Bay, where they landed a body of troops,
(1) Many slaves actually fled from their masters and found an asylum )n board British
vessels. Some sixty, belonging to a planter named Forbes, who resided in Georgia, left his
plantation and took shelter on board the ship commanded by Lord Cochrane. They were
transported to Jamaica, where they settled and lived as other free people. After the resto-
ration of peace, Forbes sued his Lordship, before the British courts, for damages sustained
by the loss of these slaves. The case elicited much learning in regard to the law of Slavery
and, next to that of Sommerset, may be regarded as the most important on that subject
ever litigated before an English court.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
under Lieut. Colonel Nichols, of the British Army, for the purpose
of lending support and protection to the Exiles and their Indian
allies. He opened communications with them, furnished them with
arms and ammunition, and soon drew around him a considerable
force of Indians as well as negroes. His encampment was on the east
side of the Appalachicola River, some thirty miles above its mouth.
In November, he completed a strong fort on the bank of that stream.
Some eight pieces of heavy ordnance were mounted upon its walls,
and its magazine was well stored with the material of war.1 It was
evidently intended as a defense against the forays of slave-catchers,
who were not expected to bring with them heavy artillery. The'
plan was well conceived. Even the plundering expeditions au-
thorized by the State of Georgia, would have been unable to make
any impression on this fortification. But neither Nichols, nor the
Exiles, appear to have anticipated the employment of the United
States navy in a piratical work, discarded by most Christian nations
S and people, and allowed to be carried on only upon the African
The British fleet withdrew from the coast of Georgia, and the
slaveholders of that State were relieved, for a time, from those
apprehensions of slave insurrection which had been excited by the
proclamation of Lord Cochrane.
In the meantime the Treaty of Ghent was ratified, and peace
restored to the country. In that treaty the interests of Slavery
(1) "Monette," in his History of the Valleyof the M1ississippi," says Woodbine erected
this fort in the summer of 1816; and such were the representations made before the Com-
mittee appointed in 1819, to investigate the conduct of General Jackson, in taking possess-
ion of Florida. But the reader will notice the Letter of General Gaines, hereafter quoted,
which bears date on the 14th May, 1815, and officially infi-rmed the Secretary of War that
"nPgroes and outlaws have taken possession of a FORT ON THE APPALACHICOLA RIVBE."
This was more than a year before the time of erecting the fort, according to Monette.1
The parapet of the fort was said to be fifteen feet high and eighteen thick, situated
upon a gentle cliff, with a fine stream emptying into the river near Its base, and a swamp
in the rear. which protected it from the approach of artillery by land. On its walls were
mounted one thirty-two pounder, three twenty-four pounders, two nine pounders, two six
pounders, and one brass five and a half-inch howitzer. Vide Official Report of Sailing-
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
had not been forgotten; and the same stipulations were inserted,
in regard to the withdrawal of his Majesty's troops and navy,
" without taking or carrying away any negroes or other property
"of the citizens," which characterized the treaty of 1782. The
owners of slaves who had fled from service under the proclamation
of Lord Cochrane, now determined to obtain compensation for their
loss. This general feeling again aroused the cupidity of those whose
fathers had once claimed to own those Exiles, who fled from Geor-
gia some thirty or forty years previously.
In the spring of 1815, Colonel Nichols and his troops withdrew
from Florida, leaving the fort, with its entire armament and maga-
zine of military stores, in the possession of the Exiles, who resided
in the vicinity. Their plantations extended along the river several
miles, above and below the fort.1 Many of them possessed large
herds of cattle and horses, which roamed in the forests, gathering
their food, both in summer and winter, without expense or trouble
to their owners.
The Pioneer Exiles from South Carolina had settled here long
before the Colony of Georgia existed. Several generations had
lived to manhood and died in those forest-homes. To their descend-
ants it had become consecrated by many an oft told tale of early
adventure, of hardship and suffering; the recollection of which had
been retained in tradition, told in story, and sung in their rude
lays. Here were the graves of their ancestors, around whose
memories were clustered the fondest recollections of the human
mind. The climate was genial. They were surrounded by exten-
sive forests, and far removed from the habitations of those enemies
of freedom who sought to enslave them; and they regarded them-
selves as secure in the enjoyment of liberty. Shut out from the
cares and strifes of more civilized men, they were happy in their
own social solitude. So far from seeking to injure the people of
(1) This i the official account of Sailing-Master Loomis, who commanded the naval ex-
pedition subsequently sent to reduce this fortress.
Monette," in his History of the Valley of the Mississippi, says, Near the Fort the fields
werefine, and extended along the river nearlyfffy miles."
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
the United States, they were only anxious to be exempt, and en-
tirely free from all contact with our population or Government;
while they faithfully maintained their allegiance to the Spanish
Peace with Great Britain, however, had left our army
without active employment. A portion of it was stationed
along our Southern frontier of Georgia, to maintain peace with the
Indians. The authorities and people of Georgia maintained social
and friendly relations with the officers and men of the army. By
means of Indian spies, the real condition of the Exiles was also
ascertained and well understood. What means were used to excite
the feelings or prejudices of the military officers against these un-
offending Exiles, is not known at this day. Most of the officers
commanding in the South were, however, slaveholders, and proba-
bly felt a strong sympathy with the people of Georgia in their
indignation against them, for obtaining and enjoying liberty without
permission of their masters.
General Gaines, commanding on the Southern frontier of Geor-
gia, making Fort Scott his head-quarters, wrote the Secretary of
War (May 14), saying, "certain negroes and outlaws have taken
" possession of a fort on the Appalachicola River, in the Territory
" of Florida." He assured the Secretary, that he should keep
watch of them. He charged them with no crime, imputed to them
no hostile acts. He was conscious that they had taken possession
of the fort solely for their own protection; but he styled them
negroes, which, in the language of that day among slaveholders,
was regarded as an imputation of guilt; and outlaw was supposed
to be a proper term with which to characterize those who had fled
from bondage and sworn allegiance to another government.1
(1) The reader will at once see, that these people were as much under the protection of
Spain, as the fugitive slaves now in Canada are under the protection of British laws. They
were as clearly Spanish subjects as the latter are British subjects. By the law of nations,
Spain had the same right to permit her black subjects to occupy Blonnt's Fort," that the
Queen of England has to permit Fort Maiden to be occupied by her black subjects. The
only distinction between the two cases is, Spain was weak and unable to maintain her na-
tional honor, and national rights; while England has the power to do both.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
For more than a year subsequently to the date of this letter,
General Gaines made the Exiles a subject of frequent communica
tion to the War Department. In this official correspondence, he
at all times spoke of them as runaways," outlaws," pirates,"
"murderers," etc.; but in no instance did he charge them with
any act hostile to the United States, or to any other people or
Of these communications the Exiles were ignorant. They con-
tinued in peaceful retirement, cultivating the earth, and gaining a
support for themselves and families. In the autumn of 1815,
they gathered their crops, provided for the support of the aged and
infirm, as well as for their children. They carefully nursed the
sick; they buried their dead; they lived in peace, and enjoyed the
fruits of their labor. The following spring and summer found them
in this enviable condition.
While the Exiles living on the Appalachicola were thus
pursuing the even tenor of their ways, plans were ripening
among the slaveholders and military officers of our army for their
destruction. A correspondence was opened by the Secretary of
War with General Jackson, who commanded the Southwestern
Military District of the United States, holding his head-quarters at
Nashville, Tennessee. Various letters and communications passed
between those officers in regard to this "Negro Fort," as they
Power is never more dangerous than when wielded by military
men. They usually feel ambitious to display their own prowess,
and that of the troops under their command; and no person can
read the communications of General Gaines, in regard to the Exiles
who had gathered in and around this fort, without feeling conscious
that he greatly desired to give to the people of the United States
an example of the science and power by which they could destroy
(1) Vide the voluminous Correspondence on this subject contained in Ex. Doe. 119,2d
Seeslon, XVth Congress.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
At length, on the sixteenth of May, General Jackson wrote
General Gaines, saying, I have little doubt of the fact, that this
" fort has been established by some villains for the purpose of
"rapine and plunder, and that it ought to be blown up, regardless
" of the ground on which it stands; and if your mind shall have
" formed the same conclusion, destroy it and return the stolen
" negroes and property to their rightful owners." 1
Without attempting to criticise this order of General Jackson,
we must regard a fort thus situated, at least sixty miles from the
border of the United States, as a most singular instrument for the
purpose of rapine," or plundering our citizens. Nor could Gen-
eral Jackson have entertained any apprehensions from those who
occupied the fort. The entire correspondence showed them to be
refugees, seeking only to avoid our people; indeed, his very order
shows this, for he directs General Gaines to return the "stolen
negroes to their rightful owners." The use of opprobrious epithets
is not often resorted to by men in high official stations: yet it is
difficult to believe, that General Jackson supposed these negroes to
have been stolen ; for, neither in the official correspondence on this
subject, nor in the papers accompanying it, embracing more than a
hundred documentary pages, is there a hint that these negroes were
"stolen," or that they had committed violence upon any person, or
upon the property of any person whatever. They had sought their
own liberty, and the charge of stealing themselves, was used like
the other epithets of outlaws," pirates" and murderers," to
cast opprobrium upon the character of men who, if judged by their
(1) Perhaps no portion of our national history exhibits such disregard of international
law, as this unprovoked invasion of Florida. For thirty years, the slaves of our Southern
States have been in the habit of fleeing to the British Provinces. Here they are admitted
to all the rights of citizenship, in the same manner as they were in Florida. They vote
and hold office under British laws; and when our Government demanded that the English
Ministry should disregard the rights of these people and return them to slavery, the British
Minister contemptuously refused even to hold correspondence with our Secretary of State
on a subject so abhorrent to every principle of national law and self-respect. Our Govern-
ment coolly submitted to the scornful arrogance of England; but did not hesitate to invade
Florida with an armed force, and to seize the faithful subjects of Spain, and enslave them-
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
love of liberty or their patriotism, would now occupy a position not
less honorable in the history of our country than is assigned to the
patriots of 1776.
Nor is it easy to discover the rule of international law, which
authorized the Executive of the United States, or the officers of our
army, to dictate to the crown of Spain in what part of his ter-
ritory he should, or should not, erect fortresses; or the constitu-
tional power which they held for invading the territory of a nation
at peace with the United States, destroy a fort, and consign its
occupants to slavery. But those were days of official arrogance on
the one hand, and popular submission on the other. The Exiles,
or their ancestors, had once been slaves. They now were cultiva-
ting the richest lands in Florida, and possessed wealth; they were
occupying a strong fortress. Many slaves during the recent war
had escaped from their masters, in Georgia, and some, were sup-
posed to be free subjects of Spain, living in Florida; and if the
Exiles were permitted to enjoy their plantations and property in
peace, it was evident that the institution in adjoining States would
De in danger of a total overthrow. These facts were apparent to
General Jackson, as well as to General Gaines and the slaveholders
General Gaines only awaited permission from his superior to
carry out the designs of the slaveholders, who had become alarmed
at the dangers to which their peculiar institution was subjected.
Upon the receipt of the order above quoted, he detailed Lieut. Col.
Clinch,1 of the regular troops, with his regiment and five hundred
friendly Creek Indians, under McIntosh, their principal chief, to
carry out the directions of General Jackson. Colonel Clinch was
directed to take with him two pieces of artillery, for the purpose of
cannonading the fort if necessary.2
This commencement of the first Seminole war was, at the time,
(1) Hon. Duncan L. Clinch. He left the service in 1841, and was subsequently a Mem
.ber of Congress for several years, and died in 1852.
(2) War was thus waged against Spain, by Executive authority, without consulting
Congress; and no member of that body uttered a protest, or denunciation of the act.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
unknown to the people of the United States. It was undertaken
for the purposes stated in General Jackson's order, to blow up
the fort, and return the negroes to their rightful owners." His,
torians have failed to expose the cause of hostilities, or the barbar-
ous foray which plunged the nation into that bloody contest which
cost the people millions of treasure and the sacrifice of hundreds of
It was July before the arrangements were fully made by Colonel
Clinch and his savage allies for descending the river, with suitable
artillery and supplies, to accomplish the object of their mission.1
The Creeks, having entered into the treaties of New York and
Colerain, by which they bound themselves, twenty years previously,
to return those Exiles who fled from Georgia, and having failed to
perform those stipulations, now cheerfully united with the American
army in this first slave-catching expedition undertaken by the Fed-
Of these movements the Exiles had been informed by their
neighbors, the friendly Creeks; for, among the Lower Creeks,
were individuals who at all times sympathized with them, and kept
them informed of the measures adopted for their destruction. All
the families living on the river and in the vicinity of the fort, fled
to it for protection. They had no idea of the advantages arising
from scientific warfare; they believed their fortification impregnable.
