Thayer's Note: The reader can follow the narrative on the author's maps and a modern map, collected in a single webpage: they will open in another window.
The day set for the meeting of the Convention, July 25, found the delegates from the various districts gathered at Saints John Plains, and the opening meeting was given over to organization. John Rhea, of Feliciana, was unanimously selected as the presiding officer; Dr. Andrew Steele, of Baton Rouge, was made secretary; George Mather, Sr., acted as recorder, and a Feliciana planter named Samuel S. Crocker was designated clerk.
Feliciana was represented by Judge Rhea, John Hunter Johnson, John Mills, and William Barrow. The five delegates from Baton Rouge included Philip Hicky, Thomas Lilley, Edmund Hawes, John Morgan, and Manuel Lopez (the latter, it will be observed, was the only delegate who did not bear an Anglo-Saxon name). The four from Ste. Helena were John W. Leonard, John Thomas, William Spiller, and Benjamin O. Williams. The lone delegate from the Chifoncté district was William Cooper.
"The members naturally hesitated to proceed along the unaccustomed path of self-government," says one account. "Their experience under the Spanish régime and a certain mutual distrust caused them to avoid hasty action until each had disclosed his attitude. Some of them were ready for common action and were doubtless responsible for circulating an anonymous code that had already been favorably received. This was designed to place all political power in the hands of the convention, acting jointly with de Lassus." This "anonymous code" was the so‑called constitution or declaration written by Edward Randolph, which had been circulated by the Feliciana ringleaders. As has already been stated this "code" was never adopted, the real declaration and constitution being entirely different documents and adopted later.
The first act of the convention was to pass comprehensive resolutions defining its powers. They were:1
Resolved, That this Convention created by the whole body of the people of the government of Baton Rouge, and by the previous consent of the Governor, is therefore legally constituted to act in all cases of national concern which relates to this province, to provide for publick safety, to create a revenue, and with the consent of the Governor, to create tribunals civil and criminal, and to define their own powers relating to other concerns of the government, when to adjourn, when to meet again, and how long to continue their session.
Resolved, That it is the unanimous wish of this Convention to proceed in all our deliberations for the publick welfare with the entire approbation of his Excellency Carlos de Hault de Lassus, our present Governor, and that we become responsible with him to the superior authorities for the expediency of the measures which may be adopted with p50 his concurrence, that we engage to support him as our Governor, with the emoluments appertaining to his present office, and to give him all the aid in our power in the execution of the duties thereof."
After thus deftly hamstringing Don Carlos with this forced complicity, the delegates called it a day and on Thursday, July 26, got down to business when the several delegates opened their budgets of grievances.
"St. John's Plains, July 26, 1810.
"On motion it was unanimously
"Resolved, That it is the immediate object of this assembly: to promote the safety, honor, and happiness of his Majesty, Ferdinand VII's province of West Florida, to guard against his enemies, both foreign and domestic, to punish wrongs and to correct abuses dangerous to the existence and prosperity of the state.
"Resolved, unanimously, That this Convention consider themselves legally authorized, by decree of his Excellency herein prefixed, to exercise the powers and perform the duties expressed in the proceedings of yesterday.
"Ordered, That the Convention do now take into consideration the existing grievances of the country, which require immediate redress, whereupon the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"Resolved, That we consider it a grievance that the whole country is a place of refuge for the deserters and fugitives from justice from the neighboring States and Territories, men of character and fortune are prohibited from settling among us, by which means a population is daily increasing, dangerous to the peace and safety of the country, while we have no increase of such as are interested in maintaining order and obedience to the laws. [This was offered by Thomas Lilley and sanctioned by George Harries].
"Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that in the present defenceless state of the country, when we are by no means secure, either from domestic insurrection or foreign invasion, no sufficient measures are pursued to organize, arm and discipline the militia to act with promptitude in defense of the country. [This was proposed by William Barrow and Philip Hicky jointly].
"Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that the evil-disposed persons are not deterred from the commission of crimes by the example of speedy and condign punishment of the offenders; there being no tribunal amongst us, competent to give final judgment in criminal cases, by which means the most atrocious criminals either go unpunished or are sent to distant tribunals, so that no advantage is derived from the example of the punishment inflicted [John Mills and William Cooper backed this grievance].
"Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that much expense and delay in obtaining justice in civil cases, arises from want of a tribunal among us competent to decide finally on all cases of law and equity; from the too limited jurisdiction of inferior civil magistrates in the several districts of this government; and from the regulation which requires that all process be conducted in a language not understood by a large majority of the people. [John Johnson and William Barrow backed this complaint].
"Resolved, That we consider it a grievance, that abuses and irregularities have been practiced in the office of the p51 surveyor of the department of the Government for some years past, by which means many cases of litigation are likely to arise, and many of the inhabitants in danger of being deprived of their just claims; and that the boundaries of land, having been made by legal authority, these lands should be resurveyed at any time after, with a view to alter their boundaries. [William Barrow and William Spiller authored this grievance].
"Resolved, That we consider as a grievance, the want, or almost neglect of laws respecting roads, slaves, and all live stock of every description in the country. [This complaint came jointly from Philip Hicky and Joseph Thomas].
"On motion, ordered, That Messers. J. H. Johnson, Thomas Lilley, Philip Hicky, and John Mills, be considered a committee to draft a plan for the redress of these grievances, and for the defense and safety of the country, and that they report by bill or otherwise.
"Resolved, That we consider it as a grievance, that no fee-bills are exhibited by officers in the employment of their Government, by which neglect the inhabitants are subjected to impositions and extravagant charges by means of said officers, for their services; and that petitions of pressing importance, when presented, are often neglected, or remain for a long time unanswered. [Philip Hicky and Manuel Lopez insisted on this complaint].
"Resolved, That a uniform standard of weights and measures be established throughout this Province, and that a select committee determine the best mode of carrying the same into effect. [John Leonard and William Spiller insisted on this being included].
"Resolved, That we consider the facility with which the exiled French from our Island of Cuba have found means to introduce themselves into this province, a very serious and alarming grievance, and that prompt measures ought to be resorted to, to prevent their future introduction. [Also by Leonard and Spiller].
"Adjourned until tomorrow at 9 o'clock.
"Friday, July 27th, 1810.
"The Committee assembled. On motion,
"Resolved, That it is a grievance, that a number of the inhabitants, who are, and have been for some years past, resident in this province, are unable to obtain titles to the lands upon which they have settled by permission of the government, in consequence of a mistaken policy or design in the officers of the government and which lands are occupied by his Majesty's subjects, who are willing to come forward in support of the general good and defense of the country. [Benjamin Williams and William Spiller aired this grievance].
"Resolved, That it becomes the duty of this province to lessen as much as possible the burthens of the Mother Country, engaged as she is at present, in a dubious contest for her own preservation; and that provision ought to be made as soon as possible, for defraying the expenses of this department of the Government, from such resources as may be found within the country; that such part of the National Treasury as we might have a claim to hereafter for that purpose, may be employed for more useful and important national objects. [Philip Hicky and Thomas Lilley insisted that this be included among the other protests].
p52 "Resolved, That it be recommended to the Committee appointed to provide for the redress of grievances, to take into consideration the expediency of appointing a Counsellor acquainted with the laws of Castile and the Indies, whose duty it shall be to give his opinion in writing to the Supreme Court of Justice, on all important questions, or points of law which may arise in the discussion of the causes which may be admitted to their decision. [Thomas Lilley and Manuel Lopez backed this recommendation].
"Resolved, That no member of this Convention shall be arrested by any civil process, during the session or prorogation, or when travelling to or from the place of meeting, until final adjournment thereof." [All delegates agreed upon this].
It is worthy of note that neither John Morgan of Baton Rouge nor William Cooper from the Chifoncté district had any grievances to air; they probably agreed upon what some of the others believed needed correction in the government of the whole district.
So ended the first meeting the greatly feared and cheered convention of the people. Before adjourning to meet again on the second Monday in August, the members addressed a communication to Governor de Lassus, and appointed a committee consisting of Philip Hicky, Manuel Lopez and Joseph Thomas to present it to him.
This fulsome address advised the governor of the satisfaction the delegates derived from his approval of their meeting and, in the name of their constituents, they thanked him for his efforts "to preserve popular tranquility in a time of general anxiety and alarm." They assured his excellency that the sole object of their deliberations was "to promote the safety, honor, and happiness of our beloved king, Ferdinand VII, to guard against his enemies, foreign and domestic, and to punish wrongs and correct abuses dangerous to the existence and prosperity of the province."
