During the first session of the General Assembly in 1819, General Jackson came to Huntsville with his horses to take part in some racing. The visit by the famous general could not be passed over in silence and the legislature took the opportunity to celebrate. Both houses passed resolutions of respect for the General, and he was invited to visit and take a seat in either house whenever he liked.1
Attended Huntsville Masonic Lodge
General Jackson was a frequent visitor to Huntsville and he stayed several weeks in Huntsville. It was said that he was partial to the Old Green Bottom Inn where he “raced his horse and fought his cocks.” He was well-known in Huntsville and often attended meetings at the Huntsville Masonic Lodge. Many Alabamians had fought with Jackson in the Creek Indian War and they believed that Jackson, “was the hero of New Orleans and had saved their land and homes from the British.
During the session, Colonel Howell Rose, a Senator from the county of Autauga, introduced joint resolutions inviting the general to a seat within the bar of both the House and the Senate as an expression of their gratitude to him. Another resolution approving of his course in the Seminole War was also introduced. Both resolutions were passed and Colonel Rose had the honor of providing General Jackson with a copy of the resolutions.
The resolutions for Jackson were not adopted unanimously, however. James G. Birney of Huntsville vehemently disagreed with the resolutions and several other men joined him in his disapproval. They did not approve of General Jackson’s actions regarding the Seminole War.
Tension over 1st Seminole War
The First Seminole War developed out of tensions relating to General Jackson’s excursions into northern Spanish Florida against the Seminoles beginning in 1816. The governments of Britain and Spain both expressed outrage over the “invasion” but ultimately, the Spanish Crown agreed to cede Florida to the United States in the Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819.”2
The resolution adopted by the Constitutional Convention regarding the Seminole War read as follows:
And be it further resolved that this General Assembly do highly disapprove of the late attempt made by some members of the Congress of the United States at the last session to censure the military course of this inestimable officer from motives (as we believe) other than patriotic.”
The Resolution was carried in the House by a majority of twenty-seven to twenty-one; five counties, two in the north and three in the south, going against it, ten well-scattered counties voting in favor of it and six splitting their vote equal.
Division regarding Jackson’s attack on Pensacola
Men like Birney had a strong company. Governor Bibb wrote to Tait concerning Jackson’s attack on Pensacola in the Seminole War as follows:
“Government has done right respecting the occupation of Florida, except in apologies for Genl. Jackson. In that, they have erred (according to my judgment) most egregiously. They will gain nothing by it with his friends and lose much with the thinking part of the nation. Not a moment should have been lost in arresting the Genl. and thereby showing a just regard to the preservation of our constitution. No man should be permitted in a free country to usurp the whole powers of the whole government and to thwart with contempt all authority except that of his own will_.”
Walker showed a different spirit. He wrote to Tait:
“I fear we think too much alike about some things touching the Seminole War. I would to God they were undone. He is a great man with great defects. One cannot help loving or blaming him. But I follow your exemplary course—and perhaps go further, when I cannot praise I try to be silent.
Many of the men who opposed Jackson on this occasion signed their political death warrant in Alabama.
1 Brown, William Garrott; Pickett, Albert James, A History of Alabama, for Use in Schools: Based as to its Earlier Parts on the Work of Albert J. Pickett, University Publishing Company, 1900
This story and more can be found in ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Statehood
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- Who Controlled And Organized The New State of Alabama?
- Tuscaloosa Had Three Other Names
- Chandelier Falls & Capitol Burns
- Alabama Throws Parties For General LaFayette
- Francis Scott Key Was Sent to Alabama To Solve Problems