Colonel Nichols had erected it for the purpose of affording them
protection, and they had no doubt of its efficiency for that pur-
Such were the delays attending the journey, in consequence of
difficulties in transporting heavy guns and provisions, that the
(1) In Ex. Doc. No. 119, 2d SesSion. XVth Congress, may be found the official corres-
pondence between the War Department and General Jackson; also that between General
Jackson and General Gaines, together with the orders of each, as well as the correspond-
ence between the Secretary of the Navy and Commodore Patterson; and the order of the
latter officer to Sailing-Master Loomis; and the final report of Sailing-Master Loomis and
General Clinch. In none of these papers is there any act of hostility mentioned or refer-
red to as having been committed by the Exiles, or the Seminole Indians, prior to their
reaching the vicinity of the Fort.
1U THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
troops did not reach the vicinity of the fort until the twenty-fourth
of July. In the meantime, Commodore Patterson, in pursuance of
orders from the naval department, had detailed Sailing-Master
Loomis, with two gun-boats, to assist in carrying out the order of
On the twenty-fourth of July, Colonel Clinch commenced a
reconnoisance of the fort. On the twenty-fifth, he cleared away the
brush and erected a battery, and placed upon it two long eighteen-
pounders, and commenced a cannonade of the fortress. At the
time of this investment, there were about three hundred Exiles in
the fort, including women and children, besides thirty-four Seminole
Indians :2 yet in the official report of Colonel Clinch, he makes no
mention of his fire being returned; nor does he say that any of his
men were killed or wounded by the occupants of the fort.
On the twenty-sixth of July, Sailing-Master Loomis, with his
command, reached a point on the river some two miles below the
fort. Colonel Clinch met him at that place, for consultation, and
informed him that his fire had thus far proved ineffectual, and that
a nearer approach of artillery by land would be difficult.3
Judging from the language used in his official dispatch, Sailing-
Master Loomis must have entertained some feelings of distrust
towards Colonel Clinch, as they evidently separated in bad temper:
yet no officer in the service of the United States ever exhibited
greater prudence in his preparations, or more firmness in battle, than
Colonel Clinch. He was, however, a man of kind and humane
feelings, and high notions of honor. It has been supposed by
many of his friends, that he shrank from the perpetration of the
outrage which he had been detailed to commit.4
(1) Hildreth states that three gun-boats were detailed on that occasion; but the report
of Sailing-Master Loomis speaks only of two.
(2) Hildreth states the number to have been about three hundred, partly Indians and
(8) Monette says this expedition was undertaken by Col. Clinch upon his own responsi-
bility, to enable some boats laden with provisions to pass up the river. A strange misap-
prehension of tacts, as shown by official documents.
(4) At this conference, Sailing-Master Loomis informed Colonel Clinch that, on the day
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
On the morning of the twenty-seventh, Loomis, with his boats,
ascended the river and cast anchor opposite the fort, while Colonel
Clinch and the Creek Indians took positions so as to cut off retreat
by land. The cannonade was resumed, and the land and naval
forces of the United States were engaged in throwing shot and
shells for the purpose of murdering those friendless Exiles, those
women and children, who had committed no other offense than that
of having been born of parents who, a century previously, had
been held in bondage. Mothers and children now shrieked with
terror as the roar of cannon, the whistling of balls, the explosion
of shells, the war-whoops of the savages, the groans of the wounded
and dying, foretold the sad fate which awaited them. The stout-
hearted old men cheered and encouraged their friends, declaring
that death was to be preferred to slavery.
The struggle, however, was not protracted. The cannon balls
not taking effect upon the embankments of earth, they prepared
their furnaces and commenced the fire of hot shot, directed at the
principal magazine. This mode proved more successful. A ball,
fully heated, reached the powder in the magazine. The small size
of the fort, and the great number of people in it, rendered the
explosion unusually fatal. Many were entirely buried in the ruins,
others were killed by falling timbers, while many bodies were torn
in pieces. Limbs were separated from bodies to which they had
been attached, and death, in all its horrid forms, was visible within
that doomed fortress.1
Of three hundred and thirty-four souls within the fort, two hun-
previous, while a party of his men were on shore, they were fired on by Indians and one
man killed. This was the first and only act of hostility against our troops. It was com-
mitted by Indians, not by Exiles; but it was subsequently seized upon and published as a
justification for carrying out General Jackson's order, bearing date more than two months
prior to the occurrence, directing General Gaines to destroy the fort and return the negroes
(1) Monette says, The scene in the fort was horrible beyond description. Nearly the
whole of the inmates were involved in indiscriminate destruction; not one-sixth of the who.e
escaped. The cries of the wounded, the groans of the dying, with the shouts and yells of
the Indians, rendered the scene horrible beyond description."
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
dred and seventy were instantly killed; while of the sixty who
remained, only three escaped without injury.1 Two of the survi-
vors-one negro and one Indian-were selected as supposed chiefs
of the allied forces within the fort. They were delivered over to
the Indians who accompanied Colonel Clinch, and were massacred
within the fort, in the presence of our troops; but no report on
record shows the extent of torture to which they were subjected.
We have no reliable information as to the number who died of
their wounds. They were placed on board the gun-boats, and their
wounds were dressed by the surgeons; and those who recovered
were afterwards delivered over to claimants in Georgia. Those
who were slightly wounded, but able to travel, were taken back
with Colonel Clinch to Georgia and delivered over to men who
claimed to have descended from planters who, some three or four
generations previously, owned the ancestors of the prisoners. There
could be no proof of identity, nor was there any court authorized to
take testimony, or enter decree in such case; but they were deliv-
ered over upon claim, taken to the interior, and sold to different
planters. There they mingled with that mass of chattelized human-
ity which characterizes our Southern States, and were swallowed up
in that tide of oppression which is now bearing three millions of
human beings to untimely graves.
Sailing-Master Loomis informed the Naval Department, through
Commodore Patterson, that the value of the property captured in
the fort was "not less than two hundred thousand dollars." He
also stated that a portion of this property was delivered over by
" Colonel Clinch to the Indians who had accompanied him, on the
"express agreement that they should share in the plunder."
Another portion of property was held by Colonel Clinch, as neces-
sary for the use of the troops. A list of the articles thus taken is
(1) Vide Official Report of Sailing-Master Loomis, Ex. Doc. 119: 2d Bess. XVth Cong.
(2) Some years since, the author wrote a short sketch of the general Massacre, but omitted
this point as too revolting to the feelings of humanity, and too disgraceful to the American
arms, to be laid before the popular mind in such an article; and he would most gladly
have omitted it in this work, could he have done so consistently with his duty to the public.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
given in the report: it embraces spades, shovels, pickaxes, swords,
sword-belts, pistols and muskets. The remainder of the prop-
erty was taken on board the gun-boats, and held subject to the
order of the Secretary of the Navy.'
The Governor of Florida demanded, in the name of "his Most
Christian Majesty the king of Spain," possession of the property
thus captured in the fort; denying the right of either our army or
navy to invade the territory of Spain, and take and carry away
property from its fortifications.
To this claim Sailing-Master Loomis replied, that the property
did not belong to the Spanish crown, but to the Exiles, who were
in possession of it, from whom it was taken by conquest. This
correspondence between his Excellency the Governor of Florida and
the Commander of the two gun-boats, was duly transmitted to our
Government at Washington, and may now be found in our National
Some twenty-two years subsequent to the capture of this proper-
ty, and the massacre of those who were in possession of it, a bill
was reported in the House of Representatives,3 granting five thou-
sand dollars to the officers, marines and sailors who constituted the
crews of those gun-boats, as compensation for their gallant services.
Whether the honorable Chairman of the Naval Committee who
reported the bill, or any member of the House who voted for it,
was aware of the true character of the services rendered, is a matter
of doubt; but the bill passed without opposition, became a law, and
the people of the United States paid that bonus for the perpetration
(1) Monette says that three thousand stands of arms and six hundred barrels of powder
were destroyed by the explosion. This is probably somewhat of an exaggeration. We
have no fact to warrant the assertion, that there was any addition made to the stores left
by Col. Nichols, when he delivered the fort to the Exiles. The same author states, that
one magazine, containing one hundred and sixty barrels of powder, was left unharmed by
the explosion; but no mention of such fact is found in the Official Report, by Sailing
(2) Vide Documents before the Committee of Congress appointed to investigate the cause
of General Jackson's invasion of Florida: XVth Congress, 2d Session.
(3) This bill was reported by Mr. Ingham of Connecticut, Chairman of the Committee
on Naval Affairs.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
of one of the darkest crimes which stains the history of any civil-
The official correspondence connected with this massacre was
called for by resolution, adopted in the House of Representatives,
and was communicated to that body at the second session of the
fifteenth Congress. But no action appears to have been proposed
in regard to it; nor does it appear that public attention was at that
time particularly called to this most wanton sacrifice of human life.
In this massacre, nearly every Exile resident upon the Appa-
lachicola River, including women and children, perished or was
re~nslaved. Their homes were left desolate; their plantations, and
their herds of cattle and horses, became the property of those who
first obtained possession of them. Probably one-third of all the
Exiles at that time resident in Florida, perished in this massacre,
or were reinslaved by Colonel Clinch; yet the atrocious character
of the transaction appears to have attracted very little attention at
the time. General Jackson was popular as a military officer, and
the Administration of Mr. Madison was regarded with general
favor. No member of Congress protested against the transaction,
or made known its barbarity to the people; while the ablest mem-
bers taxed their ingenuity, and brought all their rhetoric to bear,
in vindication of those concerned in the outrage.2
While Mr. Clay and others severely condemned the technical
invasion of Florida, as an act of hostility toward the King of Spain,
they omitted all reference to this wanton massacre of the Exiles:
nor have we been able to learn that any member even intimated
that the bloody Seminole war of 1816-17 and 18, arose from efforts
of our Government to sustain the interests of Slavery; or that
our troops were employed tb murder women and children because
their ancestors had once been held in bondage, and to seize and
(1) Vide Statutes enacted at 2d Session, XXVIth Congress. The author was then a
member of the House of Representatives, but had not learned to watch the movements of
slaveholders and their allies," so closely as subsequent experience taught him would be
(2) Vide Speeches of Hon. George Poindexter and others on the Seminole War, in 1819.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 45
carry back to toil and suffering those who escaped death in that
barbarous massacre. The officers of Government, and historians
of that day, appear to have avoided all reference to the fact,
that the people thus murdered had been far longer in the wilder
ness than were the children of Israel; that they were contending
for that Liberty which is the rightful inheritance of every human
being. Indeed, more than twenty years elapsed after this massacre,
before a distinguished Philanthropist gave to the public the first
intimation that such a people as the Exiles had existed.1
(1) Hon. William Jay, of New York, published his Views of the action of the Federal
Government in 1837.
The Troops along the Florida frontier become active-The Exiles on Suwanee and
Withlacoochee prepare for War-General Gaines's representation of their numbers
-Depredations committed during the Spring and Summer of 1817-Massacre of
Lieutenant Scott and his party-Its Effect upon the Country -Congress not con-
sulted as to this War General Gaines authorized to invade Florida General Jackson
ordered to the Field-Mr. Monroe assumes the Duties of President--His Cabinet--
Character of Congress- Public Sentiment in regard to discussion of Subjects connected
with Slavery- General Jackson concentrates his Army at Fort Scott--Proceeds to
Mickasukie Battle Destruction of the Town Marches to St. Marks Indian Chiefs
decoyed on board a Vessel--IHanged by order of General Jackson -The Army moves
upon Suwanee- Its Situation- Exiles prepare for a decisive Battle- Severe Conflict
-General Jackson takes the Town-Captures Indian Women and Children--Burns
the Villages of that region Returns to Pensacola Capture and Trial of Arbuthnot
and Ambrister--Their Execution -Invasion of Florida condemned by some of our
Statesmen, and vindicated by others.
