Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Plaza: Constitution Monument
Title: El Escribano Vol 4, No. 3
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 Material Information
Title: El Escribano Vol 4, No. 3
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Plaza: Constitution Monument
Physical Description: Clipping/photocopy
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Plaza - General Info.
Folder: Plaza: Constitution Monument
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Plaza de la Constitucion (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Constitution Plaza (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.892493 x -81.312335
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095508
Volume ID: VID00027
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text


Mayor Arnau was appointed to procure the Court House and arrange
it for the occasion, assisted by the marshall, John C. Canova.

Mr. Paul Arnau was then the mayor, Emanuel J. deMedicis the Clerk.
Aldermen were John C. Buffington, Fatio Dunham, Francis Andreu, Michael
Usina, John L. Phillips, Ignacio Lopez, D.A. Dolan and Joseph C. Ferrier,

+ + + + +

THE FOURTH OFJULY CELEBRATION Was held at the Court House. The
Declaration of Independence was read by E. K. Foster, Jr., Collector of
the Port, following which an oration was delivered by Mr. N. Usher, Esq.
U. S. District Attorney, followed by prayer and benediction by the Rev.
Father Demetrius Marogna, of the Catholic Church.

The "Union Club" (colored) was present and participated in the
celebration, and paraded the streets under marshalship of Rev. Joseph
Crews. They afterwards partook of a dinner at their Club Room, and
wound up with a grand dance at night.

The 7th Infantry Band was in attendance and enlivened the occasion
with appropriate music. At 12 noonr a salute was fired in commemoration
of the day.
+ + + + +

Sources: St. Augustine Examiner, May 18-July 6, 1867; City Council
Minute Book, June 30, 1867.


By authority of the constitution proclaimed in Spain, St. Augustine
was governed from November 8, 1812 until January 18, 1815, by a council
composed of the governor, a mayor, and five aldermen.

The first mayor was Don Geronimo Alvarez,1 and the aldermen were
Don Francisco Pons, Don Eusebio Gomez, Don Fernando de la Maza Arre-
dondo [the younger), Don Vicente Llarena, and Don Francisco de Rovira.
At their first meeting these gentlemen appointed Don Bernardo Jose
Segui as secretary. He took office the following day, replacing Don
Antonio Alvarez, who had acted as secretary pro tem.

The council met each Monday morning at 8 o'clock at the residence
of the governor,2 there being no municipal council hall.

1. Don Geronimo Alvarez was a native of Spain who came to St. Augustin
in 1784 as a hospital employee. He was a baker by trade. On August 18,
1790, he purchased the residence now known as St. Augustine's Oldest
House at public auction. In 1839 he transferred this and other property
to his son, Don Antonio Alvarez.
2. The inference here is that the council met in the Government House,
but this was not the case. Governor Enrique White, who died in office
in 1811, was probably the last of the Spanish governors to actually resi
in the old Governors' Palace. His successor, Don Juan de Estrada, interim
governor, as well as Don Sebastian Kindelan y Oregon, who held office
when the constitution was proclaimed, lived'in a rented house on Charlot?

Sefor Arredondo was appointed senior alderman in charge of public
funds, and the following citizens were appointed officers in charge of
the four wards of the town, taking office on November 16:

Barracks Ward Martin Martinez
Church Ward Antonio Huertas
Accountancy Ward Juan Villalonga
Castillo Ward Pablo Sabate

At this meeting a report was received from Don Guillermo Lawrence
who had collected 102 pesos from various citizens in celebration of
the adoption of the constitution, for relief of the poor. Lawrence
was immediately appointed to make distribution to needy families, ex-
cepting any who might be.related to members of the council, and also
those who were already receiving alms from the government.

The secretary was awarded alIsalary of 180 pesos per annum, which
included the cost of paper and other necessities pertinent to his

The council met regularly, attending to various local problems,
reading and archiving communications, and regulating school affairs,
public health, street repairs and granting lands.

Today, Constitution Monument, in the plaza, remains as tangible
evidence of the efforts of the municipal council. It was erected
pursuant to a royal decree dated August 14, 1812, received in St. Aug-
ustine January 25, 1813. By this same decree the public square was
named "Plaza de la Constitucion".

