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FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS. JUNE 12, 1797.
I Have received information from the commissioner appointed, on the part of the United States, pursuant to the third article of our treaty with Spain, that the running and marking of the boundary line between the colonies of East and West Florida, and the territory of the United States, have been delayed by the officers of his Catholick Majesty ; and that they have declared their intention to maintain his jurisdiction, and to suspend the withdrawing of his troops from military posts they occupy, within the territory of the United States, until the two governments shall, by negotiation, have settled the meaning of the second article respecting the withdrawing of the troops, garrisons or settlements of either party in the territory of the other ; that is, whether, when the Spanish garrisons withdraw, they are to leave the works standing, or to demolish them ; and until, by an additional article to the treaty, the real property of the inhabitants shall be secured ; and likewise until the Spanish officers are sure the Indians will be pacifick. The two first questions, if to be determined by negotiation, might be made subjects of discussion for years, and as no limitation of time can be prescribed to the other, a certainty in the opinion of the Spanish officers that the Indians will be pacifick, it will be impossible to suffer it to remain an obstacle to the fulfilment of the treaty on the part of Spain.
To remove the first difficulty, I have determined to leave it to the discretion of the officers of his Catholick Majesty, when they withdraw his troops from the forts, within the territory of the United States, either to leave the works standing, or to demolish them; and to remove the second, I shall cause an assurance to he published, and to be particularly communicated to the minister of his Catholick Majesty, and to the governour of Lousiana, that the settlers or occupants of the lands in question, shall not be disturbed in their possessions by the troops of the United States; but on the contrary, that they shall be protected in all their lawful claims ; and to prevent or remove every doubt on this point, it merits the consideration of Congress, whether it will not be expedient, immediately, to pass a law, giving positive assurances to those inhabitants who by fair and regular grants, or by occupancy, have obtained legal titles or equitable claims to lands in that country, prior to the final ratification of the treaty between the United States and Spain, on the twenty-fifth of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six.
"f his country is rendered peculiarly valuable by its inhabitants, who are represented to amount to nearly four thousand, generally well affected and much attached to the United States, and zealous for the establishment of a government under their authority. • ,
I therefore recommend to your consideration the expediency of erecting a government in the district of the Natchez, similar to that established for the territory north west of the river Ohio, but with certain modifications, relative to titles or claims of land, whether of individuals or companies, or to claims of jurisdiction of any individual state. JOHN ADAMS.
Report of the Secretary of State, to the President of the United States, of the proceedings of Andrew Ellicott, Esquire, Com. missioner for running the boundary line beticeen the United States and East and West Florida. Department of State, June 10, 1797.
The Secretary of State respectfully reports to the President of the United States, the substance of the information received the 8th instant, from Andrew Ellicott, Esquire, the commissioner of the United States appointed to run the boundary line between their territory and his Catholick Majesty's colonies of East and West Florida.
Although Mr. Ellicott left Philadelphia, in September, 1796, (o proceed, by the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, to the Natchez, the place appointed by the treaty with Spain, at which the commissioners of the two governments were to meet, yet owing to the lowness of the waters of the Ohio, he did not reach its mouth until the 19th of December; two days after which, both the Ohio and Mississippi were almost frozen over. On the 21st of January, the ice began to give way, and their store-boat arriving on the 28th, they proceeded on the 31st for the Natchez. Oo the 21st of February Mr. Ellicott received a letter, No. 1, from his Catholick Majesty's governour, Gayoso de Lena OS, dated at the Natchez, the 17th of February, mentioning the information he had received of his approaching arrival, attended by a military guard and some woodsmen, and desiring that the troops might be left about the mouth of Bayon Pierre ; assigning for his reason, that thereby every unforeseen misunderstanding between the troops of the two powers would be prevented. With this request, from views of accommodation, Mr. Ellicott complied. Bayon Pierre is about sixty miles above the Natchez.
On the 24th of February, Mr. Ellicott reached the Natchez, and immediately by a letter, acquainted governour Gayoso, of his arrival. The governour on the same day returned an answer, No. 2. The day following they had an interview, and fixed on the 19th of March to proceed down the river to Clarkcsville, near which it was supposed the line would commence. The
Monday following, February 27th, Mr. Ellicott wrote a letter, No. 3, to the Baron de Carondelet, his Catholick Majesty's governour general of Louisiana, and the commissioner named by the court of Spain, for ascertaining the boundary line, to inform him of his arrival at the Natchez, as the commissioner of the United States. The Baron's answer, No.4, dated March 1st, was received the 9th, and on the same day governour Gayoso waited on Mr. Ellicott, and informed him that the Baron, in consequence of interesting concerns below, bad declined to attend,' and that the whole business had devolved on him. Mr. Ellicott expressed his satisfaction, because he expected that he, governour Gayoso, would immediately be ready to proceed. The governour answered—" No time shall be lost; but I fear I shall not be ready by the 19th ; and although the Baron declines acting on account of the business which demands his constant attention at Orleans, he is nevertheless desirous of having an interview with you ; and for that purpose has ordered a galley to be fitted up for your use and accommodation to New Orleans." —Mr. Ellicott considered that the third article of the treaty with Spain, required the commissioners for running the boundary line to meet at the Natchez; and that being then at his post, it was his duty to remain there, until the Spanish commissioner should be ready to proceed with him to the place where the line should commence; and therefore he declined the Baron's invitation.
