Tuesday, August 28, 2012

from http://www.yamaguchy.com/library/myers/supreme/supreme_08.html
The firm of Panton, Leslie and Company had pretended claims for $86,000 against the Seminole Indians, and other claims for a large amount against the Choctaws and Chickasaws.  After the year 1804 the firm became John Forbes and Company.  The Spanish Governor granted to this firm the exclusive privileges of importing goods free of duty, and under certain specified conditions, of trading with the Indians ;  the court records speak of the great influence the firm had with the Spanish Governor.  The firm presented two claims against the Indian tribes, one for debt, the other for alleged depredations on their stores.  The result was that John Forbes and Company turned up with two deeds, conveying a total of 1,200,000 acres, near Tallahassee.  These deeds, they claimed, were given by the Seminole and Lower Creek Indians, in two cessions, and were (so they alleged) confirmed by the Spanish Governor, in 1806.89
This pretended transaction, it may be said, was one of the causes of the Seminole uprising, causing much loss of life.  No history has yet mentioned the underlying causes of the Seminole War, which, in reality, sprang from such enormities as this.

No Original Deed Produced.

John Forbes and Company sold their claim to the 1,200,000 acres to various American capitalists.  The Land Office long refused to recognize the claim, or to have anything to do with it.  But after years of lobbying, the promoters succeeded, in 1828, in getting an act passed by Congress authorizing the claimants to institute proceedings in the courts to try the validity of their title.
As in the Arredondo case, the claimants in this case could not produce original papers ;  they had nothing more than copies of copies, alleged to have been certified by Spanish officials.  The Government officials ransacked the Spanish archives, but not a single trace of any original document could be discovered.
The Superior Court, for middle Florida, indignantly rejected the claim as fraudulent, pointing out (among other things) that the water mark of the paper purporting to be that used by the Spanish Governor was extremely suspicious.  That the judge would ever detect this, had not been anticipated by the claimants.
The claimants took the case to the Supreme Court of the United States.  There, Daniel Webster was one of their attorneys.  The Government contended that not the Indians, but the Spanish Government, should have been held to account for indemnity for losses sustained by the firm while trading under a special and exclusive license from Spain ;  that the Government had no knowledge of the existence of the firm, or its claims on Spain, or the title on which the suit was founded, and that the deeds were executed by Indians nearly all of whom were residing in the territorial limits of the United States.
The Government further set forth that the cessions were not the genuine acts of the Seminole nation ;  that no such firm as Panton, Leslie and Company existed at the time of the execution of the deeds — both Panton and Leslie were then dead — and that the Spanish Governor Folch had no power to ratify the cessions, inasmuch as most of the cession was in another province of Florida, and entirely out of his jurisdiction.  The genuineness of the deed purporting to convey the grant was also sharply questioned.

The Supreme Court Validates the Claim.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court of the United States, in January, 1833, reversed the lower court, and validated the whole transaction.
Of the long-continued and widespread defrauding of the Indian tribes, the Supreme Court well knew ;  scandals were continually coming into the public records and prints.
Only a few years before, in 1825, a great scandal had been caused by the bribery of Creek chiefs, in Georgia, by Government agents to influence them to cede several million acres of their domain in Alabama, and all of their land in Georgia.90  But assuming that the claims of Panton, Leslie and Company against the Indians were legitimate, and accepting the assertion that the Indians had actually bartered away 1,200,000 acres of their possessions, the Supreme Court held that the cessions were valid, having been made at Indian treaties, in the presence of Spanish officers, and with their full approbation.
But what of the paper with the peculiar water mark ?  Justice Baldwin, who wrote the court’s opinion, skipped around that ticklish point by dismissing it as “ a subject into which we do not feel at liberty to inquire.”  Justice Baldwin admitted that the court below had acted correctly in refusing to grant the claimants a commission to take testimony to explain and account for the suspicious water mark, or to permit the reading of ex parte evidence offered to explain it.  This refusal, Justice Baldwin acknowledged, was reasonable, “because in an appellate court no new evidence could be taken or received without violating the best-established rules of evidence and law.”  Justice Baldwin went on to say that the Supreme Court would not say what course it would have taken had the title depended upon the date of the paper denounced by the court below ;  “as the case is,” he concluded, “it is only one of numerous undisputed documents tending to establish the grant, the validity of which is but little, if it could be in any degree, affected by the date of the permission.”91
In other words, if the document were forged, that was a matter of little consequence.  Ordinary reason would judge that if claimants produced one document of a suspicious character, that one fact of itself would discredit all of the other evidence that they produced, however seemingly strong.  If forgery was resorted to in the case of one document, was it not likely that perjured and suborned evidence would also be presented ?  The one implied the other.  In common life, if a man be detected telling a serious lie, that conduct tends to have a disqualifying effect upon all of his other statements and actions.
But the Supreme Court, with a delicious innocence, accepted all of the evidence as valid.  In this case it did not even have a formally clear record upon which to base its judgment, for the court below had expressly thrown out a crucial document as presumably forged.  And these were the grounds upon which the Supreme Court gave a huge tract of 1,200,000 acres to a handful of absentee capitalists and politicians whose only idea was to dispose of it for their personal profit.

