Title Page
 Front Matter
 Florida's quadricentennial
 Editorial preface
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 I. Early relations with Spain
 II. To the treaty of 1795
 III. The purchase of Louisiana
 IV. West Florida between the Mobile...
 V. West Florida and later...
 VI. Florida during the War...
 VII. Resumption of diplomatic...
 VIII. Jackson’s war with the...
 IX. Adams versus De Onis
 X. The treaty of 1819
 XI. The Florida treaty

Title: purchase of Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103017/00001
 Material Information
Title: purchase of Florida
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Fuller, Hubert Bruce, 1880-1957
Publisher: University of Florida Press
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Copyright Date: 1964
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00103017
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 1533664
lccn - 64019826

Table of Contents
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
    Front Matter
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Florida's quadricentennial
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    Editorial preface
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
    Half Title
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
    Table of Contents
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    I. Early relations with Spain
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
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    II. To the treaty of 1795
        Page 33
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        Page 75
    III. The purchase of Louisiana
        Page 76
        Page 77
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    IV. West Florida between the Mobile and the Mississippi
        Page 122
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    V. West Florida and later negotiations
        Page 146
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    VI. Florida during the War of 1812
        Page 182
        Page 183
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    VII. Resumption of diplomatic relations
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
        Page 217
        Page 218
        Page 219
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        Page 239
    VIII. Jackson’s war with the Seminoles
        Page 240
        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
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    IX. Adams versus De Onis
        Page 271
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        Page 273
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        Page 276
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    X. The treaty of 1819
        Page 298
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    XI. The Florida treaty
        Page 323
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Full Text


of the
State of Florida

1961 -1965

Carl Sandburg has said: "Books say Yes to life. Or they say
No." The twelve volumes commemorating the Quadricentennial
of Florida say Yes. They unfold a story so adventurous and
thrilling, so colorful and dramatic, that it would pass for
fiction were the events not solidly rooted in historical fact.
Five varying cultures have shaped the character of Florida and
endowed her with the pride and wisdom that come from full
knowledge and abiding understanding. Let us enjoy with
deepening gratitude Florida's magnetic natural endowments of
sun and surf and sky. Let us also recognize in her unique
cultural heritage the pattern of energy and dedication that
will spur us to face the challenges of today and tomorrow with
I am grateful for the privilege of sharing these volumes
with you.






of the 1906 EDITION

of the

University of Florida Press

of the


of the 1906 EDITION




Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 64-19826




Secretary of State

State Comptroller

Commissioner of Agriculture

Attorney General

State Treasurer

Superintendent of Public Instruction


St. Petersburg

Ft. Lauderdale



Vice Chairman



Executive Director, Tallahassee

of the

CARPETBAG RULE IN FLORIDA by John Wallace. 1888. Edited by
Allan Nevins.
liam Watson Davis. 1913. Edited by Fletcher M. Green.
THE EXILES OF FLORIDA by Joshua R. Giddings. 1858. Edited by
Arthur W. Thompson.
M. Barbour. 1882. Edited by Emmett B. Peter, Jr.
LOUISIANA IN 1814-15 by A. L. Latour. 1816. Edited by Jane
Lucas de Grummond.
1924 by T. Frederick Davis. 1925. Edited by Richard A. Martin.
1836. Edited by O. Z. Tyler, Jr.
WAR by John T. Sprague. 1848. Edited by John K. Mahon.
PEDRO MENENDEZ de AVILES by Gonzalo Solis de Meris. 1567.
(The Florida State Historical Society edition, edited and translated
by Jeannette Thurber Connor.) Edited by Lyle N. McAlister.
THE PURCHASE OF FLORIDA by Hubert Bruce Fuller. 1906. Edited
by Weymouth T. Jordan.
IDAS by James Grant Forbes. 1821. Edited by James W. Covington.
Ribaut. 1563. (The Florida State Historical Society edition, includ-
ing a biography of Ribaut by Jeannette Thurber Connor.) Edited by
David L. Dowd.

The Quadricentennial Coat-of-Arms

Surmounted by the Crest symbolizing our National Emblem
and underlined by the Scroll, the Shield with the Tower of
Spain in the Heraldic quarter of honor, followed by the Fleur-
de-lis of France, the Lion Rampant of Britain, and the Mullets
and Saltier of the Confederacy depicts the four-hundred-
year cultural heritage of our Florida of today.

The Florida Quadricentennial Commission acknowledges its deepest gratitude to
Chase D. Sheddan, distinguished scholar, and A. Vernon
Coale, noted Heraldic Artist, for their conception and
portrayal of the official Florida Quadricentennial Coat-

* .~


.: y
' I, I*

,-- ~r



\.i -A



LORIDA enjoys a unique position
among the fifty states of the Union.
Her city of St. Augustine antedates
Jamestown, the second oldest Euro-
pean settlement within the present
boundaries of the United States, by
forty-two years. But it was not until
1950 that Florida entered the select circle of the ten
most populous states of the nation. Since 1950 she has
passed Massachusetts in population and is challenging
New Jersey for eighth place. Within the South only
Texas with more than four and one-half times the area
of Florida has a larger population.
Neither number nor age is necessarily a distinction,
but most Americans are impressed by the former and
revere the latter. Floridians view the recent and rapid
increase in their state's population as an indication of
youthful vigor. In 1860 eleven states of the Union had
a million or more inhabitants, a status symbol not at-
tained by Florida until the mid-1920's. At the turn of the
century Florida ranked thirty-third in a nation of forty-
six commonwealths; today she is ninth in population
among the fifty states. In contrast to the national increase
of less than 20 per cent from 1950 to 1960, Florida's
population increased by more than 78 per cent. The
number of people living in the state in 1964 is more than
twice that of 1950.
While boasting of their state's recent surge, Floridians
are also proud of their four-hundred-year-old origin. In
1957 the Florida Quadricentennial Commission was

viii Florida's Quadricentennial
established. With the approval of its members local or-
ganizations have celebrated the quadricentennials of
several historic events. The attempt of Tristin de Luna
to found a colony on the western tip of Santa Rosa Island
in 1559 was observed in Pensacola by reconstructing the
Spanish village settlement. In 1962 Jacksonville noted
the Quadricentennial of Jean Ribault's explorations with
a colorful drama. Even before this tribute to the French
explorer, a museum was built near the spot where in
1564 another Frenchman, Reni de Laudonniere, brought
the first Protestant colonists to an area within the present-
day United States. These and other quadricentennial
celebrations will culminate in 1965 with state, national,
and international observance of the founding of St.
There are many ways to celebrate quadricentennials-
parades, speeches, pageants, the re-creation of villages and
forts, and the restoration of buildings. Some of these are
spectacular but fleeting; others, including the restoration
of buildings, will remain for our descendants to see and
feel. More enduring than any of these are ideas. For this
reason the Governor, the Cabinet, and the Florida Quad-
ricentennial Commission gave priority to the reprinting
of rare and valuable books relating to Florida. These re-
productions will endure. They will enable many Ameri-
cans to share in the state's past, and will provide source
material for the historian.
Until recently few authors or publishers were inter-
ested in Florida. Englishmen brought the first printing
press to Florida in 1783 and from it came a newspaper
and two books. But for a century and a half the books

Florida's Quadricentennial ix
on Florida were rare and the number of copies printed
was small. In cooperation with the University of Florida
Press the Quadricentennial Commission is reprinting
twelve rare or semi-rare books. The subject matter in
these volumes covers a period of more than three hun-
dred years of Florida's history-the French and Spanish
settlements, the War of 1812, the purchase by the United
States, the Seminole War, the Civil War and Reconstruc-
tion, and the modern period. In addition to textual re-
productions, these facsimile editions contain introduc-
tions by businessmen, journalists, and professors. The
Quadricentennial Commission hopes these twelve books
will stimulate the production of other reprints and en-
courage students to write original manuscripts which
describe and interpret Florida's past.

The Florida Quadricentennial Commission

FRED H. KENT, Chairman-Jacksonville
GERT H. W. SCHMIDT-Jacksonville
H. E. WOLFE-St. Augustine


NEVER in American history have the terms of an inter-
national agreement been as incorrectly reported and
as misinterpreted as were those of the Adams-Onis Treaty.
As a consequence, students and most textbook writers
"know" that in 1819 the United States purchased Florida
from Spain for $5,000,000. The date, the purchase, and the
$5,000,000 are myths, persistent myths that are repeated
year after year in encyclopedias and general histories.
Throughout the Second Spanish Period of Florida, 1784-
1821, the United States kept her eyes steadfastly on the de-
sirable Florida provinces. Along with independence in 1783,
the United States won from Great Britain a vast land lying
between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi
River. Not satisfied, the acquisitive Americans demanded
from Spain the area of West Florida between the line 320
28' and the 31st parallel. Spain resisted for a decade, but in
1795 gave the United States clear title to the disputed terri-
tory which now comprises parts of Louisiana, Mississippi,
and Alabama. On learning that Spain had retroceded Loui-
siana to France and thinking that West Florida was in-
cluded in the transfer, President Jefferson attempted to
buy it and the island of Orleans from Napoleon I. Jeffer-
son's ministers secured Louisiana in 1803 and claimed West
Florida as a part of the Louisiana Purchase. On the basis
of this claim, military forces of the United States occupied
sections of West Florida in 1810 and 1813. Furthermore, a
fundamental purpose of the War of 1812 was the acqui-

xii Editorial Preface
sition of the rest of Florida. Recalcitrant senators defeated
the attempt of the Madison administration to acquire Flor-
ida, but the Spanish-owned province was invaded in 1816
by forces commanded by Colonel Duncan L. Clinch and in
1818 by forces commanded by General Andrew Jackson.
The latter action helped to convince Spain that the United
States was determined to possess an area needed to com-
plete her southern boundary and to protect the interests of
her people in the Mississippi Valley.
This problem was only one of the territorial disputes be-
tween the United States and Spain. In addition to bound-
aries, the two nations had claims against each other for
property losses sustained by their citizens. After prolonged
negotiations, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and
Spanish Minister Louis de Onis reached an agreement in
1819. The United States Senate ratified the treaty, but the
Spanish Cortes rejected it. In 1821 the Spanish legislature
ratified, and after a second confirmation by the American
Senate, the treaty was promulgated.
By its provisions, Spain gave the United States title to
the Floridas in exchange for American relinquishment of
all claims to Texas. Spain also assigned to the United States
all Spanish rights to the Oregon area, leaving eventual
ownership of the Pacific northwest country to negotiation
among Great Britain, Russia, and the United States. As
Samuel Flagg Bemis has determined, the Adam-Onis agree-
ment was a "Transcontinental Treaty." Besides territorial
boundaries, the claims of American and Spanish citizens
were settled by separate and distinct provisions in the
The date of the Adams-Onis Treaty was 1821, not 1819.
Instead of buying the Floridas, the United States acquired
the territories and Spanish claims to Oregon in exchange
for relinquishing vague rights to Texas. Not a penny was
paid to Spain for the Floridas, or to Americans claiming

Editorial Preface

indemnity for property losses suffered by Spanish acts, or
to Spaniards demanding payment for American depreda-
tions. These claims were adjusted by provisions of the
treaty other than those relating to territorial boundaries.
By the Adams-Onis Treaty, ratified by Spain and the
United States in 1821, the latter country gained the Flor-
idas and Spanish claims to Oregon in return for giving
Spain a clear title to Texas.
Hubert Bruce Fuller failed to give the complete account
of the acquisition of the Floridas. His title, The Purchase
of Florida, is inaccurate; but as Professor Jordan points
out, Fuller's study was a pioneer one. It stimulated other
investigators to delve into the Florida question. Weymouth
T. Jordan is head of the Department of History at the Flor-
ida State University and the author of a number of books.
The University of Florida Press acknowledges its indebted-
ness to Stanley L. West, Director of Libraries, and Eliza-
beth Alexander, Librarian of the Yonge Memorial Library,
at the University of Florida, for the use of an original copy
of Fuller's book in producing this facsimile.
University of Florida General Editor of the



HUBERT Bruce Fuller was born on June 15, 1880, in
East Derby, Connecticut, and was the son of Robert
Bruce Fuller, a school principal, and Harriet A. (Prentice)
Fuller. He married Florence B. Dennis, daughter of James
H. and Harriet I. (Batty) Dennis, on May 25, 1910, in Cha-
nute, Kansas, and was the father of two children, Harriet
Lois and Florence Esther. He was descended from William
Brewster, the Pilgrim leader, and from Benjamin Frank-
lin's sister, Ann.
Fuller obtained a good education. He prepared for college
at Central High School, Washington, D. C., and entered
Columbian University (now George Washington Univer-
sity) as a member of the class of 1900. He left Columbian
University before graduating in order to attend Yale Uni-
versity as a senior in the class of 1901. After graduating
from Yale he returned to Columbian University Law
School, where he received the LL.B. and LL.M. degrees in
1903. While in law school he was awarded prizes in insur-
ance and corporation law, an essay on "The Regulation of
Corporations by Taxation" winning first prize in a class of
one hundred and ten men. He began practicing law in Cleve-
land, Ohio, in 1903. He had earlier started work on the
manuscript which was to be published as The Purchase of
Florida. This manuscript won for him the M.A. degree
from Yale University in 1904, as well as the George Wash-
ington Eggleston Prize in American History.
As Fuller reported to Yale University for publication in


the 1917 issue of the Quindecennial Record, he had by that
time become a member of the Cleveland Chamber of Com-
merce, the Sons of the American Revolution, and the West-
ern Reserve Historical Society. He said for the Record:
"Here I am not troubled with modesty but I suffer from
lack of having led a very thrilling career. I have won no
Carnegie medals, been swept into no public offices on waves
of popular approval or enthusiasm, and have kept out of
the police records. I am merely a lawyer specializing in in-
surance law, railroad rate law, and food and drug legisla-
tion. I was secretary to Senator Theodore E. Burton of Ohio
(Republican) during his term in the United States Senate
from 1909 to 1915." He reported that he had been "stump-
ing" Cleveland and northern Ohio each fall in behalf of
municipal and state candidates of the Republican Party.
His publication record was anything but modest. His
major historical excursion, The Purchase of Florida (1906),
was behind him. Tax Returns in Ohio was printed the fol-
lowing year, in 1909 his Speakers of the House was re-
leased, in 1913 he brought out The Law of Accident and
Employers' Liability Insurance, and 1915 saw the publica-
tion of The Act to Regulate Commerce. He also contributed
articles on historical, legal, and sociological subjects to such
magazines as the North American Review, World's Work,
McClure's Magazine, The Review of Reviews, Century,
Scribner's, and Munsey's Magazine. He was interested in
subjects which were of concern to persons of the Progres-
sive persuasion of his day. He would become more conser-
vative in later years.
Following World War I, Fuller concentrated on his law
practice and Republican politics in the Cleveland area. In
1922 he was a member of the law firm of Chamberlin and
Fuller. He was, for a time, associated with William S. Fitz-
gerald, a former Cleveland mayor. For many years, he was
a member of Cull, Fuller and Laughlin, perhaps the leading