THE nation having been precipitated into war (1816), the
Officers of Government, and the army, at once became active in
carrying it on. Orders were sent to General Gaines, exhorting
him to vigilance, caution and promptitude. He was on the south-
ern frontier of Georgia, where it was naturally supposed the first
blow, in retaliation for the massacre of Blount's Fort, would fall.
His scouts were constantly on the alert, his outposts strengthened,
and his troops kept in readiness for action.
The Seminole Indians had lost some thirty men, who had inter-
married with the Exiles, and were in the fort at the time of the
"massacre. They entertain the opinion that the souls of their mur-
dered friends are never at rest while their blood remains unavenged;
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
nor could it be supposed that the Exiles would feel no desire to
visit retributive justice upon the murderers of their friends. Long
did this desire continue, in the minds of the surviving Exiles,
until, many years subsequently, their vengeance was satiated, their
hands were stained, and their garments saturated, in the blood of
The surviving Exiles had their principal remaining settlements
upon the Suwanee and Withlacoochee rivers, and in the Mickasukie
towns. These settlements were on fertile lands, and were now
relied upon to furnish provisions for their support during hostilities.
Savages are usually impetuous; but the Exiles were more deliberate.
Colonel Clinch had returned to Georgia; Sailing-Master Loomis
was at Mobile Bay, and no circumstances demanded immediate
action. They gathered their crops, obtained arms and ammunition
from British and Spanish merchants, and made every preparation
for hostilities. During the summer and autumn of 1816, Gen-
eral Gaines reported slight depredations on the frontiers of Georgia,
but in February, 1817, he reported that larger bodies of Indians
were collecting in some of their villages; and in one of his letters
he stated that seven hundred negroes were collected at Suwanee,
and were being daily drilled to the use of arms. This number of
fighting men would indicate a larger population of Exiles than is
warranted by subsequent information.
During the Spring and Summer, both parties were
in a state of preparation-of constant readiness for
war. A few predatory excursions to the frontier settlements,
marked the action of the Indians and Exiles, while the army,
under General Gaines, often sent parties into the Indian country,
without any important incident or effect. The first effective blow
was struck in November. A boat was ascending the Appalachicola
river, with supplies for Fort Scott, under the escort of a Lieutenant
and forty men, in company with a number of women and children.
Information of this fact was communicated to the Exiles and Indians
resident at Mickasukie, and a band of warriors at once hastened to
THIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
intercept them. They succeeded in drawing them into ambush, a
few miles below the mouth of Flint River, and the Lieutenant, and
all his men but six, and all the children, and all the women but
one, were massacred on the spot. Six soldiers escaped, and one
woman was spared and taken to Suwanee as a prisoner. Here she
was kept by the Exiles through the winter, and treated with great
kindness, residing in their families and sharing their hospitality.
She had thus an opportunity of learning their condition, and the
state of civilization to which they had attained, as well as their
desire to be at peace with mankind, in order to enjoy their own
rights and liberties.
This massacre was regarded by the country as a most barbarous
and wanton sacrifice of human life. The newspapers blazoned it
forth as an exhibition of savage barbarity. The deep indignation
of the people was invoked against the Seminoles, who were repre-
sented as alone responsible for the murder of Lieutenant Scott,
and his men. Probably nine-tenths of the-Editors, thus assailing
the Seminoles, were not aware of the atrocious sacrifice of human
life at "Blount's Fort," in July of the previous year. Even the
President of the United States, in his Message (March
25), relating to these hostile movements of the Seminoles,
during the previous year, declared "The hostilities of this Tribe
were unprovoked," as though the record of the massacre at
"Blount's Fort" had been erased from the records of the moral
Universe. Notwithstanding our army had, in a time of profound
peace, invaded the Spanish Territory, marched sixty miles into its
interior, opened a cannonade upon "Blount's Fort," blown it up,
with an unprecedented massacre, in which both Seminole Indians
and negroes were slain, and two of their principal men given over
to barbarous torture ; yet, the President, in his Message, as if to
falsify the history of current events, declared that "as almost the
"whole of this Tribe inhabit the country within the limits of
"Florida, Spain was bound, by the Treaty of 1795, to restrain
"them from committing depredations against the United States."
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
Such were the efforts made to misrepresent facts, in relation to the
first Seminole War. With its commencement, the people had
nothing to do; they were not consulted, nor were their Repre-
sentatives in Congress permitted to exercise any influence over the
subject. The correspondence between General Gaines and the
Secretary of War, in regard to the occupation of the fort by the
Exiles, had commenced on the fourteenth of May, 1815. It was
continued while Congress was in session, in 1815 and 1816, but
no facts in regard to the plan of destroying it, and entering upon a
war, for the purpose of murdering or enslaving the Exiles, had
been communicated to Congress or the public.
Orders were now issued to General Gaines, authorizing him to
carry the war into Florida, for the purpose of punishing the Sem-
inoles. General Jackson was ordered to take the field, in
person, with power to call on the States of Tennessee and Georgia
for such militia as he might deem necessary, for the due prosecu-
tion of the war; and the most formidable arrangements were made
for carrying on'hostilities upon a large scale.
Mr. Monroe had assumed the duties of President in March,
1817. He had appointed Hon. John Quincy Adams Secretary
of State, at the commencement of his administration; but the
office of Secretary of War was not filled by a permanent appoint-
rtent, for some months, in consequence of Governor Shelby's
refusal to accept it, on account of his advanced age. It was
finally conferred on Hon. John C. Calhoun, who, through his entire
official life, was distinguished for his devotion to the institution of
Slavery; and this war having been entered upon for the support
of that institution, it may well be supposed that he exerted his
utmost energies for its vigorous prosecution.
The fifteenth Congress assembled in December, 1817. Most
of the members from the free States had not enjoyed the ad-
vantages of having served long in that body. They afterwards
showed themselves able men; but the business of legislation re-
quires experience, industry, and a perfect knowledge of the past
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
action of government. This cannot be obtained in one session,
nor in one Congress; it can only be gathered by the labors of an
active life. It is, therefore, not surprising that Congress granted
to the War Department whatever funds the President required to
carry on the war.
It is not our province to applaud, or condemn, public men; but
history represents no member of the fifteenth Congress as having
proclaimed the cause of this war, or the atrocious massacre which
characterized its commencement. On the contrary, those who spoke
on the subject, represented it as entirely owing to the Indian murders
on the frontiers of Georgia, and to the massacre of Lieutenant
Scott and his men. There was great delicacy exhibited, and had
been for many years previously, in regard to the agitation of any
question touching the institution of Slavery; and the people of
the free and slave States appeared to feel that silence on that
subject was obligatory upon every citizen who desired a continuance
of the Union. These circumstances rendered it easy for the Ad-
ministration to prosecute the war, with whatever force they deemed
necessary for the speedy subjection of Indians and Exiles.
On entering the field of active service, General Jackson called
on the State of Tennessee for two thousand troops. He repaired
to Harford, on the Ockmulgee, where a body of volunteers, from
Georgia, had already assembled, and organizing them, he requested
the aid of the Creek Indians also. They readily volunteered,
under the command of their chief, McIntosh, ready to share in
the honors and dangers of the approaching campaign. With the
Georgia volunteers and Creek Indians, General Jackson marched
to Fort Scott, where he was joined by about one thousand regular
With this force, he moved upon the Mickasukie towns, situated
near the Lake of that name, some thirty miles south of the line
of Georgia. It was the nearest place at- which the Exiles had
settled in considerable numbers. There were several small villages
in the vicinity of this Lake, inhabited almost entirely by blacks.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 51
A large quantity of provisions had been stored there. There were
also several Seminole towns between Mickasukie Lake and Talla-
hasse, on the west.
The Exiles appear to have viewed the approach of generall
Jackson with coolness and firmness. They had evidently calculated
the result with perfect accuracy. Their women and children were
removed to places of safety, and their herds of cattle were driven
beyond the reach of the invading army; and some of their Indian
allies followed the example thus set them by the Exiles; yet others
were not equally careful in calculating future events.
Neither Indians nor negroes had made these towns their general
rendezvous; nor did they expect a decisive battle to occur at that
point; yet they prepared to meet General Jackson, and his army,
in a becoming manner. Most of their forces were collected prior
to the arrival of our troops. In making the requisite dispositions
for battle, the Indians were formed in one body, and the negroes
in another each being under their respective chiefs.
General Jackson encountered the allied forces at some little
distance from the Mickasukie towns, April first. The battle was
of short duration. The Indians soon fled. The Exiles fought
with greater obstinacy. Their fire was so fatal that a reinforcement
was ordered to that part of the field, and the Exiles were driven
from their position, leaving twelve of their number dead upon
In his official report of this battle, General Jackson insisted
that British officers had drilled the negroes, and British traders
had furnished them ammunition. He also reported that he burned
more than three hundred dwellings, and obtained a supply of
provisions and cattle for his army.
The Exiles, generally, retreated to Suwanee, and the Indians
continued to hang around the American army, watching its move-
ments. General Jackson, however, directed his course towards
St. Marks, a Spanish fort, situated on the river of that name,
some fifty miles southwest of Mickasukie Lake.
52 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
The American army reached St. Marks on the seventh of April,
and remained there several days. One of the American vessels
lying in Appalachicola Bay, hoisted British colors, in order to decoy
some Indians who were looking at them from the shore. Two of
the "Red Stick band ventured on board; they were said to be
chiefs, and in alliance with the Seminoles. General Jackson
ordered them to be hanged, without trial or ceremony, justifying
the act by charging them with having participated in the massacre
of Lieutenant Scott and his party, during the previous autumn,
apparently unconscious that, by his own orders, two hundred and
seventy people, including innocent children and women, had been
most wantonly and barbarously murdered at the fort on Appa-
lachicola, and that Lieutenant Scott and thirty men were murdered
in retaliation for that act, according to savage warfare. He appears
to have felt it due to offended justice, that these men should die
for being suspected of participating in that act of retaliation. In
all these cases, the most assiduous efforts were exerted to misrep-
resent the real state of facts.
The time occupied in the approach and capture of Fort St.
Marks, gave to the Exiles and Indians full opportunity to concen-
trate their forces at Suwanee. It constituted the most populous
settlement of the Exiles, after the destruction of that upon the
Appalachicola. It was regarded as their stronghold. Surrounded
by swamps, it was approached only through narrow defiles, which
rendered it difficult for an army to reach it. Here many of the
Exiles had been born and reared to manhood. Here were their
homes, their firesides. Here their chief, Nero, resided; and hero
they concentrated their whole force. They had removed their
women and children, their provisions and cattle, to places of safety,
and coolly awaited the approach of General Jackson's army.1
Scouting parties were, however, sent out to harrass his advance
guard, and delay his approach, and render it more difficult; but,
(1) Monette says Arbuthnot sent word to the Negroes and Indians, notifying them of the
approach of General Jackson; but the official report of that Officer shows that his ad-
vance guard was daily engaged in skirmishing with the Indians.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 53
notwithstanding these obstacles, the army steadily advanced, and
on the nineteenth of April reached the Old Town of "Suwanee,"
and found the allied forces in order of battle, prepared to contest
the field. The Indians were again formed on the right, and the
Exiles constituted the left wing, bringing them in conflict with the
right wing of General Jackson's forces.
With the Exiles, there was no alternative other than war or
slavery; and they greatly preferred death upon the battle field, to
chains and the scourge. We may well suppose they would fight
with some degree of desperation, under such circumstances; and
the battle of Suwanee gave evidence of their devotion to freedom.
They met the disciplined troops, who constituted General Jackson's
army, with firmness and gallantry.1 At the commencement, their
fire was so fatal that the right wing of the American army faltered,
and ceasing to advance, gave signs of falling back. But the left
wing, opposed to the Indians, made a successful charge; the Indians
gave way, and the reserve was suddenly brought into action to
sustain the right wing, when a general charge was ordered, and the
Exiles were compelled to fall back.2
General Jackson, in his official report of this battle, refers to
the desperation with which the negroes fought, and says they left
many dead upon the field, but does not mention their number. He
entered the town and set fire to the buildings, and burned all the
villages in the vicinity. He also captured some three hundred
Indian women and children, while those belonging to the Exiles
(1) Vide General Jackson's Official Report of this battle, Ex. Doe. 175, 2d Session XVth
(2) Williams, in his History of Florida, states that three hundred and forty Negroes again
rallied after the first retreat, and fought their pursuers, until eighty of their number, were
killed on the field. Monette also states the same fact; but General Jackson, in all his
Reports, evidently avoided, as far as possible, any notice of the Exiles, as a people. Indeed
such was the policy of the Administration, and of its officers, and of all slaveholders.