Judge Peck’s Severe Criticism.

For its decisions in the Missouri and Florida land cases, the Supreme Court was severely criticised by both Judge Peck and Assistant Attorney-General Call.  Both of their elaborate refutations were published by the Government at length, nor was any attempt made by the Supreme Court to hale them up for contempt.
In his exhaustive review, of December 13, 1835, Judge Peck cited the old Spanish and French land laws, and demonstrated that previous to the year 1796 no concession had been made which exceeded a league square, and that not a single concession had been made during that period, except upon the condition of settlement, with a direct view to cultivation or the raising of cattle.  Judge Peck then proceeded to prove, point by point, how the alleged large concessions, and all of those claimed in reward for services or not made with a direct view to settlement and occupation, were antedated.
“ I think it probable,” concluded Judge Peck, in describing the specific particulars of the extensive system of forgery, “ that at the commencement of this work, the first experiments were on a small scale ;  but that, as the work progressed, the minds of those concerned were enlarged, and their labors were conducted upon a scale corresponding to that enlargement of their views.  I do not doubt that the instances are frequent where the same individual has a small, and a large, concession equally fraudulent, sometimes from the reason above supposed, and sometimes probably because he wished to have two tickets in the lottery, and draw a smaller if he should not a larger prize.”92
Again writing from St. Louis on February 10, 1836, to Ethan A. Brown, Commissioner of the General Land Office, Judge Peck submitted another exhaustive memorandum of facts showing the precise circumstances under which the fraudulent land claims had been forged, and proving why it was impossible that they could have been genuinely granted.
“ Aware,” he wrote in part, “of the great authority which must justly be allowed to the opinions of the highest tribunal of the nation, and the feeble resistance which the voice of a single individual opposes to them, I could not hope to sustain an opposing opinion, however strong my conviction of its soundness, upon any proofs short of those which should be clearand convincing.
“ In sustaining my opinions with such proof, my observations have been protracted to a length which I had not foreseen ;  they, however, will be found, as long as they may appear, to offer to him who is desirous to understand the questions which belong to an investigation of the Spanish land claims, the shortest road by which he shall be enabled to arrive at the truth.”  In his preliminary observations Judge Peck wrote, “ I shall offer no apology for controverting the opinions of the Supreme Court, in an inquiry after truth, when in the prosecution of inquiry, that controversy becomes necessary.”93
A singularly suspicious fact of which Judge Peck informed the Commissioner of the General Land Office, was that although his (Judge Peck’s) views and opinions and proofs had been forwarded in print, yet the Attorney-General of the United States had not, it appeared, even offered them to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Did this imply collusion with the land forgers on the part of the Attorney-General ?  Had certain facts been withheld from the Supreme Court ?  This we do not know ;  but, as we shall see, it was by no means uncommon for Attorneys-General to collude with land claimants for whom, when in Congress or in the private practice of law, they had been attorneys.

General Call Controverts the Supreme Court.