They closed with the hope that their future action would meet with his approval, called attention to the passages in their resolutions which dealt with the powers of government and his salary, notified him of the appointment of a committee that would seek to redress their grievances, and advised him that it was their intention to meet again August 14, to receive the report of said committee and to proceed in the discharge of any duties enjoined by our constituents.
"May God preserve you many years," was the ending.
New Orleans was evidently very much interested in what went on in West Florida as the "Louisiana Gazette" reported every bit of Florida news that came within reach of the typecases. Of the first meeting it printed:
"The convention that met at Buller's Plains, previous to their entering on any business, each member took and subscribed an oath of allegiance to Ferdinand the seventh, then their budgets were opened, and on examination it was found that the greatest grievance complained of was the want of a judiciary system and a judge.
"The members comprising this general convention were pretty unanimous in their opinion of clinging close to p53 the Spanish government as long as there were any hopes of their success, and in the meantime to apply to the Governor General of Havanna for redress of grievances, particularly to send them a man learned in the law to hold the scales of justice. Should the Governor General send such a man, it would be a proper precaution to establish a salary for him that will place him above corruption.
"A committee of said convention have been named to draft an address to the Governor General of Havanna; the members are John H. Johnson, John Mills, Philip Hicky, John W. Leonard and Joseph Thomas, Esquires, and Dr. Steele, secretary. The convention is to meet in the latter part of this month to examine the address and give it the finishing touch.
"Governor Folch has arrived at Pensacola, from the Havana, and will, it is said, honor the grand convention by his attendance at their next meeting; whether he intends to approbate or disapprobate, is not known; some say that he is to take 500 men with him by way of escort. F."
This closing sentence could not have been at all reassuring to those responsible for this first move for liberty. Was Governor Folch actually on his way to Baton Rouge? That was a serious question, especially to the Feliciana ringleaders.
Two days after receipt of the address from the convention delegates, Don Carlos de Hault de Lassus dipped his crow quill into the ink horn and in a lengthy communication informed the delegates that he accepted their terms. The original letter in Spanish and an English translation of it by William Herries of "Montesano," are in existence today and from the original English translation the following is transcribed:
"I have received the 28th of this month by the three Gentlemen named by your deputation Messrs. Philip Hicky Manuel Lopez and Joseph Thomas the address that the assembly celebrated with my permission as directed to me under date of 27th inst. Being informed of its contents I must express to you how much it tranquilizes me and gives me satisfaction to see the unanimity with which the deputies of the People have acted above all manifesting their Patriotism at the commencement of their deliberations with the object of Promoting the security, Honor and fidelity of this Portion of the Dominions of our beloved King Ferdinand the seventh.
"When I was informed of the movements that existed tending to cause a revolt in this faithful settlement I did not for a moment doubt of the general fidelity of those who have not ceased giving Proofs of it since they have pledged themselves by solemn oath to the Spanish Flag. And under this persuasion I dispatched immediately Messrs. Geo. Mather and Philip Hicky to Bayou Sarah (from which quarter it appeared came all the alarming news) that in conjunction with the Commandant there should be a general Assembly of the Inhabitants For I hoped that once met together it would calm the weak and put an end to the uneasiness occasioned by perfidious insinuations p54 spread by evil Persons envious of our fidelity and good harmony and from this has followed the present assembly which I have permitted without hesitation, as it is well known, because from its results as I comprehend, we will enjoy a permanent tranquility in this Territory exempt from foreign intreagues that have no other view than the ruin of these good inhabitants.
"I duly appreciate the thanks that you express to me on the present occasion; But not having been guided by any other idea than the fulfilment of the duties of my honourable Office, to preserve in its integrity this portion of the dominions of his Catholic Majesty, which has been committed to my care, in which as far as possible I have corresponded with my duty, which dispositions I flatter myself will tranquilize the People and with the same they will always find me disposed to contribute with you to preserve the tranquility on all and every occasion where I comprehended they are not in the smallest manner opposed to the existing Laws: orders of my Superiors, and contrary to my instructions which I firmly believe are your instructions, and this belief leads me to think that you will only represent to me the grievances some of you in particular or in general ought to have sustained of which I have not been informed to act in justice I have which I have done on all occasions which have come within my knowledge. But one of the principal and most essential points upon which it is urgent that I should be informed as you must all know, is that every good inhabitant is obliged by his duty to declare and give me full information (as it is ordered by the Proclamations published in this place and other districts under my command) who may be the author or authors of the seditious paskinades ["pasquinade" — a lampoon posted in a public place] tending to make the Settlement Revolt [word missing] others who spread in the different Districts the false and malicious expressions that they were in a real state of insurrection going so far as to express they had fallen into the crime of raising the Standard of Independence in order that ["they" crossed out and "I" set above it] may make known this infernal Project the day on which regulating by my order all the Militias of the districts to receive arms to exercise and be employed in the defense of the Country against the machinations of the French and give convenient dispositions according to the increase these informations may take and which I get from Persons employed by Government in places when they can obtain them with certitude and communicate them to me as they have done till this moment with the greatest exactness.
"With respect to the other objects that you announce to me if they appear of a nature that I accede to their execution you must not entertain the smallest doubt of the satisfaction with which I shall condescend to them. But if they are of such importance as to demand a determination superior to my Powers I shall direct them with the greatest promptitude by the regular channel. Being rightfully persuaded that all you announce to me will be undoubtedly conformable to the Laws under which we live so happy and I shall be ready to receive them with the greatest satisfaction the day that you will mention to me and shall listen to your demands as representatives of these faithful subjects, and as co-operators in the preservation of this Territory to its legitimate Sovereign Ferdinand the Seventh with all his rights and privileges.
p55 "The desire that you manifest to me of having me for your Chief in the name of the People and support my dispositions is extremely grateful to me and if my efforts and wishes for the prosperity of these inhabitants were even susceptible of being augmented there is no doubt but this should be the moment most propitious as I consider myself always happy to merit the goodwill of a People faithful to their King and his wise Laws. I repeat to you my most sincere thanks for the particular attachments that you may manifest to me in making yourselves responsible with me to the Superior Authority, but as by the Royal ordinance, the Chief is the only responsible person for his operations and dispositions, I cannot accept of your offer notwithstanding that I believe I know the good intentions with which you make it as well as regards the generous demonstrations of supporting my salaries at your expense neither which I can accept of being well Satisfied and honored with the pay that I receive from My Royal Master Ferdinand the Seventh.
"But as I do presume that this proposition originates from a Patriotic offer, when I shall be informed of the amount and full explanation I shall communicate it to the superior authority that they may dispose of it either in defraying the expenses of this Government or any other way that may be considered more convenient. The election that has been made of you to establish your representations please me very well being persons that merit according to my oppinionº the just good fame to which they are intitled by their constant Zeal for the general good as well as all the other gentlemen elected by the people of the Assembly. I approve that you should meet again on the second Monday of August and that the committee appointed should remain in session to which I shall make any communications that may be necessary.
"God preserve you many years
Carlos Dehault Delassus.
"Baton Rouge 30th July 1810
"Messers Thomas Lilley, John H. Johnson, John W. Leonard, Philip Hicky, and John Mills. Members of the Committee by the Deputies of the People with the approbation of the Government."
The answer was promptly dispatched, it appears, as three days later John Mills punctiliously acknowledged its receipt.
"St Johns Plains August 3, 1810
To His Excellency Don Carlos Dehault Delassus, Coll. of the Royal Armies, Governor Civil and Military of the place and Jurisdiction of Baton Rouge, &c.
"The undersigned Chairman of the Committee of this Convention of the delegates of the People, has the Honour to inform your Excellency that he has this moment received your reply of the 30th, ultimo, to their address of the 27th, which shall be laid before the whole body of the Delegates immediately upon their next Meeting.
"In the mean time I cannot but express in the name of the Committee the great satisfaction they derive from your Excellency's Communication.
"God preserve you many years
p56 The delegates departed to their several homes at the conclusion of their labors but during the following two weeks the Feliciana men were not idle. It was necessary to draw up a comprehensive set of ordinances and resolutions that the delegates could adopt as future laws for the province. Much paper and ink was used in the confection of these ordinances, for it was realized that the tentative code drawn up by Edward Randolph would not answer all the needs.
