Wednesday, March 03, 2010

JQA Defending Jackson?

We all know about the very messy election of 1824 and then the very dirty elcetion of 1828 between Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams. What I found really interesting was this bit from Adams' tenure as Secretary of State, where Adams vehemently (and against the rest of Cabinet and President) defends Jacksons' actions in Florida and probably saved his career.

Treaty of Adams-Onis (1819) and Transcontinental Treaty (1821)
Negotiations over Florida began in earnest with the mission of Don Luis de Onis to Washington in 1815 to meet Secretary of State James Monroe. The issue was not resolved until Monroe was president and John Quincy Adams his Secretary of State. Although U.S. Spanish relations were strained over suspicions of American support for the independence struggles of Spanish-American colonies, the situation became critical when General Andrew Jackson seized the Spanish forts at Pensacola and St. Marks in his 1818 authorized raid against Seminoles and escaped slaves whom were viewed as a threat to Georgia. Jackson executed two British citizens on charges of inciting the Indians and runaways. Monroe's government seriously considered denouncing Jackson's actions, but Adams defended the Jackson citing the necessity to restrain the Indians and escaped slaves since the Spanish failed to do so. Adams also sensed that Jackson's Seminole campaign was popular with Americans and it strengthened his diplomatic hand with Spain.

Adams used the Jackson's military action to present Spain with a demand to either control the inhabitants of East Florida or cede it to the United States. Minister Onis and Secretary Adams reached an agreement whereby Spain ceded East Florida to the United States and renounced all claim to West Florida. Spain received no compensation, but the United States agreed to assume liability for $5 million in damage done by American citizens who rebelled against Spain. Under the Onis-Adams Treaty of 1819 (also called the Transcontinental Treaty and ratified in 1821) the United States and Spain defined the western limits of the Louisiana Purchase and Spain surrendered its claims to the Pacific Northwest. In return, the United States recognized Spanish sovereignty over Texas.

I found this very interesting to note, in light of the future rivlary between these two men. In addition, I find Adams' work as Secretary of State to be some of his best. I'm actually currently reading a biography of John Quincy (hence the idea for this post...and, yes, I will be posting a book review whenever I finish it) and he even considered appointing Jackson as his Secretary of War after the 1824 election, but quickly realized that would not be a smart decision.


Paul Swendson said...

I often describe this to my class as purchasing (sort of) something while sticking a gun in the owner's face. Spain could either hand over territory or have it conquered.

Jim Cooke said...

Thanks for your interesting and coherent account of this period in J. Q Adams & General Jackson's careers; they say: "Politics makes strange bedfellows."
Later, JQA and his good wife, Louisa Catherine held a grand reception for Jackson in their Washington, DC home.
I perform a solo history presentation (one-man show) "John Quincy Adams: A Spirit Unconquerable!" My focus is on the last decade of his remarkable life. His life, character and example is endlessly inspiring.