Title: Letters on Florida
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/Fs00000081/00001
 Material Information
Title: Letters on Florida
Series Title: Letters on Florida
Physical Description: Book
Publication Date: 1835
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Bibliographic ID: Fs00000081
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Florida State University
Holding Location: Florida State University
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Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA0994

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IN cocirnon with many o(thrlle-, I se' that you labor under much
misconception with regard to tis -:etili-,n ofc.iuaiy, Ji:-1lleI: Florida.
Allo\\ an old resident, allhio,.lih in so youna a c(i.ntry, [t: ,et you to
rights in matters n hir -I yiour letters i lhi ch I translate into illi.i-
ries) iniiJcatr you to be somewhat in the dark abjut. 'r.
I m111 .1 ir yu-.i toi the maps, which are in the hands of every one,
i:for the eo .t: i[h;..l position I.Fr thi; interemtirn territory; and I
ni-rely olisive to iyou, that it is divided into I'u:ir judicial dll-tril- i,
E., \'., Mi.:lldI aild S. ; and for legislature, into 16 counties. The
pt:.-nin-lula of E. Flofi.,a, (.o-is3, Alachuai, Na -au, St- Johns,
Mosquito, Duval, and MI.Iru -A, (wh]iih i in:lu,.lc- Khe ''-est.) Mid-
dle Florida, co rilaii, GiadI-kit L.-in, .I:d-.; .ni. M.a i;ni, and Ham-
il-on ; nndIJ Floi ida, E-cz_' ijli, ahhli~ rt:,n, \V.alion, Jackson,
and Franklin, (in which A\liil.thii.i .la it.nld-.. TI lf -e have also
their county and ar .. it-- iiI.l.; A.\,1:,lnl thI mr th-e send 24
rerlIl..,-r- to a Li:-lduir e Council, which asiembles abn lt the third
Aonda.y of every J.aniar-y, at Tallal.i: :-e, iiler., pe idet i:, f their
own(clih,-iii:, and a governor appoinied by tlh President of the
UTnIied States for the term of thiee \, ,,s. The duties of this last
are ,o light, that the territory may be said to walk alone. It is well
known that Congress has tIie power of not confirming any act
p -:i.n] in that council.
When tJi leniit ry ias -: lit- er-d 10to te li ,iiic.i d statess in 1821,
in v;i i.e Of rh- Floriila ti' y dt f 1.1' [' p.c.ula[iuni scarcely
anrn.i tiil to 10,0i0 1 -ou], Wi.i:.i, l! i. i:l;i PenK a. .'- .a, St. Au-
i;ll-rn-, a l :1 Sij arr' po:l .ili,,! i;n c..nl i iY1 -t l].-r!! nt-- ,-f these, the
Inlian- rn'1ial amount t [t -10()0i. I'Pri--ti1t!v -n ,-ilbi-lhril,:-nli was
Io.rle at I e ; .-it, of li: i h: e h.1Ill l L i (ir i ly -1pel ak, ,nd a ioil-y
cla-- -. ii al.ait s. alriza' and.l oIlt ., p ucmii're i- the i only two
'ea p rn- i: alo i n.riioriId ii ch,- g. T i-'t.I-tni, s o e f 'bettering
ljieir on.litiOn, oih,:rs of 'hacint- thl-ir -taie, :uid ll ,I them per-
su.alled 1h1i t the -rt:: tA "ere p-v\-d % W i ,"old- l'atal ii:tt|l:tiiot Let
lo': -Ce fl :im other -o, i i,:te di.-IIIoiiitedtl in thl-.,r hopu-s and witlih,,i
emiploy-I'-un i.I'ai,. kind, i -ii,- 1- conrrel .- blit t-o fr-I.qie-nil'Y in-
cliinh d to di-iparn -,n :and PeI-n ,a ol a:r]i-tnm.d to lenlh 1and rI'ei
red lialit, and St. Au-_istiie lorniFrri, denominated by the Span-
iards t[lie ard,:n of America, both Soon becaiiie the prey of dis-

ease, and for the first time bilious malignant fevers were numbered
in their records, carrying otT numerous victims. The old inhabi-
tants retired to other countries more consonant to their habits, their
religion bnd their language, depopulating those cities, which on the
other hand ofl'ered no inducement to our enterprising citizens, by
reason of the very sterile back country in the neighborhood of
In the meantime, the general government was taking its measures
for the administration and settlement of this new acquisition. A seat
of government was selected by commissioners-the present Talla-
hassee. The territorial governrgnt was soon established in its pre-
sent form., Commissioners were appointed, and laws passed, to
look into and regulate the pending land claims. Attention was tur-
ned*to Pensacola from itssituation in the pulph, and its very con-
venient waters as a naval arsenal. Another station was contempla-
ted about the desolate Tortugas, or the now well settled Key West.
These dispositions tended to introduce settlers of various descrip-
tions ; wlle the owners of lands were strenuous on their side, not
only to improve their own possessions, but to make sales to others.
Other laws were framed for the more speedy settlement of pending
land claims; and lastly, a general land office was opened for the
disposal of those of the public property. From these causes, the
spirit of enterprise was gradually awakened, and the population in-
creased, insomuch, that by a census taken in the beginning of 1831,
I find the whole number was 34,725, viz : whites, 18,385 ; free
colored, 840 ; slaves, 15,500, a vast increase in ten years.
And speedier far might have been its progress but for some cir-
cumstances, which it is now painful for me to recur to, and more
painful still to have witnessed, although I now hope they have cea-
sed for ever to exert their deadly influence near us. First, no
men of solid capital had yet appeared amongst us, and there was no
money of a circulating medium to meet the wants of the country.-
There existed an unconquerable zeal in the raising the sugar cane,
while no effort could stamp it as staple commodity. Lastly, land
speculators, who had obtained the first purchases at very low prices,
were vaunting an article which was found not to correspond with
their representations, and being so discovered, was depreciated to
the opposite extreme, while the peaceful, industrious cultivator was
deterred from purchasing, by the portions of land which were hung
up in litigation in the courts prevented him from making his selections.
Such was Florida. I shall have occasion to amplify the subject
of which the above may be considered by you as the text, but be-
fore we part, let me say a few words, to give you an idea the same
as it is. First, some powerful emigrations have taken place. Sec-
ond, the unsuccessful cultivation of the sugar cane has given way to
the more inviting production of cotton-two good crops of which, at
good prices, have wonderfully augmented the resources of the plan-


ter. And lastly, two banks are now in successful operation, having
an abundant capital, predicated and secured upon the improved ag-
ricultural property of the country, and which dispenses life and vig-
or to the commercial as well a ti..- a.ricultnal riitere ts throughout.
From these causes, and the -i: !ti':iwi[ :,l' ril. long protracted land
claims, a new epoch may be said to have commenced of, I hope, las-
ting prosperity to the territory.
In my next I shall speak of the soil and climate.