law office in Cleveland. In his later years he operated his
own law firm. Specializing in legal matters relating to the
petroleum industry, he became an officer in the Cleveland
Petroleum Club and a member of the American Petroleum
Institute. He was for thirty years general counsel for the
Ohio Petroleum Marketers Association, this being his chief
activity. He belonged to the Cleveland, Ohio, and American
Bar Associations, and continued his membership in the
Western Reserve Historical Society, the Chamber of Com-
merce, and the Sons of the American Revolution. He also
joined the New England Society and the Sons of Mayflower
Descendants. He died on February 9, 1957, in Cleveland, a
highly respected man of his community.
Fuller is best noted as a successful lawyer. History was
not his profession. When one goes looking for information
on him, one will not find it among the usual biographical
accounts of authors in the field of history. At his death, the
leading historical magazines did not carry obituary notices,
and he is not listed in the volume of the Dictionary of
American Biography which contains sketches of deceased
historians. More appropriately, he is to be found in such
compilations as The Book of Clevelanders (Cleveland, 1914)
and Who's Who in Law (New York, 1937). Yale University
is also justly proud of Fuller and records his outstanding
accomplishments in Sexennial Records, Class of 1901 (New
Haven, 1909), in Quindecennial Record (Norwood, Massa-
chusetts, 1917), and in Vicennial Record (New Haven,
Fuller's one large endeavor in the field of history was
The Purchase of Florida, published in Cleveland in 1906. He
begins with a few paragraphs describing Spanish Florida
in the years before 1763, when Spain was forced to cede
the territory to England. This is followed by brief accounts
of the period 1763 to 1783, when the region was under
English control, and of the retrocession to Spain at the



xviii Introduction
close of the American Revolution. As Fuller aptly describes
Florida's next period of importance, 1783 to 1795, two prob-
lems came to the front: the boundary between Georgia and
Florida and American commercial use of the Mississippi
River. An abortive effort was made to solve these two prob-
lems with the ill-starred Jay-Gardoqui negotiations of the
mid-1780's. They were solved, in part, in 1795 by the
Spanish-American Treaty of San Lorenzo, by which the
boundary was placed at the 31st parallel, the United States
was accorded free navigation of the lower Mississippi River,
and Americans were allowed to deposit goods at New Or-
leans for transshipment to ocean-going vessels. England
had just made an agreement (the Jay Treaty) with the
United States. Spain signed her treaty because she wanted
the United States as a friend in case of trouble with Eng-
land. As Fuller says, Spain was afraid that England might
"excite the United States against her."
Before and after the Treaty of San Lorenzo, many Ameri-
cans wanted ownership of Florida. This was the rub-and
the United States would be satisfied with nothing less. Set-
tlers in the Kentucky-Tennessee area were especially hope-
ful of gaining the region. These Westerners believed that
Florida should belong to the United States by "moral right,"
by manifest destiny. More particularly, they wanted to ship
their goods to the east by water rather than overland
through the Appalachian Mountains. They insisted that the
leaders of the Jeffersonian political party push their cause.
The political leaders-from Jefferson to Monroe-did not
fail them. They were elated with the Louisiana Purchase of
1803 for its own sake, as well as because it would add pres-
sure on Spain in regard to Florida.
As Fuller points out, over and over, the rise of the United
States after 1789 and the weakening of Spain at home and
abroad as a result of the wars brought on by the French
Revolution, meant that Spain would be unable to maintain

Introduction xix
control of her possessions in America. Spain thus lost most
of her New World possessions including the Floridas, her
"fairest provinces." Put another way, this meant that
Spain's troubles worked to the advantage of the United
In 1793 Thomas Jefferson had predicted that "time"
would bring independence to "our neighbors," that "free
commerce" would come, and that the United States would
obtain Florida without fighting for it. Fuller tells how these
predictions materialized and how various American Presi-
dents urged them along. He emphasizes that Florida was
surrounded by American territory after the purchase of
Louisiana in 1803. He also tracks through the many con-
spiracies of Americans to take Florida, that is, the intrigues
of John Sevier, William Blount, James Wilkinson, Thomas
Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and George Matthews. Spe-
cial attention is given to Andrew Jackson's invasion of
Florida in 1818 and to Secretary of State John Quincy
Adams' role in the final acquisition.
Fuller closes his story with an appraisal of the negotia-
tion of the Adams-Onis treaty. He says, "The United States
received the Floridas in return for an agreement to settle
the disputed claims of certain of her citizens against Spain
to an amount not more than $5,000,000." The United States
also relinquished its trumped-up claims to Texas. Fuller
leaves no doubt as to his sentiments about American an-
nexation of Florida: "No sooner were we a nation than we
cast our eyes about. We coveted Florida, and we talked of
manifest destiny, and the falling of ripened fruit, and eased
our conscience by like casuistry. Spain was weak, she was
entangled in the Herculean grasp of European complica-
tions-all of which materially assisted this ever favorable
manifest destiny.... It was the right of might-the triumph
of force."
Fuller said this at a time just after the United States had


moved against Spain in the Spanish-American War of
1898 and had deprived Spain of Cuba, the Philippines,
Guam, and Puerto Rico. He wrote his book precisely at the
time President Theodore Roosevelt was "taking" Panama.
Perhaps Fuller was showing that American sanction of
"the white man's burden" of the day was a rebirth of the
continental "manifest destiny" of the United States during
the first half of the nineteenth century. Perhaps Fuller, the
staunch Republican, was trying to demonstrate that the Re-
publicans of his time were acting in much the same way as
Democrats had acted under Jefferson, Madison, and Mon-
roe. Also, although not a part of his main story, he had
managed some sharp side-swipes at another Democrat,
James K. Polk, for "despoiling Mexico." He had, however,
also censured a few members of the old Federalist political
party. However this may be, it is an established truism
among historians that every generation writes its own ver-
sion of history. Fuller certainly added to the story of the
acquisition of Florida as presented by nineteenth century
American historians. He was, of course, a product of his
times-and he wrote his Purchase of Florida as he saw it.
His version was neither altogether pleasant nor complete.
He said his piece-on occasion as a lawyer pleading a case.
He used many an oratorical flourish in his writing-in a
style which is no longer practiced. He was a representative
of his time and place.
The Purchase of Florida was variously received by con-
temporary reviewers during the last three months of 1906.
The New York Times concluded that "Mr. Fuller's account
of this whole affair is the best we know of," while the Re-
view of Reviews called it "a scholarly monograph." The
Literary Digest stated, "For his material Mr. Fuller has
gone direct to original sources" in preparing his "elaborate
monograph," adding that his "investigation has enabled
him to present a new light on many momentous episodes in


the early diplomatic history of the nation." But all was not
rosy. The Outlook said that the book gave "ready access to
much documentary information hitherto not generally
available," but that a closely revised second edition was
needed. The Nation offered "two serious criticisms" of the
study: "The material upon which it is based is inadequate,
and the knowledge which it displays of European diplo-
matic situations is insufficient." In January, 1907, the
American Historical Review carried a caustic appraisal of
the book. The reviewer, whose name was withheld, wrote
that a reader would not find much that was new in Fuller's
work, that he had "left large and fatal gaps in his narra-
tive," and that the study did not give enough attention to
the Texas boundary question or to contemporary events in
Europe and South America. It was admitted, however, that
the book had some merits: "The discussions as to West
Florida, the events of the War of 1812, and Jackson's ex-
ploits in 1818 are fully treated. Here the author is more at
home, and these chapters are distinctly the best ... ."
For many years the work of Fuller was considered the
standard account of the acquisition of Florida; but histo-
rians recognized that it did not cover all of the subject and,
as is the way of historians, they delved deeper and deeper
into it. They naturally benefited from new techniques and
the greater availability of materials, as well as from the
changing interpretations of history itself. Reference only
to the major new studies and revisions must suffice here.
Three books may be examined for general information on
Florida: Kathryn A. Hanna, Florida, Land of Change
(1941) ; Charles L. Mowat, East Florida as a British Prov-
ince, 1763-1784 (1943) ; and Rembert W. Patrick, Florida
Under Five Flags (1945). Two younger scholars, Charles
W. Arnade and John Jay DePaske, are now at work on the
subject of Spanish Florida, and will add greatly to informa-
tion about the period to 1763.

xxii Introduction
Distinguished accounts of Florida as a part of the inter-
national scene have been produced since Fuller's study.
Some of them almost seem to have been written solely as
supplements to Fuller's pioneer book; all of them are help-
ful in understanding the acquisition of Florida. From the
Johns Hopkins University came forth The West Florida
Controversy, 1798-1813 (1918) by Isaac J. Cox. Herbert E.
Bolton, the inspiring historian of the University of Cali-
fornia, published his study of The Spanish Borderlands; A
Chronicle of Old Florida and the Southwest (1921). Next
there was Julius W. Pratt, Expansionists of 1812 (1925),
one of the most provocative books ever done in American
historiography, and he did not neglect Florida. Another
modern study of special import was Pinckney's Treaty: A
Study of America's Advantages from Europe's Distress,
1783-1800 (1926) by the leading authority on American
diplomatic history, Samuel Flagg Bemis. Of special signifi-
cance, too, were Arthur P. Whitaker, The Spanish-American
Frontier, 1783-1795 (1927), and his The Mississippi Ques-
tion, 1795-1803 (1934), as well as Marquis James, Andrew
Jackson, the Border Captain (1933).
From California, brought on by Bolton's leadership, there
poured forth three books which added to the Florida story.
E. H. Tatum, The United States and Europe, 1815-1823
(1936), led the way, to be followed by the United States
and the Disruption of the Spanish Empire, 1810-1822 (1937)
by Charles C. Griffin. The climax arrived with Philip C.
Brooks, Diplomacy of the Borderlands: The Adams-Onis
Treaty of 1819 (1939), based upon an examination of his-
torical materials in Spain, France, England, and the United
States. Brooks showed, among other things, that claims
were not tied to the cession of territory. Bemis summarized
much of what had been written in his monumental account
of John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American
Foreign Diplomacy (1949). Bemis dubbed the Florida

Introduction xxiii
treaty "the Transcontinental Treaty with Spain." Rembert
W. Patrick, with Florida Fiasco; Rampant Rebels on the
Georgia-Florida Border, 1810-1815 (1954), filled in a neg-
lected aspect of his state's history.
Each of these historians was a revisionist. Each of them
represented progress in historical research and writing, for
such progress is inevitable. Fuller wrote history as it was
being written during his time, and was honored for his
efforts with a degree from Yale University, the first Ameri-
can university to award a doctoral degree based on re-
search. He did not receive a doctoral degree, of course, but
his alma mater thought he deserved a reward for his en-
deavors. The other historians have written from the more
scholarly perspective of their times. This essay is a case in
point. We write as we do today because we have learned to
do so from our predecessors including the author of The
Purchase of Florida. We can still learn something from
Hubert Bruce Fuller.
The Florida State University













CHAPTER I. Early Relations with Spain 15
CHAPTER II. To the Treaty of 1795 33
CHAPTER III. The Purchase of Louisiana 76
CHAPTER IV. West Florida between the Mobile
and the Mississippi 122
CHAPTER V. West Florida and Later Negotia-



tions 146
Florida During the War of 1812 182
Resumption of Diplomatic Rela-
tions 213
Jackson's War with the Seminoles 240
Adams versus De Onis 271
The Treaty of 1819 298
The Florida Treaty 323

A. Vol. VI, Instructions, p. 137 333
B. Annals of Congress (January, 1819), p. 515 337
C. Vol. VIII, Instructions, p. 257 340
D. 1795-Treaty of Friendship, Limits, and
Navigation 359
E. 8g19-Treaty of Amity, Settlement, and
Limits 371
F. Bibliography 381


THE acquisition of Florida, our early relations with
Spain, and the struggle to secure New Orleans and
the Mississippi, are critical and interesting chapters in
American history. Their importance and magnitude are
but slightly considered by many of wide culture, and are
but vaguely appreciated even by those who have made a
special study of the history of the nation.
In connection with post-graduate work at Yale Univer-
sity, where this essay was awarded the George Washington
Eggleston Prize in American History, in 1904, the author
became aware of the poverty of historical writing devoted
to these significant matters in the diplomatic history of the
United States, and was impressed with the advantages which
might accrue to students of American history, from an
unprejudiced and accurate account of the acquisition of
Florida and our early entanglements with the Spanish
nation. Through the courtesy of the late Hon. John Hay,
then Secretary of State, and of Assistant Secretary Adee,
the diplomatic correspondence of the period in question was
placed at the disposal of the writer.
Some idea of the importance of the questions involved
and the attention they received from our national officials
may be inferred from the fact that the author was obliged
to examine some fifty volumes of official manuscript in order
to secure the necessary data for a proper treatment of the
subject. The original correspondence, all carefully exam-
ined and compared, included Instructions to United States


Ministers in Europe, Domestic Letters, Notes to Foreign
Legations, Letters of Foreign Ministers in the United States
to the State Department, Letters from our Ministers Abroad
to the State Department, and the Personal Letters of the
various Ministers of the United States to Spain, France and
England. Vols. XII and XIII of the Domestic Letters,
and Vol. I of Notes to Foreign Legations were lost at the
time of the British occupation of Washington in 1814, and
have never been recovered.
The letters now extant in the State Department, many
in French and Spanish, and not heretofore translated, reveal
much of the inside history of our early national life. This
mass of correspondence and notes, for the most part,
furnishes the authority for the statements of fact made
in the following pages. The conclusions derived have been
drawn in an earnest effort to be fair and to avoid prejudice;
national vanity and a mistaken patriotism have misled many
The province of the historian is to present facts; to be
correct rather than pleasing; to criticise, if occasion require,
yet always justly. Fortified by the results of fullest research,
he should state truly what has happened, and be guided in
conclusions by the laws of evidence. He should seek to
accomplish the complete subjection of personal, political and
patriotic prejudices. The narrative should be based prim-
arily upon an examination and appreciation of original
documents. Personal memoirs, contemporary chronicles,
and biased biographies and diaries are not to be ignored,
but they must be subordinated to documents of acknowl-
edged validity--such as authentic dispatches, original in-
structions, executive decrees and legislative enactments.
Such gaps in history as cannot be filled should be bridged
with great care.
If the author has criticised government officials and


officers of the army, or their conduct of affairs, it has been
done solely to subserve the ends of historical accuracy.
Acknowledgment must be made to Mr. Andrew H.
Allen, the Librarian of the Department of State, and to
Mr. Pendleton King, Chief of the Bureau of Indexes and
Archives of that department, and to Mr. P. Lee Phillips of
the Congressional Library, for their uniform courtesy and
valuable assistance; to Professor Arthur M. Wheeler of
Yale University, for his kindly criticisms, valuable sugges-
tions and friendly encouragement; and also to Professor
Theodore S. Woolsey and Professor Edward G. Bourne of
Yale University; the Hon. Hannis Taylor, of the Spanish
Claims Commission and one time Minister to Spain; Pro-
fessor Charles C. Swisher of George Washington Univer-
sity; Justice David J. Brewer of the United States Supreme
Court; and Mr. T. Fletcher Dennis of Washington, D. C.,
for assistance and advice always graciously afforded, and
most gratefully received.
Cleveland, Ohio,
February, 1906.





