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First Seminole War

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Well I promised to do some writing on the First Seminole War. I haven't been able to read up on anything, so just a few thoughts here.

We know most of the story, how General AJ went to Spanish Florida, invaded another country, and hanged citizens of a third nation. Then he went and took over Pensacola. But what a lot of people are led to believe is that he did this on his own initiative, without approval of the Commander-in-Chief, President James Monroe.

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After some research in the past few years, it seems that President Monroe was aware of AJ's excursion into Spanish Florida. Monroe gave him authority to "take care of the problem." But Monroe was a smart enough politician to make deniability if anything looked bad, which is what it did. The President conveniently squirreled away the letters from Jackson about going into Florida in his private desk, and called in sick. So when things went wrong and they were asking if he had authorized the invasion of Spanish Florida, Monroe could deny that he knew anything.

But consider this: The general would not have done anything that didn't have the support of the commander-in-chief. They had just finished a war with Britain and the Crown forces in Canada three years earlier. The U.S. crossed over into Canada to try and liberate them from the crown, but they lost badly. Not only was the U.S. beaten back, but the British occupied areas of Michigan and New York State. The Treaty of Ghent specified that both powers revert to their previous borders, otherwise Detroit would now be part of Ontario. The only territorial gain was in the South, where Jackson had previously taken Pensacola in 1814. So he did it again four years later. Anyway, the point is that the general would know full well that he was exceeding his authority going into Florida, unless he had approval from his boss, the President. Jackson was pretty bold and brazen, but he was not stupid, and would not do something that would make him look like an outlaw exceeding his authority.

But Monroe was the better politician, and Jackson took the fall. So today we blame Jackson for what happened, but there were the politicians who could have taken the blame also, but didn't.

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