Assistant-Attorney-General Call, who had investigated and defended the Florida land cases for the Government, wrote fully as searching and scathing a criticism of the Supreme Court.  In reply to a resolution passed February 23, 1835, by the House of Representatives, directing a report on the Florida land claims, General Call prepared an elaborate review which he sent to Levi Woodbury, Secretary of the Treasury.  After stating that cases involving nearly a million and a half acres of land in Florida (irrespective of the huge claims already validated by the Supreme Court), had been largely dependent upon the decision in the Mitchell case, General Call then specifically proved how the grants had been either antedated or unlawfully given.  He went on :
“. . . When we consider the time at which this change occurred — when we consider that Don Onis was commissioned to negotiate with this Government for the cession of Florida, as early as the year 1816, it is a fair presumption, in the absence of any law to sustain these grants, that they were made in anticipation of the transfer of the country, and designed as a fraud on the Government of the United States.
“ This, however, in the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, seems to constitute no objection to the validity of these grants.  In the case of Clark, 8 Peters, we find the following remark :  ‘ It is stated that the practice of making large concessions commenced with the intention of ceding the Floridas, and these grants have been treated as frauds on the United States.’  ‘ The increased motives for making them have been stated in argument, and their influence cannot be denied.  But (say the court) admitting the charge to be well founded — admitting the Spanish government was more liberal in its cessions, than before — ought this circumstance to affect bona fide titles to which the United States made no objection ? ’
“ Now, with the most profound respect for the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, I cannot admit that the proposition is correctly stated, or that the deduction is properly drawn from the premises.
“ There is a vast difference, I conceive, between the liberality of the ‘Spanish Government,’ and the unlawful and unauthorized acts of a Spanish governor, who thinks proper to transcend his power in making grants, because he perceives that the country is about to be transferred to a foreign government.  The government of Spain, in the person of the King, possessing sovereign and unbounded power over the royal domain, had an undeniable right, in some instances, to exercise liberality in its disposal.  While the governor of a province, acting under fixed and limited rules prescribed by law, could not go beyond the law for the purpose of being liberal, and if he did, all such grants made by him must be absolutely null and void.”94

The Peculiar Absence of Original Deeds.

Elsewhere, in the logical course of the scrutiny, General Call wrote :
“ You will perceive that, in every case contained in this abstract, where the original title papers are not produced, the claim is presented under a concession, and not a perfect grant ;  and that in every case the copy of the concession offered in evidence is certified by the same person, Thomas de Aguilar.
“ Alvarez states that all the original concessions made by the governors were deposited in the office of the secretary, whose duty it was at the time of making the concession to furnish a certified copy of it for the grantee.  That this office was held from 1809 until 1821 by Thomas de Aguilar.  That the original royal or real titles were signed by the governor, and deposited in the office of the escribano or notary of government, who, in like manner, furnished the grantee with a certified copy of his grant.
“ Now, it is worthy of remark that not a single instance has occurred in the investigation of the land claims of the country where a claimant has presented a copy of the grant certified by the escribano, in which the original grant was not found on examination in the public archives ;  and yet that so many and such important cases should be presented under the certified copies given by Thomas de Aguilar, for which no original can be found.
“ It has been attempted to explain this circumstance, by the fact that the perfect grants or real titles were drawn and signed on the protocols of the notary, and that they were afterward bound in books, which rendered them less liable to be mislaid and lost than the concessions which were merely tied up in bundles.  But it is a fact well known, that two-thirds of these original complete titles are still remaining in the sheets on which they are described by the witness to have been drawn ;  and the difference in the correspondence between the originals and the copies from the two offices, can only be accounted for by the difference in the fidelity and integrity of the two offices by whom the originals were kept, and the copies certified.”
General Call then went on to point out “that the remarkable difference in the quantity of land contained in the real titles given by Governor White, and that contained in the certified copies of concessions, said to have been made by him, is worthy of consideration, and goes far to sustain the belief that there never were any originals in those cases.”  Call continued :

Why Had the Claims Been Held Back ?

“ But if these large concessions are genuine — if they were issued in 1794, 1809, 1810 and 1811, according to their respective dates, why, permit me to ask, were they not matured into real titles under the government of Spain ?  Were these concessions of 256,000 and 368,644 acres of so little importance as to be neglected by the claimants, or were they not sensible of the necessity of having their titles confirmed ?
Some of them, at least, appear to have been sufficiently apprised of this necessity, for we find the same Arredondo and the same Miranda, who now claim under these large concessions, applying for and obtaining confirmations of titles for tracts of four, five, and six hundred acres, so late as the years 1820 and 1821, as will be shown by reference to document marked B.  These parties knew full well, that under the laws and ordinances of Spain, and under the practice and usage of that government, the concession, if legal and proper, gave them but the inception of right, and that until consummated by a ‘real’ title, they could enjoy no permanent estate in the land.  Most of them were inhabitants of the town of St. Augustine, the seat of the provincial government, and must have been apprised for several years of the anticipated transfer of the province to the United States.
“ From the character of these claims, and the conduct of the claimants, it is difficult to avoid one or two conclusions, both of which are equally fatal to the interest of the parties.  First, that they are spurious, or secondly, that their confirmation was denied by the Spanish authorities.  For we cannot believe that individuals holding these large concessions would neglect to apply for their confirmation, at a time when they were soliciting and obtaining perfect titles for small tracts, of so much less importance.”

