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The Southern States of America
Chapter II - Florida, 1819 - 1861


Purchase from Spain.

Spain ceded the Floridas to the United States on Feb. 22,1819; but the final ratification and proclamation of the treaty was delayed two years, and did not take place until Feb. 22, 1821. By the terms of this treaty, the high contracting parties relinquished all claims for damages against one another, and his Catholic Majesty ceded to the United States "all the territories which belong to him situate to the eastward of the Mississippi, known by the name of East and West Florida." (Article 2.)

In consideration of this cession, the United States agreed to assume and satisfy the private claims of its citizens against Spain " to an amount not exceeding $5,000,000 (Article 11), and to "cause satisfaction to be made for the injuries, if any, suffered by the Spanish officers and the individual Spanish inhabitants by the late operations of the American Army in Florida." (Article 9.) Under these provisions, the United States paid to its own citizens, in settlement of their claims against Spain, the full sum stipulated in the treaty, $5,000,000, and to Spanish subjects, in settlement of their claims against the United States, the sum of $1,024,741.44.

On March 3, 1821, Congress authorized the President to take possession of the territory and to appoint such an officer or officers as he should deem necessary for its proper government. There being no time to legislate adequately for the new possessions, they were left under the common and existing laws, with the exception of the Federal revenue laws and those governing the slave trade.

The First Territorial Governor (1821).

Andrew Jackson was immediately appointed governor, with powers practically unlimited, except in the matter of levying taxes and granting land. To him the Spanish governor, Don Jose Callava, surrendered his authority at Pensacola, the capital of the western territory, July 17, 1821. On July 10 preceding, Col. Robert Butler, as representative of General Jackson, had received the surrender of East Florida at St. Augustine from the Spanish governor Coppinger; and on March 25, 1822, Lieut. Matthew Galbraith Perry, of the United States navy, took possession of Key West.

Governor Jackson divided the new territory into two counties, Escambia on the west of the Suwannee River, and St. Johns on the east, and issued ordinances providing for the proper administration of justice, and regulated the sale of liquors and the practice of medicine. He did little else during the brief period of his governorship, save display some of the worst traits of his character in high-handed treatment of the retiring Spaniards and the civil authorities of the territory. He soon tired of his new position, and resigned in the autumn of 1821, after a little more than six months in office.

Congress now had an opportunity to take the necessary steps to give Florida proper laws and proper standing as a territory; and in the spring of 1822 a territorial government was organized with legislative and executive powers vested in a governor and legislative council, consisting of "thirteen of the most fit and discreet persons of the territory." All the officers of the territory, together with the territorial delegate in Congress, were appointed by the President.

Governor Duval (1822-1834).

William P. Duval, a native of Virginia, but having been long a resident of Kentucky, was appointed governor, and George Walton, of Georgia, was appointed secretary of the territory. John C. Bronaugh was the first president of the Legislative Council.

Governor Duval held office for twelve years, until 1834. He was a man of great ability, wit and courage, and a famous raconteur. His long administration is full of almost romantic interest, and many measures of great importance to the state, some of which are still subjects of discussion, were inaugurated during his tenure of office.

At the beginning of his administration the white population of the territory consisted of a few old but feeble settlements along the seacoast, the chief of which was St. Augustine on the east, with a population of about 2,000 souls, and Pensacola on the west, with a population (lately much reduced by an epidemic of yellow fever) of about 1,400. These two regions of white settlements were separated in fact by nearly 400 miles of Indian-infested wilderness, and in tradition and sentiment by the old division into two Floridas, with their separate capitals, governors and interests. One of the first problems, therefore, that confronted the new government was that of bringing together the two sections, and creating in them a sense of territorial unity and homogeneity. This could not be done until (1) a common centre of official life could be established; (2) means of safe and convenient communication could be opened between the east and west; and (3) the Indians, who held the middle districts, could be disposed of. To these tasks the authorities of the new territory addressed themselves with promptness and vigor.

The first Legislative Council was held at Pensa-cola in June, 1822, and the second at St. Augustine in June the following year. At this meeting commissioners were appointed "to select the most eligible and convenient situation for the seat of government." These commissioners made their explorations during October and November of that year, and selected, as the site of the permanent capital of the territory, a point about midway between St. Augustine and Pensacola, in what was known as Gadsden county. There was a group of Indian towns here, known generally as the Fowl Towns, one of which was called Cahallahatchee, or New Tallahassee, and another Old Tallahassee. The Indians occupying the district agreed to relinquish it; and the governor issued a proclamation on March 4,1824, calling upon the members of the Council to assemble at this site of the new capital for the next meeting. The Indian name Tallahassee was retained, and the first council meeting was held there in November, 1824.