They then supposed, as they now do, that slavery must depend upon the supposed igno-
rance and stupidity of the colored people; and scarcely an instance can be found, where
a slaveholder admits the slave to possess human intelligence or human feeling; indeed,
to teach a slave to read the Scriptures, is regarded as an offense, in nearly every slave
State, and punishable by fine and imprisonment.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
had been carefully removed beyond the reach of the American
army. This superior caution and provident care appears to mark
the character of the Exiles in all their conduct; while the Indians
appear to have practised none of these precautions.
But the allied forces, defeated, and their warriors scattered in
various directions, were pursued by McIntosh and his Creek war-
riors, who had accompanied General Jackson, until fearing the
Seminoles might rally in force against them, they returned and
again united with the American army.
This battle substantially closed the war of 1818. It had been
commenced for the destruction of the Exiles; they had shared in
its dangers, and by their energy and boldness, had given intensity
to its conflicts. From the time they united in the expedition for
the destruction of Lieutenant Scott and his party, in November,
1817, until the close of the battle of Suwanee, they had been
active participants in every skirmish, and had uniformly displayed
great firmness; bearing testimony to the truth of those historians
who have awarded to the African race the merit of great physical
General Jackson appears to have spoken as little of the Exiles
as duty would permit, when communicating with the Secretary of
War; yet he was more free to complain of them in his correspond-
ence with the Governor of Pensacola. In a letter to that officer,
dated a few days after the battle of Suwanee, he says: "S1egroes
" who have fledfrom their masters, citizens of the United States,
" have raised the tomahawk, and, in the character of savage war-
"fare, have spared neither age nor sex, Helpless women have
" been massacred, and the cradle crimsoned with blood."
We can, at this day, scarcely believe that this eloquent descrip-
tion of savage barbarity was from the pen of a man whose order for
the massacre of defenseless women and children, at the Fort on
Appalachicola, bore date less than two years before writing this
letter; nor can we readily comprehend the effrontery of him who
thus attempted to justify the invasion of Florida, by reference to
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
acts done by the Exiles long after the army under his command
had entered that territory, and committed the most atrocious out-
rages ever perpetrated by civilized men upon an unoffending people.
After the battle of Suwanee, General Jackson returned to St.
Marks, being unable to follow the Indians and Exiles into the more
southern portions of Florida. While at St. Marks, he ordered a
court-martial, constituting General Gaines president, in order to try
Arbuthnot and Ambrister. The history of their trial and execution
is familiar to the reader. The first and principal charge against
Ambrister was, that he excited the negroes and Indians to commit
murder upon the people of the United States; the second charge
was for supplying them with arms. On these charges he was con-
victed and executed. It was also alleged, that he was present at
the battle of Suwanee; and some writers say he commanded the
Exiles on that occasion, and had previously taught them military
In May, General Jackson issued an Address to his troops, de-
claring the war at an end; and wrote the Executive, asking permis-
sion to retire to his home in Nashville, there being no further use
for his services in the field.
The Exiles now returned to their homes. They had full leisure
to contemplate their situation. Many of their best men had fallen.
Nearly the entire population residing upon the Appalachicola River
had been massacred. Their villages at Mickasukie and Suwanee
had been burned; and it is probable that nearly one half of their
entire population had been sacrificed, in this first war waged by the
United States for the murder and recapture of fugitive slaves.
The invasion of Florida by General Jackson was condemned by
many public men, and was approved by others with equal ability.
Even the then Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, in his
correspondence with Don Onis, the Spanish Minister, defended the
invasion with great ability. But in the discussions of this subject,
we find no allusion to the massacre at Blount's Fort;" 1 that
(1) Various names have been given this Fort. The author, having heretofore adopted
56 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
appears to have been regarded as a subject of too delicate a nature
for public scrutiny. In the alcoves of our National Library, we
find many volumes of documents touching this war, embracing some
thousands of pages, in which there is the strongest censure express-
ed against the Seminoles for provoking the war, and condemnation
for the barbarous manner in which they conducted it; but we
search them in vain to find any condemnation, by American states-
men, of the object for which the war was commenced, or the un-
provoked and worse than savage massacre which marked its
that of Blount's Fort," prefers to continue that name. It was equally known, however,
as the "Negro Fort," and as "Fort Nichols."
FURTHER EFFORTS OF THE GOVERNMENT TO RESTORE EXILES TO
Effects of the War Situation of the Exiles Servility of Northern Statesmen Deter-
mination of Southern Slaveholders The purchase of Florida demanded- Causes which
led to it Territory obtained Authorities of Georgia demand a new Treaty with Creeks
-Mr. Calhoun Secretary of War-His efforts in favor of the Claimants-Georgia ap-
points Commissioners They attempt to dictate those appointed by the United States -
Correspondence-Mr. Calhoun dissatisfied with those whom he had appointed-They
resign New Commissioners appointed Their relation to the subject Difficulties -
Indian Talks- Treaty effected- Agreement-Assignment of Fugitive Slaves to United
States in trust for the Creek Indians-Claims adjudicated-Slaveholders claim the
funds belonging to the Creek Indians.
THE first Seminole war, like most other wars, was attended with
great sacrifice of blood and treasure. It had corrupted the morals
of the nation; but the Administration had entirely failed to attain
the objects for which it had been commenced. Not ten slaves had
been captured, if we except those who were wounded and taken
prisoners at Blount's Fort," one half of whom had died of their
wounds. Under such circumstances, the Government could not,
with propriety, condescend to make a treaty with a community of
black men, whose ancestors had fled from slavery. Such act would,
in the opinion of slaveholders, have compromised the dignity of the
Slaveholding States; nor could they treat with the Seminole Indians
as a separate tribe, for the Administration was endeavoring to hold
the Creeks responsible for the acts of the Seminoles, who, the slave-
holders insisted, were a part of the Creek tribe. The army was
therefore withdrawn from Florida, without any treaty whatever.
But the act of withdrawing the army and permitting the Exiles to
58 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
remain in a state of freedom and independence, constituted an ac-
knowledgment of the inability of our Government to reinslave them,
although it was constantly asserted that they were a degraded race,
incapable of supporting themselves if set at liberty.
In looking over the official reports of our officers, the action of
Congress, and the tone of the public press, we are forcibly impress-
ed with the constant and unceasing efforts to hide from the popular
mind of the nation the real questions involved in this war. Nor
can we account for it upon any other hypothesis, than the popularity *
of President Monroe's Administration., The old Federal party
had ceased to exist. They had been the only party opposed to Mr.
Monroe; and no member of Congress appears to have possessed
the requisite independence, information and ability, to take a posi-
tion distinctly against his policy.
Soon as our army was withdrawn from Florida, peace was of
course restored, and things remained as they were prior to the
invasion under Colonel Clinch, in 1816. The Exiles were again left
in peace, as they had been prior to the commencement of the war.
Nothing had been gained to the United States by the vast ex-
penditure of blood and treasure which attended the prosecution of
hostilities. The Exiles had maintained their liberty for at least
a .century, and now they had set the American Government at
defiance. These considerations operated upon the minds of the
slave population of Georgia and Alabama, who now became more
anxious to join them; and their numbers were thus increased almost
daily by slaves from those States.
From 1790, our Government had endeavored to reinslave these
people. No Northern statesmen objected to the policy; while those
of the South had come to believe that, although the Union may not
have been formed solely for the purpose of capturing slaves, yet
that duty was regarded by them as one of its most important objects.
It had now become evident that no military force could pursue them
into their retired fastnesses, or seek them out when scattered among
the hommocks, the swamps and everglades of that singular country.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 59
Southern statesmen now turned their attention to the purchase
of Florida. That would deprive the Indians and Exiles of the
nominal protection of Spanish laws, and would bring them under
the jurisdiction of the United States; they therefore addressed them-
selves to that policy with renewed assiduity. Recent events had
convinced the authorities of Spain that it was impossible for them
to maintain the dignity of the Spanish crown, or the sanctity of her
soil from invasion against an American army, when in pursuit of
S fugitive slaves. She had seen her territory invaded; her forts at
Pensacola and at St. Marks captured, and that upon the Appalachi-
cola destroyed; her subjects massacred; her authority despised, and
her rights as a nation treated with indignity by our army. There
was, indeed, no other way for her but to accede to the proposition
of the United States.
1819.] A treaty was negotiated (February 22), and in consid-
eration of five millions of dollars, Florida was transferred
to the United States, and the Seminoles were brought within the
jurisdiction which they most dreaded.
The slaveholders of Georgia, who had so long pressed their
claims for fugitive slaves, now became more clamorous. They saw,
with intense interest, the pertinacity with which the Executive had
pressed the claims of those who lost slaves, in the then recent war
with England. Under the Treaty of Ghent, the President insisted
upon full indemnity to those whose slaves had left the country,
under British aid; and when the English ministry refused, and
insisted upon the same construction as that placed upon the treaty
of 1783, which contained the same words, the American Executive
refused, and the question was referred to the umpirage of the
Autocrat of Russia, who held an entire nation in slavery, and could
not be expected to decide in any other manner, than that most
favorable to the institution.1
(1) The people of the free States should understand, that almost every question
touching slavery which has arisen between our Government and that of England, the
latter has yielded, since the formation of Jay's Treaty in 1795.
The payment for slaves who were shipwrecked on board the Comet, the Encomium, and
60 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
1820.] The influence of the slave power having increased so
greatly since 1796, as to induce the British Government to
change its policy, adopted at the framing of Jay's Treaty, was
now believed competent to compel the Creek Indians to comply
with the treaties of New York and Colerain. A quarter of a
century had passed, since the signing of the last of these treaties,
and they had been forgotten by many; but the people of the free
States, and their Representatives and Senators in Congress, had
quietly submitted to this prostitution of our national character and
influence, and none appeared to doubt the propriety of continuing
these efforts. e
1821.] Georgia now demanded of the Federal Government a
new treaty with the Creek Indians,1 in order to obtain
from them indemnity for the slaves she had lost, subsequent to the
close of the Revolution, and prior to the act of 1802. To this
demand the Federal Executive assented. The Secretary of War,
Mr. Calhoun, with his attachment to the institution, could do no
less than to exert what influence he was able to wield, in assisting
Georgia to obtain a compensation for the loss of her slaves. On
him devolved the burthen of selecting commissioners to negotiate
the contemplated treaty. Careful to place the subject in the hands
of men who would be likely to wield their power for the benefit of
the "peculiar institution," he appointed General Andrew Pickens
the Enterprise, and found freedom by being landed on British soil, constitute rare instances
in which slaveholding arrogance has proved successful in the arts of diplomacy. The
ease of the Creole constitutes another admirable illustration of successful effrontery.
In this case, the slaves took possession of the ship, guided it to Nassau, a British Island,
went on shore and became free. The officers of the slave ship demanded that the British
authorities should seize the negroes, and return them to the ship. They refused. Daniel
Webster, Secretary of State, became the voluntary Agent, Attorney and Solicitor, for the
slave dealers, who should have been hanged, instead of receiving the encouragement of
our Government. But the subject was submitted to the umpirage of a man, said to have
once lived in Boston, who, principally upon the authority of Mr. Webster, decided that
the people of the British government should pay the slave dealers for these parents and
children; and after fifteen years of continued effort, the money was obtained.
(1) Vide Letter from the Secretary of War to Messrs. Pickens and Flournoy, August
8, 1820. Am. State Papers, Vol. VI, p. 249.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
of his own State, and General Thomas Flournoy of Georgia, to
conduct the negotiation.
In his letters of instruction to those gentlemen, he was careful
to inform them that the treaty was to be negotiated for the benefit
of Georgia ;1 that she would also appoint commissioners to attend
the negotiation, and watch over the interests of her people. The
commissioners proceeded to make arrangements for the treaty.
