|James G. Forbes to the Secretary of State
July 14, 1821
Florida Territorial Papers
St. Augustine 14th July 1821
Private or unofficial
Sir Although my official duties have permitted a correspondence with you, I have not before asked leave to make any
confidential communications to you, yet in justice to my personal & family obligations to you I feel warranted in doing it if
my own Conception of duty prescribes the occasion to me as fit.
After an interview with the Governor at the Camp when he received me very well, H. E shewed me the list of
appointments among which I observed my name, when he remarked that unless there was a Salary, the appointment
would not give me Salt for my Herrings, I intimated, that something perhaps within his own appointment not incompatible
with my national duties, might bring my knowledge of the Spanish into use for the public, I was informed, that it was very
uncertain what local appointment if any was to be made and that he had transferred all his powers to the Secretary of
Having perceived some coolness and apparent dissatisfaction among many expectants on the Spot, I felt much
mortification at some remarks which were made of the selection of Judges, & other officers, perhaps including myself, I
therefore Considered that my longer Stay would be as useless to Government, as unpleasant to myself---
On my arrival here, I was introduced to the Sub Commissioner, upon whom I called, and was received, as the other
Citizens who had waited upon him, without farther notice, than that of the moment, while the Spanish Governor had
pointedly returned every visit which had been made to him ---
This alienation from his Countrymen would have been quite unimportant in point of etiquette, (altho in a Country
partaking of the Spanish), if the municipal appointments had not been continued contrary to the expectation of the
present incumbents, (the old residents,) and the natural feeling of the new, who have manifested extreme soreness, at
being subject, not only, to Spanish laws quiet undefined and practically unknown in this province, but to the
administration of those laws, by men not recognized as Citizens of the U. S. ---
With the ordinary feeling of the Americans an opportunity soon presented itself, a negro Boy claimed by a Citizen of
Georgia as a Runaway, sought protection under a Certificate of freedom signed by a man purporting to be the agent of
the Master & acknowledged before the Escribano, but this instrument was disavowed by the testimony in Court, of said
Agent (Palisier) The Case was argued before the Alcalde by several Lawyers of the U. S. say Georgia, on behalf of the
Citizen who contended that the Court was unconstitutional, and that the Alcalde had no jurisdiction, while maintained
that the evidence by the Escribano's Certificate was conclusive, the Cause was adjourned twice, at which violent
arguments were held and a farther adjournment until Monday 16th has been made, thus the wide door of party of party
distinction has been opened, and what name or Character it is to assume. I know not but shall use my utmost exertions
on the arrival of the Secretary to stop it in the bud---
I avail myself of this occasion to know whether on accepting my Commission of Marshall, I shall not consider myself as
the Guardian of such public property as is not specially entrusted to the Care of particular departments including
Wrecks and their proceeds. ---
I shall have the honor of addressing you again as anything important occurs.
I am with great respect Sir Your most Obedient & very faithful Servant.
James G. Forbes
P. S. 17th July --- As the Vessel to carry my letter has been detained, I break it open to add a postcript.
The convoy for the Havana of Spanish Troops sailed yesterday from the Bar whither Governor Coppinger went to hurry
them off. --- it was supposed there were many runaway negroes among them having free passes.
Agreeably to public notice an assembly took place yesterday of the American Citizens which was thinly attended, not
more than 30 when several arguments were adduced by a few professional men who appear to have been directed
more by motives of personal interest than those of general good and Consequently as variant in their purport and
tendency. The meeting broke up without passing any resolutions, thus making their Separation a source of
congratulation to the old residents who felt uneasy at the Course adopted of expressing public opinion in a manner to
The Indians have appeared in small number in town since the Change and are desirous of knowing whether any
provision has been made for them in the treaty. They are Seminoles and say they apprehend some disturbance with the
Cowetas. These last are said to have been at Tampa about 200 strong and taken from thence about 120 Negroes after
destroying four Spanish settlements there ---
This province like that of the West and most of the Southern Countries have experienced more rain & inundation than
has been ever recollected.
The Hon J. Q. Adams.
[Endorsed] James G. Forbes --- Ack 24 September Recd 29 July.
Like us on Facebook
|John Quincy Adams
Secretary of State