In his message to this Council, the governor alludes with high approval to the appropriation made by Congress of $23,000 "for opening a high road from Pensacola to St. Augustine." This measure had been agitated in the territory from the beginning of Duval's administration. It had been authorized by Congress in the spring of 1824, and was rapidly pushed to completion.

In the beginning of Duval's administration, the Seminoles ranged freely from the extreme south to the Georgia line, and from the Atlantic to the Gulf. Their numbers at this time were variously estimated from 3,000 to 10,000. Sprague, whose estimate is most reliable, reckons them at 3,899 Indians, besides 800 negro slaves. Jackson had already notified some of the chiefs (1821) that their possessory rights were uncertain and that their liberties would be restricted, and Duval held that their concentration within rather narrow and prescribed limits "was indispensable to the settlement of Florida and to a free communication between the east and west of the territory."

It was pretty generally realized that both for their own interests and for that of the whites they must be disposed of, either by a complete removal from the territory, or by a concentration within a 'restricted area. The latter policy, which might even then have been recognized as an impossible one, prevailed for the time being; and consequently Governor Duval, James Gadsden and Bernardo Segui, acting as commissioners for the territory, secured an unwilling consent from the chiefs to be "concentrated and confined" within a region running northwest and southeast in the middle of the peninsula, about 120 miles long, and sixty miles in average width, and embracing some of the most desirable land in the territory. This reservation as at first assigned embraced the present site of the cities of Lakeland, Leesburg, Eustis, and others; and was afterward extended northward so as to embrace also the site of the present city of Ocala.

The treaty by which this reservation was determined is known as the treaty of Fort Moultrie, and was signed by the minor chiefs on Sept. 18, 1823. Six of the principal chiefs, however, refused to sign the treaty or to give up their homes, and then an "additional article" was added by which they received four special reservations on the Apalachicola and Chattahoochee rivers.

Trouble arose almost immediately. The whole treaty was an effort to compromise between the rights of the aborigines and the progress of white settlement and civilization. It would have been impossible, with the best of intentions on both sides, to have dealt with the Indians according to the provisions of such a treaty. Racial amalgamation (which was advocated in an interesting article in the Pensacola Gazette of the day) was the only possible solution of the situation if the Indian and his descendants were still to occupy the land; but this was impossible, while at the same time neither the red man nor the white man was of a character or temperament to give the treaty even temporary efficacy. The land greed of the white man could not consent to see the Indians in peaceful possession of this fair and fertile country, while the roving habits and disposition of the red man frequently carried him beyond the ill-defined boundaries of his reservation. Runaway slaves and roaming stock were a constant source of friction, which contraband whiskey and swindles, violently avenged, did not tend to allay.

At last, through the influence and work of Col. James Gadsden, of Florida, the Indians, brought to it by constant pressure and persuasion, consented to make a treaty for their removal to Arkansas. The treaty of Payne's Landing, which they were brought to sign after great difficulties on May 9, 1832, provided that the Indians should send a delegation to investigate the Trans-Mississippi country proposed for their occupancy, and "should they be satisfied with the character of that country" the nation would migrate thither. The delegates, after some three months of exploration, expressed themselves as satisfied, and consequently on March 28, 1833, entered into the additional treaty of Fort Gibson, Arkansas, which made effective the terms of removal tentatively agreed upon by the treaty of Payne's Landing. Apparently the Indians at home had not intended to vest their delegates with such full powers, but expected to receive their report in council before such final action should be taken. "When the delegates returned to Florida they found the sentiment of the people such that they deemed it wise to repudiate their act at Fort Gibson and refused to leave the country. Consequently Duval's administration, which had begun with promising negotiations with the Indians, closed after twelve years of bickering and friction with the Indian situation worse than at the beginning and with another crisis impending in that inevitable and universal war of white civilization and progress against colored rights and wants.

Despite this constant friction and uncertainty concerning the Indians, there was great activity during Duval's administration in the organization and improvement of the territory.