THE geology of Florida is described in a few words :-The base
is of so recent formation that it seems to be amongst the last of Na-
ture's works in this way, and scarcely dried from the laboratory ; it
is eminently calcareous, a soft limestone, yet hard enough when
long exposed to the air, as Fort St. Mark can witness. It would
seem as if the course of this formation had been interrupted by the
action of rains, and various chemical processes, leaving the upper
outlines in successive swells or undulations, sometimes gentle, some-
times abrupt, and never of great height ; while below are fissures
and gullies communicating with each other or with lakes near the
surface. There are natural bridges, below which an entire river
disappears, and re-ascends at the distance of miles to pursue its on-
ward course towards the ocean. This calcareous rock is found very
frequently mixed with shells and other marine substances. The sea-
shores abound with a beautiful sand which proves to be the remains
of decomposed shells, which have, no doubt, contributed to the for-
mation of the main land ; this sand, without any other admixture
whatever, forms the richest soil to the tallest" trees and finest vegeta-
bles. In the beds of rivers, upon their banks, and frequently under
ground, is found the rotten limestone, being the aforesaid calcareous
rock in a state of decomposition, or saturated with noxious gas. The
water from wells near to this is disagreeable to the taste, and it
sometimes occurs that portions of it entire will disappear from its
bed, either by chemical operation, or the effect of gullies or rivu-
lets beneath. In this case, the earth, in portions of acres entire,
will sink beneath its level several feet. In general, the country un-
dulates 30 to 80 feet above the level of the sea, and its greatest
height does not exceed 250 feet.
Immediately upon this base rests a soil of clay, of every hue and
color, and partaking of the inequalities of surface of the rock be-
neath, as if seizing the opportunity of settlement when and where it
could and in the greatest quantity ; it is found, accordingly from six
inches deep to six feet, generally mixed with sand of various forma-
tions, amongst which not a grain of silex has yet been discovered.

This mixture is generally found up to the surface, not adhesive, but
light and rich ; sometimes it contains animal and vegetable decompo-
sitions, some ferruginous oxides, and almost always saline or alka-
line combinations. From rhli soil springs forests of perpetual ver-
dure-trees of such magnificence, and beauty, and variety, that the
eye never wearies in resting upon their foliage ; but scarcely a rock
appears above the surface throughout the section-not a pebble to
interrupt its equality.
We shall presently arrive at the products of this soil, with the
practical experiments of its fertility.
Nothing can be more fallacious than the appearance of this soil,
as it presents itself to an European, to an emigrant from the Trop-
ics, or to an agriculturalist from any of the northern states. None
of these possesses any thing by which to compare it. Hence the ex-
aggerations which were allowed to circulate at first, and which have
proved so delusive. Hence, the opposite extreme of contempt and
depreciation of the lands, which is not less erroneous. The truth
may lay between the extremes. I give the following as the division
of qualities.
1st. The river cotton lands, a rich alluvion, sandy greyish loam,
from three to twenty feet deep. These may not be so deep nor so
adhesive as the same upon the Delta of the Mississippi (for instance)
yet there are portions, and no inconsiderable ones, which I have
seen, capable of producing abundantly the finest sugar cane, as also
cotton, Sea Island and Upland, the richest tobacco, and corn from
50 to 60 bushels per acre.
2d. Next in order are the ,ow hammock lands with their magnif-
icent oaks, hickory, Magnolia, dogwood, &c. and thick under shrub-
bery-such are most excellent cotton, tobacco and corn lands, the
latter yielding 30 or 40 bushels per acre. The proximity of water
in these lands is the principal cause of the fertility.
3d. Next are the high hammock, with its forests also of oak, hick-
ory, and some pine-these are susceptible of the same cultivation,
and corn gives 15 to 30 bushels per acre. Both these are of the
same contexture, clay and sand of every variety of sade, with some-
times animal and vegetable decompositions.
4th. In order, are the piny wood lands, and these offer the most
singular varieties of any within the boundaries of the United States.
When the long haired or lob lolly pine prevails, or the scrubby Pal-
metto, the land is barren, except in patches, where some grasses
may be introduced for pasture. Where the short haired pine is seen
the land is susceptible of cultivation, even to the sugar cane and
,corn, the latter giving here 15 or 20 bushels per acre. I have
known such land to produce one bale of Sea Island cotton per acre.
5th and lastly, are the Spanish and Indian old fields-vast tracts
of country having been evidently under cultivation at some distant


period, and now abandoned to a second growth of forest trees.-
These prove, with few exceptions, to be amongst the mest fertile
tracts of the country.
In new countries it is natural to take l.: !1 of the primest lands at
once-those yielding the greatest p:,li.Ii-vr "ir' the least trouble.-
When these become located, another class of lands existing in Flor-
ida must necessarily be called into action. These are the meadows
or prairies, and the river lands, now subjected to overflowing at ev-
ery freshet. Such require ditching, draining and banking-a species
of labor, as yet, little understood ; but when the competition of la-
bor shall enable such works to be undertaken, fine lands will thus be
reclaimed, fit for the highest cultivation.
Another peculiarity of the soil, in this fire country, is what I have
already hinted. Along almost the whole sea coast touching the Gulf
of Mexico, there is observed growing out of the finest sand, many
feet deep, without apparently an atom of vegetable mould, the finest
and tallest, and most magnificent live oak trees and magnolias, (gran-
deflora) the pride of this section ; also the finest garden vegetable.
On examining this sand with the microscope, it is found to be com-
posed of broken shells only-not a particle of silex appears in its


