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1817.

aggressors. Added to this ground of Provisions running short, he hastened complaint on both sides, there was soon southward without

southward without delay, employing afterwards some violence em his Indians to scour the whole country

ployed in obtaining possession round the line of march, by which of the territory ceded to the United means he secured a great number of States by the last Creek treaties; vio- prisoners from the enemy. On the site lence for which the Indians took re of the stronghold which the negroes venge

in December, by attacking a had held, and been dispossessed in 1816, boat laden with supplies, on the Appa- | Jackson built a fort, and named it Fort lachicola, and killing above forty per- Gadsden; and this he made use of as sons who were on board, some of them a dépôt for supplies. being women and children.

On the 1st of April, the Creek towns So soon as the attack on the boat on Mickasukie Lake, and the Ocilla was known, the government authorized River, were stormed and destroyed, General Gaines to advance into Florida and cattle and corn in abundance was "if necessary;" but specially instructed taken. Here, too, was found a redhim not to attack a fort, if the Indians painted war-pole, from which were susshould take shelter under the guns of pended a great cluster of scalps ; fifty any, “but to report the fact.” General of them, it was said; and, as might Jackson, who was the principal officer have been expected, including those in the south, at the same time received of every sex and age. Beside these, orders, at the close of December, to put there were some two hundred and fifty himself at the head of the movement; others of these horrid trophies found, and he was empowered to call out a a circumstance which naturally enough militia force from his own state, in ad- shocked Jackson and his men. dition to that which had been raised in The American commander was not Georgia

a man easily deterred by difficulties or Early in January, General Jackson, scruples. Having no doubts in his at the head of a formidable band of mind of the complicity of the Spaniards Tennessee volunteers, set out for the and of their furnishing supplies to the seat of war. Before the end of the Seminoles, he marched forward, without month, he concluded a treaty with that delay, to St. Mark's, a small Spanish part of the Creek nation which was post, with a fort, at the head of Appafriendly to the United States; and se- lachicola Bay. After a feeble resistcured their assistance against the Sem- ance, the fort surrendered, and was

inoles. On the 1st of March, occupied by American forces.

he reached Fort Scott, on the While here, Jackson took prisoners, Appalachicola; having now under his a Scotch trader, from New Providence, command above four thousand men, a named Alexander Arbuthnot, and soon force exceeding in number the whole after Robert C. Ambrister, a native of of the nation he was about to attack, the same province. Both were engaged including both women and children. I in active trade with the Indians, and

1818.

CH. II.]

ARBUTHNOT AND AMBRISTER EXECUTED.

315

of General Gaines as president, and a bo

were charged with stimulating them to him were: 1st. “ Aiding, abetting, and

To most of persons, the comforting the enemy, and supplying question as to what disposition was to them with the means of war, he being be made of these men, would have a subject of Great Britain, who was at caused some hesitation and uncertainty; peace with the United States, and late but Jackson was prompt in his deter- an officer in the British colonial mamination, and marked out his course as rines.” 2d. “Leading and commanddecisively as if it admitted of not a ing the Lower Creek Indians, in carrymoment's doubt. On the 20th of April, ing on war against the United States." he detailed a court-martial, consisting The court-martial found him guilty of

both charges, and sentenced him to be large number of other officers, for the shot; but, on reconsideration, changed purpose of investigating the charges the sentence to fifty lashes and confineagainst Arbuthnot and Ambrister, and ment with hard labor for a year. On deciding upon their guilt or innocence, the 29th of April, General Jackson and what punishment, if any, should be approved the sentence of the court, in inflicted.