The settlement of the country proceeded rapidly. A writer in the Pensacola Gazette (May 13, 1826), basing his estimate on the number of votes cast in the preceeding election, calculated the population at 10,000 souls; but in 1828 Governor Duval said in his message to the Council: "Such has been the tide of immigration that it is believed that the census of 1830 will entitle us to admission as a state in the great National Union." The new settlers were mainly from Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee and Virginia, and the larger number settled in the middle section of the state, which was at this period the most populous and influential in the territory. Foreigners also entered into the constitution of the growing population — the Spaniards who remained after the cession, especially in the old settlements; settlers of Scotch descent, who occupied the Euchee regions, and Frenchmen who, under the influence of Lafayette, who had received a grant of a township near Tallahassee at the time of his visit to this country, came into that section to make their homes. [The most notable of these was Achille Murat, who stood for election to the Legislative Council in 1829, but withdrew before the election.]

While the governor's estimate of growth proved too sanguine, the census of 1830 showed a population of 34,720, of whom about one-third were slaves. There was still, however, a great lack of the sense of unity in the territory, and a strong sentiment existed for the annexation of West Florida to Alabama. As early as 1821-22 a memorial was presented to Congress by the citizens of West Florida calling for such an annexation. East Florida also favored it; and in 1838 a meeting of the citizens of St. Augustine demanded it. This sentiment appeared again at the time of admission of the territory into statehood, and was recognized in the bill for the admission of the state as first presented in Congress. It appeared again in the fifties, and did not finally die out until the close of reconstruction.

This early cosmopolitan society possessed more than the average degree of learning and refinement for a new state; and the vices that marred it were rather characteristic of the period than of the people. Gaming, the lottery and the duel had their place and flourished. The duel and its lewder counterpart, the brawl, seem to have been especially common, and a goodly number of the leading men of the territory took part "with credit" in these affairs of honor. In 1828 Judge Randall devoted the major part of his charge to the grand jury of Leon county to a discussion "of the frequent private rencontres and sanguinary conflicts which have repeatedly taken place in this community." Its virtues, however, were stronger than its vices. Hospitality and chivalry, courage and patriotism were there in liberal measure, at once to temper the crudeness of pioneer conditions and to afford a substantial basis for social and civic progress.

The subject of popular education, both higher and lower, began to receive attention almost immediately after the cession of the territory. The Legislative Council in 1824 memorialized Congress to assign one or more townships of land "in the middle district" of the territory for the establishment of a territorial university; and the following year Acting-Governor George Walton recommended to the Council the establishment of a university "and of such institutions connected with it as may effectively provide for popular education." In 1836 Congress authorized the sale of lands for the support of the University of Florida, of which the territorial delegate, Joseph M. White, the governor, Richard K. Call, and others were named as trustees. But nothing came of this movement, and there was no University of Florida until long after the War of Secession.

In 1823 Congress set aside two townships of land, one in East Florida, the other in West Florida, "for the use of a seminary of learning"; but the matter rested there for nearly thirty years. The territory had received from Congress its sixteenth section of public lands for the common schools, and in 1828 the Council undertook to lease these lands to begin the establishment of an educational fund for primary and secondary education; but there were few renters and nothing was accomplished.

An agricultural society was established in East Florida as early as 1824 and took an active and intelligent interest in the affairs of the territory for a few years. Another similar society is mentioned at Tallahassee in the following year. In 1831 the Florida educational society was organized at Tallahassee and a branch established at St. Augustine. An effort was also made at the same time for a free school at St. Augustine. There were also private schools at these places and in several other interior towns.

These various movements for the education of the people created at the time considerable interest and enthusiasm; but conditions in the territory were too unsettled and the population was too sparse for any concerted and successful educational movement; and the real history of education in Florida does not begin until many years after Governor Duval's administration.

The financial affairs of the territory during this period were in most unsatisfactory shape. The citizens were not compelled to support the territorial government, but expenses had to be derived from Federal sources, and the small receipts from customs at Pensacola and Key West were entirely inadequate for that purpose. As early as 1824 the Council passed bills incorporating the banks of Pensacola and St. Augustine. They proposed to establish what would be perpetual corporations, with no state supervision or control, and with no restrictions as to the amount the directors might lend themselves, and no guarantee of specie payments. These bills the governor vetoed, much to the disgust of a strong minority of his Council. Four years later, over the governor's veto, the Council authorized the incorporation of the Bank of Florida, at Tallahassee, with a capital of $500,000 and a charter to run fourteen years. The following year, nothing having been accomplished meanwhile, the charter was amended so as to increase the capital to $600,000 and extended to 1850, but this bank was the subject of much complaint, and the charter was revoked in 1844. Numerous other banks were incorporated about this time — the Bank of West Florida in 1829, that of St. Augustine in 1831, that of Pensacola in 1832, that of Jacksonville in 1835, and others.