The Mitchell Decision Denounced.

Then proceeding to show how “the grossest frauds on the government may be rendered successful, by concealing or destroying the originals,” General Call went on :
“ There are certainly many reasons why these copies should not be received in evidence, until the absence of the originals shall have been satisfactorily accounted for.  Until this is done, the rules of evidence forbid them to be received and a departure from those well-known and salutary rules would open a door for fraud, not to be closed, so long as the government has one acre of unappropriated land in Florida.
“ What other security, I would ask, can the government have against spurious and pretended claims, than to require the production of the original grant, or that its absence should be satisfactorily accounted for ?
“ Forgeries may be detected by comparison, and proof of genuine signatures ;  but as it was the duty and practice of Thomas de Aguilar to give copies of all concessions made by the governor to the claimant, if he has, since the transfer of the country to the United States, been induced to give certified copies of concessions, when there are no originals, what check or control can be placed on his fraudulent designs, and those with whom he may have been associated, than to require that the originals shall be found in the office where the copy professed to have left them, or proof that they once existed there, and that they have since been lost or destroyed ?
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
“ In reply to that part of your letter which requires me to state whether, in my opinion, these cases, or any of them, are embraced by the decisions already given by the Supreme Court of the United States ;  in candor I must say, that as bad as I believe these cases to be, yet I consider the worst of them little inferior in law or equity to most of them already decided by the court ;  and that the principle settled in the case of Mitchell and others vs. the United States, will, if applied, cover all the objections which can be presented to the confirmation of any of the cases now depending in any of the courts of the Territory, except in those cases where the land is situated within the Indian boundary, on which I shall hereafter offer a few remarks.  I consider that the badges of fraud were as strongly developed in the cases of Mitchell and others as they are in the worst of the cases contained in abstract No. 2.
“ So far as the question of evidence is involved, there is an exact correspondence between that case and those which depend upon certain copies of concessions.
“ In the case of Mitchell and others, the copies on which the suit was founded were taken from copies certified to by Pablo de Lorin, secretary, and Maximilian de Maxent, lieutenant governor, of West Florida.  In the cases now depending in court, the copies are certified by Thomas de Aguilar, secretary of the government of East Florida.  In both, the certificate states that the original remains in the archives.  The archives of East and West Florida, and the archives of Cuba, have been diligently searched, and no original is to be found.  In both, the absence of the originals were entirely unaccounted for.”
As to the acceptance of these certified copies by the Supreme Court of the United States, as sufficient proof of the originals, General Call wrote :  “ One would suppose, from the description of these certified copies, thus given by the court, that they were notarial acts, or ‘authentic acts’;  that they were executed by a notary public, with all the forms and ceremonies ;  and that they were entitled to all the faith and credit given to such instruments by the civil law. ... Now it will be shown, by an examination of each, that the originals were not notarial instruments.  That they were not written on a notarial protocol, or countersigned by a notary public.  Nor was any one of the copies taken from the originals by a notary public, and signed and certified by him as such.  On the contrary, they are all, both originals and copies, what are termed in the civil law private acts, and entitled to no faith or credit whatever.”95
Yet on the sole strength of these alleged copies, the Supreme Court of the United States validated then and eventually the defrauding of 2,711,290 acres of the best lands in Florida, and tens of millions of acres elsewhere.

Death of Chief Justice Marshall.

