gt;gt; Chapter One gt; gt;"The Good Old Flag of Spain"gt; gt; gt; Three years after the Civil War's end, and nearly five decades after Old Glory first had been hoisted over St. Augustine, Eliza M. Whitwell finally was coming home. She had been a young bride when her neighbors exiled her from the Ancient City in 1842. Now, as a physician's widow, she was returning to East Florida because of a sense of duty, rather than for sentimental reasons. Mrs. Whitwell announced her intentions in a bitter letter to Dr. John Peck, the scion of one of the town's most distinguished families. She complained about the injustices that had made her life hard. These troubles had plundered her beauty. She feared that people who had known her in her youth would no longer recognize her. Nevertheless, she still found room in her heart to praise the flag—but not the Stars and Stripes. Instead, she reserved her tribute for "the good old Flag of Spain" that "enslaved none but the slaves giving equal rights & privileges to all as her subjects with out distinction." To be sure, the coming of United States rule had not brought her family the blessings of democracy. Instead, America's "bad Laws ... drove us away from our homes & prevented us from returning ... to see to our property." gt; That property was substantial. George J. F. Clarke, Whitwell's grandfather, had been an "intimate friend and trusted adviser of the Spanish governors." Clarke had succored his sovereign as East Florida's surveyor general, in addition to functioning at various times as a militia officer, timber agent, interpreter, justice of the peace, police chief, deputy governor, engineer, and diplomat. The Crown reciprocated, making him "one of the largest landowners in Florida." He was well connected, both socially and politically. His prestige survived long after his death in 1836. On 30 December 1845, federal judge Isaac H. Bronson, who in his official capacity had heard and read hundreds of eyewitness accounts describing life in Spanish East Florida, concluded that the Clarke family had been one "of some wealth and consideration." Whitwell still was able to bask in the glory of her grandfather's achievements a half century after Judge Bronson's assessment. gt; A St. Augustine newspaper article published in 1894 recounted Clarke's role in the "lowering of the Spanish flag ... on the 10th of July, 1821, at noon." It described him as the royal colony's "Lieutenant-Governor" who was "at the time acting consul at St. Marys, Ga., an important shipping point for Florida." The governor had summoned his consul home in order to participate in the ceremony marking East Florida's cession. Indeed, the "flag of Spain fell and the stars and stripes were unfurled by [Clarke's] hands." The article then informed its readers that one of his granddaughters, Mrs. Eliza M. Whitwell, "still lives in this city, and although 81 years of age, has a wonderful command of language, an excellent memory, recounting the story of her life with wonderful pathos." Due to a leg injury, she was being looked after "gratuitously" by a "prominent physician" and the "King's Daughters." She derived additional comfort from "a picture of her grandfather, in the dress of a Spanish officer." gt; Whitwell also had preserved a treasure trove of family documents. In a follow-up letter to Dr. Peck in 1868, she scolded the physician for attempting to circumvent her during a looming land dispute, reminding him that she, rather than her male relatives, was "to be consulted in the affairs of my Father's property." "I am," Mrs. Whitwell wrote, "his eldest child & well known to all his affairs & my Grand Father's, as well." At the time of her death, she was eulogized as a woman "constantly going to the post office, never with out a large bag of papers, which would confirm her titles to numerous landed estates in and about St. Augustine, this property having belonged to her grandfather Clarke." His Patriot War claims, which she surely had access to, besides more fully explaining why Clarke's octogenarian grandchild cherished Spanish rule, boasted of East Florida's booming economy at a time when Washing ton considered the province a "failed state" in need of American redemption. gt; The roots of the Spanish colony's prosperity lay largely in the United States quest for national security. At a time of international conflict between Great Britain and France, the young nation had aimed to stay neutral and create a windfall by trading with both belligerents. Thus, not only would it preserve its resources and independence, it would grow its economy. When the British and French thwarted this strategy by refusing to respect America's neutral rights, President Thomas Jefferson, in 1807, moved Congress to approve the Embargo Act. Jefferson's plan to bring the British and French to their knees by forbidding American ships from trading abroad backfired. After the U.S. economy went into a tailspin, the Non-Intercourse Act replaced the embargo in 1809. This measure singled out Britain and France, prohibiting commerce only with these battling superpowers. Once more, however, America's economic warfare failed. By 1812, the politically divided and economically depressed fledgling republic found itself fighting mighty Great Britain. gt; The contrast between the bustling economy in the royal domain south of the St. Marys River and the stagnating one of the United States is striking. Francis R. Sánchez recalled that in 1812, East Florida had been "tranquil and prosperous for ten years." Sánchez added that there were "no taxes—no oppressive duties to perform." A "good deal of wealth," Mary