William Barrow, after his return to his Feliciana plantation "Locust Grove," on August 5th, wrote a lengthy communication to his friend, Dr. J. R. Bedford, of Nashville, Tenn. Barrow confessed that notwithstanding the apparent harmony, which he hoped would continue, the delegates were at a loss as to what course they should adopt. He said that some were for the United States, some for Great Britain, and others were for a continuation of the Spanish rule under Ferdinand VII. Therefore, for the present, at least, the delegates had determined to continue the present Spanish laws but that they should be amended, but with responsible men of the province put into the offices, and that all inhabitants should be treated with equal justice.
Barrow confided to Doctor Bedford that in the midst of this popular confusion and ignorance his fellow-citizens wished to know what they "might reasonably expect from the United States." He declared the delegates "had no desire to cast a stigma on themselves or risk their best rights and interests." Barrow admitted that he hoped the measures taken "would quiet the minds of the people and give the leaders opportunity to determine the best method of procedure." As the United States had "excited them by laying claim to the territory," Barrow believed the Washington government was in duty bound to advise the delegates in the present crisis, and to act as was becoming to "a free and independent nation." Barrow closed his letter by mentioning a persistent rumor that Spanish soldiers were being sent to Baton Rouge from Pensacola by Governor Folch to "restore the old order of things, and made no secret of the fact that he and his fellows responsible for starting the convention movement regarded such a possibility with proper apprehension. The people have definitely selected their delegates and Barrow declared he believed the inhabitants would support their delegates if such danger arose.
Doctor Bedford immediately forwarded this communication to President Madison. It was the second letter from Barrow that the Nashville physician had sent to Washington. Early in June Barrow had confided to Bedford of the unrest in Feliciana and the rest of the province and had stated that he firmly believed the people of the district "were absolved from allegiance to the mother country and had a natural right to assume self-government," and that "in time West Florida must become a part of the United States." To facilitate such an ambitious step, Barrow believed, it might be best, pending action by the Washington government, for the liberty-loving Floridians "to form a temporary independent government," and to "include East Florida, if the latter desired to co-operate."
p57 William Barrow was born in Edgecombe county, North Carolina, in 1765, and accompanied his mother, Olivia Ruffin Barrow, to Feliciana in 1798, where he established "Locust Grove" plantation (now "Highland") under a Spanish grant. Before leaving Carolina he had married Pheraby Hillard, and on his Feliciana plantation his many children were born, they were: Robert Hilliard Barrow (who married Eliza Pirrie), Ann, or Nancy Barrow; William Ruffin Barrow, Bennett Barrow (died in infancy); Martha Hilliard Barrow (who married Daniel Turnbull), Bennett Hilliard Barrow, and Eliza Eleanor Barrow who married a cousin, William Hill Barrow.
William Barrow became one of the solid men of the Feliciana country. He was of a retiring disposition but proved a tower of strength in the deliberations of the convention. To use his own words to Doctor Bedford "his neighbors had been weak enough to choose him as a delegate" but he showed no sign of weakness in championing the ideal that Feliciana and the rest of West Florida must, in time, become a part of the United States.
There were others who believed that the people desired intervention, that the American eagle must hurry to this territory before the British Lion could retake both the Floridas. In an early issue of the Natchez "Weekly Chronicle" a writer, one evidently familiar with all that was going on "below the line", reviewed the situation and, evidently wishing to prod the Washington government into early action, closed his review with these words:
"Idle demagogues and declaimers may endeavor to alarm the fears of the people and may threaten them with French vengeance, but if the deputies are faithful to Florida, adhere to principle, and pursue a wise and just policy, they will acquire for themselves immortal honor, and secure a free and equitable government to their posterity.
"As far as we have seen an expression of public sentiment, there is not one American heart that does not beat in unison with the people of Florida; and the prayers of seven millions of freemen are daily offered up to this fountain of all good for the civil and political freedom and universal prosperity of our enlightened neighbors. The people of the United States and of Florida have the same object in view, the same end to accomplish. They are all nations of this soil and they must preserve it inviolate. Never must they permit this hallowed haunt of liberty to be polluted by the followers of the Corsican.
"Let the Florida Convention cast a retrospective eye over the miseries of Spain, and remember that these evils have been brought about her by the intrigues of the French, and that torrents of blood, similar to those which have flowed in the mother country, will deluge their happy land the moment they are led astray by the siren songs of Toryism. Let the American Congress and the Florida Convention perfectly understand each other, unite in measures of defense, and plant on the shores of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, a barrier that will secure us forever against the corrupting influence of French politics. By this means they will not only preserve liberty to themselves, but will transmit it unimpaired to their latest posterity."
p58 Governor Holmes of the Mississippi Territory, instructed by Washington to keep an eye on what was going on in West Florida, advised President Madison of the actions of the convention delegates and inclosed in his letter this clipping from the Natchez newspaper. Holmes wrote that it was evident to him that the people of the district desired to join the United States but that "they feared to make known such a desire or take the necessary step until they knew the attitude of President Madison," that Governor de Lassus "had only sanctioned something he could not prevent," and ventured to suggest that West Florida could be obtained without any material expense or "even the loss of a single life."
But President Jimmy Madison answered never a word. He and Governor Claiborne continued their discussions of the situation at Washington, but, even though Governor Holmes of Mississippi, and Acting-Governor Thomas Bolling Robinson of Orleans Territory at New Orleans, obeyed his instructions to keep a "wakeful eye" on Baton Rouge, the president sent into the disturbed area secret messengers who fraternized with the delegates and people in general. Although he said nothing, Madison was thoroughly alive to what was transpiring.
When the delegates of the people reassembled in convention, one of the Feliciana delegation was absent. Illness, a fever, kept John H. Johnson confined to "Troy" plantation. Merely as a spectator, Colonel Joshua G. Baker, an officer of the Mississippi Territorial militia, was sent to St. John's Plains as the personal observer of Governor Holmes. His duty was to ascertain the real views of the delegates and those they represented.
On the eve of this second gathering, Monday, August 13, a number of the prominent planters sent an address to their Feliciana representatives so that they might know of the sort of backing they had at home. Addressed to "The members of the Representative Convention assembled at St. John's Plains", it read:
"The inhabitants of St. Francisville to their representatives assemble at St. Johns Plains, respectfully represent:
"That we repose every confidence in the laudable desires, patriotic exertions, and firmness of our representatives to bring about such a change in the political affairs of our Country — and such a change in men and measures — as will be best adapted to the real interests & happiness of the Countyº — and such as will crown our present exertions, to that effect, with honor.
"We desire to express to you, that, being the immediate representatives of the people chosen to redress their grievances and to establish a means whereby impartial Justice may be given to all men — and chosen at a time when the political state of the Mother Country renders it necessary that we should act for our selves — we consider you empowered (in the best and only possible manner at present) to act independent of any other authority whatever if that authority refuses to adopt or sanction such measures as you may conceive necessary for our future welfare and respectability. And we pledge ourselves to support you in p59 whatsoever you may do that shall have a tendency to promote the desirable objects of your delegation.
"August 13th, 1810
|"John F. Gillespie||Sam'l S. Crocker|
|Marin L. Haynie||D. B. Stuart|
|F. A. Browder||H. Peisee|
|John P. Conilz||L. A. Smith|
|Amos Webb||Jos. E. Johnson|
|James H. Ficklin||James Gray|
|B. Collins||Isaac A. Smith|
|James Gentry||William Lyon|
|William Field||John Browder"|
Before arriving at the convention meeting place, Colonel Baker, pausing at Saint Francisville, visited John H. Johnson at "Troy." He told the sick man of his mission and discussed the affairs then agitating the province. After the governor's emissary had left, Johnson, naturally interpreting the visit as displaying the interest of the American government in what was transpiring, wrote Governor Holmes thanking him for his interest and was frank in giving the Mississippi executive his opinion of existing affairs.
"Corrupt and villainous Court sycophants," wrote Johnson, "are enabled to batten on the spoils of the land because so large a portion of the population consisted of American refugees and ignorant time-servers." It was because of this class, went on Johnson, that it was necessary for the delegates to pursue their present "devious methods." The Feliciana planter admitted that the population needed to be placed "under the conduct of a wise guardian who will transform them from slaves to men!"
He was vehement in his assertion that the people of West Florida beheld such a guardian in the United States, their mother country, but at the same time asserted that "two-thirds of the people regarded her tardiness and neglect as worthy only a stepmother." He admitted that those composing the convention's delegates feared Spanish vengeance should they openly break with de Lassus. Therefore, he asked, if in the event of a break "would the United States receive them into her bosom".