BEFORE quitting the subject of the soil, allow me to enumerate a
few of the trees which adorn its surface and surround its lakes and
shores, with a profusion which astonishes every beholder. Two of
these stand proudly pre-eminent; the Magnolia grandeflora and the
live oak. Nothing can exceed the I ,i',';.'. .- and beauty of these
evergreens as they are found in this territory. The first, the pride
of laurels with its expansive flower, one of the whitest and the largest
which blows, contrasting with the dark bright green of its sister leaves.
The well known live oak, so useful in the construction of ships, rear-
ing its majestic knarled head as well from the richest soil of the in-
terior as from the shelly sands of the sea shore, and snuffing already
the ocean air, which the separate limbs are doomed to traverse in
other shapes. There are of these from 20 to 30 feet in circumfe-
rence at the base, and single limbs from 80 to 100 feet.
Besides these are the beautiful water oak, and the white oak and
red oak amongst the largest of the United States. Amongst those
most abundant, are also found the hickory, the pencil cedar, the
cypress, the juniper, the locust (acasia,) the beach, the mulberry
(albus,) the cotton tree, the lime, the dogwood, the wild cherry,
the common laurel, the sassafras, so well known in medicine, the
chinquapin, the red bay so distinguished by its blossoms and its wood

scarcely inferior to the mahogany, the palmetto of the south, and
several varieties of the pine, which do not, however, here, as else-
where, denote barrenness of the soil, but on the contrary are very
frequently the sign of great fertility.
Of the climate I am boldto say to you, notwithstanding reports
which may have reached a high degree salubrious, with some exceptions from local causes, to
which I shall hereafter allude. Although its situation approaches the
tropical latitudes, I find the range of summer heat is from 88 to 92
degrees of Fahrenheit, which is much less than the occasional heats
at the same period throughout the whole of the more northern cities
of the Atlantic coast. On one occasion I find it recorded as a re-
markably occurrence some years ago, that the thermometer stood
at 970-the warmest month is June, and a few days before and fol-
lowing. The air generally is pure and elastic, never sultry, and the
nights are always comfortable, and a refreshing sea breeze fans the
atmosphere. The rainy season commences with great regularity in
June, lasting from one month to two-periodical showers fall also in
September and February; from rain to sunshine, the transition is
generally rapid as in the tropics. The thunder is sharp, when it is
heard, the lightning vivid, but we have no tornadoes as yet, and no
earthquakes-the water from springs and wells is pure and refresh-
ing, excepting in veins of earth near to the rotten limestone, which
are avoided.
The season of winter is here amongst the most delightful of any
upon the face of the earth-the absolute cold being experienced for
a few days only, and that occasionally. I find it recorded that on
the 15th February, 1830, there was a fall of snow of two inches, an
event which never occurred before and is not likely again to occur.
In the ever memorable month of February, 1835, also, the thermo-
meter fell to nearly zero, as it did throughout the United States, kill-
ing here nearly all the orange trees, and every tropical plant-spa-
ring, however, the southern part of the Peninsula, where the thermo-
meter never went below 46.
With a few exceptions like these, as I said, frost is seldom seen,
and that only for a few days of the whole season, just sufficient to
animate the invalid, and give a salutary bracing to all the inhabitants
from the summer relaxation. The territory, indeed, is the most ge-
nial to be found for invalids, particularly those afflicted with incipient
consumption, and to all who are compelled to fly from the rigor of
a northern winter. Here, is perpetual verdure, and the lakes and
rivers open their broad expanse at all seasons.
Yet this state of salubrity has been abused upon several occasions :
from the want of proper municipal regulations in the towns, and the
early, anxious occupations of the settlers, in order to procure the
means of subsistence, the comforts of life were wholly neglected.
Animal and vegetable decompositions were suffered to lay in the

streets ; rain water to stagnate near town, and throughout the coun-
try, from the want of means of draining it. This fully accounts for
what was called the sickly season of 1831 in Tallahassee, so much
lamented at the time. Yet, on looking to the records of that period,
(the very worst, be it remembered, in the annals,) I find the num-
ber of deaths, from 1st June to 1st December, to be 61 only, 16 of
whom only were citizens of the capital, and 5 of the deaths from fe-
ver-the remainder were transient persons from the country.
Settlers became careless in their hahits, undergoing all kinds of ex-
posure, with the very poorest kinds of fare. In their mode of plant-
ing, too, some were ignorant and reckless. It was, for instance, a
common custom heedlessly to pull down the superb forest trees up
to the very house door of the planter ; thus at once removing the
powerful operative of a healthful atmosphere, and his pride and or-
nament; and instead of these, under their very noses to plant the
cotton shrub, the most noxious and deleterious of all vegetable sub-
stances, when in a state of decomposition. Was it to be wondered
at, that disease should follow this system ? That such folly should
receive its reward ? Whole families were laid up accordingly, and
some continue to this day with remnants of fever and ague, which we
call chills, but which fortunately is never fatal. Bilious fevers were
also created by other irregularities, and colds, and pleurisies, for
which calomel was prescribed, to make the remedy worse than the
disease. Yet still are these not indicative of the general state of the
country, which I maintain to be free from fevers and all epidemics
whatever. In this I am supported by every physician of the terri-
tory, to whom I confidently appeal, and the proof will be, that as
ease and comfort shall be extended, so shall cease these diseases,
which are purely accidental.
It is well known that in all new seltlements, where openings are
made, until the vegetable matter of the fallen trees shall be entirely
decomposed, incidental fevers and agues must be felt and supported ;
and these are severe enough without the aid of man adding to the ca-
lamity by his own imprudence. Yours, truly.


