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fiction from him. A vocabulary of the Indian language concludes the volume.
Mr. Charles Vignolles was a surveyor, and enjoyed excellent opportunities of examining the Florida lands. He has published a map, representing very exactly the outline of the coast, but in filling up the interior, he appears to have relied exclusively upon his imagination, or upon mere report, especially in relation to the country west of St. John's river. He has exceedingly magnified the quality, and even the quantity of good land; for instance, there is on Indian river nothing more than a hummock running along the western shore, which is no where more than fifty yards wide, yet he represents it as a large tract. He strongly recommends the separation of West Florida from the peninsula, and its re-union with Alabama; this, if it were accomplished, would effectually prevent Florida from ever taking the rank of a state. Most of the reasons which he has urged for the separation no longer exist. A road which may be travelled by every
A variety of conveyance, is now open from St. Augustine to Pensacola, through Tallahassee, having good ferries over every water course which is not bridged. The mail goes twice a fortnight from the seat of government to Pensacola, and once to St. Augustine. A road of the same kind with that above mentioned, exists from Coleraine in Georgia, to St. Augustine and Tomoka, and another to Tampa bay. Travellers may obtain frequent accommodations on these roads, though it is still occasionally necessary to “camp out,”-a state of things which will speedily be
This author has entered at considerable length into the modern history of Florida, and among various uninteresting details, has preserved some records which are worthy of more attention. At the head of these, stands an account of the insurrection of 1812, commonly called the revolution of M'Intosh. His description of the wreckers of the Keys, is very interesting, though somewhat embellished. The legislative council, in their wisdom, discovering that it was unjust for British subjects alone to enjoy the benefits
of this noble industry on our seacoasts, passed a patriotic law, giving jurisdiction to the magistrates' courts all over the territory, to allow salvages to wreckers, according to the necessity of the case, keeping however a small percentage for the territory, clerks of court, &c. Shortly after, a justice of the peace removed to Key West, and awarded salvages, at his court, to the amount of from sixty to seventy per cent. ; and on one occasion, ninety' per cent. was decided to be strict justice! he was moreover auctioneer, and is said to have made purchases, as agent of a house in Charleston. The territorial law was declared to be unconstitutional by the District Court of South Carolina; hut in another case, a decision of the Superior Court of East Florida, declared the constitutionality of the law, by reducing the rate of salvages. Key West had actually become a nest of pirates, when the territorial law was finally repealed by Congress. It had, however, escaped for two years; and during that time, an enormous amount of property must have been thus swindled, since the territory gained for its own share 9,000 dollars, and it is believed that by that law it was fairly entitled to three times the sum.
The style in which Vignolles' book is written, is not deserving of much praise ; but it contains far more of actual information, than the two works immediately preceding. It must however be remembered, that this author is a surveyor, and that he most probably considers the interests of his employers, the claimants of land, as paramount to the interests of the territory, He concludes, as does Mr. Forbes's book, with a collection of documents of some importance.
Colonel Gadsden's oration presents the best view of the soil, and the most reasonable speculations relative to the future prospects of Florida, that we have yet seen. It is free from the ridiculous exaggerations which disfigure so many of the accounts of this country; nor does it indulge in any of the disparaging references to particular parts of the territory, so common in the writings of disappointed land speculators. It bears the appearance of having been rather hastily prepared, and its style is somewhat more pompous and poetic than we should have wished; but the statements it contains are correct and valuable throughout.
Mr. Williams's book, the last we shall examine at this time, is on the whole very accurate and impartial. More than a third of the volume, under the title of Appendix, is filled with letters, speeches and debates in Congress, which have been frequently republished, though, as many of them are valuable, it may be well to have them preserved in a separate form. They certainly do not constitute the most interesting part of the volume. We shall refer to most of these, individually, as we are desirous to give a full account of the territory.
The map he has furnished, is one of the best that has appeared; but it may be objected to it, that it wants the township. lines of the land office surveys, which are of very great convenience to settlers, or to persons seeking information concerning lands. We are glad to observe, that these lines are given in the Map of Florida, published by Mr. Tanner, in Philadelphia, whose work is on the whole to be preferred to any other. Another objection to Mr. Williams's map, and indeed the whole book, is the mispelling of Indian names. In a new country, whenever a name is adopted for a place, every one spells it according to his own ideas, until general custom has quietly determined which mode
is to be followed. It would be useless to refer to particular instances of such mistakes in this work.
In speaking of St. Joseph's bay, Mr. Williams says:
“St. Joseph's bay presents an entrance from the north-west six miles wide, but most of this distance is occupied by a middle ground. One channel is close under the north point of the peninsula, wbere there is seventeen feet of water. The main channel commences near the cape, about two miles from the main land, and has twenty-eight feet of water. The north end is blown up into sharp sand hills, except that on the inside of the point, there is a forest of high pines, which may be seen at a great distance." (p. 15.)
A difference of opinion prevails, as to the depth of water in this bay; some pretend, that forty feet can be carried over the bar, but from the most recent accounts, the statement of our author appears to be most correct. The bay is of great importance, since by cutting a canal of only ten miles in length to the lake Wimico, a communication may be opened with the river Apalachicola. The “forest of high pines,” is the only spot where a city can be founded, near the mouth of that river, which enters the sea amidst an immense delta of marshes. Flat-boats, or steam-boats, might bring produce down to St. Joseph's bay, whence they could be exported by vessels of any size. Fort Gadsden, or Colinton, is so unhealthy, that no settlement will ever be made there; the sand hills of the bay appear to promise a better situation. There is already one steam-boat plying upon the Apalachicola.