They appointed the time and place for holding it; employed an
agent to furnish the requisite supplies, and made arrangements for
the necessary payments. At this point a correspondence arose
between them and the commissioners of Georgia, who assumed to
dictate the terms on which the treaty was to be founded. The
commissioners of the United States, finding those of Georgia in-
clined to dictate the course of action which they were to pursue, were
unwilling to submit to such dictation, and reported the difficulty
to the Secretary of War; while the commissioners on the part of
Georgia, feeling perfect confidence in the devotion of that officer
to the interests of slavery, made their report of the matter to
The Secretary returned an answer, reproving the commissioners
whom he had himself appointed, so severely for their refusal to
obey the dictation of those appointed by Georgia, that they both
immediately resigned their offices, appearing to feel that their own
self-respect must be compromised by acting under the instruction of
the State Commissioners.3
Apparently determined to appoint no man who should again
prove refractory, the Executive probably at the instance of the
Secretary of War- next selected as commissioner, in the place of
Mr. Flournoy, David Meriwether, who had, up to the time of re-
ceiving the appointment, acted as commissioner on the part of
(1) VideLetter of the Secretary of War to Gen. Flournoy, of the 19th of October, 1820.
(2) Vide Papers transmitted to Congress, in connection with the Treaty of Indian
Spring." Am. State Papers, Indian Affairs," Vol. I, No. 174.
62 TIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
Georgia. At the request of the Secretary of War, he resigned his
office of commissioner on behalf of the State, and accepted the
appointment from the Federal Government. Hon. D. M. Forney,
of North Carolina, was selected as the other commissioner, in place
of Mr. Pickens. These commissioners were expressly instructed to
assist the State of Georgia in obtaining the objects for which she
These preliminary arrangements could not fail to foreshadow the
character of the treaty negotiated under such auspices. Anticipa-
ting no other motive for the treaty than the settlement of the
boundary between the State of Georgia and the Creeks, the chiefs,
head-men and principal warriors of the tribe assembled at the time
and place appointed. After the ordinary formalities on such occa-
sions, the commissioners on the part of the United 'r .....l.1
the business by simply stating, that the people of Georgia complain-
ed to the President that the Creeks had not returned the property
(negroes, cattle and horses), which they were under obligations to
return to their owners in Georgia, by the treaties of New York and
The commissioners on the part of Georgia now delivered their
talk, saying, that by the treaty of Augusta (1783), of Galphinton
(1785), and of Shoulderbone (1786), the Creeks had agreed to
return to their owners, negroes who had left their masters, and other
property; that these treaties were all made before the formation of
the government of the United States under their present Constitu-
tion; but they were ratified by the treaty of New York (1790),
and of Colerain (1796), made with the United States, and Georgia
now demanded compensation for the loss of her negroes and other
On the following day, General McIntosh, principal chief of the
Creeks, replied, that he came to meet the commissioners of the
United States, and had no expectation of meeting those of Georgia;
nor had he or his friends any idea that such claims were to be pre-
(1) Ibid. Letter of Instructions contained in the papers referred to on preceding page.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
sented. That the chief, McGillivray, when he returned, after the
treaty of New York, informed them that they were to deliver up
such negroes as were then in the nation; that they were to pay for
none who had removed or died; that they all so understood that
treaty, and that nothing was then said about any other claims than
for negroes; that the prisoners, both black and white, were deliv-
ered up under the treaty of New York; that the claims now pre-
sented were also presented at the treaty of Colerain, in 1796, but
the Creeks then absolutely refused to acknowledge any further
obligation than that contained in the treaty of New York, and by
that they were under obligation to surrender no property except
persons held as prisoners, and negroes then in the nation. That
many of these negroes were carried away by the British, during the
war of 1812; that others were in the fort at Appalachicola, when
he and his warriors went with Colonel Clinch and blew it' up, and
killed nearly all who were in it; and the others were with the
Seminoles, and not with the Creeks.
To this answer the commissioners of Georgia replied, that by the
treaties of Augusta, and Galphinton, and Shoulderbone, the Creeks
were bound to deliver all negroes who had left their masters in
,Georgia; that, if they had done so, the British would not have
carried them off, nor would they have been killed in the fort; that
the Seminoles were a part of the Creek nation, who were respon-
sible, not only for the slaves and their increase, but also for the loss
-of the labor which they would have performed had they remained
Of the means used to obtain the treaty, we have no other
information than appears of record. Those acquainted with the
usual modes of negotiating Indian treaties, by the use of intoxi-
cating liquors, by bribery, and those appliances generally used on
such occasions, will not wonder at the stipulations contained in the
Treaty of "Indian Spring."
By the first article, the Creeks ceded to the United States, for
the benefit of Georgia, about five million acres of their most valuable
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
territory. The second article provided for the reservation of certain
lands, to be retained by those who were then living upon them.
The third reserved certain lands for the use of the United States
agency; and the fourth is in the following words:
"It is hereby stipulated and agreed, on the part of the United
" States, as a consideration for the land ceded by the Creek nation,
" by the first article, that there shall be paid to the Creek nation,
" by the United States, ten thousand dollars in hand, the receipt
" whereof is hereby acknowledged, forty thousand dollars as soon
" as practicable after the ratification of this convention, five thou-
" sand dollars annually for two years thereafter, sixteen thousand
" dollars annually for five years thereafter, and ten thousand dollars
" annually for six years thereafter; making in the whole fourteen
"payments, in fourteen successive years, without interest, in money
"or goods, and implements of husbandry, at the option of the
" Creek Nation, seasonably signified, from time to time, through
"the agent of the United States residing with said nation, to
" the Department of War. And as a further consideration for
" said cession, the United States do hereby agree to pay to the
" State of Georgia, whatever balance may be found due by the
" Creek Nation to the citizens of said State, whenever the same
" shall be ascertained, in conformity with the reference made by
" the commissioners of Georgia and the chiefs, head-men and war-
" riors of the Creek Nation, to be paid in five annual installments,
" without interest, provided the same shall not exceed the sum of
"two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; the commissioners of
" Georgia executing to the Creek Nation a full and final relinquish-
"ment of all the claims of the citizens of Georgia against the Creek
" Nation, for property taken or destroyed prior to the act of Con-
" gress, of one thousand eight hundred and two, regulating the
" intercourse with the Indian tribes."
The fifth article merely provides for running the boundaries of
the several reservations. It was duly signed and witnessed, and
bears date on the eightt of January, 1821.
7 n C
1 1. .C : rl c a
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
Deeming the treaty not sufficiently explicit in its terms, the
commissioners on the part of Georgia, entered into a further agree-
ment with the Indians, which reads as follows:
Whereas at a conference, opened and held at the Indian
" Spring, in the Creek Nation, the citizens of Georgia, by the
" aforesaid commissioners, have represented that they have claims
" to a large amount against the said Creek Nation of Indians:
" Now, in order to adjust and bring the same to a speedy and final
" settlement, it is hereby agreed by the aforesaid commissioners, and
" the chiefs, head-men and warriors of the said Nation, that all the
"talks had upon the subject of these claims, at this place, together
"with all claims on either side, of whatever nature or kind, prior
"to the act of Congress of one thousand eight hundred and two,
"regulating the intercourse with the Indian tribes, with the docu-
"ments in support of them, shall be referred to the decision of the
" President of the United States, by him to be decided upon,
" adjusted, liquidated and settled, in such manner and under such
" rules, regulations and restrictions as he shall prescribe: Provided,
" however, if it should meet the views of the President of the Uni-
" ted States, it is the wish of the contracting parties, that the liqui-
" nation and settlement of the aforesaid claims shall be made in the
" State of Georgia, at such place as he may deem most convenient
" for the parties interested; and the decision and award thus made
" and rendered, shall be binding and obligatory upon the contract-
" ing parties."
There was also an assignment of the title, or right of property
claimed, executed to the United States by the Commissioners of
Georgia, which is in the following language:
Whereas a treaty, or convention, has this day been made and
" entered into, by and between the United States and the Creek
" Nation, by the provisions of which the United States have agreed
"to pay, and the commissioners of the State of Georgia have
"agreed to accept, for and on behalf of the citizens of the State of
" Georgia having claims against the Creek Nation, prior to the
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
Year one thousand eight hundred and two, the sum of two hun-
" dred and fifty thousand dollars:
Now know all men by these presents, that we, the undersigned,
"commissioners of the State of Georgia, for and in consideration
" bf the aforesaid sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars,
" secured by the said treaty, or convention, to be paid to the State
"of Georgia, for the discharge of all bona fide and liquidated
" claims which the citizens of the said State may establish against
"the Creek Nation, do, by these presents, release, exonerate and
"discharge the said Creek Nation from all and every claim and
" claims, of whatever description, nature or kind the same may be,
" which the citizens of Georgia now have, or may have had, prior
" to the year one thousand eight hundred and two, against the said
" Nation. And we do hereby assign, transfer and set over unto the
" United States, for the use and benefit of the said Creek Nation,
" for the consideration hereinbefore expressed, all the right, title
" and interest of the citizens of the said State to all claims, debts,
" damages, and property of every description and denomination,
" which the citizens of the said State have or had, prior to the year
"one thousand eight hundred and two, as aforesaid, against the
" said Creek Nation."
It were useless for the historian to criticise the language of these
several instruments. The "claims" mentioned in them, and re-
ferred to the President, were mostly for slaves who left their
masters during the Revolution, and prior to 1802; at least such
was the construction given to the treaty, the agreement and
assignment by the parties; and we cannot, at this day, assert that
they did not understand their own compacts.
The Creeks were to receive two hundred thousand dollars in
cash; and the United States agreed to pay to Georgia her claims,
provided they did not exceed two hundred and fifty thousand dol-
lars. The amount due to Georgia was to be ascertained by the
President, and paid by the United States. The third, and a very
important point, was the assignment to the United States, for the
TIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
benefit of the Creek Indians, of the interest vested in the claimants
to the property and persons claimed -the United States to hold
such interest in trust for the Creek Indians.
By this arrangement, our Government became owners of the
Exiles referred to, in trust for the benefit of the Creeks, according
to the construction which the Indians, the authorities of the United
States and those of Georgia, placed upon the assignment, the
agreement and treaty. This important point, if borne in mind,
will aid the reader in understanding the subsequent action of the
Federal authorities in relation to this subject.
1822 In pursuance of this treaty, the President promptly
appointed a commissioner to ascertain the amounts due the
several claimants. But great difficulties had to be encountered.
The claims commenced in 1775 and extended down to 1802, and
it was extremely difficult to obtain evidence of facts which trans-
pired so long prior to the examination. Sufficient proof was pro-
duced, however, to satisfy the commissioner that ninety-two slaves
had, within the periods mentioned, left their masters, in Georgia,
and fled to the Indians; and the estimated value of slaves and other
property lost to the owners in this manner, amounted to one hun-
dred and nine thousand dollars.'
1823.] This amount of money was duly appropriated by Con-
gress. So far as we are informed, no member of the
House of Representatives, or of the Senate, appears to have enter-
tained doubts as to the propriety of this governmental slave-dealing.
The whole negotiation and arrangement had been conducted and
managed by Southern men, and Northern statesmen quietly sub-
mitted. Thus, after a struggle of thirty-eight years, the Slavehold-
ers of Georgia, by the aid of our Federal Government, obtained
compensation for the loss of their fugitive bondmen.
(1) Vide Report of Commissioner on this subject; also, the Report of Wm. Wirt, Attor-
ney General of the United States, to whom the President referred the subject. Opinions
of the Attorney General," 1822. Mr. Wirt states the price paid for these slaves was from
two to three times their real value.
68 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
* After the distribution of the amount found due to the claimants,
there yet remained in the hands of the President one hundred and
forty-one thousand dollars, being the remainder of the two hundred
and fifty thousand appropriated by the treaty to secure the payment
of these claims. This money apparently belonged to the Indians.
The claimants for slaves could not have any title to it, for they had
expressly stipulated, that the award of the commissioner should be
conclusive upon the parties. The claimants, by that award, re-
ceived full compensation for their loss; yet they next demanded of
the President the hundred and forty-one thousand dollars which
remained in his hands. Notwithstanding the commissioners on the
part of Georgia expressly agreed to abide by the award, and had
assigned all interest in the property and in the persons residing
with the Indians, to the United States, and had received their
money in full, under the treaty; yet they desired to get the re-
mainder, which was considerably larger than the amount awarded
them by the commissioner.