the case of Arbuthnot, and also, the The charges against Arbuthnot were first sentence of the same body, in rethe following: 1st. “For exciting and spect to Ambrister; and ordered them stirring up the Creek Indians to war both to be executed the next day. against the United States and her citi Victorious in East Florida, where he zens, he being a subject of Great Brit- had slain about sixty of the enemy,

and ain, with whom the United States are burnt seven hundred huts, shot one at peace.” 2d. “For acting as a spy, Indian trader, hung another, and also aiding, abetting, and comforting the two Indians, captured by stratagem, enemy, and supplying them with the and lost twenty of his allied Creeks, means of war.” 3d. “For exciting the General Jackson now marched against Indians to murder and destroy William Pensacola; where, as usual, the Indians Hambly and Edmund Doyle, confiscate had been sheltered by the Spanish antheir property, and causing their arrest, thorities. The governor of the place with a view to their condemnation to protested against the invasion of the death, and the seizure of their property, province, and declared his determinathey being citizens of Spain; on ac tion to resist. But as this did not stay count of their active and zealous exer- the advance of Jackson, he retired to

tions to maintain peace between the fort at the Barancas, and left Pen

Spain, the United States, and sacola undefended, for the Americans the Indians.” He was found guilty of to take possession of without a blow. the first and second charge, omitting the Three days later, the army marched to words “acting as a spy," and sentenced the Barancas, raised a breast-work in to be hung.

the night, and bombarded the fortress, The next day, Ambrister's trial was which, on the 27th of May, was surten

The charges against dered to the United States. The Span

1818.

entered upon.

1818.

ish civil and military authorities were commerce flourishing, and the revenue transported to Havana, and the province steadily increasing. The relations with was occupied by the American troops. Spain were unsettled as yet, but Colonel King was appointed civil and with all other powers, there was military governor, the Spanish revenue peace and amity existing. The receipts laws were abolished, and all the neces- into the treasury for the first three sary officers of the new government quarters of the year, the president appointed. General Jackson then re-stated, had exceeded $17,000,000. On turned to Nashville, leaving General the 1st of January of the next year, Gaines in command. But early in Au- more than $2,000,000 would remain in gust, he ordered Gaines to take posses- the treasury, and the revenue for the sion of St. Augustine, on the ground year was estimated at $26,000,000; that the Indians had been supplied other topics, relating to home affairs there with ammunition to carry on the principally, were urged upon the notice war. Immediately on this order be- of Congress. coming known to the war department, The bank of the United States, from it was countermanded.

the establishment of which great exThe proceedings of General Jackson pectations of advantage had been formcaused great excitement throughout the ed, did not accomplish all that the peo country, and severe censures were freely ple desired. The consequence was, that bestowed upon measures which were loud complaints were made, and charges held to be of the most high-handed of mismanagement were freely circucharacter. The meeting of Congress, lated against the directors of the bank. and the course which the government At the time when Congress assembled, would pursue in this matter, were looked and the president presented his flatterfor with deep interest not unmingled ing picture of the state of things in the with apprehension.

United States generally, the bank was During the recess of Congress, Mr. evidently getting into an exceedingly Monroe paid a visit to the towns and unsatisfactory condition ; and the greatcoasts of Chesapeake Bay, for the pur- est fears were every where entertained pose of examining the forts and defences in consequence. A commitee of inin that quarter, and of selecting a site quiry was appointed, with John C. for a naval dépôt. He returned by the Spencer at the head, who ascertained interior of Virginia to Washington, some of the immediate causes of this ; * about the middle of June; and the and they require the best attention of national legislature re-assembled on the the reader, as well because of their in16th of November. The message was trinsic importance, as of the large share sent in the next day, and contained a full and interesting summary of affairs for the consideration of Congress. The

* The committee consisted of Messrs. Spencer,

Lowndes, M'Lane, Bryan, and Tyler. Their report, country was represented as being in a

which was very elaborate, was brought in on the 16th prosperous condition; crops abundant, 1 of January, 1819.

CH. II.)

GAMBLING IN BANK STOCK.

317

of public concern which has been be- of their stock, without any other secustowed upon the question of a national rity; first, at par, and afterwards for bank and its advantages and disadvan- twenty-five per cent. more than the tages.

nominal amount; requiring, however, The actual specie capital possessed an endorser for the excess. These stock. by the bank, when first entering upon notes, as they were termed, were rethe transaction of business, was only ceived indefinitely, at the pleasure of $2,000,000, a sum entirely insufficient the stockholders. And as a necessary for the purposes of the institution. A and foreseen consequence, shares were special agent accordingly was sent to bought without the advance of a cent. England, at a salary of $20,000, to con An adventurer would engage a certain tract for specie; and between July, number of shares, apply to the directors 1817, and December, 1818, upwards of for a loan on the pledge of the stock $7,250,000 were obtained and imported engaged, and by what was called a into the United States. But the cost " simultaneous operation,” the stock was at which this was done was enormous, transferred to him, pledged to the bank, being more than half a million of and the discount made, with the avails dollars.

