Description

    Fine 1795 letter on Spanish encroachment into U.S. Territory including reports of the famous New Orleans fire

    Louisiana Territory. A very fine content letter written by U.S. Army Captain R. Bird to Major John Mills reporting on Spanish encroachments into United States territory during Anglo-Spanish negotiations on the subject. ALS, 2 pages, 6" x 7.5", "Fort Knox" [Vincennes], August 23, 1795, to Mills, stationed at Greenville in present-day Ohio. Bird reports that "...Bardon arrived yesterday from Lanslagrass he brings accounts of the Spaniards advancing their posts into our Territory they have lately built one of Cannon proof at the Chickasaw Bluff and Garrisoned it with 700 men and are immediately to build another higher up the river within fifteen miles of the Ohio where Genl.. Clark once built a fort -- it is hard to conjecture what will be the consequences whether our Government will tamely put up with it and endeavour to Remove it by negotiation or whether it will be business for our Army after the pending Treaty-- I should be more full but as this is the subject of the express you will no doubt receive the particulars from the Genl..." At the time of writing, the United States and Spain were involved in negotiations over a treaty of amity and commerce, which was concluded on October 27, 1795, at San Lorenzo el Real. The treaty, ratified by Congress the following year, fixed the western boundary of the United States at the Mississippi River, and specifically "...in the middle of the channel or bed of the River Mississipi [sic]..." which allowed both nations to navigate this most important trade route. The treaty also guaranteed "right of deposit" for American traders in New Orleans, which was controlled entirely by Spain. In other news, Bird reports on the great New Orleans fire of 1795: "They have had a tremendous fire lately in New Orleans which blew up their Magazin[e] Killed 300 people and burned half the town." This was the second major fire in New Orleans in the space of a decade, the first in 1788, destroyed 856 buildings. It was after the second fire that Spanish authorities banned wooden housing construction in the city. A very fine content letter illustrating the American view of Spain as a rival in exploiting the Mississippi Valley and the uncertainty felt by those charged with guarding America's western frontier. Usual folds, several minor marginal tears, very lightly toned, else fine condition.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    3rd-4th Tuesday-Wednesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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