The young territory also fell into the same financial pit into which fell Alabama and Mississippi. In 1833 the Council incorporated the famous Union Bank of Tallahassee, whose capital stock of $1,000,-000 was to be sold to the holders of productive real property or slaves in the territory on mortgages on their property. On the security of these mortgages the territory issued $1,000,000 in bonds to provide cash capital for the enterprise. These bonds, pledging the credit of the territory, were known as "faith bonds" and played an interesting part in the subsequent political history of Florida. One-half of the bank's proceeds, after setting aside a sum equal to the capital stock, was to go to the stockholders, the other half to the territory. Of this latter portion, one-half should be devoted to educational purposes — a device not then new and not now unknown. This bank suspended specie payments in the panic of 1837, when the territory issued $2,000,000 of additional bonds to tide it over. Three years later it defaulted on its bond interest and proceeded slowly to wind up its affairs. This was not the only venture of the kind to which the territory lent its name. It endorsed bonds for $500,000 for the bank of Pensacola in 1835, and guaranteed the notes of the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company about the same time. Some of these notes and bonds were provided for by the territory; but those outstanding were not recognized after the territory became a state.

Governor John B. Eaton (1834-1835).

Duval's administration closed before Congress ratified the treaty of Payne's Landing with the Indians. His successor in office was John B. Eaton, a North Carolinian, and a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson, who made him successively secretary of war, governor of Florida and minister to Spain. In his brief tenure of office the treaty of Payne's Landing and the additional treaty of Fort Gibson were signed (April 9, 1834), though the governor himself had grave doubts as to the legality of the ratification and wrote to the secretary of war, saying: "Avoid the exercise of force as long as possible and let it be the only last sad alternative; and then, let not by any means the militia be appealed to — they will breed mischief." But his discreet and pacific advice was not followed. Congress proposed to effect the fulfillment of the treaty by force if necessary; and General Thompson was sent as Indian agent, and General Clinch was put in command of the military, to see that the treaty was carried out.

Governor Call (1835-39, 1841-44); Florida a State.

At this juncture Governor Eaton was succeeded by Richard Keith Call, a native of Virginia, who had served with great distinction in all of Jackson's Indian campaigns, had commanded the territorial militia, and was one of the most able and distinguished men in the early history of the territory and the state. Governor Call fell heir to the Indian difficulties, and his two administrations were largely taken up with the Indian war which followed.

The effort of Congress to enforce the treaty and remove the Indians brought the trouble to an issue. The chiefs had repudiated their agreement to emigrate, with the exception of Charley Emathla, who was soon murdered for his attitude. Further negotiations and more friction followed their refusal. The young chief Osceola, or Powell, came to the front and dominated the councils of his people. Murder, rapine and arson closed the door to any possible pacific settlement, and the inevitable Indian war began.

On Dec. 28, 1835, four days before the day set for the final removal of the Indians, while the whites were eagerly waiting for the first chance to rush into and occupy their country, General Thompson, the agent, and Lieut. Constantine Smith were killed from ambush at Fort King, and the sutler and his companions were murdered and the store burned. The same day two companies of troops under Major F. L. Dade were waylaid by the Indians on the road to Fort King in what is now Sumter county, not far from Sumterville, and out of a total of 110 officers and men only three escaped.

During the following year the war was continued under Generals Clinch, Scott, Call and Jesup. The militia was called out, and Governor Call himself took the field and served with great distinction throughout the year, especially at the battle of Wahoo Swamp in November.

Early in the next year (March 6,1837) the Indians capitulated to General Jesup, agreeing to withdraw immediately south of the Hillsborough River, and to emigrate in full force, as soon as arrangements could be made, to the territories west of the Mississippi River. Hostages were given by them, and the whites believed that the war was over. Troops were discharged, and old settlers returned to ruined homes and new settlers sought locations. Large numbers of Indian,s gathered at a camp near Fort Brooke (near Tampa) for embarkation and drew rations and clothing from the government. Everything seemed propitious for their removal, when suddenly, under the influence of Osceola, every Indian left camp and disappeared.