FLORIDA -the land of the fountain of youth, of fabled
riches, of unrivaled beauty, was the central figure of the
romance and tradition of the sixteenth century. But her his-
tory was more a tragedy than a song. Here explorers,
brave knights, soldiers of fortune, lured by the siren songs
of wealth and the hope of glory, suffered and died and the
world knew them no more. -Here were armies sacrificed to
satiate the vengeance of European monarchs massacred
by savage redskins or other vengeful enemies, with every
refinement of cruelty that an ingenious mind could conceive
or an experienced hand execute. Here Spanish and French
and English all contributed something to the horror-laden
history of colonial conquest, each in turn learning the
awful penalties of the law of retribution.
Army after army buried itself in these swamps and
forests their bones left to bleach in the woods after being
torn asunder by wild beasts or cruel natives to whom
the whites had brought only the gospel of hate. And in
these primeval forests, in a fruitless endeavor to explore the
world of fabled romance, many a brave cavalier found the
grave of. his ambition. Bound by the thraldom of stupid
traditions, they pursued the fateful errand of death and
failure; no city of gold was their reward, no treasure-mine
offered remuneration; only misery and death and the
immunities of a forgotten grave.

I6 The Purchase of Florida

But these expeditions were not of exploration and
avarice alone; they were also of holy mission; for the
adventurer and priest were companions, the one seeking
the reward of gold, the other the nobler reward of souls
won to Christianity. But their methods were much the
same; fire and sword served them in place of argument and
conviction. The beautiful picture of self-sacrificing priests
gone into a wild country to carry salvation to an unfortunate
race, was not without its darker shadows. For they brought
the inquisition with its horrors, and the fagot showed to a
lurid heaven that even untutored savages can die for their
convictions and for principle.
After the early period of discovery and settlement had
passed, the American colonies became entangled in the wars
of the continent. In 1666, again in 1719, and in 1725
various attacks on Florida had been made by the southern
colonists entailing a bitterness of feeling between these
provinces, which was destined to endure and bear fruit for
more than a century. Fire and sword, famine and disease
visited the colony in rapid and ruinous succession.
By the treaty of Paris in 1763, Florida was ceded to
Great Britain in return for Cuba, and a new life was opened
to this province -the fairest, yet the bloodiest of our
domain. For Spain has ever viewed her colonists as slaves
whose blood and tears might well be shed to advance her
own proud ease and splendor.
With the change of title the Spanish people quite
generally emigrated from the country which had been under
the Castilian flag for two centuries. Two hundred years of
disappointment and sorrow they had been. Outside the
garrisoned walls little had been accomplished, for the
Spanish were soldiers not civilians, gentlemen not agri-
Under the English the province increased in population

Early Relations with Spain 17

and wealth; commerce flourished and friendly relations were
established with the southern colonies. But when in 1775
the first guns of freedom were fired, they awakened no
response in the hearts of the people of Florida. The other
southern colonists might cheer the heroes of Lexington
and Bunker Hill and call the minute-men patriots, but to
Florida they were traitors, for Florida alone remained loyal.
It was too new a possession and the people too well governed
to feel the keen dissatisfaction and unrest which breed
revolution. For to them English misgovernment seemed a
blessing after the wrongs they had endured from the
Spanish. And further, many colonists were the recent
beneficiaries of the generous land-grants of the English
king. No bells and bonfires in Florida proclaimed the
Declaration of Independence; no liberty poles arose in her
public squares. On the other hand when news of the events
of July 4, 1776, reached St. Augustine, John Hancock and
Samuel Adams were hanged and burned in effigy by a
cheering crowd of loyalists.
Naturally this proud city, which had been called by her
former monarchs "the faithful city of St. Augustine,"
became, during the war, a depot and point d'appui for the
British in their operations against the southern states and
large forces at times were stationed there. Incursions were
made from time to time into Georgia to be followed by
counter-incursions into Florida. In the summer of 1778
two bodies of armed men marched from St. Augustine into
Georgia, where after laying waste a part of the country
about Sunbury and the Ogechee River they were forced to
retreat. The Americans numbering some two thousand,
under General Robert Howe, this same year of 1778
attempted to reduce St. Augustine. The British abandoned
Fort Tonvn at the mouth of St. Mary's River, where so
many privateers had been fitted out, and withdrew into the

18 The Purchase of Florida

walls of St. Augustine which must have soon fallen had
not the deadly insects and a wasting sickness attacked the
In that year alone nearly seven thousand loyalists from
the southern colonies emigrated to Florida. For the Georgia
legislature had attainted with treason the refugees, and their
property was declared forfeited to the state and ordered to
be sold. Georgia's position was a most difficult one; for
close to her was not only a loyal colony whose bitterness
and effective .strength had been increased by these Tory
fugitives, but also the most powerful tribe of aborigines on
the continent, hostile and revengeful.
In short, Florida had become a haven of refuge for the
king's troops and Tories, and these marauding expeditions,
citizens, Tories, Scopholites, Minorcans and Indians, were
banded together under the name of Florida Rangers. With
all the withering desolation of civil war the struggle went
on; Ranger and Liberty Boy, Florida and Georgia, per-
chance brother and brother, or father and son such is
the sad tale the historian must record. To old St. Augus-
tine, particularly after the fall of Charleston, the cartel
ships brought their loads of prisoners and here were con-
fined many Americans of prominence in the Revolutionary
When the war was ended the planters returned to their
fields, the artisans to their trades. Many loyalists who had
refused allegiance to the new government came to Florida
to live again under English colors or await the time when
bitterness and prejudice might disappear from their former
homes. The province, under the impetus of British govern-
ment, took on new life and added prosperity. But one day,
in 1783, a ship arrived in the harbor of St. Augustine and all
was changed; the darkness and despair of ruin settled upon
the province. For the king of England and the king of

Early Relations with Spain

Spain had indulged in a game of chess: they had traded
pawns; Spain took the Floridas and Jamaica went to Eng-
land. Florida was well nigh deserted; for the English
subjects, bidding farewell to their old homes, with tears
and lamentations, parted from brother and sister, mother
and father. It was the scene of Grand Pre repeated; many
found ruin and want on the shores of Jamaica while others
returned to the now United States, there to experience the
injustice of successful foes.
The cross of St. George was superseded by the Spanish
flag, Spanish troops manned the forts and Spanish grandees
dispensed the laws. And with their return industry and
agriculture were suspended and commerce blotted out, while
poverty and desolation took their place. The revolted col-
onies were a nation, loyal Florida a Castilian province.
The Declaration of Independence had hurled defiance
at Great Britain and announced to the world the birth of a
new nation, which was viewed with ridicule and contempt
by many of the European countries, while others watched
the scene in wonder, speculating whether here, at last,
might be the weapon with which to humble an ancient
Those early years were fraught with perils that made
our national existence precarious. The sinews of war were
wanting and success was possible only with the alliance and
aid of the ancient monarchies of Europe. Ambassadors -
among the grandest men of the infant nation were sent
abroad, there on suppliant knee to seek the material and
not alone the moral support without which the new-born
must perish. To Madrid was dispatched the diplomatic
and well-born Jay, to seek some aid for the new republic
from the old Castilian rulers whose name had ever been
synonymous with all things anti-Republican, who above all
stood for the divine right of kings. Spain was not for-

The Purchase of Florida

getful of the lost Armada, nor was she unmindful of the
numerous scores against England, and while she might view
with intense satisfaction the loss to that country of her
fairest possessions, yet that alone would not move her to
At first she viewed with alarm the prospect of a new
nation in North America so near her own. It was not
America free that Spain desired; it was America dependent,
but disaffected. For thus both the colonies and Great
Britain would be unable to pillage Spanish America. At
first then Spain gladly contributed, so far as she could -
without exhausting her already embarrassed treasury or
causing a public rupture to maintain the colonies in this
state of permanent disaffection.
But the Revolution progressed. The American arms
held their own and the issue looked toward actual inde-
pendence. Would Spain actively assist in a movement
which might prove so seductive to her own colonies: would
she thus help build up a power founded upon political prin-
ciples in hostility to her own theories and traditions?
Montmorin, the French minister of Madrid, wrote to
Vergennes: "I have no need to tell you, sir, how much
the forming a republic in these regions would displease
Spain, and in fact, I believe that would neither suit her
interests nor ours."
Mirales, who came to Philadelphia from Spain in 1780
on a mission of inquiry, was so far imbued with the preju-
dices of his principals as to be incapable of giving in return
a fair account of American affairs. The more he saw, the
more he was appalled at the spectacle of the United States,
not merely wresting the Mississippi Valley from Spain, but
inciting Spanish South America to revolt.'
With prophetic foresight Vergennes declared that if
1. Wharton's International Law, Vol. I, p. 442; Bancroft's Hist.
of the U. S., Vol. V, p. 301.

Early Relations with Spain

the United States won a place among the independent
nations, having fought to defend its hearth fires, it would
next desire to extend itself over Louisiana, Florida and
Mexico, in order to secure all the approaches to the sea.
Actuated by these ideas and with elusive and adroit
Castilian diplomacy, the Spanish met the American repre-
sentatives with mingled feelings of annoyance, displeas-
ure and alarm. This was the second stage of the Spanish
attitude toward the American Revolution.
By force of circumstances she was hurried on to the
third stage. Unconsciously and irresistibly drawn by the
logic of events into the whirlpool of that war which France,
in the name of the colonies, was waging against Great
Britain, Spain found solace and encouragement in the
thought that at last was come the opportunity to avenge her
wrongs; to wrest Gibraltar from the hands of the hated
intruder, and on the successful issue of the war to rise again
to the position of a first-class power.
The possibility of a Spanish alliance had long been a
pleasing and fruitful topic of debate in the continental
congress, and in 1778 suggestions were repeatedly made in
that body as to what might be offered as an inducement to
this coveted arrangement. Finally the different ideas were
crystallized in the form of a motion offered September Io,
1779, by Mr. Dickinson: "That if his Catholic Majesty
shall determine to take part with France and the United
States of America, in such case the minister plenipotentiary
of the United States be empowered in their name to con-
clude with the most Christian and Catholic Kings, a treaty
or treaties, thereby assuring to these States Canada, Nova
Scotia, Bermudas and the Floridas, when conquered, and
the free and full exercise of the common right of these
States to the fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland and
the other fishing banks and seas of North America, and

The Purchase of Florida

also the free navigation of the Mississippi into the sea." 1
But in this grant of the territory of the Floridas it was
always provided, "that his Catholic Majesty shall grant to
the United States the free navigation of the Mississippi into
the sea and establish on the said river at or somewhere
southward of 31 north latitude, a free port or ports," for
all merchant vessels, goods, wares and merchandise belong-
ing to the inhabitants of the States. The United States
might well be thus generous in her terms, for her enemy and
not herself was being despoiled. With these terms as a
basis, Jay was directed to conclude a treaty of comity and
alliance at the court of Madrid. These offers, however,
did not coincide with Spanish ideas, and counter-proposi-
tions were made: these are shown in a communication of
the French minister to congress. February 2, 1780. on the
"Terms of Alliance proposed by his Catholic Majesty,"
setting forth, "certain articles which his Catholic Majesty
deems of great importance to the interests of his crown,
and on which it is highly necessary that the United States
explain themselves with precision and with such moderation
as may consist with their essential rights. That the articles
"(I) A precise and invariable western boundary of the
United States.
"(2) The exclusive navigation of the River Missis-
"(3) The possession of the Floridas; and
"(4) The lands on the left or eastern side of the River
"That on the first article it is the idea of the cabinet
of Madrid that the United States extend to the westward
no farther than settlements were permitted by the royal
proclamation of 1763. On the second that the United States
1. Wharton, Vol. III, p. 311.

Early Relations with Spain

do not consider themselves as having any right to navigate
the River Mississippi, no territory belonging to them being
situated thereon. On the third that it is probable that the
king of Spain will conquer the Floridas during the course
of the present war. On the fourth that the lands lying on
tie east side of the Mississippi are possessions of the crown
of Great Britain and proper objects against which the arms
of Spain may be employed for the purpose of making a per-
manent conquest for the Spanish crown."1
A certain faction were willing to barter away our
right to the navigation of the Mississippi, if thereby they
might secure so promising an alliance, but the statesmen for
the most part insisted that this must never be the price of
any treaty, no matter how beneficial.
In a letter to Jay, Benjamin Franklin wrote, "Poor as
we are, yet, as I know we shall be rich, I would rather
agree with them to buy at a great price the whole of their
[Spanish] right on the Mississippi than to sell a drop of its
waters. A neighbor might as well ask me to sell my street
door."2 But Spain, insistent on exclusive right to the
navigation of the river from its source to the gulf, would
listen to no propositions which did not guarantee her this.
In 1780 we find her demanding the Mississippi as the con-
sideration for the loan of one hundred thousand pounds
sterling. The Spanish asserted with warmth that the king
would never relinquish the navigation of the Mississippi,
and that its exclusive ownership was the sole advantage
they would obtain from the war. 3
The colonies insisted that there need be no fear of
future complications over this waterway, for it was the
boundary of several states in the Union, and that the cit-

1. Wharton, Vol. III, p. 489. MSS. State Department.
2. Dated Passy, Oct. '2, 1780. Wharton, Vol. IV, p. 75.
3. Conference between Jay and Count de Florida Blanca Sept.
25, 1780.

The Purchase of Florida

izens of these states, while connected with Great Britain,
and since the Revolution, had been accustomed to the free
use of the stream in common with the Spanish subjects and
that there had been no trouble. Spain by the treaty of
Paris had ceded to Great Britain all the country to the
northeastward of the Mississippi; the people inhabiting
these states while subject to Great Britain and even since
the Revolution, had settled at various places near the Mis-
sissippi, were friendly to the Revolution, and, being citizens,
the United States could not consider the proposition of
assigning them over as subjects of another power. 1
So far from granting the navigation of the Mississippi,
Jay was directed toseek an arrangement by which, if Spain
should capture the Floridas, the United States could share
the free navigation of the rivers 'which traversed these prov-
inces and emptied into the Gulf of Mexico. Americans be-
lieved that the Mississippi had been planned by the Creator
as a natural highway for the people of that upper country
whose extent and fertility had already attracted the eye of
the frontiersmen. They (believed that this country would be
quickly settled, that there was neither equity nor reason
in compelling the inhabitants to live without foreign com-
modities and lose the surplus of their productions, or be
compelled to transport them over forbidding mountains and
through an immense wilderness to the sea, particularly when
at their very door was the most magnificent highway of the
continent. 2 Spain maintained that the present generation
would not want this right of navigation and that future gen-
erations could well dispose of the question when it should
become a live one. The king of Spain considered the
ownership of the Mississippi River far more important to
his dynasty than the recovery of Gibraltar, and the maxims
of policy adopted in the management of the Spanish col-
1. Instructions to Jay in Congress, Oct. 4, 1780. Wharton, Vol.
IV, pp. 78, 79.
2. Jay to President of Congress, Nov. 6, 1780. Ibid., p. 167.

Early Relations with Spain

onies required that only the Castilian banner should appear
on the Gulf Waters. 1 But the colonies insisted upon their
moral and legal right to this outlet. True, it was a question
which belonged largely to the future, but they were unwil-
ling to thus hypothecate that future and retard their own
development. Further, the treaty of alliance of 1778 with
France, had guaranteed to that country the free navigation
of the river. European complications, however, forced
Spain into the contest, not as an ally of the colonies, but
of France. 2
Yet for the accomplishment of the general purposes of
the war, America became an essential ally. A large part
of the British naval force was located in American waters,
engaged in blockading as well as in more active service, and
the situation demanded all the land force which England
could command. Spain, however, did not yield to the per-
sistent representations of France and America until an offer
of mediation on her part had been curtly rebuffed by the
British minister.
Still she constantly refused an alliance with America
except upon what were felt to be the preposterous terms
she had already offered, and a small wonder is it that con-
gress felt that, as the price of a treaty, she was seeking to de-
spoil an ally. Now that she was actually a party to the war,
the necessity for a treaty became less urgent, for was she not
at war with England as effectively for her own objects as
she would be for ours, and why donate to her the valuable
Mississippi? Doubtless the effect of a Spanish-American
alliance on England and other nations would be favorable
to the United States, but the price was exorbitant. Jay
remarked: "The cession of this navigation will, in my opin-
ion, render a future war with Spain unavoidable and I shall

1. Carmlchael to Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nov. 28, 17~0.
Wharton, Vol. IV, p. 167.
2. By secret convention of April 12, 17T9, with France.