"If it is necessary for the convention to formally declare the province independent of Spain and call upon the United States for protection, will it not be proper to insert therein two or three stipulations of consequence to us but not interesting to the United States?" Johnson asked. He declared that these conditions should not be considered "after annexation" but in all other matters the people would "cheerfully submit in all things to the federal constitution." He then went on to explain that "these stipulations" were that British land titles should be disregarded when the same holding was covered by a Spanish title, that actual settlers should be entitled to as much land as the Spanish government had habitually granted, and, with certain exceptions, however, that a general amnesty should be granted all Tories, deserters, and fugitives from American justice. Johnson's proviso regarding the land titles had to do with the fact that some of the original British settlers had abandoned their land after Galvez had won West Florida for Spain, p60 which were later occupied by settlers under Spanish grants, and many feared that original British settlers might endeavor to reobtain them.
The second meeting of the convention delegates lasted only three days and little was accomplished, for it was quite evident that certain of the delegates were merely marking time. One of the tentative measures discussed was the arming of the entire militia, which was then to act under the orders of the convention. When objection was raised to this, the governor was assured that such a measure would prove less important than another ordinance for "the public security and good administration of Justice within the jurisdiction" which they proposed to put in force at the next meeting. The outright request was made that de Lassus approve this particular ordinance without referring the matter to his superior authorities at Pensacola or Havana, as it was the only measure that could save the province "from anarchy and tumult."
Although in their address the delegates told the governor that they believed he would sanction the move, privately they expected no such thing. One of the members is quoted by Cox as writing Acting-Governor Robinson at New Orleans, that: "De Lassus will probably accede to nothing without consulting higher authority, and his refusal might be attended with serious consequences." It was also pointed out "that the majority of office-holders were English in sympathy, and that this constituted the principal obstacle to independence. If the United States did not countenance their efforts, they would send a messenger to England to propose an alliance with that government."
Manuel Lopez, when the members of the convention began to suggest matters other than the preservation of the rights of the King of Spain or the repairs to the fort at Baton Rouge, got up in a huff, left the meeting, and returned to Baton Rouge to warn de Lassus of "the real intentions of the delegates." The governor, who relied on Lopez to translate for him everything that was done by the delegates, prevailed on the Spaniard to return. Realizing then that governor was becoming suspicious, Philip Hicky and George Mather went to the fort and urged de Lassus to adopt the measures of the convention, maintaining that the proposals being adopted were neither disloyal nor unreasonable. They advised he should pay no attention to the many anonymous papers, which they admitted were revolutionary in character, being circulated, nor should he pay any heed to what was printed in the New Orleans and Natchez newsprints. They pointed out to the sadly befuddled executive that the calling of the convention had been the work of the more respectable elements of the population.
Realizing that they could not finish the writing of all the new regulations and ordinances at the second sitting, the delegates adjourned to meet again in August 22. Before departing for their homes they addressed their "demand" communication to de Lassus. Signed by every member of the convention, it read:
"St. John's Plains, August 15, 1810
"The Representatives of the people of this jurisdiction in convention assembled have received the communication, which your Excellency was pleased to make to their committee of the date of the 30th ultimo, and have given due p61 consideration to its contents. In obedience to the injunctions of our constituents who are prepared to rally round the standard of their country and provide some efficient remedy for the evils which endanger its existence and prosperity, we have directed our attention to some of the existing grievances which require to be remedied without delay, and after mature deliberation, we have reduced them to the number and form exhibited in the statement enclosed herewith.
"The plan proposed to be adopted for redress will also be submitted for your consideration by our Committee appointed for that purpose consisting of Messrs. John W. Leonard, Manuel Lopez, William Spiller and Joseph Thomas, so soon as a faithful translation thereof can be obtained that your Excellency having all the subjects of deliberations before you in the same order as they have presented themselves to us may discern their connexion, and give to each the consideration which its importance may seem to deserve. We have thought it our duty to lay before you all our proceedings in this manner, that you may have sufficient time for deliberation on subjects so essential to the publick welfare before making any final decision thereon, and on Wednesday next the 22nd inst we will do ourselves the honor to wait on your Excellency in a body to know your determination.
"You will observe that it is the wish of the Convention with your concurrence to establish the 'Bill providing for the better administration of Justice within the Jurisdiction of Baton Rouge in West Florida,' as an Ordinance to have the force and authority of law from the time of our next meeting, and we trust that you will not withhold your concurrence from a measure evidently calculated to preserve the peace and promote the prosperity of the province. The initial situation of the country pointed out to the Representatives the necessity of prompt and efficient measures and urges them to solicit your Excellency for a speedy approbation. The danger of delay must be apparent to your discerning mind, hence the necessity for a decision here without reference to higher authority.
"The desire ever manifested by His Majesty's Government for meeting the will of the people is a pledge to you of his approbation of your conduct in relation to our proceedings and the assurance previously given by this Convention of sharing with you all responsibility is again pledged in the most solemn manner in case of your co-operation in the only measure which appears to us calculated to save our country from the dreadful scenes of anarchy and tumult.
"We cannot close this address without recommending strongly to your Excellency as a measure of necessary precaution, to arm the whole body of the Militia, to defend our country against its enemies as we are authorized to assure you that no sentiment prevails amongst the inhabitants hostile to the wise laws and government under which they have lived so happily."
Governor de Lassus' lot was not a happy one during these dog days of 1810.
His officers, those constituting the garrison of regular Spanish troops, objected to their chief's course in recognizing or dealing with p62 the members of the so‑called people's convention. They saw nothing but armed revolt and urged their commander to cease all contact with the delegates. Some of these sessions with the governor were stormy ones but the unhappy executive put a pudgy hand over each ear when the protests of the Dons wearing the uniform of Spain became too vociferous.
On Sunday night, August 19, de Lassus was host at a dinner he gave in honor of the members of the convention. The banquet was held in the Government House or "Governor's House," which had been erected by Carlos de Grand Pré, its site was what is now the "corner of Repentence and Convention streets." The governor, in his anxiety to do all honor to the conventionalists, invited other citizens of the province and village to attend, but scenting possible complications, if not actual danger, only a few not directly interested gathered about the festive board.
The governor's entire staff, arrayed in their gaudy uniforms and glittering orders, was in attendance, though with sour faces. They included Don Gilberto de Leonardo, the treasurer; Captain Celestino de Saint-Maxent (he was a brother of Félicité, wife of Don Bernardo de Galvez) second in command; Captain Raphael Croker, the governor's secretary; sub-Lieutenant Louis de Grand Pré; Lieutenant Juan Metzinger, and Lieutenant Francisco Morejon, and some others. The feast was punctuated by many toasts to His Catholic Majesty Ferdinand VII. Hopes were expressed for his speedy restoration to the throne of Spain, and before the feasters staggered to their beds, a salute of twenty-one guns was fired from the guns of the fort — in spite of the plea of the magazine guard, Eulogio de las Casas, that his supply of powder was low and might be needed for other purposes!
Several days later the delegates returned the governor's gesture by a banquet spread at the home of M. Folquier, some distance from Baton Rouge, where, in addition to the customary salute to His Catholic Majesty of Spain, a rousing toast was also drunk to the president of United States. In addition to these formal feasts, de Lassus gave frequent small dinners, entertaining guests from Feliciana, and usually among those at the governor's board was Philemon Thomas, commander of the militia of the province.
While all was serene on the surface, all was not quiet in the governor's household — his officers were in a near state of mutiny. As a result stormy sessions became the order of the day in the fort. Lieutenant Juan B. A. Metzinger, commandant of artillery, and the magazine guard, Las Casas, told the governor to his face that they would attend no more peace dinners, and further more, as the store of powder at the fort was being so rapidly eaten away by the firing of twenty-one gun salutes in honor of the delegates, and every time an American gunboat sailed up or down the Mississippi, that they would fire no more! In a rage, de Lassus said they would either fire the cannon, as he directed, or they could consider themselves under arrest for disobeying orders! The harassed governor, at one rough session with his protesting officers, declared "If I do not rule to suit you, take my baston and govern!"
While the Spaniards were fuming, fretting and fussing with their hard-headed superior, the delegates were whipping their ordinances into shape, as they were many and varied in character they needed lots of writing and much revision. While they were thus preparing the new laws which de Lassus must approve, alarming news was brought into Baton Rouge by one of Captain Tomaso Estevan's soldiers. The commander at Bayou Sarah wrote that John Murdock, so friendly to him and the Spanish regime, had discovered, affixed to a tree in the Saint Francis village, a proclamation most revolutionary in character. Murdock had reported this to a guard but when the soldier reached the tree, the offending broadside had been removed. However, the curate, Francisco Lennán, secured a copy from a parishioner and so Captain Estevan was able to send it on to de Lassus as proof a revolt was being planned.