Hostilities were immediately resumed. Osceola was captured by treachery in October, 1837, and was sent with seventy-two others to Fort Moultrie, S. C, where he died. General Jesup began his winter campaign in October (the normal season of campaign was reversed in this war, by reason of the Florida climate), and the battle of Okechobee was fought on Christmas Day of that year (1837), Col. Zachary Taylor commanding. In this action, the last important pitched battle and the most sanguinary of the war, the whites lost twenty-seven officers and men killed and 111 wounded. At the close of the campaign General Jesup reported 2,400 Indians captured, surrendered and killed, including 700 warriors. In May, 1837, 1,229 were sent to Arkansas and 330 the following month. The war continued during the next two years; but in May, 1839, Gen. Alexander Macomb was sent to Florida "to make an arrangement with the Seminoles." He had a talk with the chiefs, and assigned them to a temporary location in the far southern part of the peninsula in which they agreed to remain "until further arrangements are made." Clothing and supplies, including a liberal amount of liquor, were issued to the Indians, and Macomb announced on May 18 that "he had that day terminated the war with the Seminole Indians."

This pompous peace lasted two months, when hostilities were renewed. Loud demands for more drastic measures followed. Governor Call had been removed from office and Gov. Robert Raymond Reid, who was appointed in his stead and held office from 1839 to 1841, said in his message to the Territorial Council in December, 1839: "We must fight fire with fire; the white man must, in a great measure, adopt the mode of warfare pursued by the Indian. * * * It is high time that sickly sentimentality should cease. 'Lo, the poor red man' is the exclamation of the fanatic pseudo-philanthropist; 'Lo, the poor white man' is the ejaculation which all will utter who have witnessed the inhuman butchery of women and children and the massacres which have drenched the territory in blood." The Council, therefore, sent to Cuba for bloodhounds with which to track the Indians to their hiding-places in swamps and hammocks. This expedient was a failure, though it created a great stir among humanitarians away from the seat of conflict.

Throughout the year 1840 and the early months of 1841 the Indians roamed widely, and massacres occurred in various sections of the territory. In the spring of 1841 (May 31), Col. W. J. Worth was put in command of the troops in the field. He adopted the Napoleonic policy of ignoring the seasons, and pursued the Indians remorselessly summer and winter; and by seizing and holding all that he came in contact with he soon brought them to dire straits. One by one the chiefs gave up the fight, until the total number left in the territory was a mere handful. These were estimated by Colonel Worth at 301; and, in the spring of 1842, he proposed to leave them at liberty in the extreme southern portion of the territory so long as they gave no cause for further action. This suggestion, which had been put forward by General Jesup, but then repudiated, was finally accepted by the government, and on Aug. 14, 1842, Worth was able to announce, this time more modestly and truthfully than a former similar announcement, "that hostilities with the Indians within this territory have ceased." At the same time he assigned those who remained a location south of the Pease River.

Thus ended the longest and most stubbornly con-tested of all of the Indian wars. It had lasted seven years, and had kept in the field an average of nearly 5,000 troops per year, running as high as 8,800 in 1837. It had enlisted over 20,000 volunteers, drawn from Florida and other Southern states, and even as far north as Pennsylvania and New York. It had cost the lives of 1,500 regulars, to say nothing of many volunteers and settlers massacred throughout the territory, and had entailed the expenditure of $20,000,000.

Governor Call, who had been removed from office in 1839 by Van Buren, had been reappointed by President Harrison, and his administration, in addition to its war history, is conspicuous for the progress of the territory towards statehood.

In 1837, upon the recommendation of Governor Call, the Council decided to call for a vote of the people on the question of a constitution looking to the admission of Florida as a state. The voters favored the movement, and the first constitutional convention in Florida was held at St. Joseph in December, 1838. There were fifty-five members of the convention, and Judge Robert Raymond Reid was elected its president. This convention drafted a constitution, saying in the preamble that "the people of Florida formed themselves into a free and independent state by the name of the State of Florida," and claiming admission into the Union on that footing. [Among the provisions of this constitution, in addition to the usual distribution of authority among the various branches of the government, it was specified that no bank officer should be elected governor or sit in the legislature, and that no minister of the Gospel should he either governor or a member of the legislative body.] The acts of the convention were then referred to the people, and the constitution was adopted by a small majority.

But the matter was by no means settled, even in so far as the territory itself was concerned. The freeze of 1835, followed by many and widespread storms in 1841 and 1842, combined with the financial trouble of 1837 and the confusion and terror of the Indian War, made many citizens oppose the movement on the ground that the state was not able to conduct its affairs without Federal patronage and support.

