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seminolewar


Jesup diary 1836-37

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The Florida Memory Project with the state archives has posted one of General Thomas Jesup's diaries on their website. Florida Memory Jesup's journal.

This is not a personal diary, but an official diary of his daily military record. It only covers the six months of Jesup in Florida, starting with his departure in Creek country in Alabama. Specifically, from October 1st, 1836, to May 30th, 1837. It does not cover his later actions in Florida that include the capture and final surrender of many of the Seminole leaders including Osceola and Micanopy. Nor does it have his large campaigns that led to the Battle of Okeechobee or the Battle of Loxahatchee.

Thomas_Sidney_Jesup_phixr
Major General Thomas S. Jesup

Many of the entries in the diary are just one or two sentences about the orders of the day. There is a lot of mention of the US Marines and Naval officers. It covers some of the conversations between Jesup and the Seminoles.

The time period that this diary covers includes Jesup's meeting with the Seminoles for the Fort Dade agreement (which eventually failed.) There is meeting with Jesup, Jumper and Micanopy, where Jesup reads to them from the Bible to show his sincerity. And Jesup meeting with the Creek leaders of the Creek regiment; one of whom is a close relative of Osceola (Powell.) And the Creek leaders meeting with the Seminoles.

Jesup's impatience with the Seminoles and especially Micanopy are evident, where Jesup believes that Micanopy is just stalling or being intentionally invasive about bringing his people into Fort Brooke.

For the Seminoles that do capitulate and surrender with the Fort Dade agreement, Jesup purchases food rations and tents for shelter for them. (They will eventually all flee due to false rumors by slave catchers and other instigators.) The supplies for the Seminoles were a problem, for example, when one shipment of corn from New Orleans is found to have already spoiled upon arrival.

Interesting is the conversations between Jesup and Jumper in February 1837. Jumper claims that he and Micanopy only wanted peace and blame the war on the Miccosukees. (Ignoring the fact that Jumper and Micanopy led the Seminoles at Dade's battle.)

Jesup said, "the United States had purchased the whole country from Spain, without any reservations having been made in favor of the Indians- that they had no right to land…"

Jumper replied, "…that when he was west of the Mississippi he found the Indians all quarreling about their lands- a great deal of confusion prevailed…" And, "That the Seminoles would all die if taken there- he said they considered this their own country- that the Spaniards had assured them that in transferring their rights to the united they had sold the country only so far as the white man had cultivated with the plough and the hoe- that they whole country beyond that land of cultivation belonged to the Indians."

So, that made me think. What did the Spanish actually agree? So I found the text to the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty on the Yale University Law School website, Adams-Onis Treaty.

No mention in the treaty is made of the Seminoles or any Indians. Spain basically gave it all up to the U.S. The only thing close to mentioning the Seminoles is Article VI, which says that all inhabitants shall become United States citizens. That apparently didn’t extend to the Indians or the slaves.

Whatever the Spanish governor told the Seminoles was only whatever they wanted to hear. So the Seminoles were betrayed and abandoned by the Spanish as well.

Jesup was not fully honest too, because he said that Florida was purchased for five million dollars. (I am sure that Jumper or Micanopy did not care how much the U.S. paid.) And if you read the treaty, it wasn't really a purchase either. The U.S. agreed to assume debts paid up to five million dollars for damages in the previous war, which could be paid if the citizens took their claim to court. It is not sure how much or if any was paid out.

For the website of Jesup's journal, the transcription is very bad. Granted, the writing can be difficult. But there are some things that could have easily been verified through other sources like Sprague. Fort Mellon is transcribed as Fort Milton. Captain Mellon turned into Miller. And one that annoyed me the most, is that Creek John Hoponey was turned into John Hossonnee. And one of my favorites, was when Jesup wrote that he loaned out his sorrel horse, it is transcribed incorrectly as his best horse.

Fortunately there are images of the actual pages to go with the transcription, so you can compare them to the text. If I ever get any time, I might want to start correcting the transcription.
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