Estevan also advised that he was in a critical situation and begged the governor to send him a boat so that he and his soldiers "could flee Bayou Sarah" and seek the safety of the Baton Rouge fort. Estevan said he was willing to sacrifice himself but did not want his loyal soldiers to "become victims of public vengeance."
The proclamation that terrorized the Bayou Sarah commander was signed: "A Friend of the People." Its opening sentence said that any man who would destroy the proclamation "deserved to live forever under a despotic government," and the author went on to urge the people of West Florida to "declare themselves independent, just as the people of Spanish America were doing." The anonymous writer drew contrasts between the administration of justice in West Florida and in the United States, which were unfavorable to the Spanish brand. He cited cases of forcible imprisonment from which release could be secured only by bribery. He made sarcastic reference to King Ferdinand VII, "then absent on a visit to his friend Bonaparte!" He intimated that Floridians should throw off allegiance to him and seek a union with the neighboring American territory, and as the inhabitants had already taken one step towards self-government "NOW was the time to take another." Having elected men recognized as of firm character, just principles, and republican spirit, the people should now further their efforts to the uttermost. "Spanish oppression is no more." The people could now freely communicate with each other and adopt a form of government that would afford them not only protection but liberty. The people were advised to form little parties among their friends and send to their representatives a report of their action, then the members of the convention would know that the people were ready to sustain them in any step towards independence they might elect to make. As the delegates had already heard from those who wished to continue the Spanish system, they should now "be given the views of the friends of liberty and justice." It was promised that all such communications would be kept secret so that their authors need fear no betrayal.
Although the writer of the broadside asserted he "was known to many of his fellow-citizens," he withheld his name purposely. He declared p64 that he, along with others, had long suffered the evils flowing from Spanish despotism, but now, so he informed all who would read, that the party in favor of independence was growing, and that "their brothers of the United States would fervently rejoice in their return to liberty and a system of pure republicanism." He entreated them to repose confidence in their delegates and sustain their actions and thereby avoid the necessity of calling another convention before they were ready to choose an independent legislative body.
As if this was not enough to scare de Lassus and his military officers, on top of the news of the circulation of this broadside in Feliciana came a secret missive from Shepherd Brown. In it the commandant of the Ste. Helena district confided that he "now distrusted even the delegates he had picked to represent the Ste. Helena and Chifoncté districts in the convention." Also that his people were so aroused over a report that the former Spanish commandant Lieutenant Francisco de Hevia was about to leave Pensacola and assume charge of the Tickfaw region that they were about to rebel. Shepherd Brown was also distrustful of his militia officers since they learned of the attitude of the Feliciana people. However, in spite of all this Alcalde Brown "believed" the greater portion of his people would prove loyal should a recourse to arms be the outcome.
Came another missive from the frightened Estevan at Bayou Sarah, carried to the fort by a soldier on a blown and lathered horse. The members of the convention from Feliciana were carrying on what he termed a referendum among the people and this amounted, so the Spanish commander declared, to a "lifting of the mask," for Isaac Johnson had ordered his troop of horsemen to be ready at any hour for a sudden descent upon Baton Rouge. Estevan again declared his life to be in danger and warned the governor that in all probability he would have to take refuge on the American side of the river, consequently de Lassus need not be surprised if the next communication from him would be written at Pointe Coupée!
On Tuesday, August 21, the bewildered governor called a junta to meet at the government house to consider the critical situation. The conventionalists were to meet the following day to put the finishing touches on their series of ordinances that in future would govern the province. All of his officers attended the junta in a body and each was as concerned as was the governor.
Attending were Don Gilberto de Leonard, the comptroller and treasurer, whose son John was a member of the conventiona and who, so some of the Spanish officers charged, had gone over to those plotting against the government; Captain Celestino de Saint Maxent, second in command; Captain Raphael Croker, the governor's secretary; Lieutenant Francisco Morejon, Sub-tenente Don Louis Anton de Grand Pré, Lieutenant Juan Baptiste Antoinette Metzinger, in charge of artillery; Sub-lieutenant Antonio Balderas, Lieutenant Manuel Castaños, Don Eulogio de las Casas, the guardia almacen; Don Juan Perez, cabo de sala; Cadets Don Felipe de Grand Pré and Don Estevan de Grand Pré, brothers of p65 Louis and sons of the former governor of Baton Rouge; Don José Maria de la Peña, Don Domingo Ullio, patron de Falua; Don Pedro Gondeau, the cirujano or surgeon; and Don Santiago Rault, the surgeon of the Feliciana district, who had left Tomas Estevan alone to face the "infuriated Gringosb of Feliciana." There were other officers and Dons gathered fearfully in the government house, which was outside the fort, awaiting his excellency's word.
The governor began by explaining why he was agreeing with the requests and demands of the convention delegates, claiming he had adopted such a course to "avoid any calumniating attacks" on his character. He pointed out to his inferiors that he was without proper resources to resist and had endeavored to avoid insults to the flag of Spain. He had warned his superiors at Pensacola and Havana what might happen because he knew he could not depend upon the militia of the province and therefore needed veteran troops at his back. He claimed he had reported the fort in need of repair and the lack of powder but had received neither reinforcements nor a reply to his many letters asking for help. Time was needed for assistance to arrive from Havana.
He reminded his officers that the convention delegates had at least professed loyalty to the Spanish king, and if he did not accept their declarations on face value he would only expose the flag of Spain to greater insults and his officers, soldiers, and himself to violence. These "disturbers of the peace, joined by vicious roving vagabonds," would lay siege to the fort at the first sign of opposition from him and "visit their rage on the peaceful inhabitants." At each salute the artillery in the fort approached uselessness.
Therefore, he told the junta, he believed he was acting correctly in appearing to accept the program of the convention and thereby save the province from the horrors of civil strife. As long as he and his officers thought they could safely do so, they should pretend to embrace the provisions of the new ordinances with the exception of accepting the salaries offered, and maintain the situation as it existed "as long as the delegates maintained an appearance of loyalty" and seemed "to be working to preserve the province for Ferdinand VII." On the first indication of a contrary purpose, the governor proposed that he, officers, and soldiers would repair to the fort and "defend themselves to the last extremity!"
For two hours discussion raged in the government house. The governor's course did not gain an unqualified approval from his subordinates. Lieutenant Louis de Grand Pré expressed himself freely, declared if the governor would take the proper steps he still could quell the uprising, and Don Louis offered to lead the troops that would arrest the ringleaders. In this he was backed by Lieutenant Metzinger. But theirs were the only dissenting voices. The others agreed that the crafty action de Lassus counseled was the course of wisdom.
The next day, August 22nd, the delegates met and with only one dissenting vote passed the ordinances and resolutions they had been confecting for weeks. This remarkable document, which consisted of 32 p66 pages, was set up and printed at Natchez, but today only one copy of it appears to be in existence, the one owned by Richmond Favrot of New Orleans.
When Don Carlos de Hault de Lassus attached his name, with its flowing paraph below it, to the ordinances the planters of Feliciana had won their first step for liberty.
Wrote a correspondent of the "Louisiana Gazette" to that New Orleans newspaper:
"Baton Rouge, August 23.
"I am at this place, where I came to be present at the presentation of our new form of government to Governor Lassus, who yesterday accepted in toto. The convention are now sitting with closed doors, making the appointments necessary to carry the new government into effect. The whole proceedings are in the press, and in a few days will be made public — they are such as will tend to the peace, happiness and prosperity of the country."
The same day he signed on the dotted line, the governor and the delegates issued a proclamation to the public. It read:
To the Inhabitants of the jurisdiction of Baton-Rouge.
His Excellency Carlos Dehault Delassus, Colonel of the Royal Armies, and Governor Civil and Military of the Place and Jurisdiction of Baton-Rouge, with the Representatives of the people of the said Jurisdiction, in Convention assembled, announce.