The Purchase of Florida

look upon my subscribing to the one as fixing the certainty
of the other."1 But Spain proceeded to accomplish by
force of arms that which she had been unable to secure by
diplomatic arrangement with the struggling colonists. De-
clining to recognize any right of the colonies to the Mis-
sissippi or any land bordering thereon, either to the east or
west, she found thus a fruitful field for her arms and her
valor. In January, 1781, an allied Spanish and Indian
force set out from the town of St. Louis of the Illinois and
captured the post of St. Joseph. In the name of his Cath-
olic Majesty they took possession of the town and surround-
ing country with impressive formality. Thus had the
American struggle for liberation become also a Spanish war
of conquest. The capture of St. Joseph caused ill-concealed
alarm among the American leaders. Speaking of this con-
quest, Franklin, in a letter to Livingston, said: "While they
decline our offered friendship, are they to be suffered to
encroach on our bounds and shut us up within the Appalach-
ian Mountains? I begin to fear they have some such pro-
ject." 2
Montmorin, writing to Vergennes of a conversation
with Count de Florida Blanca in 1782, says:
"I thought right, Monsieur, to report these incidents
to you, in making you observe the condition of things and
understand the absolute carelessness, or even repugnance of
Spain to the establishing the independence of America. If
it is so marked now, what will it be when Spain succeeds
in taking Gibraltar? Then the war will have no other
object than that same independence which she now regards
with so much indifference, and perhaps fear.
"I confess, Monsieur, that this idea torments me. Re-
member, Monsieur, that the system of M. de Florida Blanca
has always been to make Spain mediator between England
1. Jay to Congress, Oct. 3, 1781. Wharton, Vol. IV, p. 743.
2. Dated Passy, April 12, 1782. Wharton, Vol. V, p. 300.

Early Relations with Spain 27

and her colonies. He has followed that system with pertin-
acity. He has never wished to declare himself openly for
the United States, and even now he seems to draw himself
away from them still more. This conduct seems to me to
announce very evidently the desire that England should
address herself to Spain to obtain a modification to the inde-
pendence of America, that will make the sacrifice less
hard." 1
In 1781 when negotiations for peace Detween Great
Britain and the United States were seriously considered, the
question of the western boundary of the new nation became
of paramount importance. Should England retain that por-
tion of the United States bordering on the Mississippi, as
it seemed likely that she might, the neighborhood of her
possessions would be immediately dangerous to our peace.
Should she also retain Canada and West Florida or even
Canada alone, by applying herself to the settlement of that
country and pushing her trade with vigor, a new nursery
for her marine would be speedily established.
From the confidence that the western territory lay
within the United States, the British posts were reduced
and the American government exercised in that section.
Large bounties of land had been promised to the already
discontented and mutinous army, and the country was
furthermore relied on as an important source for discharg-
ing the debts piled up in eight years of war. By the sur-
render of this tract to Great Britain a large number of
people, men, too, not behind their eastern brothers in zeal
and suffering for the cause of liberty, would be thrown
back within her power.
To the absurd and dangerous Spanish proposition that
the western boundary be a line one mile east of the Missis-
sippi, the objection was 'made that the only principle which
1. Madrid, March 30, 1782. Wharton, Vol. V, p. 287.

The Purchase of Florida

could justify such a limitation, would also justify mu-
tilations of an immense extent.1 Deserted by their allies
and opposed by their enemies, the colonies had much to
fear from the peace negotiations. England was reluctant
to acknowledge the independence of her "rebellious sub-
jects." Spain, at length, reconciled to their freedom, sought
to circumscribe and weaken them. France, though seek-
ing their freedom, feared the reconciliation and possible
future alliance of the old Anglo-Saxon nation with the new,
and so sought to place the late colonies in a position of
tutelage to her. Friend and foe alike feared their strength.
Nor did the subsequent history prove the French and
Spanish fears to have been without reason. For the Amer-
ican example in a few short years inspired the French
Revolution, and pointed out the way to struggling South
American colonies to emerge from their cruel tyrannies.
Count de Florida Blanca's fears were not unfounded; for
the United States has turned its guns on both the allies of
its early days.
As the final date of the peace convention approached
it became more evident that a determined effort was to be
made to shut in the new nation by the Appalachian Mountain
Ranges, and congress adopted a series of instructions to
guide the American commissioners in their task.
It was not to the interest of our French allies that an
amicable treaty, such as would inspire mutual confidence
and friendship, should be consummated between England
and the colonists. Their purpose was to plant such seeds
of jealousy and discord in the pact as would compel our
subservience to them. They sought to keep some point
in contest between America and England, to the end of the
war, to preclude the possibility of our sooner reaching an
agreement, to keep us employed in the war, to make us

1. Secret Journal of Foreign Affairs, p. 153. August, 1782.

Early Relations with Spain

dependent on them for supplies, and, even after the treaty,
to compel us to look to them for protection and support.
These considerations inspired France in her purpose to make
England formidable in our neighborhood, and to leave us as
few resources of wealth and power as might be consistent
with our national integrity and independence.
In a conference between Jay and the Count d'Aranda,
the Spanish diplomat insisted on two principal objections
to our right to the Mississippi River. First, that the
western country had never been claimed as belonging to the
ancient colonies. That previous to the'last war (1763) it
belonged to France and after its cession to England re-
mained a distinct part of her dominions until by the con-
quest of West Florida and certain posts on the Mississippi
and the Illinois rivers, it became vested in Spain by right
of conquest. Secondly, that, supposing the Spanish right of
conquest did not extend over all that country, still it was
possessed by free and independent nations of Indians whose
lands we could not consider as belonging to us. In accord-
ance with his views thus expressed, Count d'Aranda sent
Jay a map with the proposed western boundary line marked
in red ink. It ran from a lake near the confines of Georgia,
but east of the Flint River, to the confluence of the Kan-
awha with the Ohio, thence round the western shores of
lakes Erie and Huron, and thence round Lake Michigan
to Lake Superior. 2
Jay seems to have been thoroughly convinced from the
conferences with Count de Vergennes, the French min-
ister of foreign affairs, and his private secretary, M. de Ray-
neval, that France would oppose our boundary pretensions,
that they would oppose our extension to the Mississippi, and
our claim to the free navigation of that river. They would
probably support the English claims to all the country above
1. Letter from Jay, Nov. 17, 1782. Wharton, Vol. IV, p. 48.
2. Jay to Livingston, Nov. 17, 1782. Wharton, Vol. VI, pp. 22-23.

30 The Purchase of Florida

31' and certainly to all the country north of the Ohio. And
that in case we refused to divide with Spain in the manner
proposed, she would aid that country in negotiating for the
territory she wanted east of the Mississippi and would agree
that the residue should remain to England.1
The good faith of France in the preliminary negotia-
tions of 1782 has been a fruitful source of discussion
among historians, and while the Bourbon dynasty was with-
out doubt guilty of treachery to America. there is not suf-
ficient proof to sustain all the suspicions of Jay at this junc-
ture. La Fayette, while passionately disclaiming any love
or partiality for Spain, still insisted that she was earnestly
desirous of maintaining harmony and living in friendship
and neighborly union with the United States. 2
In the final peace provisions Florida was allotted to
Spain without any remonstrance by the United States. The
conviction, prevailing as far back as 1777, that the inde-
pendent sovereignty of the new nation would necessitate
sooner or later the absorption of Florida and the Mississippi
valley, may consistently explain why the United States made
no objection to Florida's going to Spain from whom it could
be more readily obtained than from England. Time, without
treaty, so argued Luzerne in a dispatch to Vergennes, will
in forty years fill the valley of the Mississippi with the pop-
ulation of the United States and if so there is no use in
hazarding peace for a stipulation which without being ex-
pressed is one of the necessities of the future.
By the final treaty of 1783 the free navigation of the
Mississippi was given to the United States. The Spanish
ministry vigorously protested that the navigation of the
river could not be ceded by the king of England, and that
1. Letters of Jay to Livingston, Paris, Nov. 17, 1782.
2. La Fayette to Livlngston, Bordeaux, March 2, 1783. Wharton,
Vol. IV, p. 269.
3. Wharton, Vol. I, p. 358.

Early Relations with Spain

his cession could have no real force unless the Catholic
king should think proper to ratify it. This question caused
an acrimonious discussion, which, not settled until 1795,
threatened at various times to plunge the two countries into
war. The Spanish arms, they insisted, had conquered and
possessed two harbors of the river on the day the treaty
between Great Britain and the United States was concluded
- the 3oth day of November, 1782 hence England could
not dispose of it. 1
In the final treaty the southern boundary of the United
States and the northern boundary of the Floridas was fixed
at 31 north latitude. Here were the germs of another
controversy with Spain. During the British occupation of
the Floridas the boundary had been 32' 28'. The boundary
of 31 was based on the charter of Georgia given by George
II, which he had no right to grant since it embraced terri-
tory that then belonged to Spain. She refused to evacuate
that portion of West Florida which lay between 31 and
320 28', basing her refusal on the ground that she had driven
the English out of this province before the treaty of Paris,
and England had no right to cede lands which belonged to
Spain by the unquestionable title of conquest. This ques-
tion, like that of the Mississippi navigation, remained a sub-
ject of contention for twelve years.
The American envoys contended that England had the
undoubted right to fix the line wherever she pleased, the
provisional articles of her peace with the United States hav-
ing been signed and also ratified before the signature of the
Spanish preliminaries in 1783.
In the treaty with the United States there was a sep-
arate article as follows:
"It is hereby understood and agreed that in case Great
Britain at the conclusion of the present war, shall recover,
1. Secret Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. III, p. 517.

32 The Purchase of Florida

or be put in possession of West Florida, the line of north
boundary between the said province and the United States,
shall be a line drawn from the mouth of the river Yassous
where it unites with the Mississippi due east, to the river
Does not this clause raise some question as to the integ-
rity and sincerity of the two contracting parties? By the
cession of Florida to Spain, and the independence of the
United States, the concern of Great Britain with the Flor-
ida boundaries terminated, and it now becomes a Spanish-
American issue.



T HE boundaries established by the Proclamation of 1763,
irregular and manifestly unsatisfactory, were adopted
by the treaty of Paris which gave us a place in the brother-
hood of nations.
The southern boundary, particularly, seemed likely to
cause grave complications, partly from its irregularity and
partly from its arbitrariness, for the barrier of an unseen
and imaginary line is unable to withstand the resistless logic
of national and racial history. From the Mississippi River
it followed the 31st degree of latitude to the Chattahoochee
River, then down that stream to the junction with the Flint;
thence in a straight line to the source of the St. Mary's
River and, following that stream, to the Atlantic Ocean. It
seemed but natural that with the unity, growth and expan-
sion of the young republic, new boundaries would become
essential. Spain and England maintained their hostile posi-
tions on our different sides, vultures poised in the air ready
to swoop down and devour the carcass of the nation whose
dissolution seemed imminent. Nor did France seem likely
to hold back at such a crucial moment. Our representa-
tions to those countries were met with contempt, our pro-
tests with mirth, our threats with ridicule. Anarchy raised
high its head throughout the land. War and a common
danger had brought union and friendship; peace and tran-
quillity proved but the forerunners of a disunion and jeal-

The Purchase of Florida

ousy whose ravages were scarcely less devastating than
those of fire and sword. Cold type fails adequately to de-
scribe the conditions existing in those states which had
driven from their confines the proud armies of the haughty
Briton, but could not now cope with the insignificant and
contemptible rebellions of demagogues, fanatics and whis-
ky distillers the aristocracy of the disreputable. On all
sides the European countries proceeded to acquire by fraud
and cunning what they had failed to secure by treaty. The
British still retained the northern line of forts which they
were pledged to evacuate and even pushed them farther
south until they were in the region of the present city of
Spain imitated the example of our northern neighbor.
Nor were the Spanish claims entirely without merit. She had
a measure of right to the boundary of 320 28', for she had
conquered that, and, even more, had carried her flag to the
Great Lakes. She occupied and garrisoned the posts of
Natchez and Walnut Hills. The boundary of 31' had its ori-
gin in the grant of Carolina by Charles I, but this was then
understood to be the latitude of the St. John's River. When
Oglethorpe planted his colony of Georgia he attempted
to acquire possession of the land down to the St. John's
River. In 1763 the line between Georgia and Florida was
fixed at St. Mary's River, and the northern boundary of
West Florida at 31. In 1765 a commission to the gov-
ernor of Georgia extended that province to the Mississippi.
This jurisdiction was revoked two years later by the terms
of the commission given to Governor Elliott in which West
Florida was extended northward to 32* 28'. The region
north of this was reserved during the period of most exten-
sive British control for the Muskogee Indians. Thus Spain
had repudiated the right of England to fix the southern
boundary of the United States at 31 and proceeded to for-

To the Treaty of 1795

tify the Mississippi as far north as the post of New Madrid.
Chickasaw Bluff (now Memphis) and Walnut Hills (now
Vicksburg) were included in the zone of Spanish fortifica-
tions. In June, 1784, at Pensacola, the capital of West
Florida, a treaty of amity and commerce was concluded be-
tween the representatives of the Seminole Indians and the
officers of the Spanish government, whereby the subscrib-
ing savages bound themselves and their peoples to obey the
orders to be communicated from Louisiana and Florida and
to "expose for the royal service of his Catholic Majesty
our lives and fortunes," and to give special trade and com-
mercial rights to the Spanish traders. These Indians were
mostly domiciled in the territory claimed by both Spain and
the United States.
Meanwhile the course of society was moving irresis-
tibly onward, pushing back the virgin forests and the un-
tamed savages; the frontiersman and the pioneer, the fear-
less scouts of civilization, had crossed the mountains, and
were beginning to form settlements along the Ohio and its
tributaries. Though the Alleghenies had not served to dis-
courage their migration, they presented a formidable barrier
to any extensive traffic or intercourse between the new
country and the old, the West and the East, the trans-
mountain and the seaboard peoples. Their natural outlet
was in another direction. The Ohio, the Mississippi, and
the Gulf of Mexico were the successive links in the water-
way which could furnish them an easy and natural com-
munication with the outer world. The free navigation of
the Mississippi they felt to be theirs by moral right, by legal
right, and by treaty right. Thoroughly inured to the dan-
gers and hardships of the forests natural difficulties they
could tolerate. But of artificial restraint, the dictates of
treaty, or of law, they were intolerant. Soon restive and
rebellious under the treatment accorded them by the "down-

