Description

    Clay asks what Washington will do now that Gen. Jackson has captured Spanish Florida's capital, commenting "the occupation must be most embarrassing."

    Henry Clay Third Person Autograph Letter Signed "Mr. Clay" (twice) as Speaker of the House, one page, 8" x 4.5". Lexington [Kentucky]. July 20, 1818. In full, "Mr. Clay's Compliments to Mr. Cutts and he will be much obliged to him to deliver the inclosed packet to Mr Gales or Mr Seaton. What do you mean at Washington to do with Pensacola? The event of the occupation must be most embarrassing. Mrs Clay unites with Mr Clay in respectful compliments to Mrs. Cutts." To Richard Cutts, Massachusetts Congressman (1801-1813) and husband of Dolley Madison's sister, and Second Comptroller of the United States Treasury (1817-1829). The letter has folds and is toned at the perimeter, with mounting remnants at the edges. There is slight separation at two vertical folds in the lower blank area. Matting will eliminate these flaws. Darkly penned, the letter is, overall, in fine condition.

    On April 20, 1818, Speaker of the House Henry Clay adjourned the House of Representatives, the First Session of the 15th Congress, until November 16th, the opening of the Second Session, and returned to his home in Lexington, Kentucky, to spend the summer.
    Spanish Florida was inhabited by Seminole Indians, runaway slaves, and outlaws who would cross the border and raid southern U.S. towns. General Andrew Jackson was sent by President Monroe to drive the Seminole back into Florida. In late May 1818, not only did he achieve the President's goal, but he continued into Spanish territory and captured Pensacola, Florida's capital. He also captured, court-martialed, and hanged two Englishmen, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, for providing weapons to the Seminoles and provoking them to war. Spain and Great Britain protested to Washington. Niles' Weekly Register of June 6, 1818, published in Baltimore, reported the execution as "an awful military act has been performed by general Jackson..." No doubt Henry Clay read about it in the newspapers which elicited this letter opining that U.S. occupation of Spanish Florida "must be most embarrassing" to the administration. It wasn't.

    Pres. Monroe's State of the Union Address was delivered to the House and the Senate on November 17, 1818, the second day of the Second Session of the 15th Congress. He wrote, in part, "In authorizing major general Jackson to enter Florida, in pursuit of the Seminoles, care was taken, not to encroach on the rights of Spain... In entering Florida...no idea was entertained of hostility to Spain... Copies of the instructions to the commanding general; of his correspondence with the Secretary of War, explaining his motives, and justifying his conduct, with a copy of the proceedings of the courts martial, in the trial of Arbuthnot and Ambrister; and of the correspondence between the Secretary of State and the minister plenipotentiary of Spain, near this government: and of the minister plenipotentiary of the United States, at Madrid, with the government of Spain, will be laid before Congress." Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821 and, as vindication of his actions, Andrew Jackson was appointed Military Governor by Pres. Monroe who had been reelected in 1820 without opposition. At the next election, in 1824, Clay ran for President against Jackson and two Monroe cabinet members, Adams and Crawford.


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    June, 2008
    3rd-4th Tuesday-Wednesday
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