Smith stressed, resided there. Zephaniah Kingsley and Dr. James Hall wholeheartedly seconded her opinion. Matthew Long remembered a colony in "a flourishing condition ... and the people comfortably situated." Charles W. Clarke agreed that the "country was in a thriving state." Likewise, his brother, George J. F. Clarke, contended that the "condition of the country was most prosperous—every man was making his fortune, hand over hand, as fast as he could." Mrs. Sarah Acosta concurred, asserting that in those days, there was a "great deal of comfort and independence." gt; Jeffersonian foreign policy inadvertently had created a healthy demand for Spanish Florida's timber and cotton. Eager to cash in on a bonanza, George J. F. Clarke had relocated his family in 1808 from St. Augustine to Fernandina, which suddenly emerged as East Florida's "commercial center." Boasting a fine harbor and easily accessible location on Amelia Island's north end, nine miles from St. Marys, Georgia, the entrepôt attracted merchants and smugglers. The end of the U.S. participation in the international slave trade also drew them. Fernandina's mushrooming streets "abounded" with boards and scantling intended for local construction, so much so that there was no place to secure it. Governor Enrique White eventually called upon Clarke, who lived in a "very fine frame dwelling house," to reconfigure the boom town's disorderly layout. The port's population soon surpassed that of hoary St. Augustine. By 1815, four out of ten Floridians resided in the urban upstart. As Clarke explained, "in consequence of the restrictive measures of the American Government, the trade of the United States with all the world except Spain centred at Fernandina." Joseph M. Hernández recalled that the settlement "had just sprung up ... buildings were multiplying" and "150 square rigged vessels from all nations at one time" anchored "in the Harbor." Brisk trade meant that "money was plenty." The Spaniards had trumped Washington's designs to profiteer from European quarrels. gt; Spain's search for security likewise spawned Clarke's cheery financial prospects. To bolster their frontier with the United States, the financially strapped Spaniards took the calculated risk of attempting to buffer East Florida by opening its borders to American and other foreign settlers. Beginning in 1790, the Spanish offered immigrants liberal land grants in proportion to the number of family members and slaves that they brought into the province. In order to attract more capital, the Crown fueled "a rage for lumbering in consequence of certain privileges and inducements offered to the Inhabitants." Only Spanish subjects were permitted to cut timber in East Florida. Those immigrants who swore a loyalty oath could fell trees on public land "free from any cost or charge." On the Georgia side of the St. Marys River, lumbermen paid a fee of twenty-five cents per tree. In 1812, according to Zephaniah Kingsley, "one Hundred sail of vessels," mostly foreign, were waiting at Fernandina to load lumber, and almost everyone in the province was cutting it." gt; Clarke counted himself a member of this crowd. As the colony's surveyor general, he was entitled to a portion of its timber exports for his salary. Consequently, he amassed copious amounts of this valuable commodity. He acquired more lumber privately. Some was purchased, but most came from his own "establishment." He cut trees at six locations near the St. Marys and St. Johns Rivers. In order to carry on these logging operations, he invested significant funds. Horses, oxen, wagons, carts, chains, harnesses, as well as an assortment of tools and boats were required. He needed lumberjacks and teamsters, so he employed slaves, whites, and free blacks. Clarke supplied each worker with an iron pot and an axe, housed the men in clapboard cabins, and fed them with corn, rice, and pork. Matthew Long recalled that "it is well known that [Clarke] had everything in first-rate order" and that the buildings, provisions, utensils, furniture, and implements in his lumber camp "must have been very considerable." gt; Just before the American invasion of 1812, Clarke anticipated earning $1,470 from twenty piles of white oak barrel staves, each pile eight feet high, that sat in the "Swamp" of the Little St. Marys River. The purchasing power of this sum can be gleaned from witnesses who remembered the yearly wages of a lumber worker as being anywhere from $144 to $300. Elsewhere, John ( Juan) Leonardy had helped to cut "a good many cords" of pine and had "arranged the greater part of it" on the banks of Pigeon Creek. Clarke estimated that this lathwood was worth $285. At other spots on the St. Marys and its tributaries, the surveyor general had cut "a large quantity" of good-quality yellow pine ranging timber that he valued at approximately $3,300. To the south, a mile from the mouth of Julington Creek, which empties into the St. Johns River near modern-day Jacksonville, Clarke's men had collected red cedar, which they had cut, hauled to the water's edge, and prepared for market. Its price at that remote location was $5,615. This figure would double once the cedar reached Fernandina. gt; Because "it was the time of the American Embargo and lumber was very high," Clarke logged year round. John Moses Bowden and Peter Pons remembered sizable rafts of Clarke's timber frequently floating down the St. Marys. Clarke's cedar was rafted to Fernandina via the St. Johns. Pedro Rodríguez, in 1838, could visualize the rafted logs "piled up and down the water side" of the port. In addition to the "large quantity of lumber on