The Purchase of Florida

river Spanish" they began to show them that ill-concealed
hatred and contempt which had been their heritage from
the days of Drake and the Armada.
These Westerners whose life was a constant, bitter and
terrible struggle with the very elements of nature, were
in poor frame of mind to respect the dictates of laws and
treaties which meant only added hardship. Patriotism,
maintained at the cost of terrible suffering, and stunted by
injustice and oppression, can never attain the luxurious
growth of unwavering devotion. And Spain was not slow
to take advantage of this unrest in our Western country.
In 1786 and 1787, she was insidiously laboring on our south-
western border to divert the allegiance of the trans-Alle-
gheny settlers who had become particularly inflamed over
a project lately pending before congress, to barter our Mis-
sissippi rights for -certain commercial privileges mainly ad-
vantageous to the North and East.
In the spring of 1786, Gardoqui, the Spanish minister,
wrote to Jay requesting him to lay before the continental
congress the question of a treaty with Spain which should
settle the boundary dispute and the claim to the navigation
of the Mississippi. Jay was informed that his Catholic
Majesty "will not permit any nation to navigate between the
two banks belonging to his Majesty." Further, that Spain
refused to be in any way bound by the western and south-
ern boundary lines fixed by the treaty of peace between
England and America. The Spanish minister also requested
the immediate payment of the principal of the debt con-
tracted by the United States in Spain during the Revolution,
warned them of the danger of losing the Spanish trade in
case no treaty were concluded, and, by way of inducement,
reminded Jay of the influence of the king of Spain with
the Barbary powers, which the king might use in the inter-

To the Treaty of 1795

ests of America, if a satisfactory treaty were secured.1
There were many in congress at this time willing to make
a treaty with the Castilian king, fixing the Florida line at
320 28' and these same legislators consented to give Spain
the full control and navigation of the Mississippi River for
a period of twenty or thirty years. But the Spanish prop-
osition of a western boundary line was nowhere viewed
seriously in this country and we are inclined to doubt if it
were even in the palaces where it originated.
But Gardoqui refused in any event to consent to any
article declaring our right to the Mississippi in express terms
and stipulating to forbear the use of it for a given time. 2
Gardoqui, now cognizant of the secret article of the treaty
of 1783, although soon willing to drop the contention for
a cis-Mississippi boundary, insisted upon a treaty giving to
Spain the line of 320 28' and the exclusive navigation of the
Mississippi. Stronger counsels prevailed in congress
and no agreement was reached. The feeling that a new
form of government would soon displace the confederation
caused a suspension of negotiations until the new regime
had been established.
Soon after the close of the Revolutionary War, Spain
began to forward to the United States complaints of the con-
duct of those Americans who had settled within the Spanish
lines, or along their borders. There was a suspicion and
dread of American "conquest by colonization;" nor do the
fears of the Spanish seem to have been entirely ground-
less. With a surprising lack of ordinary foresight, Spain
had issued an invitation to emigrants to settle in her coun-
try both in the Floridas and in Louisiana. Further,
1. Gardoqul to Jay, May 25, 1786. MSa. State Dept., letter No.
1.26, Negotiation Book, pp. 26-31.
2. Jay to Congreas, April 11, 1787, letter No. 124, Negotiation
Book, p. 127.
4. Congressional Resolution, Sept. 16, 1788, letter No. 125, Ne-
gotiation Book, p. 170.

The Purchase of Florida

this invitation was a few years later made more attractive;
one thousand acres of land gratis to every American who
would remove to West Florida and four hundred dollars
for every hundredweight of tobacco which he might raise
and deliver at New Orleans, exemption from all taxes and
military service, and extravagant prices for all provisions
and farm products. These same terms were offered settlers
upon the western banks of the upper Mississippi. Gen-
eral John H. McIntosh, an officer in the Revolutionary army
and a defender of Sunbury, accepted the invitation and
occupied land near Jacksonville, and for two years held office
under the Spanish regime. Then, detected in plots to over-
throw the Spanish authority, he was sent to Havana and
imprisoned in Moro Castle.
Georgia proceeded to enter Into treaties with the Creek
Indians for the establishment of a boundary and the pur-
chase of certain of their lands, without regard either for the
rights of Spain or the United States. It seems inaccurate
to dignify by the name of a treaty an agreement made
between Americans and helpless Indians, amid a scene of
drunkenness, debauchery and fraud, disgraceful alike to the
commissioners who were concerned in it, and the state which
sought to enforce it. The treaty of Galpinton (1785)
between Georgia and the Creeks was one of this character:
The Creeks claimed, with justice, that in this and other
agreements the contracting Indians were either drunk, or
without power, or induced by fear or fraud. In private
sales similar methods were pursued. The trader or settler
meeting a stray Indian indulged with him in a bottle of
"fire water" and the victim the next day found to his sur-
prise and indignation that his pale-faced host possessed a
deed to all his property. Small wonder that the Indians
complained of all this "pen-and-ink work." Nor did the
settlers pretend to respect the treaty limits secured even in

To the Treaty of 1795 39

this disreputable manner. General Henderson called back-
woodsmen in general "a set of scoundrels who scarcely
believed in God or feared the devil." The tribes, gradually
yielding to superior force, retreated, followed, or rather
attended, by those inseparable parasites, Indian traders, a
species of the white race that has never found a panegyrist
or deserved one; a crew of whom nothing good has ever
been said, though a few probably do not deserve the stigma
which has blackened the name. This swarm of traders with
its long train of pack-horses and apprentices thus kept pace
with the slow and uncertain movement of the redskins.
This constituted the primary stratum of civilization or
society in that, as in most, sections; but "civilization" is a
term which can hardly belong to such a mongrel horde.
Under the leadership of the astute and diplomatic half-
breed, McGillivray, the Creeks were disposed to peace, dif-
ficult as it was to secure. Skillfully arraying interest
against interest, he sought to husband the strength and
resources of his peoples, by a strict neutrality without giv-
ing cause for offense to either neighbor. But the Georgians
continued their incursions and even the authority of McGil-
livray was barely sufficient to repress the hostile passions
of his followers. In 1785, we find that the Georgians had
made incursions into Florida which congress, by a resolu-
tion of October 13, 1785, felt called upon to expressly dis-
avow. Again on the eleventh of September, 1786, a reso-
lution of congress was passed deprecating "the conduct of
some people in that state towards the Spaniards," with the
warning that "such measures will be taken as may prevent
the like in the future."
In 1785 the Georgia legislature organized the territory
lying between their western boundary and the Mississippi
River, opened the lands for general sale (thus precipitating
the infamous Yazoo land frauds), and appointed as gov-

The Purchase of Florida

ernor one Thomas Green. Some of the points comprised
within these demarcations were fortified and garrisoned by
Spanish troops and the greater portion was included within
the area claimed by the Spanish as conquered by their arms.
Thomas Green had settled within this disputed territory near
the fort of the Natchez, in 1782, as a subject of the Span-
ish king, but he seems to have been clandestinely plotting for
the subversion of the Spanish rule- another example of
the familiar "conquest by colonization." Congress replied
to the representations of Gardoqui by asserting that, though
they claimed and insisted on their title to this territory in
question, yet they disavowed the act of the state.1 Georgia
and the Carolinas, together with their western territories,
were undoubtedly full of adventurers constantly conspiring
against Florida and neighboring Spanish possessions.
Secretary Knox, in his letters and reports to congress,
is repeatedly led to speak of "the most unprovoked and
direct outrages" against the Indians of the South "dictated
by the avaricious desire of obtaining the fertile lands possess-
ed by the said Indians." Colonel Sevier figures as the leader
of many expeditions against the Spanish and Indians whom
he slaughtered without discrimination of age or sex. A
bloody page of our history, these avaricious and unprincipled
men were writing. Whole villages were put to the torch
and their inhabitants either forced to flee to the forests, there
to experience the horrors of starvation and exposure, or to
be more mercifully offered up as sacrifices to the white man's
cruelty and greed. Yet the Indians seem to have honestly
sought a treaty of peace with the United States, full well
realizing that any armed resistance on their part must mean
national or tribal extermination.2 The patriotic American
must feel the flush of shame as he reads of the most

1. Gardoqul to Oongress, Sept. 23, 1785, letter No. 125, Negotia-
tion Book, pp. 23-25.
2. Letter No. 150, MSB. State Dept. 3, pp. 405-407.

To the Treaty of 1795

cruel, unwarranted and blood-thirsty manner in which
peaceable Indians were murdered in their fields and robbed
of their lands.1
The settlers robbed the Indians, avoided war with them
by a treaty, and then, directly violating the treaty, seized more
lands. At times they sought to provoke the Indians to
a general war that they might thus deprive them of all their
lands. In such a condition of affairs it is not surprising that
many innocent settlers on both sides of the Florida line
were pillaged by the lawless element of both Indians and
whites, nor is it surprising that many negro slaves took
advantage of the opportunity to escape to the Spanish ter-
ritories and thereby add another element of ill feeling and
hostility to that already engendered.
The Articles of Confederation did not grant power to
congress to control Indian tribes in the limits of any state.
Therefore the United States was unable to interfere in the
dispute between Georgia and the Indians, for though the
Creeks were an independent nation, they were within the
boundaries over which the state of Georgia exercised leg-
islative control. Secretary Knox recommended that con-
gress persuade Georgia and North Carolina to cede their
western lands to the United States, for thus the affair
with the Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Cherokees
would become national and the United States could enforce
the treaties which the Indians claimed had been violated.2
Small wonder is it that these Indians thus harried and pil-
laged should turn to the Spanish for counsel and assistance.
The settlers could scarcely have been unaware that the cer-
tain consequence of their lawless outrages would be a ter-
rible carnage on their frontier. To them, Indians were
without rights and might be killed as indifferently as veno-
mous snakes.
1. 'Letter No. 150, M9S. State Dept. 3, pp. 349, 362 and 373.
2. MSS. State Dept., letter No. 151, pp. 275-282.

42 The Purchase of Florida

Constant rumors reached the sensitive ear of the ready
Gardoqui, that plots and counterplots were being hatched
against the Spanish territories to the south and west. In
1787 a letter from one John Sullivan, a deserter from the
American Revolution, and an ordinary example of crank
and soldier of fortune, aroused the fears of the Spanish
minister who brought the matter to the attention of con-
gress. The letter was an open one, published in a southern
paper of that year, and was written in the bombastic style
which easily betrayed the character of the author. He had
doubtless heard something of an anti-Spanish expedition
and, with the self-conceit and importance of the harmlessly
insane, had made himself a constituted organizer and leader
of "this host of Myrmidons" who, as an "overwhelming
inundation," were preparing "to pour down along the waters
of the Mississippi into the Bay of Mexico."1 Further
complaints were made of sinister meetings at North Fort
in North Carolina, for the purpose of conspiring against
New Orleans and the Mississippi. 2 While Gardoqui was
often misled by vague rumors, the spirit of the Western
settlers was such that hostile expeditions were without doubt
secretly planned and openly threatened.
The reports that congress intended to barter away
the rights of the United States to the Mississippi tended to
increase the hostility of the Westerners and incite them to
seek their own salvation by the strong arm. In 1787 and
1788, Kentucky openly proposed to declare her indepen-
dence not alone of Virginia but also of the United States,
which had shown such an utter contempt for her rights and
interests. Spanish agents were at work sowing seeds of
discontent but at no time did the Kentuckians turn a will-
ing ear to the Castilian blandishments. Unfettered by
diplomatic and treaty restraints, Kentucky felt that, inde-
1. Letter No. 125, Negotiation Book, pp. 146, 148, 154.
2. Ibid., p. 171.

To the Treaty of 1795 43

pendent, she could more easily accomplish her purpose of
securing New Orleans and the Mississippi River, and so the
Spanish appeals and manifestos fell upon barren soil. The
vicious public-land system then in vogue did much to ren-
der intolerable the position of the Western settlers. The
method of selling those domains to land and settlement com-
panies had little to recommend it, for the lands were held
at a forbidding figure. They should have been given to
settlers for homestead claims after the manner of later years.
This would have encouraged emigrants to settle between the
Mississippi and the Wabash and by increasing their num-
bers would have made more difficult the machinations of
the Spanish on the south and west, and the English on the
Couriers from the Western settlements brought such
disquieting reports that in the fall of 1787 the secretary of
war addressed instructions to General Harmar, comman-
dant on the frontiers, directing him to ascertain what plots,
if any, were being formed, the number, names and char-
acter of the participants, their equipment and armament,
their object, and, if necessary, to employ force to repress
any hostilities. After an investigation General Harmar re-
ported that no plot hostile to any foreign nation had been
discovered. 2
Jay, the secretary of foreign affairs, seems to have
more thoroughly grasped the true situation and appreciated
the necessity for a treaty with Spain which would remove
all points of dispute. He sought to impress upon his fel-
low officials the fact that Spain would be our best country
for trade and that the United States had much to hope for
from that country in a commercial treaty. Further, he
appreciated the fact that France and Spain were on friendly
terms through marriage alliances, that in case of a Spanish-
1. Letter No. 150, MSS. State Dept. 3, p. 519.
2. Letter No. 125, Negotiation Book, pp. 163-168.

44 The Purchase of Florida

American rupture France would assist her Bourbon neigh-
bor and not us; and that the Spanish influence with the
Barbary powers was of no small moment. In an address
to congress, August 3, 1786, he declared, "We shall, I think,
either find her in America a very convenient neighbor or a
very troublesome one." To all of Jay's representations
Gardoqui's concluding answer was that his king would
never consent to any compromise on the question of the
Mississippi River: that it was a maxim of Spanish policy to
exclude all mankind from their American shores. Jay in-
sisted that the adjacent country was fast filling with people
and that the time must surely come when they would not
peaceably submit to being denied the use of the natural
highway to the sea. Gardoqui replied that that question
could be diplomatically adjusted at such future time as it
might arise, for, at most, it was a remote and highly im-
probable contingency, as, in his mind, the rapid settle-
ment of that country would be so injurious to the older
states that they would find it necessary to check it.
Appreciating the advantages to be gained by a treaty,
and, feeling that the Mississippi navigation was not of pres-
ent importance, a forbearance to use it, while we did not
desire or need it, could be no great sacrifice, Jay advocated
a treaty limited to twenty-five or thirty years, the United
States giving up the river for that period. Spain excluded
the subjects of the United States from the river and held
it with a strong hand; she refused to yield it peaceably and
therefore it could be secured only by an appeal to the arbit-
rament of war. But the United States were unprepared for
war with any power and many of the eastern and northern
states would have refused to supply troops at that time
for the purpose of securing a right which they felt in no
way concerned them. Thus Spain would continue to ex-
clude us from the river. Would it not then be best to con-

To the Treaty of 1795 45

sent, and for a valuable consideration, to forbear to use
what it was not in our power to use, at any rate? From
the temper manifested in many of the papers published in
the Western country it was apparent that the United States
must shortly decide either to wage war with Spain or settle
all differences with her by a treaty on the best terms in
their power.
To quote Jay in his able presentation of the case:
"If Spain and the United States should part on this
point, what are the latter to do? Will it, after that, be
consistent with their dignity to permit Spain forcibly to
exclude them from a right which at the expense of a bene-
ficial treaty they have asserted? They will find themselves
obliged either to do this and be humiliated or they must
attack Spain. Are they ripe and prepared for this? I wish
I could say they are..... Not being prepared for war I think
it to our interest to avoid placing ourselves in such a sit-
uation as that our forbearing hostilities may expose us to
indignities. It is much to be wished that all these matters
had lain dormant for years yet to come, but such wishes are
vain these disputes are agitating they press themselves
upon us, and must terminate in accommodation, or war, or
disgrace. The last is the worst that can happen, the sec-
ond, we are unprepared for, and therefore our attention and
endeavors should be bent to the first."
If we should not secure the treaty,
"The Mississippi would continue shut France would
tell us our claim to it was ill-founded. The Spanish
posts on its banks and even those out in Florida, in
our country, would be strengthened, and that nation
would bid us defiance with impunity, at least until the
American nation shall become more really and truly
a nation, than it at present is, for, unblessed with an efficient
government, destitute of funds and without public credit

46 The Purchase of Florida

either at home or abroad, we should be obliged to wait in
patience for better times or plunge into an unpopular and
dangerous war with very little prospect of terminating it
by a peace either advantageous or glorious."l
In Jay's report to congress the following year the same
subject is discussed at length. 2 He says:
"Your secretary is convinced that the United States
have good right to navigate the river from its source to
and through its mouth and, unless an accommodation should
take place, that the dignity of the United States and their
duty to assert and maintain their rights, will render it
proper for them to present a memorial and remonstrance
to his Catholic Majesty insisting on their right, complain-
ing of its being violated and demanding in a temperate,
inoffensive, but at the same time in a firm and decided man-
ner, that his Majesty do cease in future to hinder their
citizens from freely navigating that river through the part
of its course in question. Your secretary is further of
opinion that in case of refusal it will be proper for the
United States then to declare war against Spain. There
being no respectable middle way but peace and war, it will
be expedient to prepare without delay for one or the other:
for circumstances which call for decision seem daily to
"With respect to prescribing a line of conduct to our
citizens on the banks of the river our secretary is embar-
rassed. If war is in expectation then their ardor should not
be discouraged, nor their indignation diminished, but if a
treaty is wished and contemplated, then those people should
be so advised and so restrained as that their sentiments
and conduct may as much as possible be made to quadrate
with the terms and articles of it. . . He (your secretary)
1. Jay In a speech to congress, Aug. 12, 1787, Letter No. 125,
Negotiation Book, pp. 40-66.
2. April 12, 1787.