Consequently the Council of 1843 reversed the action of the Council of 1838 in so far as to urge the delegate in Congress to work against the admission of the territory. The question of division into East and West Florida again came to the front, as has already been shown, and found support in the large and populous middle section. Despite opposition from the various elements at home, the territory was admitted to the Union as one state on Feb. 13, 1845; not because it was prepared for statehood (the population in 1840 was 54,477, including slaves), but because Iowa wanted admission as a free state, and the balance of power demanded the simultaneous admission of one and no more than one slave state at the same time. Iowa was unwilling to stay out, and Florida had to come in; and as Iowa had to come in as one state, Florida had to come in as one state also.

Upon the admission of the state, the St. Joseph constitution came into effect and continued in operation until the War of Secession.

Governor John Branch (1844-1845).

John Branch, a native of North Carolina, and a former governor of that state, was the last governor of the territory, and held office from 1844 to 1845.

Governor William D. Mosely (1845-1849).

On May 16, 1845, William D. Mosely, another North Carolinian, was elected the first governor of the state, after a vigorous campaign against former Governor Call. Mosely held office for four years, and the affairs of the new state proceeded quietly during his administration. He was a strong and outspoken champion of the Southern interpretation of the constitution, and was in the habit of speaking of the Union as a "confederacy" of supreme and separate states. During his administration the capitol was completed, and the sale of public lands progressed rapidly. Governor Mosely was also a strong friend of education, and urged upon the legislature the establishment of a system of common schools "that would bring an institution to every man's door"; but the result of his active interest along this line became more apparent in the administration of his successor.

Governor Thomas Brown (1849-1853).

Governor Mosely was succeeded by Thomas Brown, a native of Virginia, who was elected governor by the Whigs in 1849 and held office until 1853. Governor Brown was an active and energetic man, to whom the progress, "if it may be called progress," of the state seemed very slow. He was a staunch and active friend of public education and an advocate of such fair and just dealing with capital and its rights as would have earned for him to-day the mob-judgment of a "corporation governor."

On the admission of Florida state, Congress had added two additional districts of land to those set apart under Governor Duval for seminaries of learning, and had specified the location of the seminaries east and west of the Suwannee River respectively. The state legislature, in accordance with these acts, passed a bill in 1851 establishing the seminaries, and specified that they should give instruction to both sexes "in the art of teaching all the various branches that pertain to a good common school education, and * * * in the mechanic arts, in husbandry and agricultural chemistry, etc."

These two seminaries were known as the seminary east and the seminary west of the Suwannee River; or, popularly, as the East and West Florida Seminaries. The East Florida Seminary was located at Ocala in 1852, and opened for the students the following year. In 1866 it was removed to Gainesville. The West Florida Seminary was located at Tallahassee in 1856. These two were the only higher institutions of learning established in Florida prior to the war; and they could be called "higher" at that time only in comparison with the very feebleness and fruitlessness of the general educational movement in the state.

In 1839 the legislature had provided for township school trustees; and in 1844 the townships were incorporated for school purposes, and the control of the sixteenth sections came into the hands of the local trustees. In 1849 a common school fund was created which was to include, besides the regular proceeds of school lands, 5 per cent, of the net proceeds of the sales of other public lands granted by Congress "and the proceeds of escheated estates and property found on the coast"; and the same act established the first crude system of common schools for the state. Local taxation for the support of schools was authorized the following year, but met with a cold reception. The people did not care to tax themselves for education, and what little was paid was regarded as a charity for the education of the poorer classes.

In 1840 there were fifty-one common schools and eighteen seminaries and academies in the territory, with an enrollment of 1,657 pupils out of a white population of about 30,000. By 1850 the number of schools had increased to seventy-nine (sixty-nine common schools), and the number of pupils to 3,129 — this out of a total white population of 47,000. In 1860 there were 6,500 pupils in the schools of the state, of whom only 2,000 were enrolled in the ninety-seven public schools, while 4,500 were enrolled in the 138 private academies. At this time the white population of the state numbered 77,000 people. Thus the beginning of public education was involved in great difficulties, and its progress was extremely slow.