the Beach in front of the city," Pons had observed a "great deal" more sitting near Clarke's dwelling house and horse-powered sawmill on Egan's Creek. When Joseph Lourcey would converse with Clarke's slaves whom he encountered going back and forth from the "maine to Amelia," they told him that they were engaged in harvesting timber. The surveyor general's expectations for 1812 were high. Clarke built boats of his own, and in 1811, he had two carts "suited to the lumber business" shipped to Amelia Island. They were "fitted with chains and harness complete." John Leonardy opined that Clarke "was well known as the most enterprising of all others carrying on the lumber business." gt; Other "old inhabitants" might bestow this title on the already wealthy John Houston McIntosh, a "shrewd and hard-nosed businessman" whose lust for mammon drove him to forsake the U.S. republic for the Spanish monarchy. In 1803, McIntosh left Georgia with his family, established residency in East Florida, and pledged his allegiance to a distant sovereign. By 1812, he had garnered a lucrative lumber contract that annually earned him thirty-six thousand dollars above his expenses. Gabriel Priest, his "first rate" timber manager, strained to deliver three hundred thousand feet of pine ranging timber each month for three years to an agent for a Liverpool firm. British ships at Fernandina "were loading all the time with this timber." Approximately sixty "strong and able" male slaves, eight to ten white men, twenty-six yoke of oxen, and twenty horses labored under Priest's direction on the St. Marys. All were part of the "very extensive and systematic arrangements" that McIntosh made to fulfill the terms of his "immense" contract. gt; McIntosh also invested heavily in the sec ond pillar of East Florida's prosperity—Sea Island cotton. He fixed his "principal place of residence" at his Fort George plantation, which he constructed on a barrier island three miles long and half as wide, at the mouth of the St. Johns River, some forty miles south of Fernandina. The overseer, John G. Rushing, supervised between 160 and 170 slaves. This "splendid" plantation's 70 to 80 "able bodied working hands" were either women, or men too weak to join their comrades toiling in the forests under Gabriel Priest. Of the island's 600 acres of "planting land," 250 to 300 acres were devoted to cotton. Provisions—corn, peas, and sweet potatoes—were raised, too. McIntosh claimed to have cleared seventeen thousand dollars each year from this estate's cotton production. Thirty miles away, on the west bank of the St. Johns, at the mouth of McGirt's Creek, he cultivated a second plantation, "Ortega." Here again, the 30 to 40 field hands were mostly females. They looked after 120 to 130 acres of cotton, along with 60 to 70 acres of provisions. William Broadnax described Ortega as "extensive" and "well improved," though not as large as Fort George. McIntosh, in his lumber and cotton concerns, Joseph M. Hernández sniffed, "was enjoying every advantage." He was "almost coining money." gt; gt; Zephaniah Kingsley and John Fraser were even more systematic cotton planters than McIntosh. They sank their funds into the large-scale introduction of "picked" slaves directly from Africa. Kingsley had come to East Florida in 1803. "Laurel Grove," the center of his plantation complex, was six miles from Ortega, on the west bank of the St. Johns at the mouth of Doctors Lake. A mile from Laurel Grove stood "Springfield," and five or six miles away, Kingsley established "Canefield," also known as "Elm Spring." These three plantations, still "very good cotton and provision lands" in 1843, "might in fact be considered as one, as they were all contiguous to each other." He planted two hundred acres of cotton in 1812, and he anticipated earning twenty thousand dollars from this source alone. Seymour Pickett explained that the reason for Kingsley's "division of his negroes into different fields, was that he might cultivate the most choice lands." Over a hundred slaves wrested wealth from the soil. Kingsley had chosen "principally young, full grown African Negroes," so compared to most cotton plantations, the percentage "of old put out & infants was unusually small." The "greater part" of these Africans were men. gt; Fraser, who arrived in East Florida around 1808, "selected & brought" African slaves into East Florida on a more massive scale than Kingsley. Perhaps he had been encouraged by the latter's agribusiness, where half of the crop amounted to pure profit. Francis Richard Jr., Fraser's overseer at the Greenfield plantation from 1810 to 1812, worked 206 "picked young negroes" who were "introduced but a few years before from the Coast of Africa." Greenfield was situated on the west side of Pablo Creek, three miles from the mouth of the St. Johns. It was "first rate Hammock Land well calculated for cotton." Richard's charges planted eight hundred acres of cotton with an estimated worth of $80,000. To the north, on the St. Marys at the Great Cut Off plantation, 60 to 70 additional "picked hands" cultivated a large rice field for Fraser's benefit. The "ditching and dams" that they constructed "took in" five hundred acres. Judge Isaac H. Bronson ruled that Fraser would have earned $11,600 from this rice plantation in 1812. gt; gt;(Continues...)gt; gt; gt; gt;gt; gt;gt;gt; Excerpted from gt;The Cana Sanctuarygt; by gt;Frank Marottigt; Copyright © 2012 by The University of Alabama Press. Excerpted by permission of THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS. All rights reserved. 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