Page images
PDF
EPUB

declaring that the territory, from the river Manchac, or Iberville, as far as the American line, or 31st degree of latitude, (following the Mississippi,) did not enter in the cession, and remained always in the possession of Spain, and annexed to West Florida. This proclamation was published and circulated, to the knowledge, and in presence of Citizen Laussat, colonial prefect, who was there authorised by the French republic to receive the province, who did not open his mouth, nor made the least objection, because it was conformable to the treaty ; nor did he make any, when, on the 30th of November of the same year, 1803, a formal surrender was made to him, and that he received it to deliver it to the United States, as he did to the Anglo-American commissaries, on the 20th of December following, in the same way that he had received it, in consequence of the treaty of Paris, concluded the 30th of April of the same year, which was kept secret until the ratification of the United States, and whose first article says, that the territory of Louisiana, and its dependencies, were ceded or acquired by the French republic, through the treaty of St. Ildefonso.

A short time after the publication of that proclamation, persons presented themselves, requesting to purchase lands in the aforesaid territory, which remained to Spain as part of West Florida. But the intendency, notwithstanding so solemn a declaration, did not choose to give its course to the first instance which was presented, without again consulting the said commissaries of delivery, who were, Don Manuel de Salcedo, governor, and Marquis de Casa Calvo, and did it in date of the 22d of July of the aforesaid year, 1803; and in date of the 28th of the same month, their lordships answered: “ The declaration which we made in the proclamation which we published on the 28th of May last, is based upon the right of conquest, by which Spain possessed itself, and took from the British, in the war of the year 1780, the settlements of Natchez and Baton Rouge, keeping yet the latter, and therefore, not comprehended in the district of Louisiana, the only portion of territory, which, according to our instructions, we must retrocede to the French republic; and seeing by that, that these lands belong to his majesty, you can determine upon this business according to your powers; it being our opinion, that as regards the request of Don Juan (it ought to be Don Thomas) Urquhart, it promises to be useful to the royal interests, and increase the setilement and agriculture—important circumstances, and the first of them worthy of attention, by reason of the scarcity which at present prevails in this treasury; his proposition can be admitted, without paying attention to all the formalities required by the intendency.” In consequence of which, he admitted not only the said first request, but all the others which were made in order to buy land, and even some in order to obtain them by gift or confirmation. And in each record of sale, the former declaration, and the consultation which originated it, was inserted; and the intendency sold, indeed, between 7 and 800,000 arpents, (I am not trying now to make any exact calculation) and its value, according to estimation, was exhibited by the purchasers, in the treasury, together with the duty of mediamato and its transportation, to Spain. (It is to be observed that the local circumstances of that province did not permit that all the royal land could be sold at auction, according to the law 15, title 12, book 4, of the Recopilacion, of these kingdoms, as expressed by the 24th article of the instruction made by that intendency in 1799.) And receipts were delivered accordingly. Likewise, they paid all the other costs, of survey, &c. And the intendency, in the name of the king, whom God preserve, delivered or despatched them efficient titles, divested of all the formality and requisites necessary; and all was approved by his majesty by royal order of the 29th of May, 1804, as I was verbally instructed or informed by that intendant, who would have continued to make the same use of the lands, if the course of his affairs had not been paralyzed in consequence of the order of the commandant of the province, dated 1st of May, 1804, to the governor of Baton Rouge, which was transmitted to me, officially, on the 18th of June following, and says: “From the receipt of the present you shall not permit any survey of land to be made without my order, nor to give possession of those which have been sold by the intendency from the 18th of May last year.” The intendency suspended and apprised the king. And his majesty, by royal order of the 20th of February, 1805, communicated through the ministry of finances, and which was likewise officially communicated to me on the 3d of August, made the following declaration: “ The king being apprised of what you expose in your confidential letter of July of last year, No. 48, in which you report that the commandant of Pensacola, Don Vincente Folch, had ordered the governor of Baton Rouge not to permit, from the 30th of June, any survey of land to be made without his order, nor possession to be given of the lands sold by the intendency, from the 18th of May, 1803, which has caused the injuries which you state, his majesty has resolved to have communicated to the said commandant, as I do it under this date, what has been disposed upon this affair in the royal orders of the 22d of October, 1798, 14th of November, 1799, and 29th of May, 1804, declaring, in consequence, that you must continue to their ends the unfinished records, and the others which may occur ; hoping, from your known zeal, that you will try to draw as much profit as possible in favour of the royal treasury from this branch.” In consequence of which, i nd the American government having opposed itself to the farther continuation of the intendency in New Orleans, it was transported to Pensacola, in the beginning of 1806, where several of these affairs, still pending, were concluded, until new circumstances again paralyzed the sale of lands.