From 1855 to 1857 more Indian difficulties occurred. Indeed, but for the weakness of the Indians and the great increase in white population and strength, there would have been a repetition of the Seven Years' War. As it was, great excitement was created, especially in the southern and middle sections of the state. Regulars and volunteers were called into the field, $30,000 was appropriated for the campaign, and rewards running as high as $500 each were offered for the capture of the Indians. Several skirmishes took place in 1856-57, in which the Florida volunteers played a brave and conspicuous part and several gallant and promising young officers were killed. In 1857 a delegation of Semi-noles was brought from the west to persuade their former associates and fellow tribesmen to cease hostilities and abandon the country. Their mission was partially successful, and Billy Bowlegs, a survivor of the Seven Years' War and the moving spirit in later disturbances, with about 160 others was removed to the west. After their removal, in 1857, hostilities again ceased, and have never been renewed, though a remnant of the Seminoles, estimated in 1880 at 205, and at the present time at about 350, still remains in the Everglades.

The discussion of slavery and of the nature of the Union was carried on in Florida with warmth and vigor as in the other Southern states at this time. The St. Joseph constitution, still in force, contained two clauses which indicated the attitude of the leaders in Florida from territorial days towards the negro. They were as follows: "The General Assembly shall have power to pass laws to prevent negroes, mulattoes and other persons of color from emigrating to this state, and from being aboard any vessel in any of the ports of Florida"; and, "The General Assembly shall have no power to pass any law for the emancipation of slaves." By the latter of these provisions it will be seen that slavery was imbedded in the very constitution of Florida, and nothing short of a constitutional amendment, always difficult to pass, could destroy its hold. And the sentiment expressed by Governor Perry, in his message of 1859, that slavery was "that institution which lies at the basis of Southern prosperity, power, civilization and happiness," generally prevailed among the leaders of the day. Consequently Florida could not fail to view with alarm both the growth of abolition sentiment and the increasing influence of non-slavery or anti-slavery forces in Congress by the admission of additional free states into the Union. As has been previously shown, Florida had served as a balance at the time of the admission of Iowa, and there had been a strong sentiment in favor of dividing Florida so that it might later be admitted as two slave states; but Florida's effectiveness as a balance was consumed at the time of her joint admission with free Iowa, so that there was no other device left to the state but one of clamor and legislative opposition to the admission of other free states. The legislature of 1849, protesting against proposed anti-slavery legislation in the District of Columbia, and in regard to the status of California, New Mexico and Arizona, declared that Florida would not "recognize as binding any enactment of the Federal government which had for its object the prohibition of slavery south of the line of the Missouri Compromise," and asserted Florida's readiness to take any necessary steps to defend her rights. In his message to the legislature in 1850 Governor Brown took a very serious view of the situation, and requested authority to summon the Southern states into convention should the fugitive slave law be repealed by Congress. But there was strong opposition to any hasty or hysterical action both among the people at home and in the legislature, and the more radical leaders were not able to precipitate the crisis at this time.

Governor Joseph E. Broome (1853-1857).

In 1852 Joseph E. Broome, a native of South Carolina, was elected governor on the Democratic ticket with a majority of only 300 over the opposing Whig candidate. He held office from 1853 to 1857, and the period of his administration is characterized chiefly by the work of internal improvement in the state.

On the admission of Florida into the Union, the state bad received 500,000 acres of public lands for the purpose of internal improvement, under the act of Congress of 1841. Nine years after (1850), Congress assigned to the state for a like purpose its "swamp and overflowed lands," which later amounted to nearly 20,000,000 acres. The first important act looking to a wide and progressive employment of these resources was passed in 1855. This act, known as the "Internal Improvement Act," vested these public lands in a board of trustees, and specified that a railroad from Jacksonville to Pensacola, with suitable branches, and another from Amelia Island (Fernandina) to Tampa, with a branch to Cedar Keys, together with a canal to connect the St. Johns and Indian rivers, should be considered as "proper objects of improvement." These railroads were therefore immediately projected, and the trustees of the internal improvement fund undertook to guarantee interest on their bonds amounting to $3,500,000. The following year Congress set aside for these railroads "every alternate section of land for six sections in width."

These liberal provisions of the internal improvement board and Congress led to great activity in railroad work, and numerous roads, in addition to the ones specified above, were incorporated.

Though progress in this direction was checked by the war and the disturbances immediately preceding it, the road from Fernandina to Cedar Keys, from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, from Pensacola to the Alabama line, and two other short roads were completed, a total of 416 miles, by the beginning of the war — an unusually creditable record, at least in so far as mileage is concerned, considering the population and wealth of the state.