To the Treaty of 1795

also takes the liberty of observing that a treaty disagreeable
to one-half of the nation had better not be made, for it
would be violated--and that a war disliked by the other
half would promise but little success, especially under a
government so greatly influenced and affected by popular
Spain absolutely declined to make a treaty for a lim-
ited period or one which in any manner recognized any
right or claim of the United States to the Mississippi River.
Thus the question remained no nearer a solution -though
demanding immediate arrangement at the installation of
the federal government and inauguration of Washington.
In the meantime Spanish authorities were actively en-
gaged in stirring up the spirit of unrest in the West. They
promised the free navigation of the Mississippi in return
for the acceptance of Spanish sovereignty by Kentucky and
the Tennessee and the Cumberland settlements.
The Westerners were gravely impressed with the effec-
tiveness of the mountain barrier dividing them from the
coast states. Scarcely were they to be blamed if loyalty to
the Union rested lightly with them, and even if a strong
separatist feeling prevailed. The value of the Union to
them was measured only by the scale of its efficiency in pro-
tecting them from the Indians and securing them the Mis-
sissippi. A rope of sand, what protection could the con-
'federation offer, to win support or inspire respect? For the
type of life displayed on the seaboard the frontiersman had
little sympathy and less regard. To the "fierce inhabitants
of the West" there was little love for a government that
levied taxes without giving return, whose seat of power
was an impossible two months' journey, and whose posts
of honor and influence were monopolized by the self-seek-
ing politicians of the effeminate East.
The thirteen states as independent bodies were con-

48 The Purchase of Florida

sidering the question of ratifying the constitution. The
Western settlements quite naturally were inclined to decide
their own allegiance at the same time and by the same
manner. Some favored complete independence, some would
have willingly returned to England. Some were desirous
of connecting themselves with Spain for that meant New
Orleans and the world beyond. With true human instinct
they balanced rewards and penalties. Yet as a whole they
preferred the Union.
General Wilkinson, Judge Sebastian, Colonel Sevier,
the redoubtable George Rogers Clark, and even the hon-
ored Robertson showed distinct Spanish proclivities, and
went so far as to accept pensions, or douceurs, from Spain
for their support. Daniel Boone, still the forerunner of civ-
ilization, growing restless under the approaching tide of
humanity, pushed across the upper Mississippi, and in a
newer and wilder region became a Spanish official. New
Madrid was settled by Americans, colonists accepting the
sovereignty of Spain.
The defeat of the Spanish intrigues in the West was
really compassed though Spain did not and could not
realize it until later years when the new constitution
was ratified, and a strong power was substituted for what
out of generous charity we may call the government of
the confederation. As the United States grew stronger,
Spain, weakened by the French Revolution and the Na-
poleonic wars, gradually lost her former prestige and could
hope to gain only through intrigue that which had been
denied her arms. Instead of Spain annexing portions of
the United States, this country took advantage of Spain's
weakness and forced from her one after another of her
fairest provinces.
Foreign emissaries in this country were firmly con-
vinced that the politics of the Western communities were

To the Treaty of 1795 49

rapidly approaching a crisis, and could terminate only in
an appeal either to Spain or England, who were playing
their analogous parts on our unstable frontiers. It seemed
probable that an independent confederacy under the pro-
tection of some European power might be the outcome of
the needs of the West and the impotency of the East.
Jefferson grasped the true inwardness of the situation when
he insisted that we must either reconcile ourselves to the
loss of the West or wrest what we needed from Spain.
Troubles along the southern border between the Creeks
and white settlers increased and war seemed the probable
outcome. Washington, soon after assuming office, ap-
pointed commissioners to treat with the Indians and fix a
satisfactory boundary line -one that might insure peace
and tranquillity in that section. But the mission was a
failure, as had been the previous one constituted during the
period of confederation. As a last resort Washington
determined upon a personal interview with McGillivray the
Creek chief, who in June, 1790, set out for New York City,
at the head of thirty Indian chiefs. On the road these
aborigines were greeted with continuous and enthusiastic
ovations and their reception at the temporary capital partook
of the homage generally paid those of distinguished rank
and birth. New York City on the day of their arrival
presented a gala appearance. Tammany Hall, even then a
powerful and historic institution, turned out in full regalia,
and the national congress in a body waited on the visitors,
by this time thoroughly impressed with the warmth and
sincerity of their reception. A treaty was negotiated by
which the Oconee lands which had been the principal
ground of dispute were ceded for an annual payment of
$1,500 and a distribution of merchandise. The question of
boundary was settled, at least until the whites should desire
more the Indians had not then learned the futility and

The Purchase of Florida

faithlessness of treaties the Indian territory was guar-
anteed against further encroachment a hollow mockery.
A permanent peace was provided for. The Creeks and
Seminoles placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the
United States and renounced their right to make treaties
with any other nation. Such was the open treaty.
Then a secret treaty was negotiated between McGilliv-
ray and the United States which stipulated that after two
years the Indian trade should be turned to points in the Unit-
ed States--clearly a violation of certain articles in the Span-
ish-Indian treaty of a few years before. McGillivray was
appointed Indian agent of the United States and, in imitation
of continental methods, was given the rank of brigadier
general, with annual pay of $1,200. The treaty was bitterly
criticised and the Indian chief was much maligned for his
part in it. The Indians claimed that their choicest lands
had been surrendered for an inadequate consideration; yet
the only alternative was a war in which the Creeks must
have been crushed. Further the United States was pledged
to keep the Indian territory inviolate history had not then
shown how little that meant. The treaty was manifestly
unfavorable to the Spanish, and in violation of rights which
they had secured in 1784. Nor would they quietly submit
to the loss of the Indian trade and consequent bankruptcy of
the trading house of Panton and Company, the chief proprie-
tors of Spanish sovereignty in those parts. Spanish emis-
saries increased the dissatisfaction of the Indians who
sullenly determined to oppose the running of this new
boundary against which even McGillivray had protested at
New York, insisting that he could not guarantee it. This
Indian chief has been greatly berated for his trickery and
double dealing but his course seems to have been the only
one possible, for by thus balancing America against Spain
and avoiding war with either nation he prevented the extinc-

To the Treaty of 1795 51
tion of his tribe. His was a hard task and that his tribe
continued to exist from year to year was his vindication.
General William Augustus Bowles, an American
deserter of the Revolutionary army, with the aid of a band
of adventurous settlers and disaffected Indians, whom he
had won by fair promises of unlimited booty, in 1789
made an abortive attempt to capture Florida from the
Spanish. Such incursions across the borders at this time
quite the order of the day served only to increase the
general disorder and bitterness of feeling already existing
in that section. Settler pitted against Spaniard in an effort
to win the Indian favor; mercenary speculators grasping
after Indian territory; and Spanish intrigue the only sub-
stitute for the force of the Americans stimulating savage
passions. Small wonder that shocking atrocities were
committed. The federal government was doubtless sincere
in its wish to secure the establishment of well-defined bound-
aries, the protection of the frontier, and peace among the
southern tribes.
The treaty of 1790 in New York ignored the Geor-
gian treaties and thus bitterly incensed the Georgia
settlers. Owing to the "double dealing" of the chief, Mc-
Gillivray, the freebooting settlement of General Elijah
Clarke, seeking every opportunity to overthrow the Florida
government, the intrigues of the trading house of Panton
and the Spanish emissaries, and the indignation of the
Georgians at the manner in which their wishes had been
disregarded and overruled, the stipulations of the New
York treaty were never carried out; and the horrors of a
border warfare loomed darkly over the southern horizon.
Secretary Knox in a report to Congress had insisted that
an expedition against the Creeks would require a force of
twenty-eight thousand men and the cost of such an expedi-
tion would be at least $450,000. He had a profound respect
for the fighting qualities of the Creeks and in comparing

The Purchase of Florida

them with the Wabash tribe, said they "are not only greatly
superior in numbers but are more united, better regulated
and headed by a man whose talents appear to have fixed him
in their confidence." 1
Immediately after the inauguration of the new govern-
ment the question of a Spanish treaty was taken up by the
department of state with the determination to push it to a
successful issue. Realizing the intimate relations between
the courts of France and Spain, Jefferson sought to secure
the French support. Accordingly Jefferson instructed Wil-
liam Short, our minister to France, to secure the assistance
of La Fayette and M. de Montmorin at the court of Spain,
and impress upon them "the necessity, not only of our
having a port near the mouth of the Mississippi River
(without which we could make no use of the navigation at
all) but of its being so well separated from the territories of
Spain and her jurisdiction as not to engender daily disputes
and broils between us." For, continues Jefferson,
"It is certain that if Spain were to retain any jurisdic-
tion over our entrepot, her officers would abuse that juris-
diction and our people would abuse their privileges in it: both
parties must foresee this and that it will end in war: hence
the separation. Nature has decided what shall be the geo-
graphy of that in the end, whatever it might be in the
beginning, by cutting off from the adjacent countries of
Florida and Louisiana, and enclosing between two of its
channels a long and narrow slip of land called the Island of
New Orleans. The idea of ceding this could not be haz-
arded to Spain in the first step: it would be too disagreeable
at first view, because this island with its town constitutes
at present their principal settlement in that part of their
dominions, containing about ten thousand white inhabitants
of every age, and sex: reason and events however, may by
1. Letter No. 151, MSS. State Dept., p. 359.

To the Treaty of I795 53

little and little, familiarize them to it. That we have a right
to some spot as an entrepot, for our commerce may be at
once affirmed the expediency too may be expressed of so
locating it as to cut off the source of future quarrels and
wars. A disinterested eye looking on a map will remark
how conveniently this tongue of land is formed for the
purpose: the Iberville and Amit channel offering a good
boundary and convenient outlet on the side for Florida and
the main channel an equally good boundary and outlet on
the other side for Louisiana: while the slip of land between
is almost entirely morass or sand bank: the whole of it lower
than the water of the river in its highest floods: and only its
western margin (which is the highest ground) secured by
banks and inhabited: I suppose this idea is too much even
for the Count de Montmorin at first, and that therefore you
will find it only in general terms a port near the mouth of
the river with a circumjacent territory sufficient for its sup-
port, well defined, and extraterritorial to Spain, leaving the
idea to future growth."
In 1790 the probability of a war between England and
Spain presented a favorable opportunity for pressing our
claims at the Castilian court. In a special set of instruc-
tions, Mr. Carmichael, our minister to Spain, was directed
in meeting the Spanish secretary to
"Impress him thoroughly with the necessity of an im-
mediate settlement of this matter and of a return to the field
of negotiation for this purpose: and though it must be done
delicately yet he must be made to understand unequivocally
that a resumption of the negotiation is not desired on our
part, unless he can determine in the first opening of it to
yield the -immediate and full enjoyment of that navigation.
. There is danger indeed that even the unavoidable delay
of sending a negotiator here may render the mission too
late for the preservation of peace: it is impossible to answer
for the forbearance of our Western citizens. We endeavor

The Purchase of Florida

to quiet them with the expectation of an attainment of their
rights by peaceable means, but should they in a moment of
impatience, hazard others, there is no saying how far we
may be led: for neither themselves nor their rights will ever
be abandoned by us. But should an accommodation take
place, we retain indeed the same object and the same resolu-
tions unalterably: but your discretion will suggest that, in
that event, they must be pressed more softly and that patience
and persuasion must temper your conferences till either these
may prevail, or some other circumstance turn up which may
enable us to use other means for the attainment of an object
which we are determined in the end to obtain at every
risk." 1
Owing to the prospect of an English-Spanish war it
seemed likely that Great Britain would seize New Orleans.
To England, Jefferson directed John Adams to intimate that
we could not look with indifference upon the acquisition by
that nation of Louisiana and Florida, for, he declared, "a
due balance on our borders is not less desirous to us than a
balance of power in Europe has always appeared to them."
He insisted to Washington that rather than see Louisiana
and Florida added to the British Empire, the United States
should join actively in the general war then supposed to be
pending. Circumstances, however, did not take the favorable
turn hoped for and nothing came of this attempt at arbitra-
tion. But at home matters rapidly assumed serious propor-
tions. The Western settlers became more and more restive
and inclined to replace the rules of international law with
the judgment of force, while in the South the lawless element
held high carnival: and complaints were constantly made by
Spanish and American officials of frequent and wanton
violations of territory.2 War seemed imminent. In
1. Letter No. 121, Foreign Letters, p. 376. Jefferson to Carmich-
sel, Aug. 2, 1790. Trescott's Diplomacy of (Washington and Adams's
Terms, p. 226.
2. Carondolet, writing of the settlements beyond the Alleghenies

To the Treaty of 1795 55

1791 statements persistently appeared in the newspapers
that hostilities between the United States and Spain were
inevitable, and that preparations for a resort to force were
being made by both nations. These reports were given full
credit abroad.1
Spanish officials continued to guard the Mississippi
River, imprison all Americans captured thereon, and confis-
cate their goods. Each seizure added another element of
danger to the situation already felt to be most critical.
Jefferson fully appreciated the acuteness of the situation,
and directed Carmichael to push negotiations to a deter-
mination. "An accident at this day," he wrote, "would
put further parley beyond our power: yet to such accidents
we are every day exposed by the irregularities of their
officers and the impatience of our citizens. Should any
spark kindle these dispositions of our borders into a flame,
we are involved beyond recall by the eternal principles of
justice to our citizens, whom we will never abandon. In

declared: "This vast restless population, progressively driving the
Indian tribes before them and upon us, seek to possess themselves
of all the extensive regions which the Indians occupy at the same
time that they menacingly ask for the free navigation of the Missis-
sippi. If they achieve their object, their ambitions would not be
confined to this side of the Mississippi. Their writings, public papers,
and speeches all turn on this point, the free navigation of the Gulf
by the rivers . . which empty into it, the rich fur trade of the Mis-
souri, and in time the possession of the rich mines of the interior pro-
vinces of the very kingdom of Mexico. Their modes of growth, and
their policy are as formidable for Spain as their armies . . Their
roving spirit and the readiness with which they procure sustenance
and shelter facilitate rapid settlement. A rifle and a little corn meal
in a bag are enough for an American wandering alone in the woods
for a month . . With logs crossed upon each other he makes a
house and even an impregnable fort against the Indians . . Cold
does not terrify him and when a family wearies of one place, it moves
to another and settles there with the same ease. If such men come
to occupy the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri, or secure their
navigation, doubtless nothing will prevent them from crossing and
penetrating into our provinces on the other side, which being to a
great extent unoccupied, can oppose no resistance."
1. Short to Jefferson, July 24, 1791. Vol. I, Instructions, MSS.
State Dept., p. 101.