Although those who had bought and obtained their titles in form, thought they had the most complete security in these properties, in consequence of the royal orders, approbations, and declarations, still, in the end, they were disturbed, and threatened to lose them ; for, about the year 1810, I do not recollect well if before or after, the Americans began to show their pretensions, that the territory in which they had been made, and all that as far as the Perdido, which is not very far from Pensacola, were component or integral parts of Louisiana, and to divulge the nullity of the sales made by the Spanish government: and, as from the said year 1810, and following, they began to take possession, by force, of all the extent of the said territory, they invalidated them in fact. However, new hopes came to reanimate the persons interested, when they heard that negotia. tions were begun in order to obtain the Floridas, and they flattered themselves that the treaty would clear this point, and put an end to these difficulties; and, in effect, some would think them terminated by the tenor of the article eighth, but it is not so; for it seems that the limits of West Florida, not having been too much defined in the second article, nor this point expressly cleared, there has been a decree posterior to the date of the treaty, declaring null the concessions and sales of lands made by the Spanish government in the territory of Louisiana from the year 1801 or 2, and of course are comprised in this declaration ; those which I have stated had been sold by the intendency, whose titles are rejected when they are presented in their land offices, asking to be taken notice of in the general survey, (“cadastio,") as if the ceded West Florida, in place of being bounded on the west by the Mississippi, only terminated at the Perdido. This is the great affair in the space between the Perdido and Mississippi, and not that of the small concessions or donations, which they have not disputed, and ever, as I have heard, they have acknowledged and do acknowledge, provided, they do not exceed 1,000 acres each; and likewise I am informed that the owners of these lands sold by the intendency, almost all Anglo-American citizens, wait the ulterior decision, in order, if it was to nullify them, to claim from the Spanish government, through means of this, the value which the lands have now, the lands, damages, injuries, &c. Your lordship, in consequence of this prolixor diffused report, will be pleased to determine the best ; and if I have to furnish to your lordship the detailed account which is required, I will want somebody to help me, that is, a clerk; and if possible 1 should like to have Don Matteus Bauvé, formerly employed in Pensacola, attached to the treasury of army and national finance. Havana, 9th of September, 1822.

VINCENTE SABASTIAN PINTADO.

DECREE. Havana, 21st, September, 1822. Let the secretary of this superintendency report in respect of the paragraphs 3, 4, and 5, of what precedes, if in the office of his charge are to be found the data and notes indicated, and the manner of communicating them to the captain, Don Vincente Pintado, in order he may discharge his duty more extensively and knowingly.

PENILLOS. Vol. II.

44

Report to the Intendant of the Army.-In order better to acconplish the preceding decree of your lordship, I thought proper that the captain, Don Vincente Pintado, should join the archivist of this secretary, in the examination of the papers which he had to do, and, in fact, having proposed to him, he most willingly agreed to the operation, which was performed with the greatest diligence. Having set apart from the papers received from Pensacola, and deposited in this office, those specified by the relation or inventory annexed, as the only ones conducive to the object of this record, the manner of delivering them in consequence of the quality and circumstances of the said captain, I think ought to be the only formality of signing the aforesaid inventory for the security of this secretary, and with the condition of returning them after termi. nating the work for which they are given; but nevertheless your lordship will resolve as will seem to you most convenient. Havana, 10th of October, 1822.

