JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY STUDIES
HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
HERBERT B. ADAMS, Editor
History is past Politics and Politics are present History.-Freeman.
AND ITS RELATION TO THE
Historical Cartography of the'
HENRY E. CHAMBERS,
Fellow-by-Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University. Sometime Assistan,
sor, Tulane University
THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS, BALTIMORE
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY STUDIES
HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCE.
HERBERT B. ADAMS, Editor.
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AND ITS RELATION TO THE
Historical Cartograohy of the
BRITISH WEST FLORIDA.-.Acquired by Great Britain 1763. Boundary of 32C 2S' fixed 1767.
SPANISH \WEST FLORID. -Acquired by Spain 1783. Northern Boundary fixed 179,. Pearl-Perdido portion
annexed to Mississippi Territory 1812. Possession taken 1813. Perdido-Apalachicola portion acquired hy Florida
purchase of I819.
117~jT1UDT nCATT C -T D 7; UT Dlnt T.le...i---- ..
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY STUDIES
HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL SCIENCE
HERBERT B. ADAMS, Editor
History is past Politics and Politics are present History-Freeman.
AND ITS RELATION TO THE
:orical Cartography of
... ... ......
HENRY E. CHAMBERS,
Fellow-by-Courtesy of Johns Hopkins University. Sometime Assistant Profes-
sor, Tulane University
THE JOHNS HOPKINS PRESS, BALTIMORE
I. Some Discrepancies and Contradictions. .... 7
II. Primary Bases of Divergent Opinions . ... .. 9
THE THREE WEST FLORIDAS.
I. ANTE-COLONIAL HISTORY.
Spanish Discovery of Florida . . 13
Spanish Exploration of Western Florida . 14
II. FRENCH OCCUPANCY.
La Salle's Exploration of the Mississippi Valley .. 16
The Colony of Biloxi. . . ... 17
French Decadence in Western Florida . 18
III. THE FIRST WEST FLORIDA (British).
Territorial and Jurisdictional Changes ...... 18
England's Fourteenth American Colony ..... 19
IV. THE SECOND WEST FLORIDA (Spanish).
British and Spanish Antagonisms. .. ...... 20
W killing's Raid .................. 21
Spain Wins Back Her Own . . .... 23
V. THE THIRD WEST FLORIDA (American).
Spanish and American Antagonisms ........ 24
Light-fingering a Province . . .. 26
Louisiana Purchased . . . .. 27
V. THE THIRD WEST FLORIDA (American). Con'd.
West Florida Discontent . . .... 27
The First Convention-Redress of Grievances. 28'
The Second Convention-Reorganization .. 31
The Third Convention-Self-Protection and Inde-
pendence ........ ..... . 31
Annexation to the United States. . ... 33
THE LIVINGSTON-MADISON THEORY OF WEST FLORIDA
I. MADISON'S ACCEPTANCE OF LIVINGSTON'S VIEW.
Original Intent not to Purchase Louisiana ... 39
Possible Political Effect of Non-Success in Purchas-
ing West Florida . . . 4
II. THE BASIS OF LIVINGSTON'S CLAIM:
The Livingston-Madison Correspondence .... .41
Effect of Monroe's Appointment . ... 42
The Key to Mr. Livingston's Change of Convictions. 43
III. A RESUMi OF THE SUCCESSIVE JURISDICTIONAL RIGHTS
TO THE TERRITORY OF WEST FLORIDA :
Summary of Jurisdictional Changes ...... 47
Discussion of the Original and Derived Rights to
West Florida .......... ....... .47
The St. Ildefonso Treaty ........... 49
West Florida Not Included in Louisiana Purchase. 50
The Testimony of Tallyrand. .......... 50
Suggested Cartographical Corrections ..... 51
I. West Florida Chronology .............. 53
II. Bibliography ....... ... ... ..... .. 57
West Florida and Its Relation to the Historical
Cartography of the United States.
West Florida, as a political and territorial entity, occu-
pies an uncertain position in the minds of authoritative con-
tributors to the history and cartography of the United
States. For instance, McMasters1 gives Florida as extend-
ing westward to the Mississippi, while Scribner's Statistical
Atlas, dividing Florida into east and west, makes the west-
ern portion extend only as far as the Perdido river.2 Mc-
Master gives date of Florida's acquirement as 1819; Scrib-
ner as 1821.
McCoun's Historical Geography of the United States
shows West Florida extending to the Pearl river in one
place;2 to the Perdido in another,4 and indicates in a third
place that the Floridas are yet Spanish possessions in the
year I82o.5 Albert Bushnell Hart gives West Florida, after
the St. Ildefonso treaty, as extending to the Mississippi,6
and dates the separate acquirements of East Florida and
West Florida as 1819 and 1812, respectively.7 Justin Win-
sor gives the claims of the Louisiana purchase as extending
to the Appalachicola, the only authority within the knowl-
edge of the present writer that extends the territorial limits
of colonial Louisiana eastward beyond the Perdido.8
SHistory of the People of the U. S., Vol. 2 (map).
2Plates 13, 14 and 15. 3Map of date 1787. 4 Map of 1790.
5 Map of 1820. 6 Formation of the Union Map, No. 4.
7 Ib., Map. No. i. 8 Nar. and Crit. Hist. of America, Vol. 7, p. 531.
Henry Adams, after a most critical examination of the rec-
ords bearing upon the Louisiana purchase, makes no inclu-
sion of the Mississippi-Perdido region.
B. A. Hinsdale, in his Historical Geography of the New
"The first Louisiana was the Mississippi Valley, together
with the country east and west, draining to the Gulf of
Mexico from the Perdido to the Rio Grande. The second
Louisiana was the western half of the valley and the island
of New Orleans. This was the Louisiana purchase of
1803. Long before this time (1763) the found-
ing of Louisiana by the French had cut Florida short on
the west of the Perdido river."
If Florida was cut short at the Perdido river, and the
Louisiana purchase of 1803 included only the island of
New Orleans east of the Mississippi, this leaves the terri-
tory between the Perdido and Mississippi rivers to be ac-
An examination of fourteen standard and representative
school histories of the United States2 reveals similar contra-
dictions and discrepancies. The majority of them give
Florida as extending to the Perdido river, and include the
region between the Perdido and the Mississippi in the Lou-
isiana purchase. Only two' agree with McMaster. Adams,
Hinsdale and Hart, in defining the limits of the Louisiana
purchase as including nothing east of the Mississippi river,
save the island of New Orleans.
Other citations might be made, but the foregoing indi-
cate that a mistiness obscures the region between the Per-
dido and the Mississippi, historically considered, a misti-
ness that we look in vain to general historical narratives to
'How to Study and Teach History (International Educational
Series, edited by W. T. Harris), page 184.
2Eclectic, Chambers', Barnes', Shinn's, Scudder's, Johnston's,
Anderson's, Swinton's, Sheldon's, Cooper's, Mowry's, Montgom-
ery's, Eggleston's, and Niles'.
SChambers' and Sheldon's.
That the history of West Florida has not been more
clearly set forth need occasion little surprise. Exploration,
occupancy, conquest, treaty and revolt, have caused the
region in question to change ownership and jurisdiction no
less than six times. Perhaps this can be said of no other
portion of American soil. Need we wonder, then, that they
who have pursued with certain tread the broad highway of
national events, have hesitated to turn aside into a by-path
of so devious a winding.
It is the purpose of this paper to point out wherein lie-
the causes of these divergencies of opinion and to remove,
if possible, some of the obscurities which have brought
about contradictions similar to those given. These causes
may be reduced in number to two.
(I) Historians have failed to recognize that in limits and
political jurisdiction there have existed no fewer than three
separate and distinct West Floridas.
The first of these was British West Florida, extending
north to the parallel drawn through the mouth of the Yazoo
river, in the present State of Mississippi (32 28'), and
lying between the Chatahoochee and Mississippi rivers.
Organized in 1763 as a royal province, its boundaries de-
termined as above in 1767, it constituted for twenty years
the fourteenth of the English colonial possessions in what
is now the territory of the United States.
The second was Spanish West Florida, constituted with.
the same limits as the above until 1795, when by treaty be-
tween Spain and the United States its northern extent was.
shortened to the parallel 31, which to this day forms, in
part, the boundaries of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and
The third was the Independent State of West Florida, of
short but active existence, whose limits were: on the north,
the line as given above (31); the Pearl River, on the east;
Lakes Borgne, Pontchartrain and Maurepas, and the River
Iberville, or Bayou Manchac, on the south; and the Mis-
sissippi, on the west.
(2) Historians have too readily accepted the dicta of Madi-
son and Livingston, Secretary of State and Minister to France,
respectively, when the Louisiana purchase was made, that West
Florida was included in the Louisiana purchase, when the
-weight of historical and contemporary testimony is directly
opposed to any such inclusion.
Those who have given this testimony due consideration,
give Spanish Florida as extending to the Mississippi, but
fail to agree as to whether the Perdido or the Chatahoochee
is the dividing line between East and West Florida. Those
who have accepted Madison and Livingston's theory, fix
the western boundary of Spanish Florida at the Perdido
river and, recognizing that West Florida must be givenhis-
torical existence of some kind or other, assign to it the
narrow limits between the Chatahoochee and the Perdido.
In our search for the truth we shall consider in brief
West Florida under a succession of jurisdictions, and then
-endeavor to show the unsoundness of Livingston's and
Madison's claim that West Florida was included in the
The Three West Floridas.
THE THREE WEST FLORIDAS.
The political history of West Florida begins with the
year 1763, when England, having come into possession of
the greater part of North America, organized the region
between the Mississippi and Chatahoochee into a Royal
Province, and thus added one more to the list of her co-
lonial possessions within the present limits of the United
But back of its political history is a territorial history;
and as the narrative of an American State is generally pre-
ceded by some account of the region in which the life and
institutions of the State have arisen, so will our subject
be brought into clearer historic view by a brief reference
to some of the most significant events connected with the
period of American beginnings.
The successful termination of the first voyage of Colum-
bus, bringing, as it did, a knowledge of the existence of the
New World within the practical comprehension of the na-
tions of Western Europe, was immediately followed by
Spanish occupancy of the principal islands of the West
With Cuba and Jamaica as bases, Spanish exploration
soon extended to the mainland of North America. In one
direction went De Leon upon his famous search for the
fabled island of Bimini, during the course of which he dis-
covered and named Florida (1512); in another, Grijalva,
who reached and explored the coast of Mexico (1518).
De Leon was followed by De Ayllon, whose expeditions
took him, first, to the coast of what is now South Caro-
lina, then called Chicora (1520) and subsequently to the
Chesapeake Bay. Grijalva was followed by Cortez, whose
conquest of the Aztec realm constitutes one of the saddest
of the earlier pages of American history (1520).
With the exploration of the coast line between Florida
and Mexico the names of Alonzo de Pineda and Pamfilo
de Narvaez are most prominently identified. Pineda was
'dispatched by Francis de Garay, governor of Jamaica, with
a well-equipped expedition to seek out some passage-way
through the land to the ocean beyond. He skirted the
coast from Cape Florida to Mexico, touching at various
points, and taking possession (1519). Upon his return, he
is supposed to have discovered and entered the Mississippi
river, bestowing upon it the name Espiritu Santo.1
Pamfilo de Narvaez, who had been discomfited in his en-
deavor to wrest from Cortez by force the honor of con-
quering Mexico, undertook the conquest of Florida (1528).
His expedition was an ill-fated one, for, after a fruitless
march into the interior of western Florida, the would-be
conquerors returned, disappointed, to the coast, constructed
five frail craft, which they loaded to the gunwale, and pro-
ceeded slowly to the westward. They, too, are supposed
to have beheld the mouth of the Mississippi, whose swift
flowing current wrought havoc to their heavily laden
boats. A storm did the rest. Eight years afterward, Ca-
beza de Vaca, Castillo, Dorantes, and a negro arrived in
the Spanish settlements2 of Mexico-sole remnant of the
six hundred that had set out with De Narvaez. They had
made their way overland to the Pacific, and then south-
ward to their compatriots.
With a large and carefully selected body of men, Her-
nando De Sota landed at Tampa Bay (1539), bent upon
accomplishing what De Narvaez had failed to do. The
SWinsor: Narrative and Critical History, Vol. 2, p. 237.
2Winsor : Narrative and Critical History, Vol. 2, p. 245.
Ante- Colonial History.
story of his memorable march has often been told. It is a
tale of dogged determination of purpose on the part of the
commander, of unswerving loyalty on the part of his men.
It is a narrative of endurance, courage, and fortitude, of
disaster, pathos, and tragedy.
North, to the mountains of North Georgia; southwest,.
through the length of Alabama to the Indian town of Mau-
villa,1 where was waged their greatest battle; north-west-
ward,diagonally across the present Stateof Mississippi,they
made their way, the journey a series of harassings and
savage baitings whose chronicle finds fit place among the
nightmares of history. The Mississippi river was crossed
a little below the site upon which now stands Memphis. It
is probable that the Missouri line was reached before the
invaders undertook to return. Slowly they made their way
southward, their number lessening day by day. Soon they
reached what is now north-eastern Louisiana. Here, amid
the glooms of swamp and river bottoms, beset by vengeful
foes, a remnant of the band gathered about their leader.
Stubborn old soldier that he was, nothing but death could
overcome him, and here it was that he succumbed. In the
dead of night his body found a watery sepulchre in the river
whose waters he had crossed in the fullness of his strength,
His companions, reduced in number, eventually made their
way by river and gulf to Mexico.
Thus it will be seen that through the explorations of De
Leon, De Ayllon, De Narvaez, and De Sota the territorial
claims of Spain reached north-westward from Florida into
the heart of the American continent. From Mexico they
extended north and north-eastward.
Spain maintained her right to these territorial claims in:
1565, when Melendez de Aviles destroyed the Huguenot
settlement in north-east Florida, and built St. Augustine,
and this right went unquestioned until the year 1699.
1 Near Mobile.
In the sixty years following the founding of Quebec
,(1608), the forerunners of French civilization in America
reached the region about the shores of the great lakes.
Among the first to come to the hither side and enter what
.is now the territory of the United States were Nicollet,
Marquette, Joliet, Allouez, Hennepin, Du Luth Tonti, La
.Salle, and others, whose names are made familiar to us in
the chronicles of earlier explorations.
From their Indian friends, the pioneers of New France
;learned of the great western river flowing southward, now
known as the Mississippi. Marquette and Joliet made their
way to this river through the wilds of what is now Wiscon-
.sin, and descended as far as the mouth of the Arkansas
(1673). They were followed by La Salle, who with his
:faithful companion, Tonti, explored the Mississippi to its
.mouth, taking possession of the whole territory watered by
it and its tributaries in the name of Louis XIV King of
France (April 9, 1682). Here is where the name Louisiana
first appears upon the map, and a claim to a part of the
shore of the Gulf of Mexico is set up counter to the claims
SLa Salle, setting out from France, made an ineffectual
attempt to reach the mouth of the Mississippi, for the
purpose of planting a colony upon its banks. Tonti de-
scended from Canada, to co-operate with his chief; and,
failing to meet La Salle, established Arkansas Post (1686),
the oldest settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley.
France's further plans of colonization were held in abey-
.ance during the war of the English Succession.' But no
sooner had the war ended (1697) than they were put into
-execution. Here comes upon the scene Pierre Lemoyne,
'Sieur d'Iberville. The period of American beginnings has
no more heroic a figure. Ibervilie was a Canadian by birth,
1In America known as King William's War.
one of eleven brothers, all of whom attained distinction in
the service of king and country. As a naval officer of
France in the war just closed, he had taught the English
several lessons in the art of naval warfare, and had given
them some forcible reminders that their boasted superiority
on sea was not as yet clearly established.'
Iberville sailed from Brest (1698) with a company of col-
onists. Entering the Gulf of Mexico, he directed the course
of his vessels to the magnificent harbor of Pensacola, of
which he had learned. But behold, he finds himself fore-
stalled by the Spaniards, who, anticipating the coming of
the French and determined to hold by occupancy what was
Spain's by right of discovery and exploration, had only
a month previous established themselves at Pensacola.
It was only by the subterfuge of concealing the real ob-
ject of his expedition that Iberville was permitted to pro-
ceed without protest on the part of the Spaniards.2 Pro-
ceeding westward, he touched at Mobile bay, explored the
islands which skirt Mississippi sound, and finally effected
a landing near what is now the town of Ocean Springs,
Miss. (1699). The settlement was called Biloxi, after a
neighboring tribe of Indians. Here the first seat of gov-
ernment of lower Louisiana was established, and the Sieur
Sauvolle was appointed the first governor.
The Spaniards, in their establishment of missions, were
making their way up from Mexico. Already the English
influence was reaching from the Atlantic seaboard and af-
fecting the Chickasaws and other Indian tribes within the
limits of the French claim.
To combat the one and counteract the other, a post was
established on Red River, near the present town of Natch-
itoches, La. (1714), and another, Fort Rosalie, near the
present town of Natchez, Miss. (1716). Finally, realizing
that lower Louisiana could never be firmly held and the full
ISee Gayarr6: Hist. of La., Vol. I, chap. 2.
2 King and Ficklin's Hist. of La., page 30.
control of the Mississippi be assured unless the center of
French colonization was moved to the banks of that
stream, New Orleans was founded (1718), and shortly after
made the seat of government.
With the founding of New Orleans, the French settle-
ments along the gulf, or West Florida coast, pass histori-
cally into obscurity. After sixty-four years of French oc-
cupation, West Florida at the time of the treaty of 1763
contained less than five hundred people, including slaves.'
In subsequent years it was left to a historian2 to recall the
fact that there ever was a time that Louisiana, "as France
possessed it," extended along the shores of the Gulf of
Mexico as far as Mobile.
III.-THE FIRST WEST FLORIDA (BRITISH).
-When the "Old French War" drew to a close, and the'
contest for supremacy in America was decided in favor of
the English, France was compelled to relinquish all her
territorial possessions on the continent of America. To
Spain, who had been her suffering ally in this war,' she gave
the island of New Orleans' and that part of Louisiana lying
west of the Mississippi. To England she ceded that part
of Louisiana lying east of the Mississippi. England
also received Florida of Spain, making the English
possessions in what is now the territory of the United
States, extend from the Atlantic, on the east, to the Miss-
issippi, on the west; and from the great lakes, on the north,
to Lakes Maurepas, Pontchartrain, and Borgne, and the
Gulf of Mexico, on the south.
1 Lowry and McCardle: Hist. of Miss., p. 47.
3 Duruy : Hist. of France, p. 501.
4The island of New Orleans lay upon the east bank of the Missis-
sippi, and extended from the mouth of that river up as far as Bayou
Manchac, or Iberville river, a stream a little distance south of Baton
Rouge, connecting the Mississippi with Lake Maurepas. The Bayou
no longer exists, having been filled up.
The First West Florida.
Spain manifested some reluctance in extending her jur-
isdiction over the ceded province. The treaty was con-
cluded in 1763, and not until 1766 did she show any intent
to take formal possession.' Indeed, it was not until 1769
that the transfer from France to Spain was formally de-
clared and consummated.
On the other hand, England acted very promptly in oc-
cupying her part of the cession. The treaty of cession was
concluded Feb. 10, 1763, and before the year was out, by
proclamation of King George III, Florida was divided, the
boundaries of the eastern and western portion established,
and Captain George Johnstone, a distinguished naval offi-
cer, installed as first governor of the British Royal Prov-
ince of West Florida.
The claims of Georgia extending westward to the Miss-
issippi, it was at first intended that the northern boundary
'of West Florida should be fixed at the 3Ist parallel of lat-
itude, but the difficulty of communication between the east
and west in the latitude of Georgia, and the necessity of
having a seat of government convenient to the people, who
were already entering and taking up their residence in the
fertile lands about the Yazoo and other streams, caused the
northern limit of West Florida to be extended northward
to the line of 320 28' (1767), which extension was embodied
in the commission of John Elliot, who succeeded Johnstone
The eastern boundary of British West Florida was the
Chattahoochee and Appalachicola rivers; the western, the
Mississippi. On the south were the Gulf of Mexico, Miss-
issippi sound, Lakes Borgne, Pontchartrain, and Maure-
pas; and Bayou Manchac separating West Florida from the
1In 1766, Don Antonio de Ulloa was sent to govern Louisiana, but,
although he remained in the colony two years or more, he exhibited
no credentials and failed to assume any of the duties of his office.
In 1769, Don Alexander O'Reilly arrived and took formal possession
2Lowry and McCardle : Hist. of Miss., p. 48.
Isle of Orleans to the southward. The seat of government
was established at Pensacola. Fort Cond6, near Mobile Bay,
was changed to Fort Charlotte; Fort Rosalie (Natchez),
to Fort Panmure. A new fort was established and gar-
risoned at the junction of Bayou Manchac and the Miss-
issippi river, and was called Fort Bute. Bute and Panmure
were two administration notables during the reign of
George III. the king of England at that time.
A wonderful impetus was given to the West Florida col-
ony when power was bestowed upon Governor Johnstone
to make free grants of land to every retired officer and
soldier who had served England in the French and Indian
war. A field officer was entitled to 5000 acres, a captain to
3000, and so on down to a private, whose portion was Ioo
In the twenty years that West Florida was a British pos-
session French influences and trends of development were
rooted out and the province was made thoroughly English
in character. The three English governors of British West
Florida were Johnstone and Elliot, already mentioned, and
Peter Chester. Johnstone was appointed in 1763; Elliot in
1766, and Peter Chester in i77o.1 It was during Chester's
incumbency that some of the most remarkable events con-
nected with West Florida history took place.
IV.-THE SECOND WEST FLORIDA (SPANISH).
The attitude of Spanish Louisiana toward British West
Florida was one of jealousy and mistrust. The British were
discouraged in every way from opening commercial rela-
tions with their Louisiana neighbors. Nevertheless, an ex-
1 Lowry and McCardle's History of Mississippi gives the dates as
1763, 1767 and 1771. Beatson's Political Index to the Histories of
Great Britain and Ireland ; or, a Complete Register of the Hereditary
Honours, Public Officers and Persons in Office, from the Earliest
Periods to the Present Time, published in London, in 1788, from
which have been taken the above, may be considered authoritative.
The Second West Florida.
tensive, though surreptitious,' trade was developed that
augured great prosperity to West Florida. As the war of
the American Revolution approached, the same instinct
which impelled emigration across the Alleghanies to Ten-
nessee, Kentucky and Ohio, caused West Florida to re-
ceive its share of English-speaking pioneers. The American
element of population thus introducedwas decidedly Tory
element, but not one given to aggressiveness, being content
to occupy a position of neutrality in the contest between
England and her American colonies. West Florida was so
far away from the scene of action, that she well may have
remained undisturbed but for the fact of Spanish antag-
onism against things British. Between the revolting
American colonies and England the Spanish authorities
manifested a decided leaning toward the former.
This favoring of the American colonies against the En-
glish first took the form of permitting Oliver Pollock, the
secret agent of the Continental Congress, to gather stores
and munitions of war at New Orleans, and forward them
by river to Fort Pitt (Pittsburg). Indeed, the idea of an
American expedition down the Ohio and Mississippi, for
the purpose of attacking the British of West Florida was a
subject of correspondence between Captain George Mor-
gan, in command at Pittsburg, and Governor Galvez of
When Pollock descended the Mississippi to establish
himself in New Orleans, there came with him an adventurer
of brutal instincts but gentlemanly appearance, in the per-
son of James Willing.
"Willing," says Martin," "visited the British settlements
on the Mississippi, and some of his companions crossed the
lakes to Mobile, with a view to induce the inhabitants to
raise the striped banner, and join their countrymen in the
struggle for freedom The people of both the Floridas re-
'See Gayarr : History of Louisiana, Vol. 3, p. 45.
2 History of Louisiana, p. 223.
mained steadfast in their attachment to the royal cause.
The thin and sparse population of the Floridas, their dist-
ance from the provinces engaged in the war, and the con-
sequent difficulty of receiving assistance from them, had
also its influence on the conduct of the inhabitants."
Willing was hospitably entertained at Baton Rouge,
Natchez, and other points visited. No one suspected that
a plot against the well-being of his entertainers was shaping
itself in his mind. He returned to Pennsylvania, and upon
his representation that the neutrality of West Florida was
highly important to the American cause, as removing an
enemy from the rear and permitting the free passage of
munitions of war, he received from Congress, then sitting
at Lancaster, Pa., authority to move in the matter of se-
curing this neutrality.
Returning to Natchez with an armed retinue, he found
it no difficult matter to prevail upon many to take an oath
of neutrality. Upon one pretext or another, Willing now
entered upon a career of confiscation, robbery and cruelty.
The very homes in which he had been a favored guest suf-
fered most.1 Many unfortunates, bereft of their all, were
compelled to take refuge across the river among the un-
friendly, but less cruel, Louisianians. But for this cruel,
wanton, unprovoked, conduct toward a helpless community,
West Florida might have been won over to the American
cause, the royal governor at Pensacola being too far distant
to interpose any active opposition either against Willing's
raids or against any action the West Floridians near the
Mississippi might have taken toward co-operating with the
thirteen other colonies of Great Britain. So West Florida
was overrun and ravaged in the war of the American
Revolution, as were the Atlantic seaboard colonies; and if
the Carolinas had a bloody Tarleton to ignore the usages
of civilized warfare, West Florida had a brute Willing, to
'A Memento of Willing's Raid, New Orleans Times-Democrat,
Feb. 25, 1894.
The Second West Florida.
garb himself in a cloak of patriotism as a studied excuse
for license and crime.
In 1777, France espoused the cause of the American col-
onies, and formed an alliance with them against England.
Perceiving a possibility of winning back the much coveted
fortress of Gibraltar, Spain shortly after allied herself with
France, and was soon actively engaged in hostilities against
The Spanish province of Louisiana had for its governor
at the time Spain declared war, Don Bernard de Galvez,
who, but a youth in years, left a deep impression upon his
times and surroundings by his intrepidity and genius.
When news reached Louisiana of Spain's declaration of
war, Galvez promptly took upon himself the task of con-
quering West Florida.' With a force of 1400 men, he
marched northward from New Orleans, and, arriving at
Bayou Manchac, stormed and captured Fort Bute. Ad-
vancing upon Baton Rouge, he invested the place, and,
after a hot engagement lasting two hours, compelled Col-
onel Dickinson with 500 men to surrender. His next un-
dertaking was against Mobile, which surrendered March
It is needless to say that the achievements of Galvez
were viewed with great satisfaction in both America and
Spain. General Washington sent a letter of congratulation
from his winter quarters at Morristown, N. J.2 Every en-
couragement was now extended to Galvez to continue his
operations. Ships and men were furnished him, and from
Havana he set out for Pensacola to attack the British capital
and stronghold. At Pensacola he was joined by Miro, from
New Orleans, and Espelleta, from Mobile. The personal
bravery of the young commander was an important factor
in all his military successes, and never was this better veri-
SAn original print of the royal proclamation authorizing the Spanish
colonists to proceed against their English neighbors is in the posses-
sion of Mr. H. L. Favrot, of the New Orleans bar.
2 Washington to Don Juan Miralles, Feb. 27, 1780.
fled than in his attack upon Pensacola. The fort was taken,
and with its fall the Floridas, West and East, by right of
conquest, which right was afterward confirmed by the
treaty of 1783, became Spanish territory again,1 and once
more by occupancy and possession did she hold what had
once been hers by discovery and exploration.
Many honors were bestowed upon Galvez. He was com-
missioned a Lieutenant-General, decorated with the cross
of Knight Pensioner, and made a Count. He was ap-
pointed, successively, Governor of Louisiana; Captain-
General of Louisiana and Florida; Governor-General of
Cuba, the Floridas and Louisiana; and Viceroy of Mexico.
