Started looking at the story of evacuation of the Spanish out of New Orleans in 1803, out of Mobile in 1813 and out of Pensacola and St. Augustine in 1821. Each time the Spanish moved, they bundled up archives and shipped them to Havana. This week, my attention has been drawn to two articles about the odyssey of the Spanish archives.They are:
The Odyssey of the Spanish Archives of Florida by Irene A. Wright of the U. S. Department of State. She wrote this to describe her work as an associate research expert in the Division of Reference, in the National Archives. She wrote," A presentation of the facts set forth seems a suitable tribute to Dr. Robertson who, especially in his capacity as Secretary for the Florida State Historical Society, has done so much to assemble original, transcript, and photostat materials concerning Florida for students' use in conjunction with those considered in this contribution." Her essay deals with the archives seized by Jackson in Pensacola in August of 1821 and the ones taken by forcible possession by Worthington's commission by breaking into buildings in St. Augustine in October of 1821. As late as January of 1822, "documents by the boxful were being shipped out of Florida by every Spanish vessel clearing for Cuba." The documents seized by Jackson in Pensacola ended up in Montgomery and Columbus,Georgia after Pensacola's evacuation by the Confederates in 1862.
Diplomatic Missions of the United States to Cuba to Secure the Spanish Archives of Florida was originally delivered as an address by A.J. Hanna to Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Florida on May 8, 1939. Hanna deals with the problems the U.S. had trying to get back the 730 bundles of government records the Spanish shipped to Havana from Pensacola and St. Augustine after 1819. Between 1821 and 1835, the U.S. sent six different commissioners to Havana to secure Florida archives. The sole purpose of the last commissioner's voyage to Havana was to secure documents which would void the deed of cession of 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola River negotiated by James Innerarity for John Forbes & Co. on May 25, 1804 and the deed of cession to the islands in Apalachicola Bay and a small acreage on the Apalachicola and between the Wakulla and St. Marks Rivers negotiated by Edmund Doyle on April 10, 1810. The deeds to all four of these tracts of land were negotiated at Chiscatalofa which was located in the present-day extreme southeastern tip of Houston County, Alabama.( I am very familiar with the site of Chiscatalofa because my research partners from the Alabama Society of Professional Land Surveyors and myself have located the approximate site of Andrew Ellicott's astronomical observatory in Chiscatalofa where he took 44 observations of seven stars in August of 1799 to locate the point on the bank of Chattahoochee River where first U.S. Southern Boundary would intersect it. Ellicott built a mound at the edge of the Chattahoochee's flood plain to mark the end of his boundary line coming east from the Mississippi. This mile marker on the U.S. Southern Boundary, Ellicott Mound #381, was rediscovered by Professor F.A.P. Barnard in 1846 when he left the University of Alabama at the request of the Governors of Alabama and Florida to resolve the boundary problem between the two states. My research team rediscovered the important survey marker in August of 1999, 200 years after its construction.)
Hanna cites an interesting book that is on the reference shelf at Gorgas. This book, Guide to the Materials for American History in Cuban Archives was written by Luis Marino Perez and published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in July of 1907. I just found it this morning but the first time I opened it I found some great Alabama stuff. Appendix C is a list of manuscripts purchased by the Library of Congress in 1888 from the estate Domingo Delmonte y Aponte, a Cuban who died in exile in Madrid in 1853. Delmonte left Cuba in 1843 but was later ordered to be imprisoned by a military commission in 1844 for playing a part in a slave insurrection. Anyway two documents knocked me out:
1807, June 25. Interview with General Wilkinson.
D.Vicente Folch to the Marquis de Someruelos relative to an interview with General Wilkinson. Pensacola.
Published in the American Historical Review, July, 1905,X. 832-840.
1812, April 20. Events in West Florida.
Juan Forbes to the Marquis de Someruelos, captain-general of Cuba and the Floridas, giving details of the insurrection in West Florida and asking for the protection of his property in the province.
( Before occupying New Orleans and taking formal possession of Louisiana in December of 1803, Wilkinson met with Forbes in October to discuss the acquisition of Mobile and Pensacola.There are lots of connections between these two men.)
In anticipation of the Louisiana Bicentennial, I began studying the evacuation of Spanish troops from Louisiana to Mobile, Pensacola and Havana. I will continue to document this because there was a major migration out of Louisiana of black troops in Spanish service because they did not want to live under the rule of the U.S.,however, now I plan to begin to look at the removal of Spanish government records as well.
Just wanted to let ya'll know what I was up to.