In proceeding to speak of the productions of this territory, let me
premise to you that if these are not so abundant, nor so varied up to
this time, as the fertile soil and its favorable climate permitted ; if
the "orange and citron groves" of the imaginations of some travel-
lers are yetin emibryo--if immense forests still meet the eye not yet
penetrated by the foot of man-if log houses, are still found upon
plantations instead of neater cottages, or more substantial houses-
let me plead in excuse for these by recalling to you the absolute


want of resources of the first settlers, and the struggle, not for the
luxuries of life, but for the means of existence-the almost universal
want of intelligence upon agricultural subjects-some good lands held
first by avaricious speculators, and others locked up by litigation.
The settlers lived from hand to mouth-objects of common interest
and good were never considered, and even to this day the maxim is
to arrive at the immediate results by the shortest way. Under these
circumstances, the first article to which attention was and still is im-
periously called, is the .Maize or Indian Corn, for subsistence. For
this article the territory is in a high degree propitious. I have said
that according to the quality of the land, the alluvion of the river bot-
tom, the rich low hammock, or the oak and hickory hammock, or the
pine and black Jack, the returns are greater or less. From the first,
I have known as much as 70 bushels to be produced from the acre :
but that is by no means a criterion. From 50 to 60 bushels are,
however, very frequent, but the most general quantity is from 20 to
30 bushels, because planters, with other attentions, sow this when
and where they can. Lands are besides more or less acrid as they
are opened, or more or less adapted to corn according to the previ-
ous culture. A wet or a dry season will also make a difference of 20
to 50 per cent. in the result. There is also a difference arising from
the greater or less intelligence of the cultivator in the width of his
drills, the quantity of seed sown, the attention during growth, &c.
But the most palpable error of all is the entire abandonment of the
corn and other provisions, by some planters, trusting to buy it from
the neighbours, and occupy the land in some more supposed profita-
ble branch. Nothing can be more fallacious-1 st. Because the pro-
fit of this branch is lost in the extra price of the corn so purchas'ed-
2d. No one carries home the same quantity of corn he pays ::.r--d.
The team is sent for it, and the labor lost always at the most unsea-
sonable time-4th. The planter loses the offal and pickings of his
own field of corn, which is one-third of the quantity-5th. His own
horses, pigs, poultry, and men are always ill fed by purchased corn
-And lastly, should his neighbour be as improvident as himself, and
the dearth should arise, what could he say for himself ?
Of the other grains, rye and oats are cultivated here every year,
with a result not inferior to any part of the United States. Wheat
is also cultivated, but there is less reliance upon it, because during
the rains, it imbibes too much humidity and is very apt to become
Next in importance is rice, of which the experience is most am-
ple. The lowest and richest lands are of course the best adapted to
it, but it is also cultivated on high good hammocks ; on one and the
other the product is 25 to 35 bushels to the acre of clean rice, not
perhaps so heavy or so white as that of Carolina. Now the Caro-
lina and Georgia crops give two, or at most three barrels, or 50, 60,
to 70 bushels of rough rice to the acre, from their wet cultivation-

so that when the superiority of dry cultivation is considered as
regards the common health, the advantage is certainly found in the
culture of this grain in this territory.
I now come to sugar. This article must cease to be a staple for
export, although enough will still be manufactured for the home con-
sumption of the territory, and for its molasses. With small capital,
and very insufficient plantation utensils, and little practical knowledge,
every effort has been made to compete with the neighboring state
of Louisiana and the West India Islands; but they have proved
fruitless, and all planters in Middle Florida have turned their atten-
tion to other objects, with the exception of a few who still find it
advantageous to carry on the culture of the cane in connection with
cotton. In the West Indies, there is more cane planted in the
same area, the ratoons are produced from the same stock for 12,
15, and up to 30 years successively, and the saccharine arrives to
full maturity. Here, the ratoons do not follow above 2, and at most
4 years; the replanting is generally annual, but the greatest disad-
vantage of all is, that the cane must be cut down prematurely, from
the apprehension of frost, and consequently the juice is never per-
fected for making sugar. Add to this that for the replanting each
year, one-fourth to one-third of the produce of the cane is used.
The result is, therefore, less quantity of an article, pretty in color,
but destitute of quality and grain, and wholly unfit for the refinery.
In East Florida, notwithstanding, the cnltivation of the cane con-
tinues less unsuccessfully, and a period may arrive of more propi-
tious seasons, better experience, more capital, and more encouraging
prices abroad, which may cause the general cultivation to be re-
In the meantime, in justice to the soil, I must observe, that 16
stalks have been produced from a single joint of cane, and another
14, from sandy land-average number of 10 joints in 10 stalks. Ten
of these weighed 50 1-2 pounds. 2000 lbs. is a common quantity
of sugar from one acre. One planter made 1800 lbs., using 8 joints
only, and leaving 4 for seed. The cane was planted 4 1-2 feet
apart. If it had been at 3 feet only, and with an iron mill, he sup-
posed he would make 4000 lbs. to the acre. Another with 40 hands
made 50 hhds. of sugar, 80 bbls. molasses, 6000 bushels corn, 40
bales cotton, 600 bushel rice, besides sundry improvements and
clearing 130 acres. One hand can easily manage four acres of
cane, with a little cotton. I could multiply examples of this kind,
were it not for fear of fatiguing you. I close, therefore, by remark-
ing that a friend of mine receems the loss before mentioned of cutting
down the cane prematurely-by burying or covering it carefully, by
which operation the cane recovers in part, and gives a product of
double the quantity of what it would have been if expressed at the
time of cutting.-In my next I shall treat of the more profitable
staple of cotton, Yours, &c.



