Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Jackson, Andrew (1767-1845) to John C. Calhoun

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07378 Author/Creator: Jackson, Andrew (1767-1845) Place Written: Fort Montgomery Type: Letter signed Date: 2 June 1818 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 24.6 x 18.3 cm

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07378 Author/Creator: Jackson, Andrew (1767-1845) Place Written: Fort Montgomery Type: Letter signed Date: 2 June 1818 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 24.6 x 18.3 cm

The war against the Seminole Indians. "I have deemed it advisable to call into service... two companies of rangers ...with instructions to scour the country... exterminating every hostile party who dare... not surrender & remove their families above the 31 of latitude. The Seminole war may now be considered as at a close. Tranquility again (has been) restored to the southern frontier... the immutable principles therefore of self defence justified the occupancy of the Floridas & the same principles will warrant the American Government in holding it until such time as Spain can guarantee... her authority".

Head Quarters June 2. 1818
Division of the South }
Fort Montgommery }
In a communication to you of the 5th of May, I detailed at length the operations of my army up to that period. Leaving a strong garrison of Regulars in Forts Scott and Gadsden. I resumed my march with a small detatchment of the 4t Regt of Infantry, One company of Artillery, and the effectives of the Tennessee Volunteers, the whole not exceeding twelve hundred men, to fulfill my intentions, communicated to you of scouring the country West of the Apalachacola river. On the 10 of May my army crossed that river at the Ochesee village, and after a fatiaguing, teadious, & circuitous march of 12 days, misled by the ignorance of our Pilots, and exposed to the severest of privations we finally reached, and effected a passage over the Escambia. On my march, on the 23d of May a protest from the Governor of Pensacola was delivered me by a Spanish Officer, remonstrating in warm terms against my proceedings, and ordering me & my forces instantly to quit the territory of his Catholic Majesty, with a threat to apply force in the event of a non compliance - This was so open an indication of a hostile feeling on his part, after having been early and well advised of the object of my operations, that I hesitated no longer on the measures to be adopted. I marched for and entered Pensacola [2] with only the shew of resistance on the 24t of May. The Governor had previously fled to Fort Carlos De Barrancas where it was said he had resolved upon a most desperate resistance. A correspondence ensued between us, accompanying this marked A, detailing at length my motives for wishing and demanding that Pensacola & its dependencies be occupied with an American Garrison. The package marked B are documents substantiating the charges in part against the conduct of the Spanish Governor having knowingly & willingly admitted the Savages, avowedly hostile to the U States within the Town of Pensacola - The peaceable surrender of the Fort at the Barrancas was denied; I marched for, and invested it on the evening of the 25t of May & on the same night pushed reconnoitering parties under its very guns, - On the morning of the 26h a military reconnerssance was taken, and on the same night a lodgement was made under a fire from the Spanish garrison, by Capt Gadsden of the Engineers, aided by Captains Call & Young on a commanding position within three hundred & eighty five yards of the Spanish work, and a nine pounder mounted; a howitser battery was simultaneously established on the capital of & within Seven hundred & sixty yards of the Fort - At day light on the 27t. The Spanish Garrison opened their artillery on our batteries; a parley was sounded, a flag sent in & the surrender of Fort Carlos De Barrancas again demanded; The favourable positions obtained were pointed out, and the inutility of resistance urged. Anxious [3] to avoid [struck: and] [inserted: an] open contest & to save the effusion of blood the same terms previously offered, were again tendered. They were rejected and offensive operations recommenced. A spirited and well directed fire was kept up the greater part of the morning and at intervalls during the afternoon. In the evening a flag was sent from the Spanish Commandant offering to capitulate & a suspension of hostilities was granted untill 8 oclock the next day, when the enclosed Articles of Capitulation [inserted: marked C] were signed and agreed to. The Terms are more favourable than a conquered Enemy would have merited, but under the peculiar circumstances of the case, my Object obtained, there was no motive for wounding the feelings of those whose military pride or honor had prompted to the resistance made - The Articles with but one condition amount to a complete cession to the U States of that portion of the Floridas hitherto under the Government of Don Josse Massot -