With a record achieved by few of his years, he died at the
comparatively early age of thirty-eight. His several com-
missions define sharply the distinction existing in the Span-
ish mind between Louisiana and the Floridas. According
to Spanish conception, West Florida was not Louisiana,
but a separate province, conquered by force of arms, an
integral unit among the units which collectively constituted
Spain's colonial possessions in the Western World.
V.-THE THIRD WEST FLORIDA (INDEPENDENT
The establishment of the Federal Government followed
the successful termination of the American Revolution.
The relations between the newly organized government
and the Spanish authorities of Louisiana were by no means
harmonious. The boundary line between the Floridas and
the United States was in dispute.2 Spanish intrigue was
Lecky: History of England in the Eighteenth Century, p. 171.
2 Spain claimed the 320 28' line, proclaimed by Great Britain in
1767, as the northern boundary of West Florida. The United States
insisted upon parallel 31, the boundary as originally fixed before the
Natchez district was annexed. The treaty of Madrid, Oct. 27, 1795,
confirmed the latter. (See Winsor's Nar. and Crit. Hist., Vol. 7,
The Third West Florida.
fomenting among the settlers of the Ohio Valley a spirit
of discontent against the government of the United States.
The Spanish authorities of Louisiana had in view the an-
nexation of the territory in which this discontent was man-
The produce of the western settlers in those days, when
the bars of the Alleghanies had not yet been removed by
locomotive and canal boat, could only reach a profitable
market by way of the Mississippi. While the mouth of this
river was under Spanish control, western American com-
merce depended in large part upon the complacency of the
Spanish governor at New Orleans. Sometimes river navi-
gation was prohibited to the Americans; at other times it
was grudgingly conceded, and that in a manner thoroughly
unsatisfactory to those %Iih'Se AtHal.prpsperity depended
upon this free*-s f.riatfure's route td'tle se. .
Thus it.ws.'tJhat the United States, in' cb'frmuit.v with its
leading.i.p'pose "tp Rrp.mQOe tjhe.geperal wefae,"' found
it ine ni bant upon itseftf p .tce i'c4irmercial dWpot'near
the hintith of the river. "Either th'e sand of New Orleans
or West Florida would answer the purpose. Moreover, a
number of other rivers rising in the territory of the United
States make their way through Florida to the Gulf of
Mexico. With the necessity of having a depot site near the
mouth of the Mississippi came also the realization that con-
trol of the mouths of these other rivers would be of great
future importance to the United States. The idea of ac-
quiring the Floridas rapidly took shape. Indeed, the value
of the Floridas to the United States was regarded as infin-
itely greater than trans-Mississippi Louisiana. The island
,of New Orleans, however, out-valued the Floridas; and the
instructions which went to Europe, specified that New Or-
leans and West Florida, in particular, were to be nego-
'In letter of March 2, 1803, to Monroe and Livingston, Secretary of
State Madison stipulated that the Floridas together were to be
estimated at one-fourth the value of New Orleans; and, East Florida
at one-half of the value of West Florida.
Meanwhile, Napoleon Bonaparte had come to be the
most conspicuous figure in Europe; and one of the moves
made by him upon the chess board of European politics was
to compel Spain to cede Louisiana back to France. The
cession was made by secret treaty,' for Napoleon was not
then in position to hold by force of arms the re-acquired
province against the enemies of France, who were all too
ready to invade distant French possessions.
However polite and wordily affectionate was the lan-
guage of diplomacy employed by the two governments
upon the occasion of the treaty, historians recognize the
fact that the transaction was purely and simply a case of
"stand and deliver" on one side, and reluctant yielding on
the other. True, two concessions were made the reluctant
party-one expressed 'ii ih'e tr.eay .'ad the other under-
stood.2 One.was'th' the'DIuki o Pfjn'-Wvo.uld be raised
to a position..i'cdng the crowned heads b.. jope, by Na-
poleon'*'p'awer and iflju1ence....Tb .otler was'tlai'France
woultn~ever part w'ixhh' pi'r'. : tM itec gift unles'.it.be to
return'.it to the donor:' Nei'the'r 'f'th~'se pledges did Na-
poleon fulfill; and as that one in regard to the Duke of
Parma was a stipulated consideration in return for Louisi-
ana, non-fulfilment of the contract on the part of one, ac-
cording to the moral, as well as the common, law, cancelled
the obligation of the other. When the United States pur-
chased Louisiana, it acquired a vitiated title, which, if Spain
had been at the zenith of her power, would never have been
Numerous surmises have been advanced regarding Napo-
leon's motives in acquiring Louisiana. It is reasonable to
suppose that he had in view the rehabilitating of French
prestige in America. With the St. Ildefonso treaty as prece-
dent, the cession of Mexico and the Floridas could easily
'Treaty of Ildefonso, Oct. 27, i8oo.
SJune 19, 1802, Tallyrand pledges by letter to Spain that France
will never alienate Louisiana. (See Henry Adams: Hist. of the U.
S. during Jefferson's Administration, Vol. i, p. 400.)
The Third West Florida.
be brought about if once the sea of European politics would
settle down into tranquility and the French ship of State
be brought to anchor in smooth waters.
But war clouds again lowered, and the loss of Louisiana
was threatened. Livingston and Monroe, who were to
purchase a modest depot site, found the whole province of
Louisiana offered them. Acceptance of the offer and con-
summation of the transfer of the Province of Louisiana to
the United States will be found treated of elsewhere. Suf-
fice it to say, that on Nov. 30, 1803, Commissioner Laus-
sat, on the part of France, received the territory, secretly
ceded three years previously, from the Spanish Commis-
sioner Casa Calvo, and twenty days after (Dec. 20, 1803),.
Governor Claiborne, of the Mississippi Territory, and Gen-
eral James Wilkinson, on the part of the United States, re-
ceived the territory from Laussat, the ceremonies of transfer
taking place in the city of New Orleans.
Thus were the Spanish possessions about the northern,
shores of the Gulf of Mexico again split into two parts by
the Louisiana wedge On one side was Mexico; on the
other side were the Floridas. It was left to years of di-
plomacy to determine exactly what the boundaries should
be between the American purchase and the Spanish pos-
sessions, and it was not until 1819 that an amicable adjust-
ment was reached.
The year 1803, which saw Louisiana and the island of
New Orleans transferred to the United States, saw also,
Governor Folch, with headquarters at Pensacola, exercis-
ing jurisdiction over all Florida. De Grandpr6 was the-
military commander of the District of Baton Rouge, re-
maining as such until 1807 or 1808, when he was succeeded'
by Don Carlos Dehault de Lassus.
It had been a great disappointment to the English-
speaking population of West Florida, that the region in-
habited by them had not been included in the transfer of
Louisiana to the United States. To the north of them was
the Mississippi Territory, organized in 1798, in which a
less restraining, yet more stable, form of government stood
in contrast to that under which they were governed. The
rich lands about Baton Rouge, had induced many from the
Mississippi Territory to cross, with some hesitation, how-
ever, the line of demarkation, and take up their abode under
a jurisdiction distasteful to them. Antagonism between
the more favored Spanish subjects and the less favored
English-speaking immigrants was the inevitable result.
Complications in regard to smuggling and runaway slaves
arose, as they did at the other, or Georgia, end of the
Florida boundary line. The policy of De Lassus was vac-
illating; his character, weak. Innumerable causes of dis-
satisfaction were afforded every day by corrupt officials and
lax methods of suppressing crime. Spain, being so far away
and engrossed with her own affairs at that particular time,
it was beyond question to refer grievances to other than
prejudiced local tribunals. In the midst of this general un-
rest and discontent, intimation came that Bonaparte
claimed West Florida, and would soon take possession.
The West Floridians preferred the jurisdiction of the
United States. They were tolerant of and submissive to
-Spanish rule when based upon any semblance of right and
upon some consideration of their interests; but the idea
of being dominated by France inspired them with such
distaste that they were aroused to action.
A convention was proposed by citizens of Feliciana, and
theproposition was generally responded to by the other citi-
zens of the Districts. Delegates were elected, and the con-
vention met in open air at Buhler's Plains, July 17, i8io.
John Mills presided, and Dr. Steele acted as secretary. A
general desire to appeal for annexation to the United States
seemed at first to animate this convention. But unswerv-
ing allegiance to Spain, as against any effort of France to
take possession, was set forth by formal resolutions.'
1 "We, therefore, the people of West Florida, exercising the rights
-which incontestably devolve upon us, declare that we owe no allegi-
The Third West Florida.
Committees waited upon Governor De Lassus, to con-
vey to him the result of the deliberations of this conven-
tion, and to present to him memorials relative to the reor-
ganization of the West Florida government. This reor-
ganization was in no way to jeopardize the sovereignty
of Ferdinand VII over the province, and to De Lassus
himself was pledged the new governorship proposed.1
De Lassus apparently acquiesced in the proposed re-
forms, and another convention assembled, August 22, and
continued in session to August 25. John Rhea presided.
The sub-districts, or precincts, represented were New Fel-
idiana, St: Helena, Baton Rouge, and St. Ferdinand. The
organization of the new government was effected. De
Lassus was elected Governor; judges and "civil command-
ers" were appointed; Philemon Thomas was made colonel,
commanding all militia of the district. The convention
seems to have acted in a constitutional and sovereign ca-
pacity. The proclamation announcing the organization
of the new government was made August 22, addressed
to the inhabitants of the jurisdiction of Baton Rouge, and
signed by De Lassus, "Colonel of the Royal Armies, and
ance to the present ruler of the French nation, or to any king, prince-
or sovereign, who may be placed by him on the throne of Spain, and
we will always, and by all means in our power, resist any tyrannical
usurpation over us of whatever kind, or by whomsoever the same
may be attempted, and in order to more effectually preserve the
domestic tranquillity and secure for ourselves the blessings of peace
and the impartial administration of justice, we propose the follow-
ing." Then comes a series of thirteen articles, which might be termed
a projected constitution. (Publication of the Louisiana Historical
Association, Vol. i, part ii, p. 42.)