FURTHER EFFORTS TO ENSLAVE THE EXILES.
Indians and Exiles on the Appalachicola River Other Exiles at Withlacoochee, St.
John's, Cypress Swamp, Wahoo Swamp-Indians in various parts of Territory-
Difficulty of the subject President's Message Committee of Congress Interroga-
tions Mr. Penieres' Answer General Jackson's Answer He relies on Force -
United States recognize the Florida Indians as an Independent Band Willing to treat
with them Difficulties Instructions to Commissioners Treaty of Camp Moultrie
-Reservations -Covenants on part of United States-Covenants on part of the
Seminoles Congress makes no objection Effect of Treaty Its Objects Election
of the younger Adams His Policy Indian Agent, Colonel Humphreys- William
P. Duval's Instructions Claimants complain of the Agent Commissioner of Indian
Affairs reproves him--His Letter-Reply-Difficulty of Agent--Dangers which
threaten the Exiles Colored Man seized and enslaved -Indians Protest Colonel
Brooke's Advice-United States Judge expresses his Opinion--Effect on Exiles-
Mrs. Cook's Slave Demand for Negroes Suggestions of Agent -Practice of Gov-
ernment-Treaty of Payne's Landing-Its Stipulations-Abram-His Character
Chiefs become Suspicious -Delegations sent West-Executive Designs--Supple,
mental Treaty- Major Phagan- Petition of the People of Florida Indorsement thereon
Treaties approved by Senate Creeks remonstrate Payment of $141,000 to Slave
Claimants Supineness of Northern Statesmen Creeks demand Exiles as Slaves -
Georgians kidnap Exiles-Their Danger- They dissuade from Emigration- Their
Warriors Wiley Thompson's Statement General Clinch's Interest Colonel Eaton's
Views General Cass's Reply His Address to Indians He authorizes Slave Trade -
Effects of such License -Agent and others Remonstrate He replies -Agent rejoins -
Exiles prepare for War.
AFTER the close of the war of 1818, many of the Seminole Indi-
ans took possession of the deserted plantations and villages along
the Appalachicola River, whose owners had fallen in the massacre
of Blount's Fort, in 1816; and some of the Exiles united in re-
occupying the lands which had been reduced to cultivation by their
murdered brethren. Some six or eight small bands of Indians
thus became resident along that river. The fertile bottom lands,
70 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
near that stream, constituted the most valuable portion of Florida,
so far as agriculture was concerned. These towns afforded conven-
ient resting places for fugitive slaves, while fleeing from their
masters in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana, to the
interior portions of Florida.
The United States, nor the slaveholders of the States named,
could with any propriety whatever hold the Creek Indians respon-
sible for the many refugees, who were now almost daily increasing
the number of fugitives located far in the interior of Florida; and
the difficulties attending the holding of slaves increased in exact
proportion as the slaveholding settlements extended towards these
locations; while the greater portion of the Exiles were taking up
their residence farther in the interior of the territory, upon the
Withlacoochee, the St. John's, the Big Cypress Swamp, the Islands
in the Great Wahoo Swamp, and places far retired from civilization.
The Seminole Indians were scattered extensively over different
portions of the country; and although the United States now own-
ed the unoccupied lands, it was difficult to determine upon any
course of policy by which the difficulties, so long existing, could
The subject was alluded to by the President in his Annual
Message to Congress (Dec. 3), and a select committee was
appointed to take that portion of it into consideration. The committee
propounded interrogatories to various officers of government, who
were supposed capable of giving useful information in regard to
In answer to these interrogatories, Mr. Penieres, Sub-Agent for
the Florida Indians, replied, stating the number of Indians at
more than five thousand, while the number of slaves which they
held were estimated at only forty. These he declared to be far
more intelligent than the slaves resident among the white people,
and possessing great influence over their Indian masters. He
alluded to the Exiles in the following language: "It will be
(1) Vide Reports of Committee XVIIth Congress, 2d Session, No. 195.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
" difficult (says he) to form a prudent determination with respect
" to the maroon negroes,' (Exiles), who live among the Indians,
" on the other side of the little mountain of Latchiouo. They fear
" being again made slaves, under the American Government, and
" will omit nothing to increase or keep alive mistrust among the
" Indians, whom they, in fact, govern. If it should become ne-
" cessary to use force with them, it is to be feared that the Indians
" will take their part. It will, however, be necessary to remove
"from the Floridas this group of freebooters, among whom runa-
" way negroes will always find a refuge. It will, perhaps, be pos-
" sible to have them received at St. Domingo, or to furnish them
" means of withdrawing from the United States !"
This gentleman appears to have had more knowledge of the
Exiles, than was possessed by the officers of the United States,
generally, who supposed that each negro must have a legitimate
master. He appears, also, to have had sufficient humanity to sug-
gest the plan ef their removal, rather than their enslavement.
In answer to the interrogatories of this committee, General
Jackson proposed to compel the Seminoles to reiinite with the
Creeks, by leaving Florida and returning to the Creek country;
and closed his recommendation by saying, this must be done, or
" the frontier will be much weakened by the Indian settlements,
" and be a perpetual harbor for our slaves. These runaway
" slaves, spoken of by Mr. Penieres, MUST BE REMOVED from the
" Floridas, or scenes of murder and confusion will exist."1
This suggestion of General Jackson for the removal of the
Seminoles, both Indians and negroes, bears date September second,
1822, and is the first suggestion, of that precise character, of
which we have knowledge. General Jackson was a warrior, and
had more faith in the bayonet than in moral truths. He trusted
much to physical power, but had little confidence in kindness, or in
(1) Vide Am. State Papers, Vol. VI, pages 411, 412. It will be observed that General
Jackson discarded the term "maroon, used by Penieres, as that. in Jamaica, signifies
" free negroes of the mountains," who nee fled from service, but have maintained their
hberty so long that they cannot be identified, and are therefore admitted to be free.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
justice or moral suasion. He was an officer of great popularity,
however, and it is not unlikely that his views had greater weight
with those who followed him in official life, than their intrinsic
merits entitled them to. It is certain that his policy of removing
the Indians and Exiles from Florida, was subsequently adopted by
him while President, and has continued to be the cherished object
with most of his successors in that office.
The controversy between the State of Georgia and the Creeks
had been settled at Indian Springs. In the treaty entered into at
that place, the United States had held the Creek Nation responsi-
ble for the action of the Seminoles, under the plea that they were
a part of the Creek Nation. Having obtained two hundred and
fifty thousand dollars from the Creeks in this way, to satisfy the
slave claimants of Georgia, the Executive now suddenly became
satisfied that the Seminoles were a distinct and independent tribe,
and he prepared to treat with them as such. Commissioners were
appointed for that purpose, and efforts made to collect their chiefs,
warriors and principal men, in order to carry out this object.
Suspicious of the objects which prompted this proposal, the In-
dians were unwilling to meet the commissioners. Runners were
sent to the different bands, and eventually some thirty or forty were
collected. These were declared by the commissioners to represent
1823.] a majority of the Seminole tribe, and (Sept. 18) they
proceeded to form the treaty of Camp Moultrie." The
letter of instructions, from the Secretary of War, was specific
on one point only. The commissioners were directed to so ar-
range the treaty as to constrain the Indians to settle within the
territory south of Tampa Bay, excluded from the coast on all
sides by a strip of country at least fifteen miles in width. This
would have taken from them their most fertile lands on the Su-
wanee River, the Appalachicola River, and in the vicinity of the
Mickasukie Lake. Some six chiefs, who had taken possession of
the plantations which had been opened and cultivated by the Exiles
murdered at "Blount's Fort," refused to sign the treaty. They
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
were, however, prevailed upon to agree to the treaty, when it had
been so modified as to give them each a reservation of fertile lands,
to meet their own necessities.
By agreeing to these stipulations, the commissioners obtained
their signatures to the treaty the United States guaranteeing to
the Indians peaceable possession of the country and reservations
assigned them. They also covenanted to "take the Florida In-
" dians under their care and patronage, and AFFORD THEM PRO-
" SECTION AGAINST ALL PERSONS WHATSOEVER," and to "restrain
" and prevent all white persons from hunting, settling, or other-
" wise intruding, upon said lands." They also agreed to pay the
Indians six thousand dollars in cattle and hogs, furnish them with
provisions to support them one year, and pay them five thousand
dollars annually for twenty years. But one great object of the
treaty was embraced in the seventh Article, which was expressed
in the following language:
"The chiefs and warriors aforesaid, for themselves and tribes,
" stipulate to be active and vigilant in preventing the retreating
" to, or passing through, the district, or country assigned them, of
" any absconding slave, or fugitives from justice; and they further
" agree to use all necessary exertions to apprehend and deliver
" the same to the agent, who shall receive orders to compensate
" them agreeably to the trouble and expense incurred."
It is worthy of note, that the commissioners, acting under in-
structions of the Secretary of War, now assured the Seminoles
that they had been a separate and independent tribe more than a
century; while other commissioners, acting under instructions from
the same Secretary, only twenty months previously, insisted that
the Seminoles were, at that time, a part of the Creek tribe; and
on that assumed fact, the Creeks were held responsible for the
value of such slaves as left their masters during the Revolution and
prior to 1802, and took up their residence with the Seminoles.
But these contradictory positions appeared to be necessary to
sustain the slave interest.
74 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
It may be remarked that from the signing of this treaty, there
was no longer any controversy between our Government and the
Creeks in relation to fugitive slaves. That quarrel was transferred
to the Seminoles; and now, after thirty-four years have passed
away, and many millions of treasure have been expended, and
thousands of human lives sacrificed, at the moment of writing
these incidents, our army is actively employed in carrying on the
contest which arose, and for more than the third of a century has
been almost constantly maintained, for the recapture and return of
these people; and although our members of Congress from the
free States had witnessed the long and expensive contest, and the
vast sacrifice of blood and treasure, which had been squandered in
efforts to regain possession of the Exiles; yet we do not find any
objection to have been raised or protest uttered against this new
treaty, in either branch of our National Legislature. Indeed, so far
as we have information on the subject, the appropriations for carry-
ing it into effect were cheerfully made, without objection.
This compact drew still more closely the meshes of the federal
power around the Exiles. The United States now held what is
called in slaveholding parlance the legal title" to their bones
and sinews, their blood and muscle, while the Creek Indians were
vested with the entire beneficial interest in them. But neither the
United States nor the Creek Indians had been able to reduce them
to possession. The white settlements were, however, gradually
extending, and the territory of the Seminoles was diminishing in
proportion; and it was easy to foresee the difficulties with which
they were soon to be surrounded.
By the treaty, many of their cultivated fields, and most of the
villages, which they had recently defended with so much bravery,
were given up to the whites, and those who had so long occupied
them, were compelled to retire still further into the interior, and
commence new improvements. A few Exiles remained with the
chiefs who held reservations upon the Appalachicola. Those who
remained, however, were persons who had become connected by
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
marriage with the Indians belonging to those small bands, from
whom they were unwilling to separate.
To this treaty some writers have traced the causes which produc-
ed the recent Florida War." They attribute to its stipulations
that vast sacrifice of treasure, and of national reputation, which has
rendered that territory distinguished in history. With that war,
our present history is connected only so far as the Exiles were con-
cerned in its prosecution; but it would appear difficult for any
historian to overlook the important fact that obtaining possession of
fugitive slaves constituted the moving consideration for this treaty,
and the primary cause of both the first and second Seminole wars.
Most of this year was occupied in removing the Indians
to their new territory. They also suffered severely for
the want of food, and the attention of both Indians and officers of
Government appears to have been occupied with these subjects.
In the autumn, Mr. Adams was elected President. But his policy
was in part unfavorable to the Exiles. Removals from office under
his administration were limited. If an officer were removed,
it was not until after it had been ascertained that just cause
existed for the removal. This policy continued nearly every man in
office who had been connected with the Indian Department under
the former Administration. Colonel Gad Humphreys had been
appointed Agent for the Seminoles as early as 1822. He was a
resident of Florida, and a slaveholder, deeply interested in main-
taining the institution; but so far as his official acts have come
before the public, he appears to have performed his duty with a
good degree of humanity. Indeed, such were his efforts in behalf
of justice to the oppressed, that he became obnoxious to Southern
men, and was eventually removed from office on that account.