The finances of the state were in bad shape. During the first decade of state history a deficit of $90,000 had accumulated, the revenue having averaged only about $50,000 per year. In 1856 a bond issue of $500,000, the only state issue before the war, was authorized in an effort to place the finances upon a satisfactory footing. Despite this fact, the deficit of the state, exclusive of the outstanding bonds, was $97,000 at the beginning of the war. There was, however, no repetition of such legislation as gave birth to the Union Bank and other wildcat enterprises of an earlier day. Indeed, the Constitution of 1839 had laid considerable restrictions upon the privilege of incorporation. No papers of incorporation could be issued without the consent of two-thirds of both houses of the legislature and three months prior publication of intention to incorporate. In the case of banks, the constitution required that there should be twenty incorporators, the majority residents of the state, and that the life of the charter should be twenty years; and it prohibited any further pledge of the credit of the state, such as had issued in the "faith bonds" of the Union Bank. As a consequence of these restrictions there was no Florida bank in operation in the state for the first ten years of state life, and there were only three Florida banks — the Bank of the State of Florida, at Tallahassee, the Bank of Fernandina and a bank in Jacksonville — in the state in 1860, though the banks of other states had branches in Florida and their notes had free circulation in the state.

Governor Broome's administration was not free from the agitation and excitement precedent to the War of Secession; but the governor himself seemed to entertain the interesting notion that the balance of power in the Union might be maintained by a process of annexation of territory further south, when Cuba and other West Indian Islands, with the states of Mexico and Central and South America, may be added to this confederacy, and these vast and as yet undeveloped countries be socially, commercially and politically identified with the institutions of the South."

Governor Madison S. Perry (1857-1861).

In the following administration, however, war filled the thought of the state. Madison S. Perry, a native of South Carolina, was elected governor by the Democrats in 1856, though his majority over his opponent was less than 400 out of 10,400 votes. He held office from 1857 to 1861 and was largely instrumental in hastening the secession of the state. In 1859 he said, in his message, "there are good grounds for the hope that most of the Southern states will not consent to see the general government pass into hands avowedly hostile to the South"; and in his message to the legislature of 1860 he said, "the crisis, long expected by men of observation and reflection, has at last come. The proper action is secession from our faithless, perjured confederates."

It is not to be supposed that these sentiments were the unanimous sentiments of the people of Florida at that time. As in many other states of the South, there was a very large element of the population, including many men of great ability and prominence, who either opposed the secession movement outright or held that the time had not yet come for any such action. In Florida the radical candidate for governor, Perry, had been elected in 1856 by an extremely small majority, and in 1860 the Democratic majority was only 1,700 out of 12,000 votes. But the radical element among the people was noisy, active and determined, and active opposition to the attempted dissolution of the Union was gradually reduced to an ineffective protest, and finally silenced in the noise of the war.

The legislature of 1860 assembled on November 26 and on the 28th called for a convention of the people to consider the situation. Delegates were elected the following month, and the convention met at the capital on Jan. 3, 1861. Even now an effort was made to delay rash and radical action. When the resolution was introduced into the convention declaring that it was necessary to secede, an effort was made to modify the resolution by adding the words "at a proper time without harmful delay." Out of sixty-nine votes cast, twenty-four were for this restrictive clause; and so on Jan. 10, 1861, with a minority of seven still protesting, the convention adopted the following ordinance:

"We, the people of the state of Florida in convention assembled, do solemnly ordain, publish, and declare, That the state of Florida hereby Withdraws herself from the Confederacy of States existing under the name of the United States of America, and from the existing government of the said states; and that all political connection between her and the government of said states ought to be and the same is hereby annulled, and said union of states dissolved; and the state of Florida is hereby declared a sovereign and independent nation; and that all ordinances heretofore adopted, in so far as they create or recognize said union, are rescinded; and all laws or parts of laws in force in this state in so far as they recognize or assent to said union, be and the same are hereby repealed."

And Florida withdrew from the Union; and in April ratified the constitution of the Confederate States of America.

Biblioqraphv. — General. Fairbanks, Geo. R.: History of Florida, to 1842 (1871); Rerick, R. H.: Memoirs of Florida (2 vols., South. Hist. Ass'n, Atlanta, Ga., 1902); to which the writer of this article is under special obligations.
Indians. — Sprague, John T.: The Florida War (1848) (the best; used freely); Report of the Bureau of Ethnology, 1885 (pt. 2; for an excellent discussion of Spanish, French, English, American and Colonial policy toward the Indians; and map No. 14 of reservations in Florida).
Education. — Bush, G. G.: History of Education in Florida (Gov. Print, 1889); Biennial Report of State Superintendent W. N. Sheats, 1892-4.

Andrew Sledd,
President of the University of the State of Florida.


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