That the measures proposed to be adopted for the public safety, and for the better administration of justice within the said jurisdiction, are sanctioned and established as ordinances, to have the force and authority of law, within the several districts of this jurisdiction, until the same shall be submitted to the captain-general of the island of Cuba, and until his decision thereon shall be known. The said ordinances will be made known in each district, with all possible dispatch, and in the mean time all the good people of this jurisdiction are required to preserve good order, and avoid every movement which may disturb the public tranquility; — It being the only object with both the governor and the representatives, to consult the best interests of the inhabitants. And although it is not intended to mark with severity the authors of the disorder, which has appeared in several parts of the country for some time past, yet all such persons as may be found offending in that manner, after this date, will be punished with the severity which the law prescribes, and which their offences may deserve.
|Wm. Spiller,||Philip Hicky,|
|John Mills,||Manuel Lopez,|
|Jos. Thomas,||Thos. Lilley,c|
|John W. Leonard,||Wm. Barrow,|
|Benj. O. Williams,||Edmd. Hawes.|
Carlos Dehault Delassus.
Baton-Rouge, August 22, 1810.
p67 In addition to the joint proclamation in which they joined their names with that of Governor de Lassus, the members of the Convention believed that the inhabitants of the entire jurisdiction should become acquainted with what they had done and to that end prepared an address August 25, in which they explained what they had done to correct the abuses the people in West Florida had long borne. It read:
"The Convention of your Representatives having assembled agreeable to your commands to wait upon the Governor, and in concert with him to devise some plan for the ridupº of existing grievances, and for the safety and defense of the country, think it their duty to state to you the motives by which they have been governed in the discharge of the important trust which was committed to them; that you may form a correct judgment of the regard which they have had for your interests in all their deliberations.
"Being called unexpectedly to act for you in a time of general anxiety, when it was impossible to have a perfect knowledge of your wishes, and without experience in matters appertaining to the discharge of the duties imposed upon us with much diffidence and embarrassment, but all having the same object in view, to preserve the tranquility and secure the prosperity of a country in which we had everything dear to ourselves at stake, we have proceeded with the consoling reflection, that however we might err in the choice of the means for attaining this object, we cannot be suspected of having willfully betrayed or abandoned the interests of our constituents. In this persuasion we have applied ourselves without hesitation according to the best of our judgment to enumerate the most obvious grievances which affect the inhabitants generally, and to provide such remedy for the same as the present exigencies of the country seemed to require, exercising for this purpose the legislative power to a certain extent, without making any unnecessary innovation in the existing laws, or established principles of Government.
"We have thought it necessary in this way to provide for the settlement of the country by persons of reputable character, who may choose to establish themselves here that Physical force of the country may be increased by the advantages which it will offer to the peaceable and industrious of every description, who bringing and acquiring property in the country will become interested in its defense and prosperity.
"We have provided for the organization of the Militia as the only efficient force on which to depend for safety in a way which will enable them to act with promptitude in case of an emergency either to repel invasion or suppress domestic insurrection, a measure of obvious utility, and which our defenseless situation imperiously demands.
"We have provided for the better administration of Justice, by establishing one Superior Tribunal having final jurisdiction for this Department of the Government and one inferior Court in each District, reserving to ourselves the right of nominating the associate judges of the Superior and the Presiding Judges of the inferior tribunals, and securing to the people of each District the right of choosing the magistrates who are to act as associate judges of the inferior courts — by this arrangement it is hoped that p68 the confidence of the people will be secured while the laws are administered by officers of their choice, the unprincipled will be deterred from the commission of crimes by examples of the speedy and condign punishment of the offenders — and an opportunity will be given to all classes, the poor as well as the rich, of prosecuting with effect their just claims, and of obtaining redress for injuries without unnecessary expense or delay.
"Believing it to have been the intention of our Sovereign to grant lands to the industrious cultivators of the soil, who make improvements thereon and support themselves and their families by their industry, we have provided as far as was in our power that no inhabitant of that description should be deprived of his just claim by any intrigues of wealthy speculators or of the improper conduct of officers entrusted with the distribution of the lands of the Royal Domain, and we have thought it our duty as the guardians of the public interest to suspend for the present the power of granting or alienating the lands of the Crown that no actual settler may be injured by grants made after this date, and that no advantage may be taken of the present unfortunate state of Jurisdiction to sell the lands of the Royal Domain for the purpose of enriching a few unprincipled strangers to the prejudice of the public at large.
"And believing it to be our duty to provide some revenue for the support of this Department of the Government, as the depressed state of the mother country prevents us from receiving the customary supplies of money for this purpose, and it would be ungrateful in us not to make some exertion to lessen her burthens, while she is contending for her existence against enemies so numerous and formidable. Every consideration of duty and interest appeared to dictate this as a measure indispensably necessary, and no other method seemed so just and equitable as that of laying a tax to operate equally on the owners of property in the country, allowing some advantage to the inhabitant who contributes his services for the common defense over the non-resident whose property is protected without any exertion or expense to himself. As this subject could not be reduced to a regular system without much deliberation, the Convention have called themselves at present with laying a tax on real property and slaves which will operate lightly on the largest portion of the inhabitants, the industrious cultivators, who are their country's shield in the day of danger, while the wealthy slave-holder and speculator in lands may afford to pay for the security afforded to their property, and for its increase in value.
"The Governor having concurred with the Convention in establishing the ordinance proposed for the purposes before stated to have the authority of law within this jurisdiction until the decision of the Captain General thereon be made known. The same will be published for the information of all concerned — and the Convention have only to add that they await the expression of the public will to decide how they have acted according to the wishes of their constituents. They wish to be informed whether their conduct be satisfactory to the people, that at some future meeting they may have an opportunity of correcting any of the measures which might be injurious before any serious evils result from them."
p69 This expression and forerunner of what had been accomplished made public, the delegates sent the fruits of their labors, the Ordinances, to John W. Winn at Natchez, to be set in type and distributed in pamphlet form. Seemingly, these ordinances covered every phase of the series of contentions that had wracked the province for the past several years, truly an ambitious plan concocted by ambitious men.
To thoroughly understand what these men planned for the people they represented, the whole series of articles should be read . . . many as they were . . . as promulgated. Copied from the only known record, they are:2
Providing for the Publick Safety, and for the Better Administration of Justice within the Jurisdiction of Baton-Rouge, in West-Florida.
Whereas the Good People of this Jurisdiction, ever faithful to their Legitimate Sovereign, and willing at this eventful period to contribute whatever may be in their power, to maintain the integrity, honor and independence of the Spanish Nation, have a right to enjoy the privileges of Loyal Subjects, and to exercise the powers which may be necessary for their preservation:
And whereas, from causes which could not have been foreseen or avoided, their situation has become extremely perilous, at a time when they cannot look with confidence to the mother country for protection, and when internal regulations and powers of the Government are too imperfect to be relied on, either for preserving domestic tranquility, or for employing the strength and resources of the country in its defence:
And whereas, the evils and dangers originating from the causes before mentioned, are of such a nature as to make it necessary that the most prompt and efficient measures be adopted for the preservation of the province, it becomes lawful and expedient for the people, in conjunction with the chief magistrate of the jurisdiction, to establish such ordinances as the present exigencies require.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the people of this jurisdiction, in convention assembled, recognizing his Excellency Charles Dehault Delassus, as Governor thereof, and acting with his concurrence, with a view to preserve and defend this portion of the dominions of our beloved King, Ferdinand the seventh, and holding ourselves responsible to all superior authorities, deriving their powers from him, for the rectitude of our intentions and acts, declare ourselves for the time being, the guardians both of the publick interests, and of the rights of the individual members of the community, for the whole benefit we establish this ordinance.
Whereas, it is necessary for the publick safety, that permission be given to strangers of reputable character to become residents, and enjoy equal privileges with us, who may thereafter become interested in maintaining order and obedience to the laws.
Section 2. Be it therefore ordained by the Representatives of the people of the Jurisdiction of Baton Rouge in convention assembled, with the concurrence of the governor thereof, and it is hereby ordained, by the authority of the same, That from and after the establishment of this ordinance, it shall be lawful for the commandants of the several districts of this jurisdiction, to grant permission to all free persons of good character and peaceable conduct, emigrating from any foreign country whatever, in amity with us, and wishing to establish themselves in any lawful trade or occupation within this jurisdiction, and also professing their willingness to support the laws and government p70 thereof. And all such residents having demeaned themselves in a peaceable and orderly manner, and contributed their due proportion for the support of the Government and defence of the country for two years, shall enjoy thereafter, the same privileges and rights with the present inhabitants.