I now come to the staple article of the country; par excellence,
its main stay, Cotton, which has so eminently contributed of late to
its advancement and prosperity.
Of the total quantity exported of Cotton from the United States,
in 1828-9, 879,415 bales, I find the quantity from Florida was
4,149 ; from 31st October, 1831, to the 26th June, 1332, from
St. Marks river alone, were exported 8,282 bales. The exports
from Florida of 1832-3, gave 23,641 bales-of 1834, 36,738 bales,
(besides that to Charleston,) and those just concluded in 1835, give
from Apalachicola upwards of 36,000 bales, including, however,
those from Columbus, Georgia; from St. Marks 19,000; minor
ports, probably 4,000 ; making, in all, over 59,000; and it is pro-
bable that quantity will be increased 30 to 50 per cent the year
The species of cotton cultivated here are distinctly three. 1st,
the Black seed or Georgia Sea Island, which is the rarest, because
it produces less quantity than the others, and in quality, (although
little inferior,) does not quite compete with that of the Atlantic
islands. 2d, the Green seed, or Georgia Uplands, which produces
abundant quantity, (equal to any thing in Alabama) and in quality 2
a 3 cents lb. superior to its Georgian stock. 3d, a green seed of
Mexican origin, heavy, with a whitish pellicule, obtained from
Louisiana, called the Petit Gulf. This has been most successful of
all, and its adoption is now very general. Its quality is between the
Sea Island and Upland. Other kinds might, no doubt, be improved
by cultivation here, such as the Brazilian, that from Carthagena, or
St Domingo ; but these are wholly unknown.
It is in viewing our lands, not with the idea of a selection for cotton,
that a stranger is at fault. He never saw before, fields of a rich
marie, and he cannot conceive the idea of an apparently barren sand
-of a ferruginous clay-bringing fertility ; yet the following are the
Of Sea Island, a negro will tend 4 acres easily with 2 acres of
provisions. Of Uplands he will tend 10 acres, with five of provi-
sions. The average income is now 250 to $300 per annum per
hand. An acre of land will yield easily and commonly 1200 lbs.
Sea Island in the seed, or 350 lbs. good clean and 50 lbs. stained.
Of Petit Gulf, 1800 to 2000 lbs. in the seed, or 500 to 700 lbs.
clean-of green seed, 1400 to 1500 lbs. or 350 of clean cotton.
The Sea Island must be picked speedily-the Petit Gulf is best
and heaviest, and not subject to rot. The green seed is more sub-
ject to rot, more convenient to pick, and not easy to drop out of the
pod. The three require different soils, but all deep, for the tap

root. In the distance of the drills, replanting, &c., there is still
some room for improvement.
Some few plantations have given 9 bales to the hand; very many
give 6 a 8. An instance of individual result now before me, of t,e
present year, is-four negroes and a woman made cotton for 1735
dollars, and 150 of corn, besides bacon and other provisions for the
estate. Expenses 500, leaving 1585 dollars nett for 5 hands.-This
is properly the poor man's country.
It must not be concealed, however, that cotton, particularly the
Sea Island, has a dreadful enemy in the caterpillar, which sometimes
makes fearful havoc among the trees, just when the profits begin to
be anticipated-a remedy against this ravage has been lately dis-
covered, by burning sulphur in the fields, which promises to be
But another article is now putting forth with the greatest success,
and promises not only to employ the industry of thousands, but
others failing, to be the staple commodity of the country-I mean
tobacco. In this, ample experiments have been made of the Ken-
tucky, Virginia, &c., but all have given way to the celebrated seed
from the Island of Cuba, which claims the decided preference-the
great profit upon it being completely ascertained. Of this, one man
has enough to do to tend one acre, and this acre will yield 5 to 800
lbs. at:.d'i;_ to quality of the ground. This is supposed to be
worth 40 to 60 cents per lb.; I say supposed, because no sales have
yet been made, and none exported-for every pound made is twisted
by the planter himself into the already well known Florida cigars,
and if the quantity was increased an hundred fold, the whole would
now be readily taken off, so great is the present demand for them.
In order to judge of the profit of this staple, take one thousand
cigars as 5 lbs.; each 1,000 selling readily, in the North, for 15 dollars,
or upon the spot for 10 dollars ; less 3 dollars of charges for twisting,
&c., leaving 7 dollars for 5 lbs., or 1 40-100 dollars per Ib.
For this article the new land is taken, chiefly chinquapin or the
richest black loam, every year, and this will afterwards serve ^or
cotton, corn, &c. In December the seed is sown, in land neiti.er
too moist nor too dry, for if too dry the fly will consume it; it is
then transplanted in March, at three feet distance each side; it
should be topped when it begins to button, or according to circum-
stances. Sometimes the plant gives 32 leaves, the lightest and
tenderest leaves are here at the bottom.
There is a very prevalent opinion among the uninformed, that
lands in this territory wear out easily. I maintain it to be a gross
mistake: and I recommend to such persons to inform themselves of
the truth from those who have experience in the matter. Some
lands will wear out sooner than others by time and usage, others by
ill treatment: what I will maintain is, that the good lands do not
wear out sooner than others-that in the abundance of lots, at cheap


prices, there has been a reckless abandonment of one tract to seize
upon another, in order to save the trouble of preserving it. I can
produce twenty fields, opened and cultivated, since the first settle-
ment, in as good preservation and fertility as at the first. Besides,
there is in this section a natural and powerful marble, which will
restore any field in one year of fallow, also pease of any kind
ploughed into the field will wonderfully restore its powers.
Grape Vine-No decided or continuous effort has yet been made
in the country, in order to prove the advantage of this as a staple
and profitable commodity-nothing beyond the native indigenous
vine, which is found in this as in all the Southern states in great
abundance. Samples have been introduced and cultivated in gar-
dens of the Madeira, Sicily, Cape, Muscatel, Malaga, &c. and of
the Scupernong and other native grapes, but it is doubted whether
upon a large scale, the atmosphere here, more humid than in France
or Spain, would allow of its maturing seasonably, or whether the
summer rains would not be injurious by rotting it. Some enterpris-
ing agriculturist will soon set this question at rest.
Mulberry of the Silk Worm.-It is sufficient to say of this, that
is already introduced in various places, that it takes exceedingly
well with the soil and climate, and must consequently realize every
thing obtained already throughout the United States.
Indigo-Great quantities of this plant are found indigenous
throughout the country-people avoid its cultivation, as well from
the labour as the noxious effects of its fermentation. On this ac-
count it is proposed to collect and dry the plant, and send it abroad
for farther processes.
Palma Christi-Enough is raised to have caused the erection of a
beautiful iron press, upon a small scale, at the arsenal, near to
Mount Vernon, from which the finest castor oil is made. The same
press will serve to express oil from the cotton seed, of which the
experiment will be made in due time. Olive oil will follow.
Yours, &c.