AROCHA. DECREE. Havana, 24th October, 1822. Let the delivery of papers which is specified in the aforesaid annexed inventory be made according to the foregoing report to the captain, Don Vincente Sebastian Pintado, with the conditions which are in it proposed ; let the said captain include, with the due distinction in the statement requested from him, the concession of lands made by the Seminole and Lower Creek Indians, confirmed by the commandancy and government of West Florida, and likewise those executed by this captaincy general, as he expresses in his fifth observation, and which he may be able to deduce from the documents which exist, and from the notes in his possession ; let the said Pintado regulate himself the operation in what respects epochs and boundaries, according to his judicious and proper observations in the Nos. 6 and 7; let him illustrate all that he thinks proper to the object of our high government, which must be no doubt to protect in their properties the owners who acquire them lawfully from the Spanish authorities, discharging the nation of the responsibility or imbursement to which in a contrary case it might remain exposed ; let him have Don Matteus Bouvé, or any other proper clerk for the end he asks; and for this effect let the proper order be issued to the general ministers; let this be registered by the said Captain Pintado, in order that he begin and continue his works; and let this record be communicated to the tribunal of accounts, in order that it furnish the notes of which there is evidence in its treasury; and let it report with the least possible delay what is to be found in this important affair, considering this decree as a political and official

PINILLOS. NOTE.—With the same date an order was communicated to the general ministers in respect to the clerk for which it speaks.

AROCHA.

On the 23d of October, 1822, I registered the preceding decree for the ends in it expressed. A true copy:

SEBASTIAN PINTADO.

Detailed account of the royal lands, waters, and lots, which were sold, conceded, and distributed by the Spanish authorities in West Florida, from the year 1801 to 1818, both inclusive, specifying the name, nativity, and residence, of the purchasers, concessionaries, and grantees, the surface of the lands and waters, and the number of the lots which they have received, either by purchase, donation, or distribution, their respective situation, the record begun on these affairs, and the other particulars conducive to fulfil the object of the royal order of the 29th of April, 1822, and the decree of this intendency and superintendency general sub-delegate of royal finance, issued on the 21st of October of the same year. In the record which has officially been made by the same superintendency on this matter with the greatest zeal and scrupulousness, and with a view to what has been exposed in the exordium, and the following observations of the report which I made on the 9th of September of the aforesaid year, which is to be found in the aforesaid record, likewise of the concession of lands of East Florida, which have come to my knowledge by the evidence of some which are found in this intendency, and by knowledge which I have acquired, and

papers

which I have seen relative to others. Preliminary observations.-First. West Florida is understood here to mean that province contained between the boundary line or parallel of the 31st degree north of the equator, the northern limit to which it was reduced by the second article of the treaty of friendship, boundary, and navigation between our government and the United States of America, signed in San Lorenzo del Real, on the 27th of October, 1795. The river Manchac, or Iberville, the lakes Maurepas and Ponchartrain, or what is properly called the island of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico, which bounds it to the south, including the adjacent islands. The river Appalachicola or Chatahoochie, by which it is bounded to the east, and which is the common boundary of both Floridas, as far as its confluence with the Flint river and the river Mississippi, including its islands, which is its true and natural boundary or limit to the west, from the Iberville to the 31st degree of northern latitude. Second. As in the course of the account which is to be given it will be spoken of arpents, acres, and cabillerias, measures of surface, it is to be observed the arpents of Paris, of which use was made in Louisiana and West Florida during the Spanish domination, is a square

whose side is of ten perches of Paris, and of course contains 100 square perches; the lineal perch of Paris is of eighteen feet of the same city. The acres are those used by the English in the Floridas, and 512 of these are equal to 605 arpents of Paris

. The caballerias are of those used in this island of Cuba, and 4,900 of these are equal to 186,624 arpents of Paris.

« PreviousContinue »