Section 2. And be it further ordained, That with such permission of residence, the said commandants shall also grant permission to all such emigrants as aforesaid, to import and bring into the district, all slaves and other movable property belonging to them, or which they may have in charge, to be employed or disposed of lawfully, in any manner which to them may seem fit and expedient, the owners or importers of such slaves, or moveable property paying such duties therefor, as may be prescribed by law, or hereinafter ordained.
Section 3. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of all such emigrants as aforesaid, within fifteen days after their arrival within any district of this jurisdiction, to report themselves to the commandant thereof, and exhibit to him an accurate statement of the number appertaining to their respective families, or whom they may have in charge, both of free persons and slaves, and to pay for such slaves the lawful duties to the said officer, together with his lawful fees, for granting permission of residence; on failure whereof, the party so offending shall be subject to a fine of twenty dollars, and every slave imported, for whom the duties shall not have been paid as aforesaid, or secured to be paid within six months thereof, shall be confiscated and sold for the benefit of the district.
Section 4. And be it further ordained, That no deserter from the armies or navy of any nation in amity with us, or fugitive from justice, or any person bound to service in any foreign state as aforesaid, shall obtain permission of residence within this jurisdiction, or derive any benefit from such permission, if obtained by fraud or in contravention of this ordinance; but any person of that description who may hereafter take refuge within this jurisdiction, or on satisfactory proof hereafter thereof being made to the governor or commandant of a district, shall be delivered by either of said officers, to an officer of such foreign state, as shall be duly authorized to demand the same.
For the Organization of the Militia.
Section 1. And be it further ordained, That the governor of this jurisdiction shall be the commander in chief of all the militia thereof, and shall commission all officers therein, and have authority to call the whole or any part thereof into actual service, at any time when it may be necessary for the publick safety.
Section 2. And be it further ordained, That the military of this jurisdiction shall be divided into four regiments, which shall be composed of all the free white men above the age of sixteen and under fifty years, civil magistrates, ministers of religion, doctors of physic, millers, keepers of publick ferries, and invalids excepted, who shall be enrolled in the manner herein after prescribed. Those within the district of Baton Rouge shall compose one regiment; those of the district of New Feliciana, one regiment; those of the district of St. Helena, one regiment; and those of the district east of Ponchitoola, including Chiffonta, Bogcheto and Pearl river settlements, to be called the district of St. Ferdinand, one regiment.
Section 3. And be it further ordained, That one colonel commandant shall be appointed by this convention, and commissioned by the governor, who shall command the said regiments when formed into one brigade, and there shall be appointed and commissioned in like manner, one colonel and two majors for each regiment.
Section 4. And be it further ordained, That there shall be appointed by the colonel commandant, and commissioned by the governor, one p71 brigade inspector, with the rank of major, who shall be aid to the colonel commandant, and under his direction shall appoint a regimental muster in each district, in the month of November, and a muster of each battalion in the month of April annually, at which muster it shall be the duty of all the officers and men belonging to the said regiments and battalions respectively, to attend, armed and equipped in the manner herein after prescribed, and they shall be subject to the orders of the commanding officer of the day, at each of the said musters, during the time of parade.
Section 5. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the colonel commandant to attend personally, together with the brigade major, at each of the said regimental musters, to inspect the discipline and equipment of the troops, and give such orders as he may think proper, to the colonel of the regiment, respecting the manoeuvers of the day.
Section 6. And be it further ordained, That the brigade inspector shall attend each battalion muster, and inspect the arms and accoutrements of the troops: He shall moreover receive from the colonels their regimental returns, and transmit a copy thereof to the colonel commandant, who shall cause the same to be laid before the governor.
Section 7. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of each colonel, immediately after the receipt of his commission, to nominate the officers of his regimental staff viz.: one adjutant, one surgeon and surgeon's mate, one pay master and one quarter-master, making a return thereof to the governor, who shall commission the said officers accordingly.
Section 8. And be it further ordained, That each colonel, together with the two majors of the same regiment, with himself, assembled by him for that purpose, immediately after they shall have been commissioned, shall divide the bounds of the regiment into two battalion districts, as equal in population as may be, assigning one major to each battalion.
Section 9. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of each major, under the direction of the colonel, to proceed without delay to lay off the bounds of the several companies within his battalion district, and to advertise the times and places of holding elections for one captain, one first lieutenant and one second lieutenant within the bounds of said company, at not less than three of the most publick places in said bounds, and at least ten days previous to the times appointed for the said elections.
Section 10. And be it further ordained, That each major shall be judge of the elections aforesaid, within his battalion district, and shall report the persons having the greatest number of votes for each of the said offices, to the colonel of the regiment, who shall transmit the same to the governor, whereupon commissions shall be issued by him for the said offices, without delay.
Section 11. And be it further ordained, That the field officers of regiments shall have power from time to time to lay off new companies, and divide or alter the bounds of such as may have been established, when they may think proper, causing elections to be held for officers where necessary, in the manner herein before stated.
Section 12. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of each captain immediately after the receipt of his commission to appoint any number of sergeants and corporals, not exceeding four, one drummer and one fifer within the bounds of his company, who shall serve for one year, and until others shall be appointed; and to enroll every free able bodied white man within the bounds of his company, between the ages of sixteen and fifty years: He shall also continue from time to time to enroll all such as may remove into the bounds of his company, or attain the age of sixteen years, within the same, who are not exempted from performing militia duty by the ordinance: In all doubtful p72 cases whether with respect to nonage, overage or infirmity, of any person claiming such exemption, the captain shall refer the question to be decided by the next court martial of the battalion, to be held as hereinafter provided.
Section 13. And be it further ordained, That each captain shall muster his company once in every month, of every year in which there shall not be a regiment at all or battalion muster, and shall exercise them under arms at least two hours on each muster day: He shall also note all delinquents, either from nonattendance on muster days, or for appearing without the arms and accoutrements prescribed by this ordinance, and make report thereof to the next court martial; and he shall make an accurate return of the strength arms and accoutrements of his company to the adjutant of the regiment, before the first day of September in every year: At every muster he shall give publick notice of the time and place of holding the next succeeding muster, which shall be deemed sufficient notice for the absentees, as well as those who may be present.
Section 14. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the adjutant of each regiment, with the aid of the sergeant major thereof, to execute the orders of the colonel commandant of the regiment. The sergeant major shall be appointed by the colonel, he shall obey the orders of the adjutant, and keep a roster of the sergeants of the regiment to which he belongs. It shall be the duty of the adjutant to keep a roster of all the commissioned officers of the regiment, to receive from the captains their company returns, and make therefrom an accurate regimental return, to deliver the same to the commandant of the regiment, on the first day of October in every year.
Section 15. And be it further ordained, That one drum major and one fife major for each regiment, shall be appointed by the commandant thereof, whose duty it shall be to conduct the music of the regiment, and previous to each regimental and battalion musters the commandants shall cause to be assembled at such places and times as they may appoint, all commissioned officers and musicians of their respective regiments, for the purpose of training the commissioned officers under the direction of the adjutant of the regiment and the musicians under the direction of the drum and fife majors.
Section 16. And be it further ordained, That at every regimental, battalion and company muster, the commanding officer shall have the power to punish all complaints and irregularities, either in the troops or by standards, with a fine not exceeding ten dollars for each offence, or imprisonment under guard during the time of parade, at his discretion.
Section 17. And be it further ordained, That commandants of regiments for the regular annual musters shall have at least forty-five days notice of a regimental or battalion muster, adjutants forty days, majors thirty-five days, captains thirty days, non-commissioned officers twenty days, and privates ten days previous notice: But in cases of publick danger, when there may be occasion for extraordinary service, every officer, and non-commissioned officer shall be on the alert, and one day's notice to privates shall be sufficient.
Section 18. And be it further ordained, That each commandant of a regiment shall order two courts martial to be held within the bounds of his regiment every year, for the assessment of fines, and to decide on all questions relative to the exemption of any individual from militia duty, according to the provisions of this ordinance. One court martial shall be held not less than ten nor more than fifteen days after the last battalion muster, and the other not less than ten nor more than fifteen days after the regimental muster in every year; there shall be a judge advocate appointed by the commandant of the regiment, who shall act as clerk for the said courts, and prosecute on behalf of the government, and shall within ten days after the adjournment of each court deliver to the commandant of the regiment a statement of all fines imposed by p73 said court, signed by the president thereof, and certified by himself. And every person appealing from the judgment of said court, shall also notify the same by writing to the commandant of the regiment, within ten days after the adjournment of the said court.