I suspend for a while the subject of planting, in order to draw
your attention to one of scarcely less importance, especially to small
capitalists. It is grazing, and its concomitant subject of grasses.
In this, the territory has no advantages over others in the United
States, but it may be sufficient to say, that it is inferior also to none
of its neighbours, for all the requisites for raising all kinds of cattle,
with sufficient water at all seasons. Of the grasses, the favorite of
the indigenous kind is the jointed crab. The Gama grass of Brazil
is introduced, (the indigenous is not so good,) also the Bermuda

grass, the Guinea grass of the Tropics, &c.; but there is vatst room
for speculation in other kinds still.
The stocks of cattle multiply with great abundance, but the breed
wants crossing-and this branch, upon the whole, is susceptible of
great improvement. Some of the greatest fortunes, at this moment,
have had their origin from this source ; some even now have 2000
up to 10,000 head of cattle.
In horticulture, this territory offers the widest field, both for orna-
ment and profit. It is the country of the peach, the quince, the fig,
the mulberry, the crab-apple, the plum, the cherry, &c., and every
different species can be introduced with success. The strawberry
is in great perfection. Arrow-root grows to any extent-Ginger has
been made. Onions are very large-and, in short, the enumeration
would be endless of such plants, flowers and garden stuffs as could
be raised here to advantage.
It has been so far our misfortune, to see this branch almost totally
neglected, amidst the pressing wants of the inhabitants for more
direct means of subsistence. Even for exportation, the fruit of this
territory might be made an important article.
The geographical position of the territory also gives it a powerful
advantage in acclimatizing, at the same time, the plants of the same
latitude, exotics, those of the north and also of the tropical climes.
It is a curious fact that there is no forest tree of this continent found
in common with those of the tropics. Dare the hand of man to alter
this disposition ? Of fruit trees, we know that the date, the olive,
the palm, the orange, lemon, banana, have been introduced with
success. Even if these should at any time fail farther north, Key
West, and the country as far as Tampa Bay, offer a sure protection
for them. The vicinity of Cape Florida possesses a soil in which
even the coffee tree grows. In 1830, in the capital, there was an
instance of one bunch bananas, weighing 10 lbs., giving 48, of which
6 were ripe, and of pine apples coming to perfection; but the last
destructive frost of February ruined orange trees, and every other
tropical plant.
Permit me, now, to recapitulate some of the natural resources of
this country, which want only the hand of man to improve them.
First, innumerable mill seats for water power, and lumber of the
finest kind-our flooring boards are already known and esteemed at
the north. Then there is the finest live oak for ship building, white
and red oak for staves, tanning bark in any quantity, the best cypress
and juniper trees for shingles. The myrtle tree growing most
abundantly, gives a berry which is manufactured into most superior
wax, made by bleaching, of snowy whiteness ; starch is made easily
and cheaply. Millions of superb reeds grow spontaneously, fit for a
thousand rural and domestic purposes-the finest pipe clay abounds,
also clay of the purest kind for brickmakers-the sea shores abound
with shells, and the sea with an immense variety of fish, oysters, &c.


The woods abound with doer, wild turkeys, ducks, and other game
of the finest flavor, all for the killing. In a word, this may be
deemed one of the cheapest sections of the United States for the
means of subsistence.
I have hinted at the want and misery of the first settlers, from
which they are now happily relieved. It is painful to recur to these,
but I must state to you that interest upon loans of petty sums, was
sometimes 1 a 200 per cent. for a few weeks. You would see
men resorting to petty expedients to raise a few dollars. A country
gentleman of fortune could not raise ten dollars amongst ten neighbors
-a shopkeeper would sacrifice ten dollars of property to raise one
of specie-and last of all, only last year, in order to complete the
arrangements of the present Union Bank, fifteen hundred dollars
were necessary to despatch the agent, and subscribers worth nearly
a million of dollars of property, subscribed the obligation for dis-
count, and could not raise it until assisted by the purse of one
private and distinguished individual.
If you can still follow me in these details, I proposeto take up
another subject in my next. Meantime, yours.


I now propose to give you some idea of the face of the country of
Florida, and in this I shall be very brief, for the reason that as many
letter writers seize this as the subject on which to indulge their
poetic vein. I, who am a plain prose writer, (not a proser, I hope,)
and deal not in fancies, have no other wish but to correct the mis-
apprehensions which have gone abroad (and with which I see you
are tinctured) respecting this territory. In what I have said to you
already, it is my boast that I have exaggerated nothing. If you
should doubt these facts, come and see !
I have said the ground is undulating: and I now add that the
highest point I know of is Kingsbury Pond, in East Florida, 237
feet above the level of the sea. The capital stands 180 feet, (for-
merly it was thought more,) and other hills 60 to 80 feet-a great
part is low, marshy ground, very easy to be reclaimed by the hand
of man, and the remainder, like some central parts of East Florida,
still admits inundations from the sea, and vast overflowing of rivers,
as if nature had not yet completed her manufacture of the dry land.
Much of this east part is wholly unknown, except from Indian ac-
counts, which represent great waters in the interior furnishing tides
to both seas. Partial surveys have been made of the coasts and
rivers, which give the usual bodies of pine hammock, dry marsh,
low marsh, alluvion, limestone, marle, and even to Mangrove
islands, (inchoate land ;) but as these surveys will be very soon