56 The Purchase of Florida

such an event Spain cannot possibly gain, and what may
she not lose?"1
M. Gardoqui, the Spanish envoy, was impressed with
what he felt to be the local aspect of the Mississippi question
and so reported to the court of Madrid. The navigation
of the Mississippi, he felt, was only demanded to pacify the
Western settlers and that the eastern or maritime states
were not only indifferent but probably even hostile to the
idea. While to a limited extent this had been the feeling,
it had given way to a strong sentiment in favor of securing
our demands in that quarter even at the cost of war. The
Spanish court was more likely to trust the reports of Gar-
doqui, who had now returned home, than the representations
of the American minister, whose interests demanded that
this belief be completely eradicated. "The very persons to
whom M. Gardoqui alluded are now come over to the opinion
heartily that the navigation of the Mississippi in full and
unrestrained freedom is indispensably necessary and must
be obtained by any means it may call for."
In the light of a hundred years Jefferson's argument
for persuading Spain to cede New Orleans and Florida and
grant us the navigation of the Mississippi shades on the
humorous. As a neighbor, he declared, the United States
would be safer for Spain than would England, for conquest
was inconsistent with our principles of government and our
theories of right. Further it would not be to our interest
for ages to come, to cross the Mississippi or maintain a
connection with those who should.
But nothing more, worthy of record, was done until
the administration received an intimation from the Spanish
government that it would resume negotiations at Madrid.
War clouds were lowering over Europe. The wild excesses
of revolution and anarchy had awakened the continent.
1. Vol. I, Instructions, p. 26. Jefferson to Carmichael, April 11,

To the Treaty of 1795

Peace abroad was necessary that the nations might suppress
resistance at home. Washington in December, 1791, nomin-
ated Carmichael, then charge d'affaires in Spain, and Mr.
Short, then charge in France, commissioners plenipoten-
tiary to negotiate and conclude a treaty with Spain. The
question of the Florida boundary and the navigation of the
Mississippi were to be settled. In addition the treaty should
provide for certain commercial advantages in the Spanish-
American possessions. The commissioners were instructed
along the lines already developed, but were cautioned that
the treaty should neither expressly nor by implication con-
cede any claim of Spain to the Mississippi: that this should
be taken as a right and not as a grant from Spain: neither
should any compensation be given for the navigation. If
this was insisted on, it should be set off by the duties already
paid at New Orleans and the claims for the detention of
American shipping at that port. The commissioners did not
meet at Madrid for a full year after their appointment.
At that time history was being made with incredible
rapidity. The French, mad with the enthusiasm of liberty
and license, and particularly hostile to the reigning houses
of Europe, had started on their mission of carrying freedom
to the oppressed and founding republics in all lands. As a
likely field for this work the Spanish-American possessions
did not long escape their attention and, further, had not
Spain invited their loss by uniting with legitimate Europe
to overthrow republican France? It came to the ears of
Jefferson that France proposed to send a strong force early
in the spring of 1793 to offer independence to the Spanish-
American colonies beginning with those bordering on the
Mississippi. To prevent any hostile feeling or demonstra-
tion on the part of the United States, she did not object to
an arrangement by which the Spanish holdings on the east
side of that river should be received into our confederation.

58 The Purchase of Florida

"Interesting considerations," writes Jefferson to Carmichael
and Short, "require that we should keep ourselves free to
act in this case according to circumstances, and consequently
that you should not by any clause of treaty bind us to guar-
antee any of the Spanish colonies against their own inde-
pendence nor indeed against any other nation. For when
we thought we might guarantee Louisiana on their ceding
Florida to us, we apprehended it would be seized by Great
Britain, who would thus completely encircle us with her
colonies and fleets. This danger is now removed by the
concert between Great Britain and Spain and the times will
soon enough give independence and consequent free com-
merce to our neighbors, without our risking the involving
ourselves in a war for them."1 For Louisiana or the Floridas
to fall into the possession of hostile England, it had been
felt, would be ample ground for actual intervention on the
part of the United States. In the hands of decadent and
paralytic Spain it was thought that in time they would
certainly gravitate into American possessions.
The commissioners met at Madrid about the first of
February, 1793, but in the kaleidoscopic change of events
circumstances were now vastly different from those which
had induced their appointment. The ministerial power of
Spain which had been transferred from Count d'Aranda,
had again been shifted, and was now held by Godoy. the
notorious libertine and paramour of the Spanish queen.
The difficulty between England and Spain was settled and
had been superseded by most friendly relations. The concil-
iatory attitude which Godoy had adopted towards France in
the hope of saving the unfortunate King Louis was rudely
destroyed by his decapitation. This change was soon fol-
lowed by a French declaration of war against Spain, and

1. Vol. I, Instructions, p. 260. Jefferson to Carmichael and Short,
March 23, 1793.

To the Treaty of 1795

the American commissioners were thus deprived of the
support upon which they had fondly relied 'from the only
power in Europe able and willing to facilitate the negotia-
tions. Even worse, the inevitable tendency of events led to
an alliance between Spain and the combined enemies of
France at whose head stood, hated and hating, England.
The relations between England and the United States were
most unfriendly and, at this very period, war between these
two countries was considered imminent. Spain quickly con-
cluded an alliance offensive and defensive with England,
whose terms fully covered any contingency of hostilities with
the United States. The commissioners realizing the unfor-
tunate state of affairs wrote to Jefferson: "We cannot help
considering it unfortunate that an express commission
should have been sent to treat here." Surely circumstances
had not conspired to give any hope of success.
Gardoqui, late Spanish minister to the United States,
was appointed to conduct the negotiations. While here he had
been thoroughly impressed with our weakness and the divid-
ed feeling on the Mississippi question, and was impervious to
all arguments. The commissioners wisely determined not
to press their case, and found this course quite agreeable to
the ever dilatory and procrastinating policy of Spain. In-
structions from Philadelphia directed them to proceed. They
managed to reach Godoy but were unable to make any
headway on the main points of their mission. They laid
before him, however, certain complaints on the Spanish
interference with the Indians along the southern border,
and secured his promise, of whatever value they might
have considered this, that Spain would not interfere in case
the United States should declare war against the refractory
redskins. Continued failure induced the dissolution of the
commission, and Carmichael took his departure leaving
Short at Madrid credited as charge. He found much

60 The Purchase of Florida

difficulty in being either received or acknowledged, even in
that capacity.
In the meantime the troublesome and autocratic Genet
had landed in America and was proceeding in that auto-
cratic and insulting course which ended in the demand for
his recall. Taking every advantage of the popular enthus-
iasm then existing in favor of the French cause, he pro-
ceeded in defiance of international law and American sove-
reignty to fit out privateers and enlist volunteers for the
French service. The French government had imposed upon
him the double character of accredited diplomat and revolu-
tionary propagandist. Intrigue in Kentucky and the South,
and the conquest of Louisiana were the prime objects of his
mission a point generally ignored in the treatment of this
interesting character and his turbulent career in the United
States. Arriving at Charleston in April, 1793, he energeti-
cally set about his prescribed tasks.
Ignoring Washington's proclamation of neutrality,
Genet carried things with a high hand, confident of his
success in an appeal to the people, if that became necessary.
He approached Jefferson who, forbidding any attempt to
involve American citizens, expressed indifference as to what
insurrections might be excited in Louisiana, and even
declared that a little spontaneous invasion would promote
the interests of the United States. 'Expecting that America
would soon be at war with Spain, our secretary of state may
have deemed it wise not to cut himself off from an acquain-
tance with Genet's designs against the Spanish colonies,
particularly since the movement was represented as nothing
more than a plan to give independence to Louisiana.
Genet had two anti-Spanish projects on foot, one for a
military expedition, to be organized in South Carolina and
to rendezvous in Georgia, for the invasion of Florida, the
other for a like expedition against New Orleans and Louis-

To the Treaty of 1795 61

iana, to be set on foot in Kentucky. French emissaries were
freely employed, and for the Florida enterprise Governor
Moultrie of South Carolina, General Elijah Clarke of Geor-
gia, Samuel Hammond, and William Tate, all men of honor
and standing in the South were speedily enlisted. The
expedition under the command of General Clarke, according
to the prospectus, was to be supported by the French fleet.
Plans for the conquest of Louisiana had been presented
to the French authorities when the relations between France
and Spain became strained, after the outbreak of the French
Revolution, but the plan of expedition here attempted seems
to have been proposed by George Rogers Clark, who had
distinguished himself during our Revolutionary war by the
conquest of the Illinois country, but who was now reduced
to an equivocal position from the combined influence of
intemperance and pecuniary embarrassment. In 1788, he
had offered his services to Spain, for a land-grant, and was
now even more ready to expatriate himself for France.
Genet's agents and Clark, in Kentucky, actually undertook
the procuring of supplies and boats and sought to interest
the discontented Kentuckians in the scheme for securing the
freedom of the Mississippi by replacing Spain at its mouth
by the French Republic.
Unquestionably there existed in Kentucky highly in-
flammable materials. Her allegiance and patriotism had
already been severely tested, and the refusal by Spain of the
free navigation of the Mississippi was regarded as a great
grievance and suspicions were generally entertained that no
proper efforts had been made to secure it. George Rogers
Clark declared that he could raise fifteen hundred men
and the French at St. Louis, with the Americans at
the Natchez would eagerly join his command. With
the first fifteen hundred all Louisiana, beginning at St.
Louis, could be won for France, and with the aid of two or

The Purchase of Florida

three frigates at the mouth of the Mississippi, he would
agree to capture New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana.
And only a little further assistance would be needed to
secure Pensacola and even Santa F6 and the rest of New
Mexico. By July, Genet wrote home that he was arming
Kentucky and preparing a general insurrection in the
provinces adjoining the United States.
But Genet's disregard for our national authorities served
as a boomerang; he lost his most powerful friends and
popular sentiment proved fickle. His plottings, however,
aroused the Spanish governor Carondolet, whose force of
sixteen hundred men was strung along six hundred leagues
of river navigation. Urgently demanding reinforcements
from home, in the anxious moments of despair he wrote to
the English in Canada for assistance.
At the moment when success seemed assured Genet's
career was terminated by the fall of the Girondist party in
France. Genet was recalled and a new minister, Fauchet by
name, arrived with instructions to terminate an expedition,
which, had not Washington refused his connivance, must
have been a success. An advance by the United States on
the debt due to France, on which Genet relied, would have
enabled him to proceed with these plans as well as the mari-
time war against England on the American coast. But he
failed to support the project with efficient organization and
financial resources and it collapsed under the hostility of the
federal authorities. Only about two hundred men had been
under arms, but many others awaited the call to war.
In one of its aspects the movement was a continuation
of the efforts of the Westerners to expel the Spanish from
the Gulf of Mexico efforts which found later expression
in Jackson's expedition, and in the Mexican and Cuban
wars. In another of its aspects it was a phase of the
repeated designs of France to recover her control of Louis-

To the Treaty of 1795 63

iana, for it is a mistake to suppose that this design dates
from the efforts of Napoleon and Talleyrand in 1799 and
If the Clark expedition had been more efficiently man-
aged it was not so chimerical as it now appears. Its ulti-
mate design was the conquest of New Orleans, Louisiana,
and New Mexico. Considering the weakness of Spanish
rule in Louisiana, the attitude of leading Westerners, the
excited feeling in the West against Spain and the Federal
authorities, the expectation of statesmen like Jefferson that
a war with Spain was inevitable, and the widespread sym-
pathy for France in the United States, such a proposal as
Clark's was not without hope of success. The details of
its inception and progress reveal the inchoate condition of
national feeling in the West and the many hazards which
beset our control of the Mississippi Valley.
Genet had found an active lieutenant in General Elijah
Clarke, an officer of prominence in the Revolution, who had
for some time been an active disturber of the peace on the
Florida border. 1 First a leader in unwarranted violations
of the McGillivray Indian treaty of 1790, he had made war
on the Indians and the Florida Spanish. Under Genet's
advice and assistance he formed a party in Georgia, called
the Sans Culottes, based on hatred of the Spanish, and
sympathy for the French control of the Spanish-American
possessions. He was guilty of the grossest violations of
neutrality and repeatedly attacked the Spanish posts. At
the head of a band of adventurers with whom Georgia
abounded, he invaded Florida and established a post on the
St. Mary's River. This enterprise he was soon compelled
to abandon. And with some measure of justice the Spanish
minister complained that the American officials in that

1. For the Genet-Clarke correspondence see the Annual Report of
the American Historical Association of 1896, Vol. I, page 930.

The Purchase of Florida

quarter were in sympathy with these marauders, if they
did not actively countenance and assist their plans. Clark
had set an example which others of his ilk were not slow to
follow, to the consternation of the Spanish authorities of
that section. As an inducement and reward for his work
he, together with George Rogers Clark, was commissioned
a major general in the French service. 1 The bold and
unblushing manner in which Genet conducted his operations
induced many to believe that he had at least the secret if not
the open connivance of the federal government.2 The
French designs against Louisiana continued unabated even
after Genet's recall. His work was not without its results,
and, under his encouragement and advice, there were num-
erous violations of Spanish sovereignty by American citi-
zens. The Spanish representative, M. Jaudenes, repeatedly
called the attention of this government to these matters in
his correspondence in 1793 and 1794.
At the close of 1793 the bitter warfare between
Hamilton and Jefferson had reached a climax and upon the
resignation of the latter, Edmund Randolph, the attorney
general, was transferred to the state portfolio and to him
fell the task of directing the Spanish negotiations. By
midsummer of 1794 it had become clear to the administration
that Spain was tired of the English treaty and sought an
arrangement with France. It was felt that this might offer
a good opportunity to win Spanish gratitude and a Spanish
treaty by a friendly mediation in the quarrels from which
Spain wished herself extricated. Apparently the time was
hnot yet come for that. The danger of a Spanish-American
war became more threatening. The spirit of Kentucky was
growing daily more bitter and defiant, and the acts of the
1. See Boston Sentinel, Nov., 1793, Jan., 1794. Congressional Docu-
ments, and Vol. V, Domestic Letters, pp. 319-321, Jefferson to the Gov-
ernor of Kentucky.
2. Vol. II, Instructions, p. 63, Randolph to Short, March 16, 1794.

