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veyance from the Spanish government to the land in question. Were the United States to recognise those claims, it would be altogether a gratuity, an act of munificence, and not one which was the result of legal obligation. Congress are competent to make such a grant; but, as a special court of legal jurisdiction, we have no such authority, and can exercise no discretion upon the subject.

In the treaty between Spain and the United States, no provision was made for the British claimants, but only such as emanated from his catholic majesty, and his lawful authorities; and, by the law organizing this board of commissioners, none are to be examined except those claimed and owned, bona fide, by American citizens, and for which no compensation has been made by the British government. This has been construed by the claimants as a recognition of postliminary rights, but, if the law is examined, it will be found to be a mistake, as the commissioners are first directed to ascertain whether they are valid by the law of nations; how far they are so considered under the Spanish government, and, after this inquiry, are made the judges whether they are valid and correct, and entitled to confirmation.

It is believed that the commissioners have no power to declare a forfeiture in those cases where the claim exceeds 3,500 acres. Here they are only intended to act as an inquest, or court of inquiry, and furnish congress with the facts upon which a forfeiture may be declared. It is their province to ascertain what lands belong to individuals, as distinguished from those which have accrued to the United States under the treaty. Those arising from forfeiture constitute as perfect a class of rights, as those to the soil which has never been appropriated to individual uses; they appertain, in all regular governments, to the sovereignty and domain, and cannot be separated from them.

From every view which we have been enabled to give this subject, we are constrained to declare all British claims, within our jurisdiction, which were not confirmed by Spain, or disposed of in conformity with the 5th article of the treaty of '83, forfeited, void, and of none effect. They are not valid by the law of nations, and would not be considered valid under the Spanish government. We are, therefore, convinced that they are not valid and correct; and, agreeably to the provisions of the law organizing this board, they must be rejected. With respect to the British claims, exceeding 3,500 acres, we believe the reasons contained in this opinion, are altogether applicable, and request that they may be received as our report, in both cases.

All which is respectfully submitted by the undersigned commissioners.


[ *269]


Petition of F. M. Arredondo.

SENIOR GOVERNOR: I, Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, junior, an inhabitant of this city, with due respect to your lordship, say that, to be on my guard, in the case of the cession of this province to the United States happening to take effect, and to have a safeguard to oppose to any claim, which under the pretext of ancient titles, might be attempted by English subjects upon any of the various lands which have been granted to me, although by their emigration they lost all their right, your lordship would be pleased to aid me, by ordering that, by the notary of the government, testimony in continuation be authorized of the third article of the definitive treaty of peace between the crown of Spain and that of England, signed at Versailles, on the twentieth of January, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, and the official letter of prolongation for the emigration of the English subjects; which documents are collected in evidence to the acts of inventory of bargain and sale of the houses and grounds which reverted to the royal patrimony at the time of the English having evacuated this province, by their owners having left them pro derelicto. That there be also authorized the testimony of the fourth article of the edict of good government, published in this place, on the 2d September, 1790, relative to the royal order of the 5th of April, 1786, upon the remaining, in this said province, of the English inhabitants, under the indispensable condition of taking the oath of fidelity; which royal order, which is in the office of the secretary of the government, I pray you to be pleased to order to be delivered to the said notary, that he may legalize testimony from it, and that the whole proceeding may be lodged in the public office, and that testimony of the whole process may be furnished to me; therefore, I pray your lordship to be pleased to decree as I request, which favour I expect from your justice.


ST. AUGUSTINE, OF FLORIDA, 17th Feb., 1820.


ST. AUGUSTINE, 17th February, 1820.

In every thing as is requested.


Before me,

Juan de EntraLGO, Notary of Government.


At St. Augustine, on the same day, month, and year, I notified the preceding decree to Don Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, jr. ENTRALGO.


In compliance with the command, and at sight of the definitive treaty of peace made at Versailles, the twentieth of January, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, which was approved in Spain by the king, our lord, I copy literally the third article, which, with the said approval and official letter of prolongation aforesaid, is as follows:

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His Britannic majesty shall cede to his catholic majesty East Florida, and his catholic majesty shall keep East Florida, it being well understood that there shall be granted to the subjects of his Britannic majesty, who are established, as well in the Island of Minorca, as in the two Floridas, the term of eighteen months, which shall be counted from the day of the ratification of the definitive treaty, to sell their property, recover their debts, and transport their effects and persons, without molestation on account of their religion, or under any other pretext whatsoever, excepting that of debts or criminal causes; and his Britannic majesty, shall have the power of causing to be transported from East Florida, all the effects which may belong to him, whether artillery, or any others whatsoever.