embodied in a more correct description, I forbear to mislead you dil
this subject. The best maps now extant are very wild upon this
A ridge of highland extends from Tallahassee eastwardly, from
which descend the Oscilla, Suwanne, and Santafee rivers. To' the
north it is maintained with undulations to the state of Georgia; to
the south it gradually diminishes to the sea shore, leaving on the
river shores and their sources in the low hommocks and on the lake
borders, parcels of fine land for cultivation-enough for the support
of millions of inhabitants, which now remain covered with d-n-e
impenetrable forests.
The lakes here, form, with their subterranean sources, at once a
distinct characteristic of this country, and a subject of intense curi-
osity. They are found every where, and are evidently in connection
with others ; or with rivers above, or gullies below the earth. They
ebb and flow distinctly,-now covering a vast superficies of green
grass plot,-now retiring to a smaller compass, of which some point
is very deep, if not unfathomed. The forests which surround them
are of great beauty, and by their thickness and their very stillness,
have an imposing appearance. Some farmers begin to open settle-
ments upon their banks ; which in some places offer a good soil,
thus breaking the monotony of the prospect; and it is to be hoped
that these lakes, in time, will present a more animated spectacle,
The trout, the brim, the perch, &c. are found in their waters : and
where these fish are, the water is sound and good. I should fatigue
you with a description of all of them, which have excited my own
admiration. Suffice it to say, that in Middle Florida, Lake Jackson
is supposed to be 36 miles in circumference, communicating with
Lake Jammonic; and again, by secret sources, rising in a huge
mass, forming the source of the Wahkulla river. There are also
Lakes Lafeyette, Micasucki, Sampala, &c. in East Florida. In
West Florida, the Lake Wimico, near to Apalachicola town. All
others form large bays, communicating with the Gulf of Mexico.
In East Florida, they may be said to be innumerable : Alligator,
Orange, Macao, &c.; besides the St. John's and Ocklawaha, which
are rivers of lakes. But the most singular of all-the greatest natural
beauty, and I may say, the greatest curiosity of the whole South, is
the source of the Wahkula, before mentioned, in Middle Florida,
six miles distant from Fort St. Marks. Its origin, be it remembered,
is said to be Lake Jackson, at 15 miles distance. This lovely sheet
of water is 120 yards in diameter-so still, and of such perfect
transparency, that the smallest object is seen at the immense depth
of water below; and the spectator upon its surface, sits and shudders
as if suspended in empty air. On some future, and not distant day,
these banks will be studded with private residences, as indeed even
now the country round it is full of plantations. Objects of great
curiosity, are also, the Big Chipola Spring, and the Great Manito

Spring, of a bluish green color, with its circular basin, emitting its
waters like a jet, and subsiding by turns.
Some rivers too are worthy of notice, as exhibiting many of the
beauties of nature, and carrying on their waters some rich freights
already. Their highest banks are clay-bound, of various hues, and
various states of adhesiveness, with sand intermixed, occasionally
the rotten limestone, and crowned by animal and vegetable decom-
positions. A rich alluvion is found to compose the adjoining soil,
and forests of impervious thickness rise from its surface. As the
banks lower, the ground overflows until checked by piny wood or
hommocks inland ; such water stagnates, occasionally in ponds and
low hommocks, but is capable of being easily drained.
The Escambia, with its "black" and "yellow" rivers, forms
the spacious bay of Pensacola; but the country is sand, entirely
destitute of fertility-the Choctawhatchie rising in Alabama and
ending in the much frequented Santa Rosa Bay ; on its east side,
in Washington county, are some good lands, but as yet little ex-
plored. Chipola waters Jackson county, (which, joining Alabama,
partakes of the quality of its lands,) then in Washington county
enters the Apalachicola. This last river receives the Chatahouchie
and Flint rivers of Georgia exactly at the boundary, in lat. 31 deg.,
and with the Chipola, further below, forms a magnificent body of
water of 200 to 400 yards wide-bearing produce from Columbus in
Georgia, Irwinton in Alabama, and other landings, down to the
flourishing seaport of the same name. The Ocklockney is a large,
but crooked river, traversing 250 miles in Florida only, to pass over
a meridian of only 70. The smaller rivers of Wahkulha and St.
Marks,-the latter after sinking nnder a natural bridge, and passing
the little town of Magnolia-meet at the fortress and seaport of the
same name. The Ocilla is also a fine river, and the Suwanee, with
its sister the Santa Fee, cover an immense body of country. To
the S. E. of this lies the famous Alachua or Arredondo tract of
land, said to be one of the richest of the territory, and to the South
the large tract of Hackley. The magnificent river St. Johns enters
on the east shore, north of St. Augustine, and striking south to the
back of that city, form various lakes, which the principal is George's,
and the last Munroe, after which the source is lost in undefined
waters. The varying banks of this noble river, present scenes
sometimes soft, sometimes sublime ; while its banks and islands afford
the finest land for cultivation. To the north of Lake George it is
joined by the Ocklawaha, a noble river pervading a great part of the
peninsula, but whose source is also undefined.
These noble lakes and rivers-these vast fields of the caves of
which I have not spoken-the very fissures of the earth-the birds
of the air, and fishes of the sea-offer an endless subject, of yet
unexplored matter, to the lover of natural history, which no one here
has to this day had leisure, perhaps few the inclination, to prosecute.
I am; &c.