William P. Dural was also continued in the office of Governor,
and ex-officio Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory of
Florida. He was also a slaveholder, and resident of the territory;
but even Southern men found little cause to complain of his devo-
tion to liberty or justice. He, and many other officers, appear to
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
have supposed the first important duty imposed on them, consisted
in lending an efficient support to those claims for slaves which
were constantly pressed upon them by unprincipled white men.
Early as the twenty-fifth of January, Governor Duval, acting
Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Territory, wrote Colonel
Humphreys, giving him general directions in regard to the course
which he should pursue in all cases where fugitive slaves were
claimed. On the subject (said he) of runaway slaves among
"the Indians, within the control of your agency, it will be proper
" in all cases, where you believe the owners can identify the slaves,
" to have them taken, and delivered over to the Marshal of East
" Florida, at St. Augustine, so that the Federal Judge may inquire
" into the claim of the party, and determine the right of property.
" But in all cases where the same slave is claimed by a white
"person and an Indian, if you believe the Indian has an equitable
"claim to the slave, you are directed not to surrender the slave,
" except by the order of the Hon. Joseph L. Smith, Federal Judge
"residing at St. Augustine; and in that case, you will attend
" before him, and defend the right of the Indian, if you believe he
" has right on his side."
In all these cases, the slave or colored man, whether bond or
free, was to be treated in the same manner as a brute. He was
permitted to say nothing upon the subject of his own right to
liberty. His voice was silenced amidst the despotism with which
he was surrounded. No law was consulted. The belief of a
slaveholding Agent decided the fate of the person claimed. Those
who claimed to own their fellow men, would always find persons to
testify to their claims, and it was in vain for an Indian to attempt
litigation with a slaveholding white man before a slaveholding
The Exiles were not the property of the Indians in any sense.
(1) It is an interesting fact, that the doctrine recently avowed by the Supreme Court
of the United States, that black men have no rights which white men are bound to respect,"
was recognized and practiced upon in Florida, more than thirty years since, by the
officers of Government.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
The Indians did not claim to own them. Under the rule pre-
scribed, if a white man could get one of the Exiles within his
power, he could at any time prove some circumstance that would
entitle him to claim some negro; when he proved this, the law of
Florida presumed every colored man to be a slave, unless he could
prove his freedom. This, no Exile could do; and, when seized,
they were uniformly consigned to bondage. The only safety for
the Exile was, to entirely avoid the whites, who were not permitted
to enter the territory except upon the written permit of some
The slave-catchers, therefore, had recourse to the practice of
describing certain black persons, in the Indian country, as their
slaves, and demanding that the Agent should have them seized and
delivered to him. But the Agent, knowing these claims to be
merely fictitious in some instances, paid no attention to them. The
claimants, intent on obtaining wealth by catching negroes, and sell-
ing them as slaves, complained of the Agent to the Commissioner
of Indian Affairs, who, on the eighth of February (1827), wrote
the Agent, reproving him for his remissness in failing to capture
and return fugitive slaves, saying: "Frequent complaints have
" been made to the Department, respecting slaves claimed by the
" citizens of Florida, which are in possession of the Indians; all
"which have been acted on here, in issuing such orders to you as
"it was expected would be promptly obeyed; and that
" these proceedings would be followed by the proper reports to the
" Department. Nothing satisfactory has been received."
Thus the Indian Bureau, at Washington, took upon
itself the responsibility of deciding particular cases, upon
the ex parte testimony which the claimants presented; and the
commissioner concluded his letter by a peremptory order to Colonel
Humphreys, directing him to capture and deliver over two slaves,
said to be the property of a Mrs. Cook.
To this order the Agent replied in the language of dignified
rebuke. After stating that one of the slaves had been captured
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
by the Indians, and given up, he says: "but they will not, I ap-
" prehend, consent further to risk their lives in a service which has
" always been a thankless one, and has recently proved so to one
" of their most respected chiefs, who was killed in an attempt to
" arrest a runaway slave."
The love of liberty is universal. We honor the individual who
gives high evidence of his attachment to this fundamental right,
with which God has endowed all men, and we applaud him who
manfully defends his liberty, whether it be a Washington with
honors clustering upon his brow, or the more humble individual
who defends his liberty in Florida, by slaying the man who attempts
to deprive him of it. But these views were not recognized by the
agents of our Government.
While the Department at Washington supposed the Agent to
have neglected his duty, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for
the territory supposed the Agent had been quite too faithful to
the slaveholders. On the twentieth of March he wrote
Colonel Humphreys, saying, Many slaves belonging to
"the Indians ARE NOW IN POSSESSION OF THE WHITE PEOPLE.
" These slaves cannot be obtained for their Indian owners without
" a lawsuit;" and he then directed the Agent to submit the claim,
in all cases where there was an Indian claimant, to the chiefs for
In these contests between barbarians and savages, concerning the
rights which they claimed to the bodies of their fellow men, the
Exiles had no voice. They well understood that the rapacity of
the slave claimants was unbounded and inexorable; they therefore
endeavored to avoid all contact with the whites, and to preserve
their freedom by affording the piratical slave-catchers no oppor-
tunity to lay hands on them.
These demands for negroes alleged to be among the Indians,
continued to excite the people of Florida and to perplex the officers
(I) Vide Executive Documents, No. 271, 2d Session XXVth Congres.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
of Government, threatening the most serious results,1 and contin-
ually enhancing the dangers of the Exiles.
The troops at Fort King were called on to aid in the arrest of
fugitive slaves; but their efforts merely excited the ridicule and
contempt of both Indians and negroes. These circumstances be-
coming known to the slaves of Florida, naturally excited them to
discontent; and while their masters were engaged in efforts to
arrest negroes to whom they had no claim, their own servants in
whom they had reposed every confidence, suddenly disappeared
and became lost among the Exiles of the interior. The white peo-
ple became irritated under these vexations. Their indignation
against the Indians was unbounded. The Agent, Colonel Hum-
phreys, gave a vivid description of their barbarity, in a letter to
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.2 But remonstrances with
the Indian Department appeared to have no effect. Peremptory
orders for the arrest and delivery of slaves continued to reach the
Agent. These orders he could not carry into effect, as he could
command no force adequate to the arrest of the fugitives.
Governor Duval began to regard the Agent as remiss in
his efforts, and so, reported him to the War Department. Some of
the most wealthy Seminoles had purchased slaves of the white
people, and for many years, perhaps we may say for generations,
had been slaveholders. They held their slaves in a state between
that of servitude and freedom; the slave usually living with his
own family and occupying his time as he pleased, paying his master
annually a small stipend in corn and other vegetables. This class
of slaves regarded servitude among the whites with the greatest
degree of horror.
The owners of fugitive slaves, or men who pretended to have
lost slaves, when able, would seize and hold those belonging to the
Indians. The Indians being ignorant of legal proceedings, were
unable to obtain compensation from those who thus robbed them
(1) Captain Sprague, of the United States Army, so states, in his History of the War.
(2) Vide Letter of the Agent, dated sixth of March, 1827.
TIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
of what the slaveholders termed property. This practice became
so common that, on the seventeenth of April, many of the chiefs
and warriors assembled at the Agency, and made their protest to
the Agent, declaring that many of their negroes, horses, cattle,
"etc., were in the hands of the white people, for which they were
" unable to obtain compensation." Contrary to the treaty of Camp
Moultrie, white men were at that time in the Indian country
searching for slaves, and the chiefs demanded of the Agent the
reason why the white people thus violated the treaty to rob the
Indians? The Agent could only reply, that the white men were
there by permission given them by the Secretary of War.1
So flagrant were these outrages upon the Indians and negroes,
that Colonel Brooke, of the United States Army, at that time com-
manding in Florida, took upon himself the responsibility of address-
ing the Agent, advising him not to deliver negroes to the white
men, unless their "claims were made clear and satisfactory."2
The District Judge of the United States for the Territory, also
wrote Colonel Humphreys, giving his construction of the rules
adopted by the Indian Bureau. He thought, in no case, should a
negro be delivered up, where the Indians claimed him, until proofs
had been made and title established before judicial authority.3
No law was looked to as the rule by which officers of Govern-
ment were to be controlled in their official duties. The opin;in,
the judgment, of the individual constituted his rule of action.
During the nineteenth century, perhaps no despotism has existed
among civilized nations more unlimited, or more unscrupulous,
than that exercised in Florida, from 1823 to 1843.
This state of affairs determined the Exiles not to be arrested by
white men. Thus, when Governor Duval ordered a compensation
for a slave claimed by Mrs. Cook, to be retained from their annui-
(1) Vide Minutes of Talk held at Seminole Agency, with Treskal, Mathia, and other
Chiefs. Ex. Doc. 271, 1st Sees. XXIVth Congress.
(2) Vide Ltter of Col. Brooke to Col. Humphreys, 6 May, 1828, contained in the above
(8) Vide Letter of Judge Smith, May 10, 1828, contained in same Document.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
ties, the chiefs held a talk with the Agent, and assured him that
the man was born among the Seminoles, and had never been out
of the nation." 1
These demands for negroes increased in number; and the whites
became more and more rapacious, and the Indians more and more
indignant, until hostilities appeared inevitable. The Agent, from
long association with the Indians and his knowledge of facts, nat-
urally sympathised with them. He assembled a number of the
chiefs at the Agency, and suggested to them the absolute necessity
of submitting to the white people; and for the purpose of avoiding
further difficulties, advised them to emigrate west of the Mississippi,
or, rather, to send a delegation to examine the country; and, as
an inducement, offered to accompany their chiefs and warriors on
such a tour. To this proposition a few of them consented, and the
Agent notified the Department of the fact.2
It was easy to see that, under the existing state of affairs, hostil-
ities could not long be avoided. Up to the period of which we are
speaking, the action of our Government had been dictated by those
who sought to uphold and encourage Slavery; nor could it be ex-
pected that this long-established policy would be suddenly changed,
unless such change were peremptorily demanded by the people.
There was apparently but one course to be pursued under this
policy that was the removal of the Indians from Florida. This
plan had been recommended by General Jackson ten years previ-
oubly, and he now being President, had an opportunity of carrying
out his proposed policy. To effect this purpose, it would be neces-
sary to negotiate a treaty by which the Indians should consent to
abandon Florida and remove west of the Mississippi.
It had long been the policy of those who administered the Gov-
ernment, to select Southern men to act in all offices in which the
institution of slavery was likely to be called in question. From the
(1) Vide Statement of John Hirk, 15 August, 1828. Ex. Doc. 271, before quoted.
(2 Vile Letter of Gad Hlumphres, Oot. 20, 1828. It probably was the first time the
proposition was submitted to the Sedinoles.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
time General Washington sent Colonel Willett to ascertain facts in
regard to the controversy between the State of Georgia and the
Creek Indians, in 1789, to the period of which we are now speak-
ing, no Northern man was appointed to any office which required
his personal attention to the situation of the Exiles.'
In accordance with this practice, General Cass, acting
as Secretary of War, appointed Colonel James Gadsden,
of South Carolina, to negotiate the treaty of Payne's Landing. By
the preamble of this treaty, the Seminoles stipulated that eight of
their principal chiefs should visit the Western country, "accompa-
nied by their faithful interpreter, Abraham," (an Exile, and a man
of great repute among both Exiles and Indians,) and should they
be satisfied with the character of the country, and of the favorable
disposition of the Creeks to reunite with the Seminoles as one peo-
ple, they would, in such case, agree to the stipulations subsequently
contained in said treaty.
The first article merely makes an exchange, by the Seminoles,
of lands in Florida for an equal extent of territory, west of the Mis-
sissippi, adjoining the Creek Nation.
The second article provides compensation for the improvements,
and specifically stipulates, that Abraham and Cudjoe (two Exiles
who acted as interpreters) should receive, each, two hundred
The third provides for the distribution of blankets and frocks
The fourth article provides for certain annuities, etc.
The fifth merely stipulates the manner in which the personal
property of the Seminoles shall be disposed of in Florida, and the
same articles supplied them in their new homes at the West.
The sixth is in the following language: "The Seminoles, being
" anxious to be relieved from the repeated vexatious demands for
" slaves and other property, alleged to have been stolen and de-
(1) Even Mr. Adams, when President, continued in office those men who had been
placed there by his predecessors.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
" stroyed by them, so that they may remove to their new homes
" unembarrassed, the United States stipulate to have the same
" properly investigated, and to liquidate such as may be satisfac-
" torily established, provided the amount does not exceed fourteen
" thousand dollars."