of which he paid for his stock: a rise Numerically, as it might, perhaps, in the market would enable him to sell have been expected under the then ex- his stock at an advance, pocket the difisting circumstances, the speculators ference, and commence new operations.

who held shares in the bank far | As a further consequence, the price of

exceeded the capitalists; and shares rose, till, about the beginning of the former class having thus gained September, 1817, they reached $156.50 the direction of its operations, they a share; and at last, all of a sudden, took care to guide them so as to secure soon after Congress had begun to inadvantages and profit for themselves, quire respecting the business, and no without regard either to the legitimate doubt because of the inquiry, the bubobject of the establishment of the bank, ble burst, and they fell from $156.50 or the claims of those whose capital, to $110, and thence to $90 a share; put into the concern, was its only avail- dissipating hundreds of imaginary forable means of working or subsisting. tunes, and changing many shareholders The particular way in which they em- in the bank into bankrupts. ployed their power, was the device and The city of Baltimore was the prinperfection of a scheme of stockjobbing cipal scene of these operations; the in bank shares, the like to which has management of that branch having not often been attempted in this par- fallen almost exclusively into the hands ticular species of gambling. The mode of persons without capital, and without of operations was something after this principle. Two or three houses, in sort. It was agreed to discount the which some of the directors had an in notes of stockholders for the payment terest, drew from the bank $1,500,000, of their instalments, upon the pledge and the defalcations in the Baltimore

1818.

1819.

branch alone announted to $1,700,000; whole matter, and in their report set a sum about equal to the aggregate forth the real causes of the embarrassamount of losses at the parent bank ments of the bank; the consequence and all the other branches.

of which was, that Mr. William Jones, Nor was this the only way in which the president, and others of the the institution was injured by these managers, resigned their posts. speculations. One of the chief benefits Stringent measures were recommended expected from it, for the Union at large, by the committee, and several resoluwas the creation of a general currency tions offered in respect to what were of uniform value; by which the greater considered violations of the charter of part of the evils affecting the business the bank* A new board of direction transactions of the country would have was chosen, and Langdon Cheves, whose been remedied or prevented. And for reputation as a financier stood dethis purpose it was requisite that bills servedly high, was appointed president. issued by any particular branch, and, Under his able and vigilant control according to their tenor, payable at matters speedily assumed a brighter that branch only, should be received aspect. The stock found its way into and paid, both at the parent bank and the hands of real capitalists, and rose all its branches. Until July, 1818, this again in value to $120 per share. The plan was followed; but most of the affairs of the institution were minutely enormous quantity of paper emitted in examined, and a careful and trustworthe southern and western states, by the thy statement was published, which regular course of trade found its way quite reassured the minds of the shareto the north, and in self-defence the holders. The most prudent measures, branches there were at last compelled in borrowing specie, curtailing disto refuse payment, and then the bank counts, arranging the relations of the ordered the payment of bills at the branches, and prosecuting defaulters, branches issuing them alone, so that were adopted ; and not only was bankthis first attempt to get a uniform cur- ruptcy averted, but the establishment, rency proved fruitless.

after a short season of uncertainty and One of the worst features in the unpopularity, began to recover from its whole case was this; some of the most losses, and to regain and to deserve the prominent of the directors, both those confidence of the mercantile world. elected by the shareholders and those The president, not long after the nominated by the government, were implicated in these schemes and specu * A clause in the charter allowed no individual to have lations; and the parent bank at Phila more than thirty votes, no matter what the number of

his shares in the bank might be. The speculators of delphia itself was induced to imitate

Baltimore very adroitly evaded the force of this provithe dishonest proceedings at Baltimore, sion of the charter, by subscribing for single shares in to the injury of New York and Boston. the names of other people, who gave them powers of The committee, named above, entered attorney to vote for them at the meetings, and charged

the sum of twelve and a half cents for the risk entailed into a most careful investigation of the by their participation in this gross fraud !

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