But when these penetrating criticisms appeared, Chief Justice Marshall was no more.  He died on July 6, 1835, aged eighty years.
The funeral ceremonies were impressive, the eulogies imposingly laudatory.  The legacy that he bequeathed to the governing class was of incalculable value :  precedents established by him have been applied and amplified ever since as organic principles of law and government, and the omnipotent authority of the Supreme Court of the United States, so successfully asserted by him, has not only remained unimpaired, but has been extended even to the point of declaring that while conquered colonies are subject to the authority of the United States, the Constitution does not apply to them.
As a jurist, John Marshall’s fame has been overdrawn and lavishly colored.  It is in his capacity of judicial dictator that he should be noted, and stand supreme ;  of monarchical and other dictators the world has seen a plenitude, but of the juridical dictator who could at will annul and create law in a supposed republic, the like of John Marshall had never before been known.  For thirty-four years he had dispensed his law, the never-varying purpose and end of which was always, and under all circumstances, justification of methods and policies benefiting the governing class of wealth and power.96

1 Cranch’s Reports, Supreme Court of the United States, Vol. VII: 164.
2 New Hampshire Reports, Vol. I : III.  The full report of the case, containing the arguments, is reprinted in 65 New Hampshire Reports, 473.
3 Case of Trustees of Dartmouth College vs. Woodward, IV Wheaton, 518.
4 “ Life of Webster” (American Statesmen Series), p. 87.
5 “ Journal of Debates and Proceedings of the Massachusetts Convention, 1820”: 283-295.
6 “ Dartmouth College Causes,” 201.  Webster was an attorney for the Salem Bank, and other local banks.— See, Mass. Reports, Vol. XVII: 39, etc.
    The fact of judges owning stock in bank, insurance and other companies was such a notorious scandal, that finally, in 1836, a proposed new Penal Code was suggested.  Chancellor Kent wrote to its author :  . . . “ But I complain more loudly of your restraints on judges, at p. 38.  You prohibit a judge from receiving any gift, except by will, from a stranger.  Now I do think this is unjust, and assume an unwarrantable distrust of judicial integrity.  At p. 40 you go further, and make it penal for a judge to be a stockholder in a bank or insurance company.  I have read this article with surprise.  You might as well make it penal for a judge to own houses and lands, or bonds and mortgages, or even a beautiful and accomplished wife,” etc., etc.—“American jurist,” Vol. XVI : 365.  In the same letter, Kent wrote as to offenses against injuries to property :  “I am a friend to personal chastisement and hanging” (p, 370).
7 Reports Nos. 460-463. First Session, Twenty-second Congress, 1831.
8 “Thirty Years' View,” Vol. II: 365. Benton was long a powerful politician, and a leader of the Democratic Party.
9 “ Thirty Years' View,” Vol. II: 366.
10  Pa. House Journal, 1842, Vol. II : Appendix, 172-531.
11 Described in Chapter V.
12 Case of Gibbons vs. Ogden, IX Wheaton, 1-240.
13 The full facts are given in the “ History of the Great American Fortunes,” Vol. II.
14 See, Alexander’s “A Political History of the State of New York,” Vol. I. 155.
15 Wheaton’s Reports, Supreme Court of the United States, Vol, X : 79.
16 Ibid., 120-121.
17 The slave trade was prohibited to American citizens by acts of Congress of 1794, 1800 and March 3, 1819.  Each act increased the penalties, finally prescribing capital punishment for violation and conviction.
18 X Wheaton, 122.  Marshall reversed part of the lower court’s decision and affirmed other portions.
19 See details in Chapter IX.
20 X Wheaton, 137.
21 Ibid., 142-143.
22 See, Chapter IX.  These two decisions — those of Marshall and Story — practically extended the fullest license and immunity to the slave traders.  Wilson tells in his “Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America” that the time came when there were at least 100,000 negroes who had been snatched from Africa and sold in the United States and that they were held in bondage despite the plain laws on the subject forbidding the importation of negro slaves.  The traffic in slave trading was large and continuous, and the profits were so enormous that the slave traders looked with complacency upon the loss of part of their human cargo.  It was cheaper to herd the negroes in foul quarters on the ships and lose some of them than to go to the expense of providing adequate room, shelter and food.
23 A report of a select committee of the House of Representatives, February 25, 1829, said that the “ population of part of the eastern section of our country has nearly reached its highest point ;  its surplus is filling up New York and tends strongly toward the West.”  “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VII, Doc. No. 747.
24 Doc. No. 91, Eighth Congress, First Session.
25 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. II : 441.  The report does not state the number of individuals.  But that a great part of this vast area was held for speculative purposes is distinctly set forth in the report.
26 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. II : 888-889.
27 Executive Reports, First Session, Eighteenth Congress, 1824, Report No. 61.
28 U.S. Senate Docs., 1824-25, No. 25, etc.
29 See, Book IV, Chapter XII, Collection of the Laws of the Indies.
30 See. “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. I: 282. (Doc. No. 126.)
31 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. I: 188.  (House Doc. No. 94, Eighth Congress, First Session.)
32 Ibid., 188-189.