S"They wanted peace and the proper administration of justice.
S. Their address closes by forcibly reminding his Excellency of
the necessity for a strong militia, well organized, well equipped, and
well officered, to insure for the country complete exemption from,
anarchy and turmoil, and to lend force and dignity to their laws."
H. L. Favrot: "Some Account of the Causes that Brought About
the West Florida Revolution (compiled from MS. sources and pub-
lished in Part Ii of the Louisiana Historical Society Publication).
Governor, Civil and Military of the Place, and Jurisdiction
of Baton Rouge," and "the representatives of the people
of said jurisdiction in convention assembled."'
Before a month elapsed it was found that the acquies-
cence of De Lassus was a pretended one, and that his real
purpose was treachery. Correspondence, intercepted by
Colonel Thomas, revealed the fact that De Lassus was
pressing upon Folch at Pensacola the necessity of sending
to Baton Rouge a large force to quell an insurrection "of
his Catholic Majesty's subjects" then in progress. He
urged that Folch march to the scene in person and that
he summon assistance from Cuba, as the insurgents were
"desperate and determined."
Upon discovery of the Governor's treacherous plans,
Colonel Thomas immediately consulted with the leaders
of the recent movement. It was decided to raise the banner
1 To the Inhabi(ants of the Jurisdiction of Baton Rouge:
"His Excellency, Carlos Dehault DeLassus, Colonel of the
Royal Armies and Governor Civil and Military of the Place and
Jurisdiction of Baton Rouge, with the representatives of the people
of the said jurisdiction, in convention assembled, announce:
"That the measures proposed to be adopted for the public safety
and for the better administration of justice within the said jurisdiction,
are sanctioned and established as ordinances, to have the force and
authority of law, within the several districts of this jurisdiction, until
the same be submitted to the Captain-General of the island of Cuba,
and until his decision thereon shall be known. The said ordinances
will be made known in each district with all possible dispatch, and in
the meantime all the good people of this jurisdiction are required to
-preserve good order and avoid every movement which may disturb
the public tranquillity-it being the only object of both the Governor
and the representatives to consult the best interests of the inhabi-
tants. And although it is not intended to mark with severity the
,authors of the disorder which has appeared in several parts of the
country for some time past, yet all such persons as may be found
offending in that manner, after this date, will be punished with the
severity which the law prescribes and which their offences may
BATON ROUGE, August 22, ISIO."
(Louisiana Historical Society Papers, part rI, pp. 44-45.)
The Third West Florida.
of open revolt and declare West Florida a free and inde-
pendent State. A convention was held. Independence was
declared (Sept. 26, 18Io),1 and a new government under
Fulwar Skipwith, as governor, was instituted.
1" By the Representatives of the people of West Florida, in conven-
tion assembled :
"It is known to the world with how much fidelity the good people
of this Territory have professed and maintained allegiance to their
legitimate sovereign, while any hope remained of receiving from him
protection for their property and their lives.
Without making any unnecessary innovation in the established
principles of the government, we had voluntarily adopted certain regu-
lations, in concert with our First Magistrate, for the express purpose
of preserving this Territory, and showing our attachment to the
government which had heretofore protected us. This compact
which was entered into with good faith on our part, will forever
remain an honorable testimony of our upright intentions and invio-
lable fidelity to our king and parent country, while so much as a
shadow of legitimate authority remained to be exercised over us.
We sought only a speedy remedy for such evils as seemed to endan-
ger our existence and prosperity, and were encouraged by our Gov-
ernor with solemn promises of assistance and co-operation. But
those measures, which were intended for our preservation, he has
endeavored to pervert into an engine of destruction, by encouraging
in the most perfidious manner, the violation of ordinances sanctioned
and established by himself as the law of the land.
Being thus left without any hope of protection from the mother
country, betrayed by the magistrate whose duty it was to have pro-
vided for the safety and tranquillity of the people and government
committed to his charge, and exposed to all the evils of a state of
anarchy, which we have so long endeavored to avert, it becomes our
duty to provide for our own security, as a free and independent state,
absolved from all allegiance to a government which no longer pro-
"We, therefore, the representatives aforesaid, appealing to the
Supreme Ruler of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do
solemnly publish and declare the several districts composing this
Territory of West Florida to be a free and independent State; and
that they have a right to institute for themselves such form of govern-
ment as they may think conducive to their safety and happiness; to
form treaties; to establish commerce; .to provide for their com-
Meanwhile Thomas and the militia were engaged in
taking forcible possession of Spanish military defenses.
According to some accounts, De Lassus had absented him-
self from his post and left in command young Louis de
Grandpr6, grandson of Carlos de Grandpr6, former gov-
ernor, but in reality he was within the fort, tradition says,
in hiding, and it was because of his cowardice that his
young lieutenant assumed charge of the defenses.
Grandpr6 was besieged in Baton Rouge, and after a
gallant and stubborn resistance, in which he lost his life,
the post surrendered to the forces of the convention.
Thus was the birth of a new American State proclaimed,
and thus did a people wrest from a potentate their liberty
and independence. In order to better continue in the en-
joyment of these acquired privileges, application was made
for admission into the Union. A copy of the "declaration"
was forwarded to the President of the United States,
through Governor Holmes of the Mississippi Territory,
mon defence; and to do all acts which may, of right, be done by a
sovereign and independent nation; at the same time declaring all
acts, within the said Territory of West Florida, after this date, by
any tribunals or authorities not deriving their powers from the peo-
ple, agreeably to the provisions established by this Convention, to be
null and void ; and calling upon all foreign nations to respect this
declaration, acknowledging our independence, and giving us such
aid as may be consistent with the laws and usages of nations."
(Gayarr6 : Hist. of La., Vol. 2, pp. 231-233.)
Gayarr6 finds it strange that in this document of the revolters,
allusion is made to the fidelity with which they had professed and
maintained allegiance to their legitimate sovereign," and to their
solicitude to proclaim that "they had not taken arms against the
king." (Hist. of La., Vol. 4, p. 231.) He seems not to have had
access to data concerning the previous uprising of the West Floridians,
in which they declared their continued allegiance to the king, and
had in view only the bettering of the government and stricter admin-
istration of justice, while continuing the Spanish governor, DeLassus,
in office. This is what the declarers meant in alluding to their past
loyalty-that their former movement had not been insurrectionary.
With their present movement they did not couple their expressions
The Third West Florida.
and Rhea, writing under date of October o1, opened com-
munication with the Secretary of State at Washington, with
a view to either admission or annexation. Inasmuch as the
inhabitants had risked both blood and treasure in the ac-
quirement of the territory, it was sought to reserve the
public lands to their exclusive benefit.1 October 27, Presi-
dent Madison issued his proclamation declaring West
Florida under the jurisdiction of the United States. Gov-
ernor Claiborne of Orleans Territory was ordered to take
possession, and, repairing to Natchez, he organized a small
force of mounted milita, entered West Florida, and at St.
Francisville, one of the principal towns of the Territory,
raised the flag of the United States. No opposition was
The beginning of the "Free and Independent State of
West Florida" dates with the assembling of the convention,
September 23, 181o; and its career terminates with the
raising of the flag of the United States at St. Francisville,
December 6, of the same year. Yet brief as was this career,
it was nevertheless active. When the Spanish authorities
of Baton Rouge were deposed, it was anticipated that Gov-
ernor Folch would attempt to interfere with the organiza-
tion of the little republic. So the convention posted a line
of sentinels along the banks of the Pearl river, the eastern
boundary of the part of West Florida in revolt. The main-
tenance of this line was found to be an uncertain and ex-
pensive means of safety against attack. It was determined
to settle the matter at once by a resort to arms. War was
declared against Mobile. An expedition under the com-
mand of Colonel Reuben Kemper' made its way to the
1 The claim of the West Floridians to their public domain was
rejected upon the theory that West Florida already belonged to the
United States as a part of the Louisiana Territory purchase.
2 Kemper was one of three gigantic brothers, living in the neigh-
boring Mississippi Territory, all of whom had previously incurred
the displeasure of the Spanish authorities. One of them had been
imprisoned, since which time the Spaniards had no foe more relent-
less than the Kempers.
shores of Mobile bay; but, being poorly equipped, was
compelled to defer its attack until a supply of arms and
munitions could be procured. An agent of Kemper man-
aged to purchase of Henri de la Francia, a citizen of Baton
Rouge, a lot of arms,'and the convention brought a flat-
boat load of Western produce, transferred it to a keel-boat,
and sent it to the relief of Kemper.
Governor Folch was completely demoralized at the dis-
play of force made by Kemper; he wrote, December 3, to
President Madison, imploring the Government of the
United States to send the garrison of Fort Stoddard to
help him "drive Reuben Kemper back to Baton Rouge,"
and to send commissioners with power to treat for the
transfer of Mobile and the rest of the province of West
Florida to the United States. Three days later, Claiborne
reached St. Francisville. Kemper and his men, being with-
out governmental authority to sustain them in their un-
dertaking, made their way back.