The seventh article stipulates that a portion of the Indians
should remove in 1833, and the remainder in 1834.
Two leading features of this treaty attract the attention of the
reader. The first is the removal of the Seminoles; second, their
reiinion with the Creeks. The Creeks, having paid the slavehold-
ers of Georgia for their loss of Exiles, had permitted the subject to
rest in silence, and, so far as we are informed, no formal claim had
yet been asserted by the Creeks to seize and hold the Exiles as
slaves; but it is evident that the negotiators of this treaty intended
to place the Seminoles, when settled in their western homes, within
the power, and under the jurisdiction, of the Creeks. Yet it was
well known that, from the time of their separation, in 1750, up to
the signing of this treaty, they had disagreed and, at times, had
been in open war with each other. General Cass, the Secretary of
War, as well as the President, must have known that McIntosh,
the principal chief of the Creeks, had accompanied Colonel Clinch,
with five hundred warriors, when he invaded Florida for the pur-
pose of massacreing the Exiles at Blount's Fort," in 1816; that
the Creeks shared in that massacre, and had publicly tortured and
murdered one Indian and one negro, whom they styled chiefs. It
is difficult to believe that any man could expect them to live togeth-
er in peace, with the recollection of those scenes resting on the
mind; nor has any explanation yet been given, nor reason assigned,
for the anxiety of our officers to place the Seminoles within the
power of the Creeks, except a desire to enslave the Exiles.
Abraham, who acted as interpreter, had been born among the
Seminoles. His parents had fled from Georgia, and died in their
fbrest-home. He appears to have been a man of unusual influence.
with his more savage friends; and although he insisted on emigra-
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
ting to the West, in opposition to many of his brethren, yet he has
to this day maintained a high reputation among his people. Cudjoe
was less known, and, subsequently, was less conspicuous than
Abraham; indeed, we know but little of him. But the experi-
ence of Abraham, nor the learning of Cudjoe, could detect that vague
use of language which was subsequently seized upon for justifying
the fraud perpetrated under this treaty.
In the preamble, it was stipulated that the Seminoles were to
send six of their confidential chiefs to view the western country;
and if they were satisfied with the country, etc. The Seminoles
supposed the pronoun they had relation to the Tribe; while General
Jackson construed it to refer to the chiefs sent West. If they were
satisfied, he held the Tribe bound to emigrate at all events and
his efforts were, therefore, directed to satisfying the chiefs who went
to view the country.
But the leading men of the Seminoles became suspicious of the
design of the Creeks to enslave the Exiles, before their delegation
left Florida, and publicly expressed their suspicion.1
The President appears to have determined on securing the
emigration of the Indians at all hazards and at any sacrifice. For
that purpose he appointed commissioners to go west and obtain
from the Seminole delegation, while yet in the western country,
and absent from the tribe, an acknowledgment that the country
was suitable for a residence, and that the Creeks were anxious to
unite with them as one people. This was to be obtained before
the Seminole delegation should return to Florida, or make report
to their nation, or give the Tribe an opportunity to judge or act
upon the subject.
3.] His object was accomplished (March 28). The commis-
sioners obtained an additional treaty," signed by the
Seminole delegation sent West, without any authority from their Na-
tion to enter into any stipulation; nor had the commissioners, on the
part of the United States, authority to form any treaty whatever: yet
(1) Vide Sprague's History of the Florida War.
THE EXILES OP FLORIDA.
this additional treaty, as it was called, after reciting some of the
stipulations contained in that of Payne's Landing, declares "that
" the chiefs sent to examine the country are well satisfied with it;"
and then stipulates, that the Seminole Indians shall emigrate to
"it so soon as the United States shall make the necessary prepara-
"tions." There was also another provision in this additional
treaty of vast importance to the Exiles; it designated and assigned
to the Seminoles a certain tract of country, giving its metes and
bounds, to the "separate use of the Seminoles forever."
Their agent, Major Phagan, appears to have been willing and
capable of performing his part in this diplomatic intrigue. We
have no knowledge of the means used to obtain this additional
treaty, nor the bribery by which it was secured; but it is known
that the chiefs, before they went West, expressed their dislike
of reiiniting with the Creeks; that when they returned, they
denied having agreed to settle under Creek jurisdiction; it is also
certain that the additional treaty stipulates that the Seminoles shall
have their lands separate from the Creeks.
When they returned, their agent, Major Phagan, represented
them as having stipulated for the positive removal of the Seminoles.
The chiefs denied it, and insisted they had understood their author-
ity as extending only to an examination of the country, and to
report the result to the Nation. They requested that the chiefs,
head-men and warriors be assembled to hear their report, and to
express their own determination. But the agent refused to call
such council, and assured them that their homes and heritage were
already sold, and that nothing now remained for them to do but
to prepare for removal.
The people of Alachua County, Florida, feeling indignant at the
determination of the Seminoles to remain in that Territory, addressed
a protest to the President of the United States, declaring that the
Seminoles did not capture and return the fugitive slaves who fled
to the Indian country, according to their stipulations in the treaty
of Camp Moultrie, but rather afforded protection to them. They
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
further stated that while the Seminoles remained in the country no
slaveholder could enjoy his property in peace. This protest was
signed by ninety of the principal citizens of said county, and for-
warded to the President.
This statement aroused the ire of the President, who at once
indorsed on the back of the petition an order to the Secretary of
War to inquire into the alleged facts, and if found to be true, to
"direct the Seminoles to prepare to remove West and join the
"Creeks." The order was characteristic of the author. He waited
not for the approval or ratification of any treaty; with him the
whole depended upon the alleged fact of the Seminoles failing to
bring in fugitive slaves not upon treaty, nor upon the ratification
The Senate of the United States was subsequently called
on by the President to approve the treaty after the lapse of
nearly two years from its date. This was done, and the President
by his proclamation immediately declared it in force. It was
said by public officers, then in Florida, that had the Seminole
delegation been permitted to give an unbiased opinion to their
people, there would not have been a man in the Nation willing
The whole Nation became indignant at this treatment, and such
was the feeling against the agent that he deemed it prudent to
retire from the agency. General Wiley Thompson was appointed
to succeed him. General Clinch was appointed to the command of
the troops, and every preparation was made to insure the speedy
removal of the Indians and Exiles west of the Mississippi.
In the meantime, the Creeks learning that a tract of country was,
by the additional treaty, agreed to be set off to the separate use of
the Seminoles, saw clearly the influence which Abraham had exer-
cised in the matter, and, fearing their own designs for obtaining
slaves would be defeated through their principal chiefs, addresseq a
(1) Vide Documents relating to the Florida War, 1st Session, XXIVth Congress.
(2) Vide Sprague's History of the Florida War.
TIE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
protest to the Hon. Lewis Cass, then Secretary of War, remonstra-
ting against the policy of giving the Seminoles a separate country.
These chiefs were sagacious men, who had attained distinction
with the Creeks by their manifestation of superior intelligence. Two
of them, Rolley McIntosh and Chilley McIntosh, sons of a Scotch
trader who lived with the Indians, had been educated, and were
regarded as among the able politicians of the day. They, together
with Toshatchee Mieco and Lewis," urged the propriety of
uniting the two tribes as one people, without any separate organi-
zation. The next day they addressed another letter to Secretary
Cass, giving additional reasons and arguments why the Seminoles
should not have separate lands.]
The President had already adopted the policy of compelling the
Seminoles to unite under one government with the Creeks: and
this stipulation for separate lands was introduced into the "ad-
"ditional treaty," by commissioners who were not fully informed
of the President's views. This compact, entered into at Fort Gib-
son, erroneously called an "additional treaty," was known to be
void: neither the Seminole chiefs nor the United States commis-
sioners had authority to negotiate any treaty whatever; and this
stipulation, for holding separate lands by the Seminoles, appears to
have been totally disregarded by the Executive, as will more fully
Another circumstance had induced the Creeks to remain silent
in regard to the Exiles. By the treaty of Indian Spring, they had
placed at the President's disposal $250,000, out of which the
slaveholders of Georgia were to be paid for slaves and property
lost prior to 1802. The commissioners appointed to make the
examination found but $109,000 due the claimants under this
stipulation, leaving in the hands of the President $141,000 belong-
ing to the Creeks. This, however, was claimed by the slave-
holders, in addition to the amount allowed by the treaty. To
obtain this money the slaveholders sent their petition to Congress.
(1) Vide Ex. Doc. 271, XXIVth Congress, 1st Session, pages 48 and 44.
88 THE EXILES OF FLORIDA.
The subject was referred to a committee, of which Mr. Gilmer, of
Georgia, was Chairman. The committee made a very elaborate
report, setting forth that the claimants had an equitable right to
this money as an indemnity "for the loss of the offspring which the
" Exiles would have borne to their masters had they remained in
" bondage," and it is among the inexplicable transactions of that
day, that the bill passed, giving the money to those claimants
without the uttering of a protest, or the statement of an objection,
by any Northern representative or senator.
The Creeks now having paid the full amount stipulated in the
treaty, and being robbed of the $141,000, to compensate the slave-
holders for children who had never been born, were excited to
madness. They believed themselves to hold the beneficial interest
in the bodies of the Exiles, and determined to obtain possession of
them.1 They immediately sent a delegation to the Seminoles to
demand possession of the Exiles as their slaves.
While the Creeks were thus demanding possession of the refu-
gees, the Executive of the United States and his officers were
endeavoring to compel them to go West, where the Creeks could,
without opposition, lay hands upon them and enslave them.
The six Seminole chiefs holding reservations upon the Appa-
lachicola River owned some slaves, and with those slaves some of
the Exiles had intermarried. Each chief, by the terms of the
treaty of Camp Moultrie, was permitted to name the men who
(1) The Author, while serving in Congress in 1847-8 was, by the Speaker, placed upon
the committee of Indian Affairs. While serving on that committee, the Creek Indisns
applied for the return of this money wh'ch had belonged to them. but had been wrongfully
paid over by Congress to the slaveholders of Georgia, some fourteen years previously. The
case was referred to the Author, as sub-committee, who reported that the money, in justice,
in equity, and in law, belonged to the Indians; that its payment to the slaveholders was
unjust and wrong, and that it ought to be paid to the Indians. The report was con-
frmed, and the money paid to the Indians. The justice of the cause was so obvious that
it met with no opposition, and by the vote of both Houses it now stands acknowledged
and declared that this sum of 8141,000 was taken from the pockets of the laboring men of
our Nation, and paid to those slaveholders for imaginary slave children who were never
born; nor have we been able to learn that an objection was raised, or protest uttered, by
any Northern member of Congress.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA. 89
were to reside with him, and such chief became responsible for the
conduct of the persons thus named; while the United States
stipulated to "afford the chiefs and their people protection against
" all persons whatsoever."
The white settlements had extended to the vicinity of these res-
ervations, and the Exiles and Seminole slaves living on them
were more immediately exposed to the rapacity of the whites than
were those in the interior of the territory.
The mania for obtaining slaves by piratical violence,
seems to have reached a point almost incredible to the
people of the free States. E-con-chattimico was one of the chiefs
whose reservation lay on the west side of the river. He had long
been highly respected by the whites. He owned some twenty
slaves, who were residing with him in a state of partial freedom
- paying him an annual stipend of provisions for their time,
and holding such property as they could acquire. Connected
with these slaves, and with some of the Indians on the Reser-
vation, were about an equal number of Exiles, who had never
known slavery, but whose ancestors, in former generations, had
toiled in bondage. Unwilling to separate from their intimate
friends and connexions, they had, as stated in a former chapter,
come here to occupy, with E-con-chattimico and his friends, one of
the extensive plantations which had been occupied by their brethren
who fell at Blount's Fort, in 1816. The chief had named them
as his friends, and a record of the fact had been deposited in the
office of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs; and for their conduct
E-con-chattimico was responsible, under the treaty of Camp
Moultrie;" while, by the same instrument, the faith of the nation
had been solemnly pledged "to protect them against all persons
The piratical slave-dealers of Georgia looked upon these people,
both Exiles and slaves, with strong desire to possess them. One
of these fiends in human shape, named Milton, residing in Colum-
bus, Georgia, professed to have purchased them from a Creek