In his catalogue of animals and plants, the author is generally correct; but it is scarcely possible to avoid smiling, when we peruse the pompous account he gives of the pistachio or pistache nut, at page 59. This rare exotic, which is thus highly extolled, is nothing more than the common pea-nut, or ground-nut, of the southern states !
The agricultural observations contained in this work are good, especially in relation to cotton. Sugar, however, will become the staple of this country ; in proof of which may be mentioned the crop of 200 barrels raised in the east by Colonel Dummet, who sold this sugar at eleven cents per pound in Boston. The luxuriant growth of the cane in the west, renders it equally certain that it may be most advantageously cultivated in Florida. Hitherto, sugar has not been extensively manufactured, because the engine and boilers cost upwards of from three to four thousand dollars. There is besides great difficulty in procuring the seed, several wagon loads of cane being necessary to produce seed enough for an acre of ground. At present, it is perhaps more advantageous, near Tallahassee, to raise cane for the sake of the seed, than for the purpose of making sugar. A sugar estate cannot be established under two or three years.
“Sugar is becoming an object of attention. Several farmers have for the last three years (1824–5–6) been increasing their fields of cane. In many parts of Jackson, Gadsden, and Leon counties, the cane grows to great perfection; the climate and soil are very appropriate, and there is no doubt but that sugar will in a few years become an article of first importance to our planters. An acre of sugar cane has in one year produced 3000 lbs. of sugar. In Louisiana, 1000 lbs. per acre is considered a good crop. A farmer near Tallahassee has this year made three barrels of sugar from an acre of cane, besides a barrel half full of thick syrup, with his usual family utensils; and he reserved cuttings for planting to the value of 160 dollars from that same acre.” (p. 65.)
The few observations which our author has made in relation to the Indians, are not more exact than those contained in the preceding works. We shall therefore endeavour to supply this deficiency.
The Florida Indians are called Seminoles, which name signifies runaway; and they are actually nothing more than outlaws and refugees from the four southern tribes, of which they speak the languages, having, as we believe, none of their own. The Eastern Indians were totally separate in their government from those of the West; and they united for the first time, as a nation, at the treaty of Camp Moultrie, when it was declared to them that they must select a reserve, and live upon it. After considerable negotiation, (which was at length terminated by the energy of one of the commissioners, who cut off the intriguing white advisers from the Indians,) they gave some reserves in the West to chiefs who chose to abandon the nation, rather than their improvements; and they selected the situation they now occupy. The United States engaged to furnish the movers with rations, to enable them to wait for their crops. The number of Indians at that time was about 5000, of which number 500 were warriors. Rations however were issued for a smaller number, as only those who moved were entitled thereto. The great object in removing the Indians south and east, besides the acquisition of land, was to interpose a strong body of white population between the Creeks and the Seminoles, so that they could not unite their forces in the event of another war, and that the Creeks should be entirely separated from the sea. We have remarked elsewhere, that the country allotted to them was of comparatively small value to the United States; but it is still good enough for their purposes. Their friends, indeed, have represented them to be in a starving condition, which may have been the case, owing to circumstances which we shall explain.
Planters cannot settle a country, if they have not bodies of three or four hundred acres of good land in a mass, and their different tracts at such a distance as to admit of a neighbourhood. But this is not the case with the Indians : their largest families will never plant more than ten or twelve acres of corn; and a great number of small hummocks of that size are to be found in
Florida, any where along the water courses, in the worst parts of the country. The object of their friends, in complaining of their location, was to leave them in possession of good lands, the offering of which in the market, at present, prevents them from selling bad titles and barren grants. They have succeeded in obtaining for the Indians the Big Swamp, in addition to their former limits. This is nearly a township of very fine land, capable of supporting a white population equal to that of the Seminoles.
Still, if the same mode of issuing rations be continued, the Indians will be next year again in a state of starvation. A military post was established at Tampa bay, where some of the Indians received rations. The Indians of the West broke
their settlements, but never left the country : hearing, however, that rations were issued at Tampa bay, some went, received them, and came back to the vicinity of Tallahassee. Secretary Walton, in order to compel them to go, adopted the wise expedient of giving them six weeks' rations there, to carry them home. These rations were consumed in the woods of Leon county, and the Indians returned to throw themselves upon the mercy of government-said they were starving—wanted to go into their limits, &c. Yet the rations were again distributed.
The murder of M’Intosh, in Georgia, drove a great many Creeks into Florida, who, profiting by the movement, drew their rations as Seminoles.
The treaty was never executed on the part of the Indians, because none of those who were to emigrate into the reserve, ever left their former place of abode. Still the United States had added the Big Swamp to their reserve, and issued to them nearly twice the stipulated number of rations. It may be asked, were they to be suffered to starve ? Certainly not : but is it not clear, that so long as these Indians are fed, they will neither plant nor hunt? Is it not evident, that having once successfully practised deceit, they will repeat the same stratagem ? Or, in short, is it not evident that the rations should have been delivered in the reserve itself, and not at the places to be relinquished?
Owing to these mistakes, and perhaps some most daring and unprincipled speculations practised upon their rations, the Indians remained, until December 1826, scattered over the whole country. They committed numerous depredations: killing cattle and hogs, and even stealing the horses of the farmers, and setting fire to their improvements. The garrison of Tampa bay, judiciously placed at the south, while the settlements were at the north of the reserve, could afford no protection. At last they murdered three men and a family of small children, and burned houses not twenty miles from the seat of government. This cre
od a great excitement in the country, and they were driven by