Theannexationof West Florida called forth protests from
Spain and Great Britain.' Indeed, such was the attitude
of the latter that Congress passed secret acts authorizing
the President to take temporary possession of East Florida
(Jan. 15 and Mar. 3, 1811) should England, persisting in
the idea that there was a territorial grab game going on
without her participation, endeavor to seize East Florida.'
SIt is interesting to note that these same arms formed a part of the
much-needed equipment which General Jackson, five years later,
with difficulty collected for the defence of New Orleans against the
'" I deem it incumbent upon me," said Mr. Morier, Great Britain's
representative at Washington, to the Secretary of the State, on the
i5th of December, "considering the strict and close alliance which
subsists between His Majesty's Government and that of Spain, to
express to the Government of the United States, through you, the
deep regret with which I have seen that part of the President's mes-
sage to Congress, in which the determination of this government to
take possession of West Florida is avowed." (Gayarrd: Hist. of La.,
Vol. 4, p. 241.)
See Winsor : Nar. and Crit. Hist. of America, Vol. 7, p. 546.
235] The Third West Florida. 35
Indeed, in 1814, General Jackson, commanding the military
defenses of the South in the war of 1812, was under the
necessity of invading the Spanish province to drive British
forces from Pensacola.
January 22, 1812, by act of Congress, Louisiana was ad-
mitted to the American Union as a State. April 14 follow-
ing, an act adding that part of West Florida lying between
the Pearl and Mississippi rivers to Louisiana as constituted,
was approved by the President. Thus, after many cruises
in various jurisdictional seas, the West Florida ship of
State finally came to permanent anchorage in undisturbed
waters, its memory still preserved in every allusion to the
"Florida Parishes" of Louisiana.
The Madison-Livingston Theory of West
THE MADISON-LIVINGSTON THEORY OF WEST
I.-MR. MADISON'S ACCEPTANCE OF MR. LIVINGSTON'S
In the beginning of this paper reference was made to the
fact that a number of historical works give the limits of
the Louisiana purchase as extending eastward to the Per-
dido river. The first intimation of this extension came
from Mr. Livingston, Minister to France, who in a letter to
Secretary of State Madison, of date May 20, 1803, exactly
twenty days after the treaty was signed which ceded Louis-
iana to the United States, alludes to a conversation held
with Marbois,1 in which the latter stated as an historic
fact that Mobile was once a part of French Louisiana. Mr.
Livingston then analyzes the clause in the treaty of Ilde-
fonso, which specifies that the Louisiana therein ceded to
France was of "the same extent it now has in the hands
of Spain, and which it had when France possessed it," and
deduces therefrom an acquired right of the United States
to the greater part of the territory of West Florida as in-
cluded in the Louisiana purchase. He advises strongly
that Madison adopt this view and insist upon the boun-
daries thus extended. Madison did so, and this view be-
came an established opinion which actuated him after he
had become President of the United States. Either this
view was wrongly taken, or such careful investigators as
McMaster, Hart, and others are in error.
1French Minister of Foreign Affairs and author of an excellent his-
tory of Louisiana.
It should be remembered that the desire of the United
States at no time, either by popular discussion or Presi-
dential letter of instructions, extended to the possession
of territory west of the Mississippi river. This river was
looked upon as a natural boundary. The acquirement of
the Floridas and the island of New Orleans would extend
this boundary along the whole length of the river to the
Gulf, which was an object greatly to be desired by the
Livingston was authorized to negotiate for the cession,
by treaty or sale, to the United States of the island of New
Orleans and the Floridas, if not East Florida at least West
Florida. Even after the purchase of Louisiana was con-
cluded, Monroe was instructed by Madison to continue
and press the negotiations for the acquirement of the
Floridas. The importance of these to the United States
is indicated by the persistent diplomacy, covering a period
of more than sixteen years, which the Federal Government
employed in holding to the idea that Florida must be ours.
A negotiation which aimed at the acquirement of Florida
and resulted in the acquirement of the west bank of the
Mississippi, was a partial administrative failure. Little or
nothing was known of the West in those days; the frontier
civilization had but a short time previous been moved beyond
the Alleghanies. What was wanted, was not land beyond
the river, but removal of the barriers which barred egress
to the Gulf.
Jefferson, President when Louisiana was purchased, was
borne into office by the popularity of the principles he rep-
resented. The continuance of his party in power depended,
in those days of unstocked conventions and free expres-
sion of the people's will, upon the success of the adminis-
tration in executing the will and desires of the people.
Secretary of State Madison was, therefore, more than
willing to grasp at the straw of West Florida acquirement
held out by Livingston.
241] The Basis of Mr. Livingston's Claim. 41
II.-THE BASIS OF MR. LIVINGSTON'S CLAIM.
An examination of the correspondence which passed
between Livingston, while Minister to France, and Secre-
tary of State Madison betrays unmistakably the motive
which actuated Livingston in claiming West Florida to
the Perdido as included in the Louisiana purchase.
Taking up the correspondence at that point where Liv-
ingston is not yet fully sure of the fact that Spain had
secretly ceded Louisiana to France,' we find him ascrib-
ing as a reason why the French Minister will give him no
information, the fact that a difference exists between France
and Spain in regard to the limits of the ceded province2
-whether they included the Floridas or not, France sO-
claiming, and Spain denying. He further adds in the same
letter: "The French government had probably no doubt
until we started it." This is a remarkable admission. The
United States wants to know who owns West Florida. The
mere asking suggests to France doubtful ownership. A
claim-all spirit manifests itself. The letter also shows Spain
consistently maintaining her claim to Florida. This, com-
ing between the Louisiana retrocession and purchase is
The correspondence then indicates some uncertainty in
Livingston's mind as to whom he should apply in order
to execute his commission of buying West Florida. May
28, he presumes to Spanish Ambassador d'Azara, "the
Floridas are not included" in the St. Ildefonso cession.
September i,' he has "every reason to believe the Floridas
are not included." November 2, he writes : "Florida is
not, as I before told you, included in the cession." Novem-
ber II, we find him writing:5 "In my letter to the Presi-
'Letter of December lo, i8or.
i Letter of May 28, 1802.
s Livingston to Madison, September i, i802.
'Livingston to Madison, November 2, 1802.
'Livingston to Madison, November I1, 1802.
dent, I informed him that General Bornouville had gone
post-haste to Spain, and that I had reason to think he had
it in charge to obtain the Floridas." November 14, he has
"obtained accurate information" of the offer to be made by
France for Florida.' December 20, he writes :2 "France
has not yet got Florida."
At the time Livingston is thus writing to his home gov-
ernment his positive statements in regard to France's non-
acquirement of Florida, we find him "presuming the Flor-
idas are in the hands of France" in a communication to the
French Minister of Foreign Relations,3 and then communi-
cating to Madison: "The Floridas, not yet ceded."4 "The
essential fact for us is that the Floridas are not yet ceded."'
"Florida is not yet ceded, nor, as I hope, likely to be so."'
In reading the letters of Livingston one gets an un-
pleasant sense of helplessness displayed upon the part of
our diplomatic representative. For more than a year his
messages to his home government tell the monotonous
story of nothing definitely accomplished. The presidential
election was near at hand, and there was_nothing as yet
to report to the American people. Thus it was that the
halting forces of American diplomacy at Paris were re-en-
forced and James Monroe sent as Minister Plenipotentiary
and Envoy Extraordinary to hasten a victory.
March 3, 1803, Livingston writes in reply to the notifi-
cation of Monroe's appointment, just received, and wishes
Monroe success, adding the familiar refrain "The Floridas
are still in the hands of Spain." From the time Monroe
reaches Paris, and becomes co-signer with Livingston of
the letters to Madison, reporting progress, there is seen a
radical change in the tone and spirit of these letters. Di-
'Livingston to Madison, November 14, 1802.
Livingston to Madison, December 20, 1802.
Livingston to Minister Foreign Relations, January io, 1803.
SLivingston to Madison, February 5, 1803.
5 Livingston to Madison, February 18, 1803.
*Livingston to Madison, March 24, 1803.
243] The Basis of Mr. Livingston's Claim. 43'
rectness and "business" animate them. These qualities in
Monroe, with the opportune time of his arrival, brought
speedy results, for less than a month after his arrival,
Lousiana, with its magnificent domain, passed by treaty of
purchase to the possession of the United States (April 30,.
Monroe's appointment and the speedy conclusion of
Louisiana cession after his arrival, was a source of chagrin
to Livingston. He had written,1 after receiving the noti-
fication of Monroe's appointment, and before Monroe's
arrival in Paris, "With respect to the negotiation for Louis-
iana, I think nothing will be effected here." His personal
feeling in the matter is manifest in his letters of March 18,
1803, and June 25, 1803. "I cannot but wish, sir," he-
writes in the first, "that my fellow citizens should not be
led to believe from Mr. Monroe's appointment, that I had
been neglectful of their interests." And in the last named
he claims that his management and diplomacy had brought:
the French government to terms before Monroe's arrival.
As time passed on Livingston realized that a great event
had taken place, and that there were indications that his
name would go down in history as taking a secondary part
therein. Note how he holds himself up to Secretary Madi-
son:2 "I this day got a sight of a letter from the minister,.
containing directions for giving up the country, and assign-
ing the reason for the cession. I was much flattered to find
their reasons drawn from the memoir I had presented." By
November the idea that he principally had achieved the
Louisiana purchase had so grown that we find him con-
ceding as follows"8 "There is no doubt Mr. Monroe's
talents and address would have enabled him, had he been
placed in my circumstances, to have effected what I have
done. But he came too late to do more than assent to the
1 Livingston to President Jefferson, March 12, 1803.
2Livingston to Madison, July 30, 1803.