33 This town, one hundred and fifty years ago, was the largest town west of the Alleghanies.  To-day a single smokehouse is all that remains of the old French town, and it is expected that even the smokehouse will have disappeared beneath the waters of the Mississippi River, which has swallowed up the rest of the town.
34 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. I: 189.
35 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. I : 189.
36 Ibid., 193-194. (Doc. No. 99.)
37 Ibid., 590.
38 “ American, State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. II : 235-237.
39 Ibid., 204.
40 Ibid.
41 Ibid., 203.
42 Ibid., 123.
43 Ibid.
44 Ibid., 126.
45 “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. II : 203.
46 Ibid., 123-126.
47 While Edgar and the Morrisons were thus manufacturing evidence in wholesale, they were petitioning Congress to allow the introduction of slaves into Illinois.  They could not, they complained, hire a laborer for less than a dollar a day, exclusive of washing, lodging and boarding.  Their petition was rejected by Congress.—Ibid., Vol. I: 68.
48 Ibid., 126-127.
49 Ibid., Vol. II : 257-258.
50 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. III : 250.
51 Ibid.
52 Ibid., 249.
53 It was one of many other such claims confirmed by Congress three years later.  (See, Ibid., 276-277.)  Miller and Fulton were the principals in both the Red River and the Bayou Bœuf Indian swindles.  They claimed that the Appalache tribe owed them $2,600 for merchandise.  This the Appalache chiefs denied, saying that the debt was owed by the Conchatte tribe, who were occupying the Appalache lands by courtesy.  The Bayou Bœuf claim was also founded on alleged debts for merchandise.
54 See, “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. I : 150.
55 The history and final confirmation of this grant by Congress, in 1854, is related in the chapters on Chief Justice Taney.
56 See later.
57 Peters’ Reports, Supreme Court of the United States, Vol. VIII: Appendix, 721.
58 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. IV: 759.
59 Ibid., Vol. II : 766.
60 Ibid., 768.
61 Ibid., Vol. III : 770.
62 Ibid., 867. (Doc. No. 413.)  The italics are in the original.
63 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. III : 873.
64 Ibid., Vol. IV: 758.  Both aspects of this controversy are given here.  Hamilton’s exposures were, however, supported by later Government investigations which showed that he really underestimated the extent of the frauds.
65 Ibid., Vol. III: 765. (Doc. No. 412.)
66 See, Attorney-General Call’s exhaustive report, “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII: 250. (Doc. No. 1348.)
67 Ibid.
68 Ibid., 253.
69 The common arpent contained 40,000 feet, approximately the same as an English acre.
70 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. IV: 158.
71 Doc. No. 1538, “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII.
72 To plead justification under the “ innocent purchaser ” guise was a common accompaniment of land and other frauds, and was artfully arranged.  Thus, Colonel Preston of the Land Office at Little Rock, Arkansas, in acquainting Graham, Commissioner of the General Land Office, with further facts as to the enormous frauds and impositions committed in Arkansas, wrote, on October 10, 1829 : “. . . As to the fact that many of these claims have fallen into the hands of innocent purchasers, it is worthy of serious consideration, for the greatest efforts have been made to distribute them ;  but I have no doubt where one is in the hands of an individual entirely deceived, three are in possession of persons who have sufficient reasons to be on their guard. . . .”—“ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VI: 7.
73 Ibid., Vol. IV: 47.  Report to George Graham, Commissioner of the General Land Office.
74 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. V : 796.
75 Ibid., Vol. VI, Doc. No. 747.
76 Ibid., 509-510.  The Vallee Claim was the Mine la Mone tract of 27,000 arpents.
77 “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VI: 97.
78 Ibid., Vol. V : 633-634.  White was assistant counsel to the Government on Spanish and French ordinances affecting land titles in Florida and other territories.
79 Many of the members of Congress, as has been noted, were on the payrolls of the Bank of the United States, and were otherwise profiting from corrupt legislation.  Not a few of the members of Congress became millionaires.  As for the Land Office, its officials were frequently under fire of charges of corruption.  Charges of fraud and corruption against Graham, Commissioner of the General Land Office, and Surveyor George Davis, were brought by Deputy-Surveyor Wilson, in 1827, but were dismissed by the House Committee on Public Lands.  (See, “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. IV: 922-957.)  Graham and Davis retorted by charging that corrupt individuals were behind Wilson.
80 See, Assistant Attorney-General Call’s statement, VIII Peters :  Appendix, 721.
81 See, VI Peters, 689-759.  This decision served as a great precedent ;  it was cited as authority in no less than several hundred subsequent cases.
82 See, U.S. vs. Segui ;  U.S. vs. Seton ;  U.S. vs. Sibbald, etc., etc., X Peters, 303-324.
83 Case of Carver vs. Jackson ex. dem.  Astor et al., V Peters, 80. Also Journal of the (N.Y.) Senate, 1815 : 216—Journal of the (N.Y.) Assembly, 1878 : 261, and Ibid., 1819.  See, also, “A Statement and Exposition of the Title of John Jacob Astor to the Lands Purchased by him from the surviving children of Roger Morris and Mary, his Wife.” New York, 1827.
84 Hampshire’s Reports (U.S. Circuit and District Courts) [1820-1856], pp. 123, 127, etc.  Also 27 Federal Cases, Case No. 16,216a, in which Judge Johnson describes the great corruption, forgeries and perjuries.  Also the Supreme Court’s decision in VI Peters, 222.  Also, “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VII: 666-669.  (Report of House Committee on Public Lands, Feb. 24, 1835.)