Don Carlos, by the grace of God, king of Castile, Leon, Arragon, the two Sicilies, Jerusalem, Navarre, Grenada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Cerdena, Cordova, Corcega, Murcia, Jaen, the Algarves, Algesiras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, the East and West Indies, the Islands and Continent of the Ocean, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Borgona, Brabant, and Milan, Count of Apsburg, Flanders, Tyrol, and Barcelona, Lord of Biscay and of Molina, &c. Whereas, in consequence of the preliminary articles of peace between my crown and that of England, signed at Versailles, the twentieth of January of this year, by the Count of Aranda, my ambassador to the most christian king, with my full powers, and by Don Alcine Fitz Herbet, minister plenipotentiary of the king of Great Britain, of which ratifications made by me and by his Britannic majesty, were afterwards changed in due form, the same Count of Aranda on my part, and on that of his Britannic majesty, the Duke of Manchester, ambassador to the most christian king, and his plenipotentiary, have laboured and brought to a happy conclusion the definitive treaty of peace which consists of a preamble and twelve articles, with other two separate articles, all in the French tongue, the contents of which, with its translation into Spanish, is of the following tenor: [Here was inserted the treaty.] Wherefore, having seen and examined the before inserted definitive treaty, the twelve articles which it contains, and the two separate ones which follow it, I have come to approve and ratify what it and they contain, as in virtue of these presents I approve and ratify it in the greatest and most ample form that I can, promising, on the faith and word of a king, to fulfil and observe it, and cause it to be fulfilled and observed entirely, as if I myself had done and signed it. In faith of which, I have ordered these presents to be despatched, signed VOL. II.


with my hand, sealed with my privy seal, and countersigned by the underwritten my counsellor of state, first secretary of state and of despatch. Given at St. Ildefonso, the twelfth of September, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.




SIR: At the moment of sailing for Vera Cruz, the sixteenth of this month, his excellency Count de Galvez charged me to copy for you the royal order which he had just received, considering the delay with which his excellency could execute it if he waited to put it in execution from Mexico; in virtue of which I do it, the said royal order being of the tenor following:

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In consequence of what I have intimated to your excellency in the letter of the twenty-fourth of January last, the king has been pleased to prolong, by four months the eighteen stipulated in the definitive article of peace for the emigration of the English subjects who may be in West Florida. I communicate to your excellency this royal determination, that its fulfilment may be provided for. God preserve your excellency many years.

The Pardo, 7th of February, 1785.



God preserve you many years. Havana, the 19th of May, 1785. I kiss your hands, and am your most obedient servant.



It is agreeably to the documents cited, which have been delivered to me by the governor and commander general of this place, to whom I returned them: and, in virtue of this decree, I give these presents at St. Augustine, of Florida, the eighth of March, 1791.

Notary of Government.

It is agreeably to the testimony of their originals, which are collected for the process instituted in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety, upon the sale of houses and lands which were abandoned, and returned into the royal patrimony, in consequence of their English owners having emigrated, which process is in the archive under my charge, to which I refer; and in fulfilment of the


command in the decree preceding, I sign and seal these presents, at St. Augustine, of Florida, the 18th of February, 1820.


Notary of Government.


Of this date I communicate to the captain general of both Floridas, Count de Galvez, the following royal order: At a council of the board of state, and upon a view of what your excellency has expressed in a former letter, number fifty-six, and of the contents of the copy enclosed from the governor of Louisiana, Don Etevan Miro, respecting the difficulties which occur, that the English and American families established at Baton Rouge, Mobile, Pensacola, and Natchez, may go from said provinces, agreeably to the last treaty of peace, the king has been pleased to approve of the provision which your excellency has made with the said governor, that no novelty should take place towards the said families; * it [ *272 ] being his royal will that the permission be continued to them of dwelling where they are established, on the condition that, for the present, and as indispensable circumstances, they take a solemn oath of fidelity and obedience to his majesty, and that they go not out of the limits where they are actually situated without the power of going to other parts, not having an express license of the government. That those who shall not comply with these just conditions, depart by sea for the colonies of North America, at their expense, or, in defect of that, at the expense of the king, who shall be reimbursed from their effects as far as possible. That this same concession be extended to the inhabitants of East Florida as far as it may be adapted to it; and that, in Natchez and other places of both Floridas, where it is convenient, parishes of Irish clergy be established in order to bring said colonists and their children and families to our religion, with the sweetness and mildness which it advises. In order that this royal resolution may have due accomplishment, and the good success which his majesty promises himself, it is necessary that your excellency (availing yourself of your own observations, and of those which the governors Miro and Zerpedes may furnish you) form a plan, or arrangement, of the mode which should be pursued in the said parishes, with an expression of the number of clergymen who are to serve them; in an understanding that, under this date, I inform the bishop of Salamanca to cause, in the mean time, four to be chosen, of known zeal, virtue, and learning, from those of that university, or any other part where he has them, and that this royal resolution be sent to the said governors for their understanding and fulfilment. God, &c. Such is the order of his

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