Page images


Of the MARQUIS DE CASO CALVO, upon Indian Relations, and the Indemnity of Panton.


Don Francisco Dionisio Vives, &c., (his titles.) I certify that the signature of Don Antonio M. de la Torre y Cardenas, of the council of his majesty, honorary secretary, with exercise of decrees, and proprietor of the secretaryships of this government and captaincy general, which gives value to the annexed document, is that which he habitually uses with his own hand, and that full faith and credit are to be given to it; and in order to show it, I sign the present in Havana, sealing it with my coat of arms, on the 13th of October, 1827.


Most Excellent Sir: By a royal order of the 26th of February of this year, your excellency tells me that the house of Panton, established in Pensacola, and entrusted with the trade by which the Indian nations residing between the United States of America and the possessions of our lord the king in the Floridas and Louisiana, are supplied, has frequently solicited from his majesty an indemnification, which, at the same time that it would compensate for the many losses it has suffered in this trade, would serve as an encouragement in a business in which the security of these provinces seems to be interested. Your excellency communicates what Panton exposes in the last petition he made to his majesty, who, persuaded by it, has taken into consideration the importance of which the trade established with these nations can be. Your excellency requires that I should circumstantially report, with all possible brevity, on the points contained in the said royal order, taking into consideration the services of the said house, its losses, and finally, the difficulty that there seems to be for another Spanish house to undertake, with equal good success, an enterprise which necessarily requires a great deal of money, great knowledge, not usually to be found, and, so to say, a capital of credit and confidence. I am going to do it, not including in this answer the letter of the 5th, because I answer that separately. But, before beginning, I must

observe, that, by the treaty of boundaries concluded between his majesty and the United States, the only Indians remaining to Spain are a few depraved Seminoles, (a Tallapoosé tribe,) who inhabit the point of East Florida from the neighbourhood of St. Mark's de Appalachie to St. Augustine. The nations Choctaws and Chickasaws are entirely included in the American territory, to the north of the dividing line, which passes twelve leagues from Mobile, being distant more than forty leagues from the towns of the first, and more that two hundred from those of the second; likewise, the part of the Tallapoosas, best, most numerous, and most friendly to Spain, and all the Cherokees, have remained in the territory of the United States. It would appear from the preceding observation, that the house of Panton should be left to its own speculation, in order that, ceasing the trade, it could withdraw itself; but the situation of these provinces is such, their administration is so much connected and entangled with the Indians, that even to this day the conservation of the trade which the said house affords them is, and must be, one of the principal means in our power (if his majesty wishes to conserve his dominions) to gain and maintain a preponderancy and friendship among those tribes, in order to constitute them a barrier between the American and Spanish possessions, forming, as they must do, an intermediate country, which it is our interest to keep in our dependence.

This cannot be obtained by any means other than the trade of said house. It is then necessary to recompense the services which it has rendered to Spain, which have, with justice, been recommended by the various officers of the king in these provinces; the losses which it has suffered being as certain as the advantages which, from this trade, have resulted to the quiet and comfort of these dominions, which would otherwise have experienced considerable injury and damage.

We may likewise be assured, that the losses of this house, since the war with France, would not have been so great if it had not followed that trade with the same activity, under the hope of a recompense which the government and the intendancy were under the necessity to offer in order to retain it, and to maintain by that means, as there was no other, the good harmony and peace with the Indians, without which it was not possible to preserve the quiet of these provinces in such difficult times, and opposed to such active and ambitious neighbours, who were always watching the opportunity of gaining influence and preponderance over the Indians, in order insensibly to possess themselves of the trade of these provinces, which, sooner or later, would become theirs, if that misfortune was not retarded by every possible means before it should, as a torrent, inundate the internal provinces of New Spain, limiting with these. I will, therefore, humbly show, what the knowledge I was able to acquire during more than a year that I have had the honour to have this command, dictates to me, citing the informations which I have taken, and the instructions resulting from the

many and voluminous files which remain upon this matter in the archives of this office. I must, likewise, admit, that the house of Panton has raised jealousies and envy for the privileges granted it by his majesty; but I must likewise assure, that they are without cause and foundation; that there is no body able to take their place, nor to render the services which it has rendered to the government. Thence, no doubt, have originated several malicious informations, which have caused several discussions between the government and the intendancy. The representation to this ministry, No. 88, under date of the 9th of February, 1797, shows the unfavourable opinion that the provisory intendant, Don Juan Morales, entertained as to continuing this house in its commerce, and the sound reasons by which the Baron Carondolet refuted his opinion. Two months had scarcely elapsed after the present intendant, Don Ramon de Lopez y Angulo, had taken possession of his office, when he directed me the official letter of which the No. 1 is a copy, as No. 2 is of my answer; and I have thought proper to annex them to this paper, because they throw a great deal of light on the present matter, and for the great connexion they have with the four first points which I am going to answer, by your excellency's order; and therefore I supplicate your excellency, that, before examining what follows, you should please look at them, for they will greatly facilitate the understanding of all that I have to say. Since the arrival of Don Antonio Villon to this province, and particularly since his formal entry and possession, through the lieutenant general, Count O'Reilly, the trade of the Indians has been considered, with reason, as a powerful instrument in the hands of government, if used according to the political policy of the state, to operate against the views of the British, and against the ambitious and hostile designs which the Americans, since their independence, entertain. And it proved such to Don Louis de Unzaga, as well as his successors: the governors Count de Galvez, Don Estevan Miro, Baron de Carondolet, Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos, have more or less experienced, according to circumstances; and I myself see it confirmed, not only by the innumerable despatches which, from time to time, have been sent to this ministry by the said chiefs in these matters, but likewise by the different occurrences which took place during my provisory government, and especially in running the dividing line between the dominions of his majesty and the United States, and in the defensive operations to which I am obliged to have recourse, without force or money, in order to destroy the designs of that adventurer, William August Bowles. My wishes to ascertain the truth, in order to fulfil completely the commands of his majesty, will oblige me to lengthen a good deal this paper; but I confidently hope I shall render the reading and consideration of my report supportable, as they have for their object the best and truest service of the king, in a time rendered so critical, and exposed by the changes and variation that the political state of all the powers presents at every moment. Under this supposition, I will answer