85 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VI: 226-247.  (Doc. No. 874.)  Delassus had been the successor of Trudeau, as Governor, at St. Louis, six years before the cession to the United States.  Describing the antedated grants made by Trudeau and Delassus, Judge Peck later wrote :
     “ While, as I have said, Delassus made his antedated concessions bear date for the most part in 1799 and 1800, for the purpose of covering up matters handsomely, and preserving fair appearances, that no excess should appear to have been committed by him near the close of his official career ;  Trudeau, his predecessor, in the antedated concessions made by him, after he had left the government, and, of course, not until after the treaty of cession by Spain to France was known, was compelled for different reasons, to make them bear date toward the close of the period of his government, and within about the last three years of it ;  so that it will be perceived by looking at the concessions of the Spanish government, issued at the post of St. Louis, nine-tenths, possibly near nineteen-twentieths, of the quantity of land conceded during the thirty-three years of the Spanish government was conceded in a little more than four years ;  conceded neither at the first, nor at the last of the government, but in the years 1797, 1798, 1799, and 1800, and a few of the antedated claims in 1796.”  “American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII: 837.
86 Griswold had many ships plying in the East India and China trade.  He was one of the promoters and original directors of the Bank of America at a time when, in 1812, a legislative investigation revealed (as we have before noted) that its charter was obtained by bribery.  The favors allowed by the government to the shippers in the East India and China trade, enabling them to reap enormous profits and use government money as their private capital, aroused the opposition of other shippers.  “ Why,” wrote the Mercantile Society, of New York, in 1821, to the House Committee on Manufactures, “should the merchant engaged in the East India trade, who is the overgrown capitalist, have the extended credit of twelve months in his duties, the amount of which on one cargo furnishes nearly a sufficient capital for completing another voyage, before his bonds are payable ?”—Reports of Committees, Second Session, Sixteenth Congress, 1820-21, Vol. I, Doc. No. 24.
87 IX Peters, 711.
88 The full details of this debauching of the Indians are given in the “ History of the Great American Fortunes,” Vols. I and III.  The Secretary of War, at that time, had supreme jurisdiction over the Indian tribes.  The records frequently tell of claims trumped up against the Indians.
89 “American State Papers :  Public Lauds,” Vol. V : 329-341. (Doc. No. 599.)
90 Senator Benton, who was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, at the time, described this corruption, and named the sums, in his “ Thirty Years In The Senate,” pages 58-60.  So enraged were the Creeks at this disposing of their land, that they killed McIntosh and another chief who had signed the treaty.
91 IX Peters, 731.  The Supreme Court took the position that every European government had claimed, and exercised, the right of granting lands while those lands were in the occupation of the Indians.  The Mitchell decision was followed by other decisions validating alleged Indian conveyances.— See, U.S. vs. Fernandez et al., X Peters, 303, etc.
92 “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII: 807.
93 It is obviously out of the question, in the scope of this work, to give even a satisfactorily comprehensive summary of Judge Peck’s very extended examinations of the Spanish land claims.  The student who wishes to consult them in detail is referred to Doc. No. 1538, “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII: pages 797-809, 810-812, etc.  Judge Peck’s statements included certified transcripts of Spanish and French records from the old land office at St. Louis.
94 “ American State Papers : Public Lands,” Vol. VIII: 252.
95 The above are integral and consistent parts of the whole of General Call’s voluminous critical review.  The full paper is set forth in Document No. 1348, “ American State Papers :  Public Lands,” Vol. VIII.
96 One of the suggestive expressions of opinion on Marshall’s career was that of William Leggett, a founder of the Equal Rights Party and co-editor with William Cullen Bryant of the New York Evening Post.  When Marshall died, the New YorkEvening Post, on July 28, 1835, published an editorial by Leggett.  “. . . Few things,” wrote Leggett, “ have ever given us more disgust than the fawning, hypocritical and unqualified lamentations which are poured out by the public press on the demise of any conspicuous political opponent.  Of the man whom the day before it denounced in terms of the most unmeasured bitterness, let him but shuffle off his mortal coil, and the next day it is loud in indiscriminating, unlimited praise. . .”  Leggett then went on to say that although tribute should be paid to Marshall’s many estimable qualities and powers of mind, yet “ we cannot but experience joy ” that the chief place in the supreme tribunal of the Union would be no longer filled by such a judge as Marshall, and that no grief would be felt “ that the cause of aristocracy has lost one of its chief supports.”—“ A Collection of the Political Writings of William Leggett” (Edition of 1840), Vol. II: 3-7.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Here's a little history about my study of THE FORBES PURCHASE.

This entire effort to understand our Deep South Gulf Coast origins began in earnest almost 20 years ago on New Year's Day of 1994. My wife~Sharon, my son~Christopher and myself were on vacation in Panacea, Florida & I decided to write a travel guide for the Gulf Coast. I'd already been to St. Marks & Ft. Gadsden many times since the early Eighties & I was familiar with Bill Coker's work but I soon found that I didn't know enough to write any kind of guide and so I began my quest to master an understanding of the Deep South's Formative Years.

This quest led me down many paths and one of them was the story of THE FORBES PURCHASE ~ The Greatest Real Estate Deal in American History.

Back in January of '94, I decided my first purpose was to understand what it took to mark on the ground the FIRST SOUTHERN BOUNDARY OF THE UNITED STATES in the late 1790s which was our country's first tangible effort toward an American Acquisition of Florida. Not only did this old boundary line end its 382 mile path east from the Mississippi River in my home county of Houston County, Alabama, but it ended on the banks of the Chattahoochee within the former jurisdiction of a Creek Indian town of Chiscatolofa, the very place where THE FORBES PURCHASE was transacted. I found at the end of this old boundary line where a 200 year old Spanish Deed of Cession executed inside the jurisdiction of the U.S. for over a million acres for the consideration of a nickel an acre and upheld by the Supreme Court of the U.S. still stood in the present day as a cornerstone of American contract law and was noted in most informed histories as being THE BIGGEST REAL ESTATE DEAL IN OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY!

There just so much about this deal!
There's THE CUBAN CONNECTION~ the story of the U.S. Commissioners who were sent to Cuba to retrieve the missing Spanish Archives of Florida, the most important of which were those connected to THE FORBES PURCHASE.http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/Author/C435C98B58D7CEFF85256DAD00464A46

I've been blogging for almost 10 years now and I've put a lot of Forbes Purchase stuff on the Internet. Here's a link to an extensive archive which begins after you scroll down past the article on Truman Capote.

There's now growing interest on this subject due to the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. Next summer will mark the 200th Anniversary of the opening of the Creek War & Mobile's James Innerarity, the man who closed the Forbes Purchase, and his brother, Pensacola's John Innerarity, are central to that conflict as is the store they opened on Prospect Bluff of the Apalachicola as a condition of the Forbes Purchase.
Glad to see you are enthusiastic about learning more. Feel free to call me any time. Home 410-272-1462
cell~ 443-703-6271.