3Livingston to Madison, November 15, 1803.
proposition that was made us and to aid in reducing it to
form." This letter also refers to some feeling on the part
,of Mr. Livingston's friends that Monroe should be men-
tioned in the papers at home as acting minister, and that
he (Livingston) was not the principal agent in treating
The foregoing gives us the key to Mr. Livingston's sud-
den change of conviction concerning West Florida when
Minister Marbois intimated that Mobile was once a part
of Colonial Louisiana. It had been and was the desire of
the United States to acquire West Florida and the Island
of Orleans. Monroe had assented to the purchase of Lou-
isiana instead. If Livingston could formulate a reasonable
theory upon which the United States could base a claim to
West Florida the glory would be his and his alone. Per-
haps his friends at home who were so solicitous in regard
to his not being subordinated to Mr. Monroe, might even
persuade a grateful people to confer upon him the highest
honor within their gift, an honor afterwards conferred upon
To substantiate this view it will be noted that Livingston,
.at a time when official communications to the Department
.of State at Washington, from the American mission in
Paris, were being signed by both Monroe and himself,
writes over his own signature, and evidently without con-
.sulting his colleague, his advice to claim West Florida and
his argument therefore. This letter bears date of May 2o,
1803, and it is not until June 7, that Monroe and Living-
ston are jointly and officially "happy to have it in our power
to inform you that on a thorough examination of the sub-
ject, we consider it incontrovertible that West Florida is
-comprised in the cession of Louisiana."'
Here is Mr. Livingston's personal letter of May 20:
"I informed you long since that on inquiring whether
the Floridas were within the cession of Spain, I was told
' Monroe and Livingston to Madison, June 7, 1803.
245] The Basis of Mr. Livingston's Claim. 45-
by M. Marbois he was sure that Mobile was, but could not
answer further. I believed the information incorrect be-
cause I understood that Louisiana as it then was, made
the object of the cession, and that since the possession of
the Floridas by Britain, they had changed their names.
But the moment I saw the words of the treaty of Madrid
I had no doubt but it included all the country that France
possessed by the name of Louisiana previous to their ces--
sion to Spain, except what had been conveyed by subse-
quent treaties. I accordingly insisted with M. Marbois at
the time we negotiated, that this would be considered as.
part of our purchase. He neither assented or denied, but
said all they received from Spain was intended to be con-
veyed to us. That my construction was right is fairly to,
be inferred from the words of the treaties and from a com-
ment upon them contained in the Spanish Minister's let-
ter to Mr. Pinckney, in which he expressly says that'
France had received Louisiana as it formerly belonged to,
her saving the rights of other Powers. This leaves no doubt
upon the subject of the intention of the contracting parties.
Now it is well known that Louisiana as possessed by
France was bounded by the Perdido, and that Mobile was.
the metropolis. [?] For the facts relative to this I refer you
to Raynal and to his maps. I have also seen maps here
which put the matter out of doubt.
"I called upon M. Marbois for a further explanation on
this subject and to remind him of his having told me that
Mobile made a part of the cession. He told me he had no
precise idea on the subject, but that he knew it to be a his-
-torical fact, and that on that only he had passed his opin-
ion. I asked him what orders had been given to the Pre-
fect who was to take possession, or what orders had been
given by Spain as to boundary in ceding it. He assured
me that he did not know, but that he would make inquiry
and let me know. At four o'clock I called for Mr. Mon-
roe to take him to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but he
was prevented from accompanying me. I asked the Minis-
ter what were the eastern boundaries of the territory ceded
to us. He said he did not know; we must take it as they
had received it. I asked him how Spain meant to give
them possession? He said according to the words of the
treaty. But what did you mean to take? I do not know.
Then you mean we shall construe it in our own way? I
can give you no directions; you have made a noble bar-
gain for yourselves and I suppose you will make the most
"Now, sir, the sum of this business is, to recommend to
you in the strongest terms, after having obtained the pos-
session that the French commissary will give you, to insist
.upon this as a part of your right, and to take possession
.at all events to the river Perdido. I pledge myself that
your right is good; and after the explanations that have
been given here you need apprehend nothing from a deci-
.sive measure. Your Minister here and at Madrid can sup-
port your claim, and the time is peculiarly favorable to en-
:able you to do it without the smallest risk at home. It may
also be important to anticipate any designs that Britain
may have upon that country. Should she possess herself of
it and the war terminate favorably, she will not readily re-
linquish it. With this in your hand East Florida will be of
little moment and may be yours whenever you please. At
-all events proclaim your right and take possession."
In view of the facts as previously reported by Mr. Living-
ston that Spain denied from the first having included West
Florida in the St.Ildefonso cession; that France was wholly
in ignorance of having acquired any claim to West Florida
until Mr. Livingston's inquiries suggested that claim be
made; and that France negotiated anew for the Floridas
after the St. Ildefonso cession, thus showing France's St.
Ildefonso claim to Florida being specious and untenable
these facts render comment on the letter unnecessary, par-
ticularly as we have considered the treaty phase of the sub-
ject in another place.
Madison made the claim as directed, but the United
:States did not take possession of West Florida when Louis-
iana passed into her hands. But for the successful revolt
-of the West Floridians in 181o, and their application for
admission or annexation, the title to West Florida would
-have been an open question until 1819. As it was,the treaty
making cession of Florida to the United States specified
East and West Florida.1
SThis claim certainly did not impress the mind of President Jeffer-
-son very forcibly, for we find him writing, in 1809, after his retire-
247] Successive Jurisdictional Rights to West Florida. 47
III.-A RESUME OF SUCCESSIVE JURISDICTIONAL RIGHTS
TO THE TERRITORY OF WEST FLORIDA.
The successive changes in the jurisdictional right to West
Florida may be summarized as follows:
1512 to 1699 Spain's by right of Discovery and Explora-
1699 to 1763 France's by right of Occupancy.
1763 to 1783 England's by right of Treaty.
1783 to 18Io Spain's by right of Conquest.
I8Io (Sept. 26) to 1810 (Oct. 27) Independent by Declar-
ation and Revolt.
18Io (Oct. 27) to 1812 (April 14) United States Territory
1812 (April 14) to .... Louisiana's by Act of Congress.
The original right of Spain to the Gulf coast by discovery
and exploration cannot be gainsaid. But discovery only fur-
nishes an inchoate title to possession in the discoverer.1
Grotius, Puffendorf and Pothier all agree that to complete
title, the right to the thing and the possession of the thing
should be united. Spain united her right to Florida with
her possession of Florida when she established permanent
settlements at St. Augustine (1565) and at Pensacola
When France laid claim to the lower Mississippi Valley,
her title was a questionable one. The region had already
been discovered, explored and claimed. Her right could
ment: [Bonaparte] would give us the Floridas to withhold inter-
course with the residue of those [the Spanish] colonies. But that is
no price; because they are ours in the first moment of the first war ;
and until a war, they are of no particular necessity to us ." This
is a virtual acknowledgment, by one preeminently qualified to know,
that the acquirement of the Floridas was a matter for future con-
sideration, and that neither one of the Floridas had come into pos-
session of the United States by the Louisiana purchase. See John
T. Morse, Jr.t Thomas Jefferson, p. 322. (American Statesmen
1 Phillimore: International Law, Vol. I, p. 268.
have been set aside at any time, as it subsequently was by
England in the Ohio Valley, had her national strength not
been such as to preclude a weaker nation such as Spain
from successfully resisting encroachment. Long years of
undisturbed occupancy bettered France's claim.
When France, Spain, and Great Britain were made par-
ties to the treaty 1763, which ceded Louisiana to Spain and
Florida to Great Britain, valid title by possession of her
part of the ceded territory was acquired by Great Britain
at once (1763).
Spain failed to make good by occupancy her title until
1769, when O'Reilly took formal possession. For six years,
therefore, the Louisiana as France possessed it, and as
Spain received it, included no territory between the Miss-
issippi and Perdido rivers.
In 1779-81 Spain acquired West Florida, as well as East
Florida by right of conquest, confirmed by treaty of 1783.
By no logical process of reasoning can it be shown that
Spain's independent title to West Florida thus acquired
should be included in Spain's previously acquired title to
Louisiana and the island of New Orleans.
Unquestionably France's title to Louisiana reacquired by
the secret treaty of St. Ildefonso was invalidated by her fail-
ure to return the promised consideration. Contracts be-
tween nations should be held as inviolable as contracts be-
tween individuals, and the fact that no tribunal exists to ad-
minister international justice and compel nations to act in
conformity with moral law and international rights, is no
reason why historians should side with might in error
as against right in misfortune.'
1It has sometimes been said that there can be no laws between
nations, because they acknowledge no common superior authority,
no international executive capable of enforcing the precepts of inter-
This confounds two distinct things, viz.: the physical sanction
which law derives from being enforced by superior power, and the
moral sanction conferred on it by the fundamental principle of right.
International justice would not be less deserving of that appella-
249] Successive Jurisdictional Rights to West Florida. 49
Spain's weakness prevented her from doing more than
protest against the bad faith which actuated Napoleon in
selling Louisiana. This she did.1 But however unheeded
went this protest, Spain upheld her claim to the Floridas
and consistently insisted from beginning to end of the ter-
ritorial controversy with the United States that no just
interpretation of the St. Ildefonso treaty and of its resultant
Louisiana purchase treaty would include any part of West
Florida in the Louisiana retroceded to France and sold by.
that nation to the United States.
