• Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren Seek to Resolve Land Claims in Spanish Territory

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    MARTIN VAN BUREN was the eighth President of the United States, serving from 1837 to 1841.  He was a Senator from New York and Governor of New York.  He resigned to become Jackson’s Secretary of State. Later, he was Andrew Jackson’s second Vice President and his choice to succeed him.  Defeating William Harrison in 1836, his administration was quickly plagued by the Panic of 1837, when banks failed and the economy soured for the duration of his term. He opposed the annexation of Texas, fearing it would further deepen sectional problems. Harrison defeated Van Buren in 1840 because of economic problems and Van Buren retired to New York.

     

    Beginning in 1790, Spain offered land grants to encourage settlements in Florida, which was sparsely populated and vulnerable to incursions from the United States. The United States agreed to honor those grants when it assumed control of Florida following the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty, ratified in 1821. Individuals unable to supply proof of the grants had to submit testimonials.

     

    After nearly a decade, some grants were still in dispute and the Jackson Administration charged Richard K. Call, an attorney and close friend of Jackson’s to travel to Havana to examine official Spanish records and verify the claims. In 1836, Jackson appointed Call as Governor of the Florida Territory, where he had established two major plantations near Tallahassee.

     

    Offering an important 5 pp, 8 x 12 ½, LS “M. Van Buren” as Secretary of State, Washington, March 31, 1829, to Don Francisco Dionisio Vives, Governor and Captain General of Cuba introducing Call as Jackson’s appointee to resolve the grant challenges.

     

    “Extensive and valuable tracts, in the Territory of Florida, being claimed by individuals, under grants, or pretended grants, from the Crown of Spain, whilst that Territory was formed a part of the dominions of the Spanish Monarchy, the President has judged it expedient, in order to ascertain the true character and validity of these titles, to send a Special Agent to the ____ Havana, for the purpose or procuring documentary and other evidence from the Public Archives, and other authentic sources of information there, which may serve to their elucidation and adjustment, and he has, accordingly, appointed Mr. Richard K. Call, one of our most respected Citizens, and the bearer of this communication to your Excellency, Special Agent of the United States, for the performance of this service.

     

    “I beg leave, therefore, to recommend Mr. Call to the favorable---countenance of your Excellency, and to solicit for him, at your Excellency’s hands, the protection and facilities which may be found necessary to enable[e] him to fulfil the purpose of his – agency, in this important and delicate service.  He will, himself, have the honor of making Your Excellency more particularly acquainted with the nature and extent of the commission with which he is charged, and of indicating the facilities which it may be desirable should be extended to him, towards the execution of it.  In the meantime, I reply with confidence upon your Excellency’s enlightened sense of justice, for a due appreciation of the motives of this application, and upon the liberal spirit of accommodation and kindness—towards the United States, which has uniformly marked your administration of the Government of Cuba, for a ready compliance with it. 

     

    “I pray Your Excellency to accept the assurance of the very high and distinguished consideration with which I have the honor to be Your Excellency’s Obedient & humble Servant M. Van Buren”

     

    Even toning, some bleed through and minor paper loss at the right margin.  Very readable and a highly significant example of American history involving Spanish territory.

     

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