The Arrangements which I have made to secure Pensacola & its dependancies are contained in the General Orders & marked D. I deemed it more advisable to retain for the present the same government to which the People had been accustomed untill such time as the Executive of the U States may order otherwise. [It was necessary however to establish the revenue laws of the U States to check the smugling which has been carried on successfully in this quarter for many years past, and to admit [4] the American Merchant to an equal participation in a trade [inserted: which] would have been denied under the partial operation of the Spanish commercial code. Capt Gadsden was appointed by me collector & he has organised, and left the department in the charge of officers on whom the greatest confidence may be reposed. -
Though the Seminole Indians have been scattered and literally so divided & reduced as no longer to be viewed as a formidable Enemy, yet as there are still many small marauding parties supposed to be concealed in the swamps of the Perdido, Choctawhatchey, & Chapouley who might make occasional and sudden inroads on our Frontier setlers, massacring women and children, I have deemed it advisable to call into service for six months if not sooner discharged Two Companies of volunteer Rangers under Captains McGert and Boyles, with instructions to scour the country between the Mobile & Apalachacola rivers, exterminating every hostile party who dare resist, or will not surrender & remove with their families above the 31o Degree of latitude -
The Seminole War may now be considered as at a close. Tranquility again restored to the Southern Frontier of the United States, and as long as a cordon of military posts is maintained along the Gulf of Mexico America has nothing to apprehend from [5] either foreign or Indian hostilities. Indeed Sir to attempt to fortify, or protect an immaginary line, or To suppose that a Frontier [struck: in] [inserted: on] the 31° degree of latitude, in a wilderness, can be secured by a cordon of military posts while the Floridas lay open to the use of any enemy, is visionary in the extreme - Under this firm belief I have bottomed all my operations. Spain had disregarded the treaties existing with the American government, or had not power to enforce them. The Indian Tribes within her Territory & which she was bound to keep at peace had visited our citisens with all the horrors of savage war, Negro Brigaiids were establishing themselves when and where they pleased, and Foreign Agents were openly & knowingly practicing their intrigues in this neutral Territory - The Inmutable principles therefore of self defence justified the occupancy of the Floridas & the same principles will warrant the American Government in holding it untill such time as Spain can guarantee by an adequate military force the maintaining her authority, within this colony -
A Topographical sketch of the country from the Apalachacola to Pensacola accompanies this - Capt Young will prepare as soon as practicable a Topographical memoir of that part of the Floridas in which my Army has operated, with a map [6] of the country -
Capt Gadsden is instructed to prepare a report on the necessary defences of the country as far as the military reconnaissance he has taken will permit accompanied with plans of existing works, what additions or improvements are necessary, and what new works should in his opinion be erected to give permanent security to this important Territorial addition to our Republic - As soon as this report is prepared Capt G - will receive orders to repair to Washington City, with some other documents which I may wish to confide to his charge -
At the close of a Campaign which has terminated so honorably & happily, it gives me [inserted: pleasure] to express my approbation generally of the Officers & Soldiers of every species of Corps which I have had the honor to command. The patience with which they endured fatigue and submitted to privations, and the determination with which they encountered & vanquished every difficulty is the strongest indication of the existence of that patriotic feeling which no circumstances can change & of that inexistable ardour in the defence of their country which will prove her strength & bulwarck under any experience - I should do violence to my feelings if I did not particularly [7] notice the exertions of my Qr Master General Col George Gibson, who under the most embarrassing of circumstances relieved the necessities of my army & to whose exertions was I indebted for the supplies received - His zeal and integrity on this campaign as well as in the uniform discharge of his duties since his connection with my staff merits the approbation & gratitude of his country - With respect
Your Most Obt Servt
The Honble Andrew Jackson
J.C. Calhoun Major Genl Comdg
Secr War.

Letter from
A Jackson, 2 June 1818
Secr War
[Jackson's summary]
Fort Montgomery
2d June 1818.
Andrew Jackson,
Reports his movements &.
operations agt. the Seminoles -
His reasons for taking Pensacola
sent two Companies to scour
the Country between Mobile
& Apalachacola ~

filed Cert 1818

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources