Transcontinental Treaty of 1819
Don Luiz de Onis in 1809 was sent by Spain to the U.S. to negotiate the Florida border, bringing with his the evidence amassed by Fr. Pichardo of 5127 pages in 31 volumes on the right of Spain to occupy the American Southwest and Floridas. However, Luis was not officially received by the U.S. until Dec. 1815.
The South American revolutions that began in 1809 caused American settlers in Florida to revolt. Philemon Thomas became known as the "Liberator of the Florida Republic" when he led 70 men in 1810 against the Spanish at Baton Rouge (30 Spanish surrendered, 2 killed), and raised flag of the independent West Florida Republic (flag with a lone star on a blue field would be copied in Texas from Louisianians who went to Texas to fight 1835). One month after the revolt, Madison ordered Wm C. C. Claiborne, governor of territory of Orleans, to annex the area known today as the Florida parishes. Madison declared Oct. 27, 1810, that American jurisdiction extended to the Perdido River.
Another uprising in 1812 led by George Mathews, former governor of Georgia, with 200 rebels captured the Spanish fort on Amelia Island, but Madison returned the fort to Spain as the War of 1812 against Britain began.
Congress formally annexed West Florida between the Pearl and Perdido rivers May 14, 1812, and Gen. Wilkinson captured Mobile in April 1813; when Louisiana became a state in 1812, the Pearl River was set as the boundary.
Seminoles along Georgia border in 1817 raided Prospect Bluff to kill whites and carry off slaves.
Gen. Edward Gaines, under Jackson's command in the southwest army, attacked Fowltown 1817 because it was located on land ceded to the U.S. in the Fort Jackson treaty.
Seminoles Nov. 30, 1817, attacked hospital ship, killed 34 soldiers, 7 women, 4 children, tortured the captain to death.
Secretary of War John C. Calhoun on Dec. 26, 1817, ordered Andrew Jackson, commander of the American army in the southwest, to cross into Florida and stop the Seminole threat. This official order was accompanied by a private letter from President Monroe that "the movement against the Seminoles will bring you on a theatre where you may possible have other services to perform. . . Great issues are at stake."
Jackson sent a letter of Jan. 6, 1818, to Monroe that his plan was the "whole of East Florida should be seized and held as indemnity for the outrages of Spain upon the property of our Citizens." Jackson later claimed that Monroe approved this plan in the so-called Rhea letter, but the letter had disappeared (a letter from Monroe granting permission to Jackson and transmitted by Tenn. congressman John Rhea).
In March 1818 Andrew Jackson crossed in Spanish Florida, forced the surrender of the Spanish fort of St. Marks April 6, captured the Scot Indian trader Alexander Arbuthnot, hung the Seminole prophet Francis and chief Homollimico April 8, captured British Lt. Robert Ambrister April 18 near the empty village of chief Bowlegs, returned to Ft. Marks April 23 and executed Ambrister and Arbuthnot. On May 29, Jackson captured Pensacola, the capital of Spanish Florida, and caused the governor to flee. Jackson then returned to Tennessee.
Monroe learned the news of Jackson's invasion June 18, held Cabinet sessions for a week, all opposed Jackson's actions except John Quincy Adams.
Adams wrote his July 23 note to Spain, declaring that Spain had failed to control the Florida Indians as stipulated in Pinckney's Treaty of 1795.
Adams believed the best defense was offense: do not censure Jackson but endorse his actions; return captured forts and towns to the Spanish; gain support of his friend Lord Castelreagh, currently in negotiation for an Oregon-Canada boundar, that Britain would not aid Spain and accepting Jackson's decision that Ambrister and Arbuthnot were guilty of trading with hostile Seminoles.
Adams took three weeks to write his Erving note of Nov. 28, 1818, to minister George Erving in London, in reply to Spanihs foreign minister Pizarro's protest of Jackson's invasion. The note as a "broadside" and "bombast" of propaganda, printed in the U.S. before it reached Madrid, designed to influence negotiations. It boldly declared the right of "defensive" invasion because Spain did not control the Indians. It demanded the Spain "control or cede" the Floridas to the U.S., demanded Spain punish its officials in Florida and pay an indemnity for the cost of pursuing the Indians, and threatened another invasion if Spain did not "control or cede" the Floridas. His note used the rhetoric of empire, that the U.S. had "a sacred history' and destiny to expand, that America's opponents were "savages" and "banditti" and that Arbuthnot conspired to make a "savage, servile, exterminating war against the United States."
Henry Clay in March 1818 had introduced resolutions in the House to recognize the South American republics, but Adams urged Congress to delay recognition during the Onis negotiations, arguing that recognition should be deferred until Spain's chances to put down the revolutions were "utterly desperate" and that recognition whould nbot be used as an instrument to aid revolutionaries in the process of their revolution. Clay's resolution was defeated March 30, but recognition would be granted in 1822.
Adams drew his transcontinental line in negotiations with Onis July 16, 1818, because the Rush-Gallatin talks with the British had been unable to agree on an Oregon boundary (Convention of 1818 signed Oct. 20), because John Jacob Astor wanted an American foothold on the Columbia River in Oregon, because of the vision of Adams of a continental empire coast-to-coast beyond the barrier of the "Stony Mountains"
Onis delayed, Monroe threatened war and the seizure of Texas as well as Florida, Onis instructed by Spain to concede Florida and finish the negotiations to avoid war, Monroe impatiently told Adams to offer an ultimatum of the Sabine River (no Texas) line in order to settle the treaty quickly.
Adams-Onis Treaty signed Feb. 22, 1819, with stepped boundary line from Sabine to Red to Arkansas to Platte rivers, then by 42nd degree line to Pacific.
Treaty ratification delayed until 1821 due to last-minute Spanish land grants in East Florida to three court favorites, then the annulment of these grants after the 1821 revolution in Spain.
The 1823 Treaty of Tampa began the removal Seminoles from Florida to the Indian Territory.
The 1832 Treaty of Payne's Landing required all Seminoles removed by 1835, but Osceola resisted and fought a war until captured in 1836; the war continued until 1842 at the cost of $20 million and 1500 U.S. soldiers killed, to remove 3000 Seminoles.
revised 10/1/01 | Class Page