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.
[ Thu Jul 31, 05:35:44 PM | robert register | edit ]
Excellent stuff on the Forbes Purchase from the essay "U.S. Diplomatic Missions to Cuba" by A.J. Hanna:
Last of six commissioners sent to Havana to secure the Florida archives, Robinson left Washington May 11, 1832, by boat, and , landing at Norfolk, proceeded southward overland "with as much speed as the mail and other conveyances" permitted. Arriving at Tallahassee May 28, he consulted Judge Randall at Monticello the following day regarding Randall's attempt to secure the archives in 1824, had a three day (June 7-10) conference with General Call at Marianna, and received much confidential information on the task before him which could not be intrusted to a third party. Call informed Robinson that congress had on May 26, 1830, approved virtually all unsettled claims with the exception of several large acreages, chief among which was the claim of Colin Mitchell for approximately 1,250,000 acres of the richest and best timbered lands in Florida[this is the Forbes Purchase, a deed of cession negotiated by James Innerarity on May 25, 1804 in what is now the southeastern corner of Houston County, Alabama], situated in what are now Franklin, Gulf, Calhoun, Liberty, Gadsden, Leon and Wakulla counties. This claim which had not been allowed by the superior court of Middle Florida had been appealed to the supreme court of the United States. Call informed Robinson that his principal objective in Havana would be to obtain documents which would help the United States protect its public domain when the Mitchell suit was tried.
Proceeding by stage from Marianna to the Choctawhatchee River[this may have been the Alligator Line stage that carried passengers between Marianna and Geneva, Alabama], Robinson took passage on a small river boat to the bay opposite Pensacola where a raging storm forced the boat to anchor......
And here's more from this very important article:
The Mitchell case[the Forbes Purchase], involving an area one-third larger that the State of Rhode Island, was the most important litigation directly bearing on the United States missions to Cuba to secure the Spanish archives of Florida. The supreme court's decision which concluded this litigation[ Colin Mitchell et al. v the United States, 9 Peters] raised more questions than it solved. Why, for instance, did Chief Justice Marshall, at the conclusion of the case[this was the last case Marshall would hear at the U.S. Supreme Court before his retirement], state, "no difficulty has been opposed by the Spanish Government to the inquiries of the American agents. On the contrary every facility has been given them," when records in the department of state overwhelmingly revealed facts to the contrary? It would be interesting to know, also, why the decree included Forbes Island containing about 7,000 acres, which was not even in the claim.[ the author Hanna must not have been aware of the second deed of cession executed at Chiscatalofa in present-day Houston County Alabama giving John Forbes & Co. all of the islands in Apalachicola Bay and personally awarding John Forbes possession of Forbes Island]
A question about the foreign relations of Spain may also be raised in connection with a hint given Robinson by a Spanish functionary to the effect that when the captain general and governor of Cuba received the royal order to deliver the Florida archives to the United States, the instructions contained a secret clause preventing its execution.[these archives also included all of the legal proceedings of the Spanish government in Alabama's present-day Baldwin and Mobile Counties from 1783-1813]
[ Wed Jul 30, 04:40:28 PM | robert register | edit ]
Finally got my Hispanic-American Essays book from 1942. discoveryWhat a superb discovery!!!!
All because I put out the word less than two weeks ago that I was going the commemorate the Bicentennial of the Forbes Purchase near Chattahoochee State Park on May 25, 2004.
The first essay which has drawn my attention is entitled " U.S. Diplomatic Missions To Cuba". Hard to believe a little contract between James Innerarity and a bunch of Indians in present-day Houston County, Alabama would become the foundation of contract law in this country. What a story!
On page 214, we find the following letter from Richard Keith Call to Martin Van Buren. Call writes:
The original deed [to 1.2 million acres] from the Indians to John Forbes & Co.[negotiated by James Innerarity] conveying the land on which fort St. Marks is situated, and which was then garrisoned by the troops of Spain, is signed by twelve obscure individuals most of whom resided within the limits of the Creek nation north of the 31st degree of latitude.[these were the chiefs who signed at Chiscatalofa. This land where Alabama, Florida and Georgia intersect is the location of Ellicott Mound #381 and is presently owned by Ansley Whatley].
Call goes on to give all his reasons for the deed of cession being bogus but it doesn't amount to anything because Justice Marshall, in his last decision at Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, declared the deed Innerarity negotiated legit.
Call goes on the call into question the second deed of cession negotiated at Chiscatalofa. Here's what Call wrote Van Buren:
The grant to John Forbes individually is for an Island in the River Appalachicola said to contain 7,000 acres. This depends alone on a deed of gift from a few of the Indians most of whom lived north of the 31st degree of Latitude[and negotiated the deed north of there as well], and never was formally confirmed by Governor Folch or any other authority of the Spanish Government.
Sorry, Governor Call, but these deeds, executed in present-day Houston County, Alabama, for more than 1.2 million acres east of the Apalachicola to the Wakulla, were declared the "the law of the land" by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1835.