Aldermen Arredondo and Rovira were appointed a committee to
present a plan and estimate of cost. Weeks went by without a report,
although the subject was discussed periodically by the council. On
July 27, 1813, Arredondo reported that he had only about 150 pesos
on hand,and that he did not care to assume the supervision of the
project because it could not be done with appropriate grandeur for a
memorial of "such an exquisite and glorious day as that of the publi-
cation of our Holy Constitution". He therefore wished to be excused
from the committee. Mayor Alvarez and Alderman Gomez were chosen to
replace him.

The design for an obelisk 30 feet in height was presented for
approval on August 2. Alvarez asked permission to use the coquina
rubble from the old Bishops' Palace 3 as these ruins were in danger

Street. This was a large, two-story coquina dwelling that had belonged,
during the British period, to James Penman, a merchant, and later to
David Yeats, secretary of the Province. Yeats sold it to Manuel de
Herrera in 1785, and on March 16, 1786, Don Francisco Xavier Sanchez
traded a schooner and a slave for it. The house still remained in
possession of the Sanchez heirs when it burned in 1825.
3. This was the Palacio Episcopal, built during the first Spanish
period, on the present site of Trinity Parish Church. It had been

of being appropriated to private use.

At this same meeting, Secretary Segui asked to be excused from
office due to pressure of private business and inability to write
because of some trouble with his right hand. Don Juan de Entralgo
was appointed to succeed him, and accepted the position, provided
the salary be raised to 240 pesos annually, which was granted. Also
a royal decree dated March 15, 1813, was read and archived, ordering
that there be a celebration on March 19 every year in memory of the
publication of the constitution. Appropriate ceremony, a parade,
general illumination, salvos of artillery and a solemn Te Deum were
to be the order of the day.

The terms of Alvarez, Gomez, Rovira and:Llarena expired the
first of January, 1814. They were replaced by Don Jose Sanchez, may
Don Jos4 Mariano Hernandez and Don Pedro Rodriguez de Cala, aldermen
and Don Jos@ Bernardo Reyes, who succeeded Don Francisco de Rovira a
sindico procurador.4 The four wards were placed in charge of

Barracks Ward- Felipe Solana
Church Ward Juan Huertas
Accountancy Ward Gabriel [Francisco] Triay
Castillo Ward Juan Gonzales Montes de Oca

The obelisk was finally completed the latter part of January,
on February 14, 1814, Alvarez and Gomez presented their account for
approval, in the amount of 145pesos3-1/2 reales, which was passed tc
Reyes for examination. His corrections reduced the figure by 4 pes
and the balance was approved for payment. The tools used for con-
struction were returned to be sold, and the proceeds deposited in tij

Although Seior Arredondo had refused to serve' on the committee
for construction of the monument, it seems he was not unwilling to
accept credit for its erection, as may be seen by the text of the
tablet: 5

remodelled as a State House by the British. Upon return to Spanish
rule in 1784, the building was used as the provisional church until
the new church was completed in 1797. By this time it was in such
bad condition that it was considered inadvisable to repair it, and
the walls were allowed to fall into ruin.
4. The duties of the sindico procurador were those of a public ad
cate, fiscal agent and administrator. The term is sometimes define
as city attorney, or attorney general, but this official did not
necessarily have legal training.
5. The original inscription is in Spanish. This English translate
appears on the bronze tablet placed on the base of the monument by
the St. Augustine Historical Society in 1955.

Proclaimed in this City of St. Augustine, East Florida
On the 17th of October, 1812
During the Governorship of
Brigadier Don Sebastian Kindelan
Knight of the Order of Santiago
The Constitutional Council has raised this monument
As an everlasting memorial
Under the supervision of
Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, the Younger,
Dean of the Council, and
Don Francisco Robira
Attorney General

The tablet did not remain long on the monument. On September
15, 1814, the daily paper from Havana was received and the aldermen
read that similar tablets had been removed from the monuments in
various settlements, and that others had been substituted with the
inscription "Plaza de Fernando Sdptimo".