Article III of the St. Ildefonso treaty, secretly concluded
October I, I8oo, reads as follows:2
"His Catholic majesty promises and engages on his part,
to cede to the French Republic, six months after the full
and entire execution of the conditions and stipulations
herein relative to his royal highness the Duke of Parma,
the colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent
that it has now in the hands of Spain, and that it had when
France possessed it; and such as it should be after the
treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and the
The "extent that it now has in the hands of Spain" did not
mean to include West Florida, for the latter was separate
from Louisiana in the Spanish mind; and in governmental
ordinances and treaties the Floridas are always specified
as distinct from Louisiana, Cuba and other Spanish pos-
sessions.3 "And that it had when France possessed it."
When France possessed it between 1763 and 1769, as we
tion if the sanctions of it were wholly incapable of being enforced.
(Phillimore: Commentaries upon International Law, Vol. i, p. 75.)
'Letters of September 4 and September 27, 1803, from Marquis de
Casa Yrujo, Minister of Spain, to Secretary Madison, hold that (i)
France had renounced right of alienating the acquired territory; (2)
had neglected to carry out provisions of the St. Ildefonso treaty in
regard to the Duke of Parma.
SMartens : Recueil de Traites, Vol. 10, p. 467.
3 Galvez held the commission of Governor-General of Cuba, the
Floridas and Louisiana.
have seen, it did not include West Florida. "And such as
it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into be-
tween Spain and other States." Spain entered into no treaty
with other States relative to Louisiana until she ceded it
back to France in 18oo. She had, however, entered into
two treaties in regard to the Floridas; one with England,
acquiring possession of them (1783), and the other with
the United States, fixing their northern boundary (1795).
The Louisiana ceded to Spain by France, and retroceded
by Spain to France, did not extend to the Perdido river.
The only territory east of the Mississippi river included
in the Louisiana transferred, and retransferred, was the tri-
angular portion extending from Bayou Manchac and the
lakes, down the east bank of the Mississippi to its mouth,
and known as the Island of Orleans.
No better argument can be made to support this state-
ment than the unanswerable letter of Tallyrand here ap-
pended. Monroe had written Tallyrand under date of Nov.
8, 1804, to invoke his support in the cause of the United
States in its claim to West Florida, as Tallyrand was fully
conversant with facts connected with the secret St. Ilde-
fonso treaty.' Tallyrand replies as follows:
"France, in giving up Louisiana to the United States,
transferred to them all the rights over that territory which
she had acquired from Spain. She could not nor did she
wish to cede any other; and that no room might be left for
doubt in this respect, she repeated in her treaty of 3oth of
April, 1803, the literal expression of the treaty of St. Ilde-
fonso, by which she had acquired that colony two years
before. Nor was it stipulated in her treaty of the year
'While the general reputation of Tallyrand would cause one to
hesitate before ascribing to any utterance of his undue weight, yet
the letter cited bears every mark of sincerity, and may well be taken
as strong corroborative testimony. J. L. M. Curry maintains that
this letter decidedly weakened the contention of the United States
that Louisiana, as purchased, extended to the Perdido river. See
Curry: "Acquisition of Florida", Magazine of American History, for
251] Successive Jurisdictional Rights to West Florida. 51
18oi that the acquisition of Louisiana by France was a
retrocession: that is to say that Spain restored to France
what she had received from her in 1762. At that period
she had received the territory bounded on the east by the
Mississippi, the river Iberville, the lakes Maurepas and
Pontchartrain: the same day France ceded to England by
the preliminaries of peace, all the territory to the eastward.
Of this Spain had received no part and could therefore give
back none to France.
"All the territory lying to the eastward of the Mississippi
and south of the 32d degree of north latitude bears the
name of Florida. It has been constantly designated in that
way during the time that Spain held it: it bears the same
name in the treaties of limits between Spain and the United
States: and in different notes of Mr. Livingston of a later
date than the treaty of retrocession in which the name of
Louisiana is given to the territory on the west side of the
Mississippi: of Florida to that on the east side of it.
"According to this designation thus consecrated by time
even prior to the period when Spain began to possess the
whole territory between the 31st degree, the Mississippi,
and the sea, the country ought in good faith and justice
to be distinguished from Louisiana.
"Your Excellency knows that before the preliminaries of
1762, confirmed by the treaty of 1763 the French posses-
sions situated near the Mississippi extended as far from
the east of this river toward the Ohio and Illinois as in the
quarter of Mobile; and you must think it as unnatural, after
all the changes of sovereignty which that part of America
has undergone to give the name of Louisiana to the Mobile
district as to territory more to the north of it, on the same
bank of the river, which formerly belonged to France.
"These observations, sir, will be sufficient to dispel every
kind of doubt with regard to the extent of the retrocession
made by Spain to France in the month Vendemiaire, year
9. It was under this impression that the Spanish and
French Plenipotentiaries negotiated and it was under this
impression that I have since had occasion to give the ne-
cessary explanations when a project was formed to take
possession of it. I have laid before his Imperial Majesty
the negotiations of Madrid which preceded the treaty of
18oi and his Majesty is convinced that during the whole
course of these negotiations, the Spanish Government has
constantly refused to cede any part of the Floridas, even
from the Mississippi to Mobile.
"His Imperial Majesty has, moreover, authorized me to
declare to you that at the beginning of the year II, Gen.
Bournouville was charged to open a new negotiation with
Spain for the acquisition of the Floridas. His project which
has not been followed by any treaty is an evident proof that
France had not acquired by the treaty retroceding Louis-
iana the country east of the Mississippi."
Future contributors to the history and cartography of the
United States will do well to investigate the subject as out-
lined in this paper, and by way of suggestion a map is
appended indicating the corrections to be made in maps
showing acquirements of territory by the United States, if
the views set forth in this paper be found substantially cor-
1512 De Leon discovers Florida.
1519 Pineda explores coast of West Florida.
1528 De Narvaez invades Florida.
1539-41 De Soto's expedition.
1565 Spanish settle St. Augustine.
1682 La Salle takes possession of the lower Mississippi
1699 Spanish settle Pensacola.
French settle Biloxi.
1716 Fort Rosalie (Natchez) established.
1718 New Orleans founded.
1755 War between France and England in America begins.
1762 Preliminary Treaty between Great Britain, France,
and Spain. (Nov. 3.)
1763 Treaty of Paris. Louisiana ceded to Spain; the Flor-
idas to England. (Feb. io.)
Proclamation of George III constituting province of
West Florida. (Oct. 7.) Johnstone, Governor.
1764 Louis XV. commissions M. d'Abadie to deliver Lou-
isiana to the Spanish representative. (April 21.)
1766 Ulloa arrives in Louisiana to take possession for
Spain. (Mar. 5.) Fails to do so.
"1767 Great Britain establishes 320 28' as the northern
boundary of West Florida. Elliott, Governor.
1769 O'Reilly takes possession of Louisiana for Spain.
1770 Peter Chester becomes Governor of West Florida.
1775 War between England and the English colonies
in America begins.
1777 France allies herself with America.
1778 Willing's raid into West Florida.
1779 Spain declares war against Great Britain.
Galvez, Governor of Louisiana invades West Florida;
captures Fort Bute. (Sept. 7.)
1780 Galvez captures Ft. Charlotte (Mobile.) (Mar. 14.)
1781 Galvez captures the English Fort at Pensacola. (May
1783 Treaty of Paris. The Floridas ceded by Great Britain
1795 Treaty between Spain and the United States. 31st
parallel decided upon as the boundary line be-
tween the United States and the Floridas.
18oo Secret Treaty of St. Ildefonso. Louisiana retroceded
to France. (Oct. 7.)
1803 Treaty ceding Louisiana to the United States signed.
(April 30.) United States takes possession of
Louisiana and the Island of New Orleans. (Dec.
181o Convention of Buhler's Plains, West Florida. (June
Memorial to Gov. De Lassus by citizens of West Fla.
Convention of Baton Rouge. (Aug. 22-25.)
Treachery of De Lassus discovered. (Sept. 20.)
Spanish Post of Baton Rouge stormed and captured.
Independence of West Florida declared. (Sept. 26.)
West Florida between the Mississippi and Pearl rivers
annexed to the United States upon petition of the
West Florida revolters. President's proclamation
issued. (Oct. 27.)
1812 Louisiana admitted to the Union. (Jan. 22.) An-
nexed territory of West Florida joined to the
State of Louisiana by Act of Congress. (April 14.)
Pearl-Perdido portion annexed to Mississippi
1813 United States takes possession of the Mobile district
of West Florida. (April 15.)
255] Chronology. 55
1819 Florida cession treaty concluded with Spain. (Feb.
1820 King of Spain ratifies Florida cession treaty. (Oct.
1821 Cession of the Floridas proclaimed. (Feb. 22.)
Formal transfer of the Floridas to the United States.
Reference, authorities, and sources of information consulted in the
preparation of the foregoing monograph :
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27. Decouvertes et etablissments des Francais dans l'ouest et
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32. Miscellaneous Documents, House of Representatives, 2nd
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33. "MSS. Narrative of West Florida revolt, compiled from docu-
mentary and traditional sources." By Henry Skipwith, Esq., of
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