at once the points ordered by his majesty, without any more observations. The first part of the royal order consists in asking if the house of Panton has a right to an indemnification. All that has been said until now clearly shows that the house of Panton has a right to an indemnification: it was so understood by my predecessors, and I shall not depart from that opinion. Since the beginning of 1789, that house remained alone entrusted with the general trade of the Tallapoose, Alabama, Choctaws, and Chickasaws and Cherokee nations. It is in this way that, for the greatest part, were removed the obstacles and difficulties which, at every step, were encountered in following the trade with the Indians, which could not have been done by the short, precarious, and provisionary dispositions which have been taken since 1784, to content them, and consolidate a durable peace with them. The marshal of Camp Baron de Carondolet, in a representation to this ministry, of the 1st of July, 1798, had included a memorial of William Panton, palpably showing the most urgent necessity of a prompt decision, assuring that on it depends the quiet of these dominions of the king, fixing the indemnification which ought to be given in order to engage the house to continue this trade with the same fidelity, and showing the constant success it had had during the twelve years elapsed from its establishment to that time, or admitting the proposition made by the same house, as shown in its former representation, No. 41, dated July 27th, 1794, directed to the ministry, in which it is advised to buy, on account of his majesty, the goods of the house, and administering its trade for two or three years, and preventing, in this case, its total ruin, as the rules of equity and its good service require. Both these representations throw as much light as is necessary on the subject, and show with the greatest clearness how urgent it was to adopt either of these two propositions for an indemnification. The governor and intendant, confiding in the generosity and justice of the nation, stimulated by the powerful reasons contained in these informations, encouraged and reported them; considering them advantageous and reasonable, did continue to excite Panton to follow the trade with the Indian nations, notwithstanding the losses which he experienced, and those which he inevitably foresaw. Truly it is not to be supposed that the individuals of the house, after such a long experience of so many years, fully acquainted, as they are, with the management of the trade with the Indian nations, and foreseeing the ruin which threatened them if they persisted in it, would have blindly continued, after the public determination, taken by the American Congress, of engrossing it, and making this trade at the expense of the government itself, their implicit confidence in the two chiefs only could induce them to follow it, being fully convinced that their losses would be compensated from above, as soon as the important affairs which then absorbed, as they do now, all the attention of the ministry, would permit it. Thence originated their laudable anxiety and endeavours to fulfil the political views of government, by preserving the peace and good harmony which ever

subsisted with the Indian nations, which was only interrupted, in the present time, by the presence of the adventurer Bowles, who has filled the measure of his misdeeds by destroying and levelling to the ground, in the beginning of September last, all their possessions in the neighborhood of the fort of St. Mark de Appalachie. The hope that their efforts would, in the end, receive a recompense which they had expected, and had been promised them, supported them during the war with France, and has induced them to continue them in the present war against England, by furnishing to the Indians the goods they want, on the same terms that they have always been furnished since the talk of 1784, being well persuaded that this was the only efficacious mode of counteracting the anxious endeavours with which the American executive tries to gain influence and preponderance with the nations, destroying their connexion with Spain, and exposing the quiet of these provinces. The losses which the house has suffered are immense, as well by the vessels which the French and English have captured, as by the excessive insurance which it has been obliged to pay by the irregular condition in which trade is, not being able to either augment the price of goods which it sells in the Indian trade, nor to diminish that of the skins which it receives in exchange; to this calculation must be added the protests of their remittance, and the depredations of Bowles, which are of public notoriety, and the house does not exaggerate when it says that its losses amount at the present day to the sum of four hundred thousand dollars, more or less. It can be easily demonstrated that the American government has, during the same space of time, spent an equal sum in their attempts to take that trade from the house of Panton, and absorb that of the four nations, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Tallapoosas; and notwithstanding their efforts, enterprises, and machinations, which they have used directly or indirectly, the house still preserves entire the trade of the Choctaws and Chickasaws. As to the trade of the Cherokees, as their towns are very far from Pensacola and Mobile, and near to the South and North Carolinas, it is in the present day of no importance, the Americans having gradually prevented them from frequenting the store-houses of Panton; and as to the Tallapoosas, the house already complains that the remittances of this year do not reach the half of what they hoped and had a right to expect, as well for the goods they had expended, as by the experience of past years, which no doubt is to be attributed to the robberies of Bowles, and to the distracted state of the greatest part of the nation, through the insolence of the Seminoles, the only tribe addicted to his party, and which we must particularly contrive to gain to ours. Here an unpleasant truth suggests itself to me, which, however, it is necessary to confess at once, and without any more words; and it is this, that Spain owes the remaining in possession of that trade with the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations to its anxiety of excluding the United States from the navigation of the rivers Tombigbee and Temas, which disembogue in the bay of Mobile. These rivers are navigable for

« PreviousContinue »