No formal instruction had been received here, but rather than
be accused of procrastination, Alderman Francisco Pons was ordered
to remove the tablet from the monument in the plaza forthwith.

The royal cedula dated at Madrid, July 30, 1814, was not received
here until January 18, 1815. By its terms the dissolution of the con-
stitutional government was declared, and the local council was like-
wise dissolved.

On May 4, 1820, the council was recreated as the result of the
reproclamation of the constitution of 1812. On May 11, the tablet was
replaced on the monument "with all ceremonies and majesty" that the
act required.

Don Josd Coppinger was then governor of East Florida, and he called
the available former aldermen together in extraordinary meeting. Don
Francisco Pons was absent from the city, and the former mayor, Don Jose
SAnchez had passed away. Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, the
younger, was elected mayor pro tem, and the new officers were chosen
for the four wards:

Barracks Ward Andres Papy, with Mateo Solana, Deputy,
Church Ward Juan Huertas, with Bernardo Segui, Deputy,
Accountancy Ward Francisco de Medicis, with Antonio Mier, Deputy,
Castillo Ward Pedro Benet, with Ramon Rogero, Deputy.

Three days of celebration began on September 25, 1820, honoring
the republication of the constitution. Triple Salvos of artillery,
ringing of bells, illuminations and decorations were accompanied by
"all the diversions and rejoicings that are legal and not opposed to
the public tranquility".

In 1953 the St. Augustine Historical Society had a Herculite
glass frame placed over the original marble tablet on Constitution
Monument, to protect it from damage and erosion. A replica of the
original tablet was placed on the west side of the monument, and a
bronze placque, with inscriptions in Spanish and English was in-
stalled on the base in 1955.

Sources: East Florida Spanish Papers, Library of Congress, City
Council Minutes, 1812-1821. Microfilm in St. Augustine Historical
Society Library; The St. Augustine Record, October 18, 1953.


This incident occurred shortly before noon on Saturday, May 23,
1840, during tthe Second Seminole War. Five men were killed by a
band of Indians, led by Coacoochee [Wild Cat] about seven or eight
miles from St. Augustine and about midway between Forts Weadman and
Searle.1 The St. Johns County Historical Commission has a marker
on order, which will be installed on this site on the Picolata Road,
later this summer.

A theatrical company under the management of W.C. Forbes, from
Savannah, were en route to St. Augustine for a two weeks' engagement.
Part of the troupe, including two ladies, had arrived in town safely
the day before. On Saturday morning, Col. John M. Hanson sent a two-
horse carriage and a large wagon to Picolata to transport the remain-
ing members of the troupe, their costumes and scenery to St. Augustir
There were also two other passengers, a Mr. Miller, from Brunswick,
Georgia, and a Mr. D. G. Vose, from Black Creek.

The members of Forbes' company were a Mr. Weiger, a young Germa
musician, Mr.Thomas A. Lyne, and a Mr. Germon. Mr. John Hagan drove
the wagon, while a Negro man drove the carriage.

Without warning the group was fired upon by a party of about
fifteen Seminoles in full war paint,2 who suddenly rose up from a
clump of palmettoes, about fifty yards from the road. Miller and
Vose were killed. The others, except Hagan, abandoned the vehicles
and tried to escape. Germon ran toward Fort Searle, pursued by an
Indian. A rifle ball passed within a few inches of his head, where-
upon he turned around a drew a pistol, frightening off his assailant,
and escaped to Fort Searle, about half a mile distant.

On leaving the carriage, Weiger also ran, pursued by the Indiani
Finding that they gained upon him, he stopped, turned and begged for
his life, speaking in German in the hope that as a foreigner they wo0
spare him. He was shot.

1. Fort Searle, established in December, 1839 and abandoned in Junii
1841, was about six miles east of Picolata. Fort Weadman was aboutIs
way between Picolata and St. Augustine.
2. This party of Seminoles was thought to be the same group that er
caped from Castillo de San Marcos on November 29, 1837. Some months
after the Picolata Road massacre, Coacoochee and his retinue met with

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