On the 27th of February, Mr. Ellicott encamped at the upper end of the town of Natchez, about a quarter of a mile from the fort occupied by the Spanish troops ; and two days after hoisted the flag of the United States. Upon this he received a verbal message from governour Gayoso, by his aid, major Minor, desiring the flag might be taken down, which Mr. Ellicott declined doing. The request was not repeated. Here Mr. Ellicott be. gan his astronomical observations, and found the hill on which be was encamped, to be in latitude 31° 33'46" or about 39 miles North of the South boundary of the United States.
In this situation, Mr. Ellicott was told alarming stories about the unfavourable disposition of Indians, under an idea that the United States were meditating their destruction. The whole settlement was for some days swarming with them; and they frequently went about his camp with drawn knives. For his own safety he frequently issued provisions to them. Thus critically circumstanced, he on the 11th of March, wrote to governour Gayoso the letter, No. 5, to which he received the answer, No. 6. But in the mean time, Mr. Ellicott had sent an express to the commanding officer of his escort (consisting of only 25 men) which, in complaisance to the governour's first request, he had left sixty miles up the river, to come down directly to the Natchez. —And being determined not to countermand this order, he on the 13th, wrote to governour Gayoso the letter No. 7, proposing Bacon's landing, about a mile below his camp, for the station of his escort; but before this letter was sent, he had an interview with the governour, who undertook to prove the propriety and necessity of the whole party from the United States going down to Clark's place, and closed his reasoning by observing, that if the escort did land at the Natchez, he should consider it as an insult offered to the king his master. Mr. Ellicott then telling the governour, that he should send him immediately an answer in writing, observed, that the desire which was constantly manifested to draw him from that place (the Natchez) appeared very singular, as it was designated in the late treaty between his Catholick Majesty and the United States, as the place of meeting for the commissioners; and therefore, that he should reject every proposition that was intended to draw him from his present situation, until the commissioner and surveyor on behalf of the crown of Spain were ready to proceed to business. To which the governour replied, "sir, you either mistake my meaning, or 1 have expressed myself very badly. I do not want you to leave this place, but on the contrary, I am desirous lor you to take up your residence in my house; you will live there much more comfortably than in a tent.'' Mr. Ellicott said, that his tent was much more agreeable than a palace; for in his camp he enjoyed an independence characteristick of the nation he had the honour to represent. The next morning Mr. Ellicott sent his letter, No. 7, and the same day received the governour's answer, No. 8, expressing his entire satisfaction with Mr. Ellicott's sentiments, as uniformly agreeing with his own, in every thing which could combine the mutual interests of the two nations.
The evening following, (March 15th) Mr. Ellicott's escort arrived at the landing, and the next day went down to the place he had proposed for their station.
The officer of the escort having found in the settlement a number of deserters from the American army, took them up. This occasioned some verbal communications between governour Gayoso and Mr. Ellicott, the former desiring the deserters might be dismissed. Mr. Ellicott thereupon proposed this arrangement: That such deserters from the army of the United States as came into that country, and took the protection of the Spanish government, prior to the time fixed by the treaty for the evacuation of the posts, should, for the present, remain unmolested; but that such as had come to that country since that time should be liable to be taken and detained.
About the time Mr. Ellicott's escort arrived, the principal part of the artillery was taken out of the fort and carried to the landing, and every appearance made of a speedy evacuation; but on the 22d of March, great industry was used in carrying cannon back to the fort, which were immediately remounted. This gave great alarm to the inhabitants of the district, who
generally manifested a desire of being declared subjects of the United States, and at once to renounce the Spanish jurisdiction. In order to quiet the minds of the inhabitants, and to be able to give them some reasons for the governour's conduct, which now began to be considered as hostile to the United States, Mr. Ellicott, on the 23d of March, wrote the letter No. 9, which was followed by a note No. 10, to which be received the governour's answer, No 11. This answer, containing information that the important business of running the boundary line should soon be commenced, and an assurance that nothing could prevent the religious compliance with the treaty, Mr. Ellicott expressed his satisfaction in his letter to the governour, No. 12.
It being now reported, that the American troops would be down in a few days, the governour sent by his aid, to Mr. Ellicott, an open letter from the governour directed to captain Pope, ^ho it was said, commanded those troops, informing him, that for sundry reasons it would be proper, and conducive to the harmony of the two nations, for himself and the detachment under his command to remain at or near the place where the letter should meet him, until the posts should be evacuated; and as every preparation was making for that purpose, the delay would be but of a few days, when he would be happy to see him at the Natchez. This proposal to captain Pope, the governour, in his letter, No. 13, desired Mr. Ellicott to second. Upon reading this letter, Mr. Ellicott observed to major Minor, that it was impossible for him to join in the governour's request to captain Pope, as it was well known to him, (Mr. Ellicott) that instead of evacuating the posts, they were making them more defensible. However, Mr. Ellicott said, he would write a letter to the officer commanding the detachment, and requested major Minor (as he was to be the bearer of the governour's letter, to the Walnut Hills) to take charge of it; to which he had no objection. This letter is No. 14.
On the 28th of March, the governour issued the proclamation, No. 15, bearing the date of March 29th, and another, No. 16, bearing the same date, with the avowed object of quieting the minds of the inhabitants; but they produced a contrary effect. As soon as the governour discovered this, he requested two gentlemen of the settlement, to inform Mr. Ellicott that he, the governour, had received directions from the general in chief, the Baron de Carondelet, to have the artillery and military stores expeditiously removed from the forts, which were immediately to be given up to the troops of the United States upon their arrival. Great pains were taken to inculcate this report; but it did not remove suspicions. In order, therefore, to obtuiti a direct explanation, Mr. Ellicott, on the 31st of March, wrote to the governour the letter No. 1enclosing two paragraphs. No. lit, of an address he hud received from a number of respec