To the Treaty of 1795

settlers more bold and warlike. The government dreaded
each stage from the West, lest it bring news of some fresh
overt act which would precipitate hostilities. For it was
felt that at this time a declaration of war would mean a
conflict, not alone with Spain, but also with her ally Great
Britain. Writing in cipher to Short in August, 1794, Ran-
dolph directed him to "counteract the impressions which the
unlicensed violence of our Western citizens may make upon
the Spanish court." Short was further directed
"To ascertain as soon and as certainly as possible-
"I. Whether Spain counts upon the Union of Great
Britain in maintain the exclusive right to the Mississippi?
"2. What overtures have passed between them on this
"3. Supposing the war with France to be settled, and
the French Republic established, what douceur could Spain
afford to England for entering into a war with the United
States ?
"4. Do the progress of the ardor for liberty and arm-
ing of the Spanish peasantry develop no reason to apprehend
a convulsion in Spain?
"5. Will not the distress of the Spanish government
for money compel them to such a resort to the people as will
awaken the sense of their real efficacy in all governments
and enable them to urge demands of reform, to which an
indigent prince dependent upon his subjects for supplies,
will always be exposed?
"6. Is there any mode in which our influence with
France could be used that would accomplish for us the
navigation of the Mississippi?
"7. In what parts and through what means is Spain
most vulnerable in South America--and to what part are
her suspicions directed?

66 The Purchase of Florida

"8. What force by land or sea could she send to any
foreign country in case of war?
"9. In what particular is it supposed in Spain that the
United States if at war with her could be the most injurious
to her? In short you perceive from these questions, that
the mind is driven into an anticipation of a painful possi-
bility and therefore whatever else belongs to this subject,
although not comprehended in the above questions, you will
be so good as to communicate. But notwithstanding these
inquiries you may never hesitate to give the most unqualified
assurances, that we deprecate the most distant interruption
of our harmony."1
Spain now thoroughly weary of the unnatural alliance
into which Godoy had been forced by popular clamor, sought
a way to withdraw from a war more honorable to the
bravery and patriotism of her troops than it had been
successful. It was supposed that the relations between
England and the United States were growing more hostile,
and with France were improving under the able hand of
Madison. In view of these circumstances the Spanish
government made advances to France through the Ameri-
can minister at Paris and took the necessary steps to resume
direct negotiations with the United States, broken off by
Carmichael's departure and the Spanish refusal to receive
or recognize Short.
On August 16, 1794, Jaudenes, in a commun-
ication to the secretary of state, expressed his regrets that
so little progress had been made in the negotiations between
the two countries and stated that His Majesty desired to
renew the negotiations, provided commissioners be sent who
should have unrestricted powers for a general treaty and
not be bound by secret instructions which would defeat it.
The powers which had been given to Carmichael and Short
1. Edmund Randolph to Short, Aug. 18, 1794.

To the Treaty of 1795

were not ample, he complained; nor were those two com-
missioners personally satisfactory. "The lack of decorum"
and "well known misconceptions" of Carmichael were com-
mented upon; and the "want of circumspection in conduct"
of Short had made him personally undesirable. A man of
"character, conduct and splendor" was desired by the Span-
ish government. By "character" was meant a "diplomatic
grade invested with full powers for all objects;" by "con-
duct," a "proper attention to the court and a proper behavior
in the management of the negotiation;" by "splendor" a
"personal dignity and self-respect." In short the rank of
Carmichael and Short, both charges had not flattered the
Spaniards. Nor was the idea of returning the same com-
missioners wholly pleasing to them. In consequence of
these intimations the president, in November, 1794, appoint-
ed General Thomas Pinckney, then minister at the court of
St. James, minister plenipotentiary with full powers to
conclude a treaty with Spain. Thomas Jefferson having
been offered this special mission had declined. Pinckney
did not however reach Madrid until the summer of the
following year.
The instructions to Pinckney sought to impress upon
him the impatience and hostility of the Kentuckians and the
necessity for a prompt determination of the Mississippi
question. If Spain should refuse this, the United States, it
was felt, ought to be immediately apprised of the fact, that
they might prepare for. the alternative of war. Yet Pinck-
ney was warned not to give the Spanish minister any reason
for supposing that we had determined upon hostilities, for,
writes Randolph in a cipher dispatch, "if we break off in
ill humor, we in some degree lose the choice of peace or war.
If we show no symptom of ill temper we are not debarred
from resorting to any expedient which we approve. It is
not impossible too that in the settlement of peace with

68 The Purchase of Florida

France some opportunity may be presented if we should be
disappointed now. If any hint of this sort should be capable
of improvement you will doubtless communicate your ideas
to our minister at Paris. Our reputation with the French
government is on a strong footing. It is of immense im-
portance for us to know, if it can be ascertained, whether
Great Britain is under no engagement to Spain, to support
her in the retention of the Mississippi."
By this time a new question of dispute had arisen for
diplomatic adjustment, or if that should fail, for the decision
of the sword. The vessels of the United States were being
constantly seized by Spain, as well as by others of the allied
powers of Europe, upon the most frivolous and unwarrant-
able pretexts. The seizure of one vessel in particular, the
Dover cutter, had been the subject of continual diplomatic
representations by this government to the Spanish officials.
Built in Havre de Grace, it had been seized by a Spanish
governor in the Western Islands for the use of the Spanish
government, nor had any compensation been made for it.
The complaint for this outrage had been forwarded to
Madrid by Jay in the spring of 1786. Of late, more seizures
had aroused the United States and to Pinckney was com-
mitted the further question of the spoliation and vexation of
our commerce and a full power given him to treat upon this
as well as the other subjects. These encroachments upon
our commerce had been accompanied by further encroach-
ments by the Spanish posts on the Mississippi River. Gov-
ernor Guioso, the Spanish intendant, had recently estab-
lished a fort at what was called Chickasaw Bluff above
the 35* of latitude.
At this time, owing to the European complications,
Spain feared a break with the United States, partly because
1. Vol. II, Instructions, p. 245, Randolph to Pinckney, Nov. 18,
2. Ibid., p. 294, Randolph to Thomas Pinckney, Dec. 25, 1794.

To the Treaty of 1795

of the entente cordiale existing between this country and
France, and partly from fear of another war which, she
felt, must multiply the misfortunes which she had suffered
in her alliance with England, when the French armies had
overrun her mountain districts and established themselves
upon her soil. In fact Spain was desirous of an alliance
with this country.1 The three campaigns against France,
after the English-Spanish alliance more creditable to the
valor of the Spanish troops than to their military ability -
had been most unfortunate. The combination between the
Castilian and the Saxon had been a forced one of the
head rather than the heart without that sympathy and
unity from which alone can come success. Randolph had
said, "My conviction is firm that the courts of Madrid and
London are cordial in nothing but a hatred of the United
States and a determination to harass them through the
Indians." 2 But he might have added that they were no less
cordial in their hatred of revolutions, especially of the
French variety, for this it was that had induced the alliance.
But, constantly humiliated on the field of battle, the Cas-
tilian soon tired of an alliance with those for whom, with
their mother's milk, they had imbibed a bitter hatred. They
looked with fond eye toward the triumphant militarism of
a people with whom they had always had much in common
and to whom they were bound by the ties of gratitude and
of blood.
The internal changes in French politics opened the
prospect of a more stable and conservative government
for that country, and the peace of Basle (April 5, 1795)
proclaimed the defection of Prussia, the keystone of the
continental combination. In the meantime Spain, having
deserted England, grew suspicious of her. She feared and
suspected an Anglo-American arrangement. England, she
1. Vol. II, Instructions, p. 32, Pickering to Short, Aug. 31, 1795.
2. Ibid., p. 185, Randolph to Monroe, Sept. 25., 1794.

The Purchase of Florida

thought, was endeavoring to excite the United States against
her, and she anticipated a concert of measures between these
two powers against her American possessions. This sus-
picion was founded upon the Jay treaty with England the
extent of which was not yet fully understood at Madrid -
and was confirmed by letters from the Spanish charge
d'affaires at Philadelphia. 1 This danger must be met by
a Spanish-American treaty. Writing in March to our
secretary of state Mr. Short said: "The rapid successes
of the French armies in Holland the desire of this court
to find out some means of pacification the close friendship
'between the United States and France combine to show the
importance of the present moment. The minister would
willingly make use of me as the means of sounding the
French government and ascertaining their dispositions as
to peace--but the stumbling block of the unsettled state
of our affairs with Spain constantly presents itself." 2
After Jay's treaty with England the whole diplomatic
situation in respect to the Mississippi Valley was changed.
The United States bought a peace with England by sacri-
ficing the friendship of France. The possession of Louisiana
offered to France the opportunity to injure England and
render the United States more subservient to her policy.
Fauchet was convinced that Louisiana would furnish France
the best entrepot in North America for her commerce and
raw material, and a market for her manufactures, a mon-
opoly of the products of the Mississippi territories, and a
means of pressure on the United States. He declared that
unless a revolution occurred in Spanish policy the force of
events would give Louisiana to the United States. It now
became more than ever a cardinal point of French policy
to secure this province from Spain.
An active alliance with the United States was what
1. Letters of Wm. Short No. 193, Vol. IV.
2 Wm. Short to Jefferson, March 3, 1796.

To the Treaty of 1795

Spain earnestly desired at this time, and she expected the
new American envoy to be provided with powers and
instructions to conclude an alliance as well as terminate
the troublesome questions then pending. To secure
this alliance, Spain was willing to pay a high price on other
points. But the United States wisely declined to entangle
themselves in the mad delirium of war by any such con-
nection. 1 On the 22nd of July, 1795, a treaty was concluded
between Spain and France. In return for this peace Spain
ceded to the revolutionary republic the Spanish half of
San Domingo. Humiliated and infuriated at this defection,
England declared war upon her late friend. It was now
rumored in Spain that England intended to take possession
of a Spanish harbor, land an effective army, compel Spain
to fight against France and to further attack the Spanish
possessions in America. Ignorant of the Jay treaty, France
earlier in the year sought to aid a Spanish-American con-
ciliation, but nothing had come of this attempt.
In midsummer, Thomas Pinckney at length reached
Madrid, where, sent as he had been at the instance and
invitation of the Spanish minister, he expected rapidly to
conclude a treaty. The differences to be settled by the
commissioners shaped themselves into three groups. First
was the subject of commerce, but Spain refused to discuss
this point despite Pinckney's protest that the mission was of
Spanish origin. The Spanish charge at Philadelphia had ex-
pressly stated that Spain was "ready to treat upon the points
of limits, Indians, commerce and whatever may conduce to
the best friendship between the two countries." Pinckney
therefore intimated that he had a right to expect an arrange-
ment of the commercial interests of the two countries. But
as the United States were not willing to force themselves into

1. Wi. Short to Jefferron, March 3, 17T6.

The Purchase of Florida

connection with a reluctant people, he would not press what
he could not but consider his right.
The second point concerned the navigation of the
Mississippi. Spain, while admitting that its navigation
should be free to both nations, objected to the arrangement
suggested by the United States for a commercial depot at
New Orleans. Spain further insisted that the language of
the article conveying the right should be of a strictly exclu-
sive character, restricting the navigation to the subjects of
Spain and to the citizens of the United States. This, of
course, .could not be considered, as it would violate our
treaty obligations to England, if not to France.
As to the third point, that of reclamations, Spain
insisted that all captures should be divided into two periods
- the one preceding April 6, 1795, in which the rule of
decision should be the maritime regulations of Spain then
at war with France; and the other, following that date, in
which the decisions should be upon the usual grounds of
international law. To such a division Pinckney positively
and unequivocally refused his assent. Conformably with
the traditional quibbling and procrastination of Castilian
diplomacy, the negotiations dragged their weary course,
varying only with the fluctuation of European and Spanish
politics. Wearied and indignant at the apparent lack of
faith and their persistence in maintaining their position,
Pinckney at length demanded his passports on the 24th day
of October.
This show of spirit and determination on the part of
the American envoy aroused the Spanish minister to the
necessity of action. Having thrown herself into the arms
of England she had been despoiled of her territories by the
French armies. Now deserting her former mistress and
cultivating a French amour, Britain had turned upon her
and was driving her fleets off the sea. Dreading an Anglo-

To the Treaty of 1795 73

American alliance, or a separate declaration of war by the
United States, badgered at all points and fearing greater
humiliations, Spain consented to a compromise of the
difficulties and at San Lorenzo el Real, October 27, 1795,
a treaty of friendship, limits, and navigation was signed in
behalf of Spain by Godoy.
This treaty was decidedly favorable to the United
States. It established as boundaries East and West Florida
on the south and, above latitude 31, the middle of the
Mississippi River. Illegal captures made by Spain during
her late war with France were compensated for, favorable
rules were prescribed for neutral commerce, and Indian
aggressions on either side, together with the arming of
privateers, were discountenanced. But the chief diplomatic
exploit was in gaining Spanish recognition of the right, so
long and so strenuously asserted by the United States, to
the free navigation of the Mississippi River; to which was
added a three years' privilege of deposit at the port of New
Orleans, free of duty. Thus was paved the way for that
magnificent internal commerce so soon to become fabulous
in its value, which has made that river the most crowded
highway of domestic trade in the world. The claims com-
mission provided for in the treaty met in Philadelphia, ter-
minating their duties December 31, 1799, after having made
awards to the amount of $325,440 on account of the Spanish
spoliations. It is not unlikely that the conclusion of the Jay
treaty with England strongly influenced Spain to agree to a
treaty at this time. For our arrangement with Great Britain
destroyed all hopes of a concerted action between Spain and
that nation against our Western country. Since the treaty
of 1783 Spanish agents in North America had made frequent
advances to the Canadian authorities for a joint English
and Spanish policy against the Americans, all of which

The Purchase of Florida

found expression m the tortuous Indian relations they had
The treaty of 1795 marked the first step in our terri-
torial expansion. Jefferson wrote as early as 1786, from
Paris: "Our confederacy must be viewed as the nest from
which all America, North and South, is to be peopled. We
should take care, too, not . . to press too soon on the
Spaniards. Those countries cannot be in better hands. My
fear is that they are too feeble to hold them till our popu-
lation can be sufficiently advanced to gain it from them
piece by piece. The navigation of the Mississippi we must
have. This is all we are as yet ready to receive." Voy-
ageurs, like Brissot, had prophesied the secession of the
West; Washington had dreaded it; Western leaders, Wil-
kinson, Sevier, Robertson, Clark, Butler, had sold their
services to secure it; and Spain and England had nego-
tiated to that end. Had the United States failed to secure
free navigation it would have withdrawn, and for the want
of sea power to protect its commerce passing from the
mouth of the Mississippi through the Gulf, it must have
allied itself with a foreign power.
Firmness rather than skill, determination rather than
finesse, were required for the negotiation of the instrument.
Political circumstances had compelled Spain to yield to the
demands of the United States. She had made concessions
which except for extraneous forces might have been post-
poned for years. The treaty and the ministers who nego-
tiated it were similarly applauded in both countries. As a
recognition of his diplomatic success, Thomas Pinckney, on
his return home, was named by the Federalists as the asso-
ciate of Adams on the presidential ticket. The treaty of
Basle and that with the United States were hailed by the
corrupt court of Spain one of the worst in her national

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Last updated October 10, 2010 - Version 2.9.7 - mvs