Mobile, Alabama is the birthplace of the first Mardi Gras in America. [See the story: Have you ever heard of Massacre Island in Mobile, Alabama?] In January until ‘Fat Tuesday’, Mobile will celebrate. locations and schedule of events at Mobile Mask.
In 1810, a band of Americans, calling themselves patriots who had suffered cruelty at the hands of the Spaniards, organized, fought and made a Declaration of Independence and took steps to establish a government independent of the United States.
Mississippi Territory organized in 1798
In 1798, Congress, with the consent of the State of Georgia, organized the territory of Mississippi, comprising the country bounded between thirty-one degrees and thirty-two degrees twenty-eight minutes, and between the Mississippi and Chattahoochee Rivers.
It was stipulated that this organization by Congress was not to impair the rights of Georgia. President Adams appointed Winthrop Sergeant, Governor; John Steele, Secretary; and John Tilton of New Hampshire and Thomas Rodney of Delaware, Judges.
The Natchez District was formed into two counties, Adams and Pickering. The population of this district numbered six thousand. They cultivated the banks of the Mississippi, and the bayous and larger streams flowing into that river. The Chickasaw and other Native American tribes dwelt on these settlements, while the Spanish Government held the country to the south.
The Alabama District was organized into one county, Washington, which owned an area from which twenty counties in Alabama and twelve in Mississippi were later established. The population of the entire territory, excluding Indians, was around ten thousand.
Georgia rights acquired
In 1802, the Federal Government acquired from Georgia all of her rights in the territory west of the Chattahoochee. It was agreed that Georgia should be paid the sum of one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and the Federal Government stipulated that the Indians should be removed as soon as possible from the territory of Georgia.
In 1801, Napoleon compelled Spain to cede the province of Louisiana to France; but burdened by European possessions and not being able to protect and defend so distant and at that time unprofitable colony, he readily consented, in consideration of fifteen millions of dollars, which was needed by his war camp chest, to cede Louisiana to the United States.
This cession took place April 30, 1803, and at once large numbers of settlers flocked into the territory of Louisiana from many States and established settlements from the Kansas River to the mouth of the Mississippi River. On December 20, 1803, General Wilkinson and the troops of the United States took possession of New Orleans.
Disputed land ownership
Residents of Spanish garrison and commercial restrictions at Mobile were anxious to occupy the lands around Bayou Sara, Baton Rouge and Manchac on the east bank of the Mississippi and the lands on the Tombigbee and Alabama, south of thirty-one degrees and as far as the gulf, both of which regions fell within the latest Spanish definition of West Florida.
They contended that the cession of Louisiana by Spain to France in 1801 was a cession of that Louisiana of which Bienville had been the founder and which France possessed before 1792, and that when Napoleon ceded all the territory acquired by France from Spain to the United States in 1802 that he ceded not only the region then known as Louisiana, but also that other region extending from Perdido to Bayor Iberville which embraced Mobile, which was once a part of Louisiana, but which afterwards became known as a part of Florida. The United States supported this claim.
Border troubles began to take place between the Americans and the Spaniards. John Randolph, of the Committee on Foreign Relations, even supported a bill in Congress to raise an army to repel the Spaniards, but President Thomas Jefferson exerted his influence and defeated a warlike measure.
However, animosity against the Spanish occupancy grew for several years while the population of Louisiana and Mississippi multiplied.
Governor killed in the assault
Finally, in August 1810, a band of Americans, calling themselves patriots, and under the lead of the Kempers, who had suffered cruelty at the hands of the Spaniards, organized at St. Francisville, and made a dash upon Baton Rouge and took the place by surprise. Governor Grandpre was killed in the assault. The other posts were captured in succession and the Spanish forces departed for Pensacola.
The territory captured was bounded by thirty-one degrees on the north, Bayor Iberville on the south, the Mississippi on the west and the Pearl River on the east. It embraced the parishes of West and East Feliciana, East Baton Rouge, St. Helena, Livingston, Washington and St. Tammany, in Louisiana, a territory comprising nearly eight thousand square miles and equal in size to the State of Massachusetts.
Declaration of Independence
A Declaration of Independence was published by the patriots and steps were taken to establish a government independent of the United States. The adventure of Aaron Burr, a few years prior to this event, inspired wide-spread ambition to organize new governments after the model of the United States from either unoccupied territory of the United States or from neighboring territory.
The new republic commissioned Reuben Kemper to organize a force upon the Tombigbee to expel the Spaniards from Mobile and all the territory between the Pearl and Perdido Rivers. Many men were organized and moved down the river. They halted one mile above the town of Blakely and sent a note to Governor Folch demanding the surrender of Mobile. While waiting for an answer, they were surprised by a Spanish force and a number were killed and the rest took flight. Some captives were confined five years in Moro Castle. The United States, not wanting to be involved in a war against Spain, frowned on the actions of the Kempers and sent a force to Mobile to protect the Spaniards.
The failure of the expedition against Mobile resulted in a relinquishment of all plans for an independent republic upon Lake Pontchartrain and in the annexation of that region to Louisiana.
Spain continued to hold the country south of thirty-one degrees and to shut the Americans from the gulf, but the United States made valuable acquisitions of territory in other directions.
This story and more can be found in ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS: Settlement: Lost & Forgotten Stories by Donna R. Causey
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