Of the cities and towns of Florida, those which claim the first no-
tice, as the most ancient, are Pensacola and St. Augustine : the on-
ly places inhabited by the Spaniards at the cession. They are both
comparatively fallen in importance now, by reason of the very unin-
teresting back country to both, affording not the least inducement to
enterprise of any kind. The inhabitants are now reduced to about
1300 in each, of which the majority in Pensacola are still French
and Spanish. Pensacola is, however, of importance as a naval sta-
tion, for which it is well adapted, and has its Fort. St. Augustine
has also its fortress, and is still celebrated as a resort for invalids,
/from all parts of the United States ; but its greatest beauty, and on-
ly source of profit, the orange groves, have been nearly wholly de-
stroyed by the severe frost of February last : some only will be ie-
covered, and with great labor.
Tallahassee, the capital, was selected and laid out at an early date,
after the cession ; and the site is remarkable as a high heahhy emi-
nence, part of the ridge of hills 180 feet above the level of the sea,
with a fertile country around it. It has labored, however, under the
disadvantage of its distance, 21 miles, from the seaport of St. Marks,
making the drayage expensive, for which reason, its advancement
has been slow, the population not exceeding 1300, although it is the
seat of government, and the legislative council. It supplies an ex-
tent of country of 20 to 30 miles round, and on the Georgia side to
Thomasville. But the business is now sensibly increasing, and a
railroad being now commenced between it and St. Marks, which the
state of trade loudly demanded, this increase must be rapid from this
circumstance. There is a very pleasant little society at Tallahassee,
and merchants of great respectability. The state house is not yet fin-
ished ; one wing only serving for public business. This is surrounded
by a lovely grass plot, in the principal square, and adorned with the
superb forest trees of the country, which form also the principal or-
nament of the outskirts of the town. A court-house and'two church-
es are now contracted for to be built. Here are two Banks,
each of one million of capital, of the utility of which I have already
To the south of Tallahassee, and situated upon the St. Marks ri-
ver, is the town of Magnolia, which has been forced into existence
against the disadvantage of rapids in the river, which prevent all ap.
proach to it, but by small vessels, and those with great labor and risk.
It has proved a failure.
St. Marks is the old Spanish fortress, situate at the con'inence of
the river St. Marks and Wahkulla. It is an appendage to the capi-
tal and its shipping port, and that of Magnolia: it has a few stores
only for that purpose ; but a plan for a town is now to be laid out,


and in a few years it promises to be of some importance. From this
port were shipped upwards of 18,000 bales .. cotton of the last crop,
and the ensuing crop % ,I give at least 25,000 to ship by the same
channel. The aoi.in- from the town to sea, is 8 miles. Fish
and oysters are very abundant, and deer and wild fowl of every
Apalachicola is a rl.*."- ;. seaport, situated advantageously at
the outlet of the river of the same name, and within St. Georges
Sop'i, protected by St. S t ,,.,:, St. George and Dog Islands; un-
der these last lay the vessels of larger burthen. Those of 12 a 13
feet come within three miies of the town, and 8 feet can be received
at the wharves. During the active season, thirteen steamboats plied
in the river as far as Columbus, in Georgia, transporting upwards
valuable merchandise, and downwards 37,-, n, bales of cotton for ex-
portation from this port-the quantity of both, and( < ,ii.equenily the
business will be considerably increased the ensuing season, probably
to the extent of 60,000 bals.
Jacksonville, upon the river St. Johns, is, in a mercantile point of
view, what St. Augustine should have been, or Fernandina, the point
of export for the products of that nrigLhborhood. In its present incipi-
ent state, it is even now the ,r .....- P f ,n--.: >-i. proceeding
n.! ,\-., Iy from the souih ard w s anid v ,...y in the north,
anrd l.,i very shorily bi of som e im i'rta'e.
i. ,y West has beel settl'd cvr since e the change of government,
and until very lately exported and int ported to the value of 3-4
cents of tile whole Custuomn-ouse Territorial Duty. It was first
a small deposit for the trade to Cuba, and the fishing smacks
bound to and frnm that isl;,id m: -. touch there for clearances.
It then became, as it is now, a resort ft;r wr eckers, who derive
a profitable trade from the disasters j. t: .4 to vessels upon the
reefs around it. Great conip'laints were made about the adjustment
of salvage in such cases, until the establishment i of the present court,
with rights of admiralty, which, by its decrees, has given universal
satisfaction. The population is .'i to 400, iln l1din." strangers. It
is a rendezvous for our vessels ef war, and a military corps is sta-
tioned there, but its importance has been lately ...nidei:bli increas-
ed by the establishment of salt works in salt ponds, which are unsur-
passed by any o;:, i, and whose product is capable of ,''ppyiigi; the
whole of the United States.
Quincy, Mariana, Monticello, Webbville, Hickstown, &c., are
places still in their di'inic- -A\iit population of 200 to 300 inhabi-
tants-generally seats of county courts, and u1pl|lying the circle
around them with necessaries, and receiving their produce in return.
'I'i-.- places will advance exactly in proportion to the settlements
which are forming around them. Tampa Bay has no settlement as
.yet, except that of a military detachment fixed there in order to keep
in check the remnaiiiig Indians, 2 to 3,000, in that neighborhood.
ln St. Ag:ieustine. the fort and some houses are built of Tabb'y, a re-

markable concretion of shells, which is very useful when it can be
found near at hand. In Pensacola and Tallahassee much brick has
been used, but the greater part of houses in Florida, are still
wooden frames. There is now, however, awakened a great demand
for brick, granite, and quarry stone, indicating a vast improvement
in social comforts.
I shall conclude with a few remarks upon the present and contem-
plated improvements in this section. First, is the railroad between
Talahassee and St. Marks actually commenced. Second, two
steamboat companies have joined in order to transport passengers by
a speedy and cheap conveyance from New York to New Orleans,
via Jacksonville, for the completion of which object a railroad is to
be cut from Jacksonville to a fort on the Gulph near Vacassar Bay.*
A third is a contemplated railroad from Pensacola to Columbus, in
Georgia, but it is very doubtful whether this can be accomplished.
A more feasible one, although distant, is a railroad from Jacksonville,
270 miles, through Tallahassee westward, to the Choctawhotchie ri-
ver. It is also contemplated to clear the shoals in the Chattahouchie
river, which impede the navigation in summer to Columbus, and last-
ly, a canal from the Chipola, to connect the Apalachicola river with
St. Andrews Bay, is still spoken of, although for the present sus-
pended until a more favorable moment.
If I shall have succeeded by the foregoing observations, in unde-
ceiving you with respect to this interesting and growing territory,
and inplacing the same before you as it should be represented, I
shall be sincerely pleased. So wishing you health and prosperity, I
am yours, &c.


J. Xad.., Printer, Mo6. 11, Wial at.

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