Section 19. And be it further ordained, That the collection of all fines imposed by any of the said courts, and not remitted by order of the court of appeals, as hereinafter provided, shall be enforced by any alcalde of the district, at the request of the commandant of the regiment, and delivered to the said commandant to be applied to the purchase of drums, fifes and colors, for the use of the regiment.
Section 20. And be it further ordained, That any four officers of the regiment, other than field officers, together with the president who shall be a captain, shall constitute a court martial for the assessment of fines; but every commissioned officer under the rank of major shall be entitled to a seat therein. The members of the said court shall in all cases be sworn to discharge their duty faithfully, and shall have power to adjourn from day to day until the business before them is finished.
Section 21. And be it further ordained, That for neglect of duty the officers, non-commissioned officers and privates shall forfeit and pay the fines as hereinafter provided, viz.: For failing to attend any regimental or battalion muster, or training, an adjutant shall forfeit and pay ten dollars; a captain, five dollars; a subaltern, four dollars; a drum or fife major, three dollars; and any other non-commissioned officer or private, two dollars. For failing to attend any company muster, a captain shall forfeit and pay five dollars; a subaltern, three dollars; and a non-commissioned officer or private, two dollars. For failing to attend the court martial for the assessment of fines, appointed by the commandant of the regiment, a captain shall forfeit and pay three dollars; and a subaltern, three dollars. For failing to give notice of any regimental or battalion muster, or training, an adjutant shall forfeit and pay ten dollars; a captain, five dollars; and a non-commissioned officer, two dollars. For failing to make out and deliver to the proper officer in due time any return, an adjutant shall forfeit and pay five dollars; a captain, three dollars. For failing to enroll the militia of his company, or form them into divisions, or note his delinquents, a captain shall forfeit and pay five dollars. For failing to execute any order of the adjutant respecting musters, train days, or courts for the assessment of fines, a sergeant major shall forfeit and pay three dollars. For failing to keep a roster of the sergeants, two dollars. For failing to notify delinquents to appear at court for the assessment of fines, a sergeant shall forfeit and pay two dollars. And in the absence of a captain the senior subaltern present shall act in his stead, and for any neglect of duty incur the same penalties as a captain.
Section 22. And be it further ordained, That within twenty days after the adjournment of each court for the assessment of fines, the field officers of the regiment shall meet as a court martial at the same place where the other courts martial shall have been held, and all persons who think themselves to have been aggrieved by a sentence of the court for the assessment of fines, may have a rehearing in the said court of appeals, whose judgment shall be final. Notice of the time and place of holding courts martial for the assessment of fines shall be given at each regimental and battalion muster, by the commandant of the regiment, to captains and subalterns, and by the commandants of companies, through the non-commissioned officers, to their respective companies.
Section 23. And be it further ordained, That a brigade court martial for the assessment of fines, shall be ordered by the colonel commandant, or by the governor, on the report made to him by a commissioned officer, charging the field officer or the brigade inspector with neglect of duty. The said court consisting of a president, who shall be a colonel, nominated by the officer who shall have ordered the court to be held, a judge advocate appointed by the court, and four field officers at least, p74 (every field officer being entitled to a seat therein) shall be governed by the same rules as have been prescribed for a regimental court martial, for the assessment of fines, and the report of the proceedings of the said court, shall be made to the colonel commandant, for his approbation, unless he be implicated thereby, in which case the report shall be made to the governor; and in either case, it shall be the duty of the officer to whom the report may be made, to certify the judgment of the court, if approved by him, to some civil magistrate, having competent jurisdiction, who shall forthwith enforce the collection of the fines, to be applied to the use of the brigade.
Section 24. And be it further ordained, That the colonel commandant, the brigade inspector and field officers, for neglect of duty, shall forfeit and pay the fines hereinafter provided, for each neglect, viz.: The colonel commandant, for failing to furnish the brigade inspector with orders for regimental and battalion musters, in due time, twenty-five dollars; for failing to attend a regimental muster, twenty-five dollars; and for failing to forward the brigade return to the governor in due time, ten dollars. The brigade inspector, for failing to give orders to the commandant of a regiment, in due time, for a regimental or battalion muster, ten dollars; for failing to attend a regimental muster, ten dollars; for failing to attend and perform his duty at a battalion muster, ten dollars; for failing to render to the colonel commandant a brigade return, five dollars. The commandant of a regiment, for failing to give notice of, in due time, or to attend a regimental or battalion muster, or training, ten dollars; for failing to transmit the regimental return to the brigade inspector, in due time, five dollars. A major, for failing to attend a regimental or battalion muster, or a court of appeals, five dollars; for failing to perform the duties assigned to him by the eighth, ninth or tenth section of this article, ten dollars.
Section 25. And be it further ordained, That every officer holding a commission in the militia, who shall be charged with a high misdemeanor in his office, such as unmilitary conduct, shameful neglect of duty, disobedience of orders, cowardice, appearing, or behaving himself when on duty in an unofficerlike manner, or wilfully injuring those under his command, he shall be liable to be tried by a court martial, and if found guilty, to be sentenced to be reprimanded in orders, or to be removed from office, and declared incapable of holding any military commission under this government for life, or for a term of years, according to the nature and aggravation of his offence.
Section 26. And be it further ordained, That all charges of high misdemeanor against any officer above the rank of captain, shall be presented by the officer requesting the arrest to the governor or commander in chief, and against any captain, or officer below the rank of captain, to the colonel commandant, and in either case, the officer to whom the charge may be presented, if it shall appear to him of such a nature as to merit the attention of a court martial, shall cause the accused to be arrested and served with a copy of the charge or charges against him, and also notified of the time and place of his trial. He shall also, by orders under his hand, appoint at least five field officers of the brigade, designating the officer who shall preside, to constitute a court martial for the trial of the accused, at the time and place which he shall have prescribed.
Section 27. And be it further ordained, That the said court when constituted, shall appoint a judge advocate, whose duties shall be the same as have been prescribed for the same officer in other courts martial, and besides the customary oaths, the judge advocate, and every member of the court shall severally take an oath not to divulge the opinion of any individual member at any time, nor the sentence of the court, unless required to give evidence thereof as a witness in a court of justice, until the same be approved by the officer who shall have ordered the trial.
p75 Section 28. And be it further ordained, That every court martial appointed for the trial of any officer for a high misdemeanor shall have power to adjourn from day to day, to issue compulsory process for witnesses for or against the accused, to appoint a provost marshal to execute their process, and to send for persons and papers which may be necessary to a fair and impartial decision of the case.
Section 29. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the judge advocate to deliver to the officer who shall have ordered the trial, a fair and accurate statement of all the testimony produced to the court, relative to the charges exhibited and tried, together with the sentence of the court, signed by the members thereof, within five days after the adjournment of the said court; and it shall be the duty of the officer who shall have ordered the trial, to express in writing his approbation of the sentence of the court martial, within ten days after the proceedings thereof shall have been presented to him as aforesaid.
Section 30. And be it further ordained, That in all courts martial the oath to the judge advocate shall be administered by the president of the court, and to all other persons by the judge advocate. It shall always be the duty of the officer who shall have appointed the court martial, to approve or disapprove the sentence of such court by him appointed.
Section 31. And be it further ordained, That no officer shall be permitted to resign in less than three years from the date of his commission, unless he be rendered incapable of serving by infirmity, of which a court martial shall judge, and in all cases the resignation of any field officer shall be tendered to the colonel commandant, and that of regimental officers, to the commandant of the regiment to which he may belong.
Section 32. And be it further ordained, That where two or more commandants of regiments shall have commissions bearing the same date, the seniority of either shall be decided by the number of the regiment to which they belong, the first having the preference to the second, &c., the seniority of other officers whose commissions bear the same date, to be decided by lot.
Section 33. And be it further ordained, That it shall be lawful for any number of men who may be required to perform military duty, to form themselves in volunteer companies of cavalry, provided there be not more than one company of cavalry of sixty-eight men, for each regiment of six hundred infantry, or in that proportion within the bounds of the brigade; and any such company of cavalry who shall conform to all the regulations prescribed for the government of the same, shall be exempted from the performance of any other militia duty.
Section 34. And be it further ordained, That one major of cavalry shall be appointed in the same manner as the other officers of the same grade, and whose duties shall be the same in all respects, but he shall not be attached to any particular regiment; and he shall receive his orders from the colonel commandant through the brigade inspector.
Section 35. And be it further ordained, That the several companies of cavalry, shall be governed by the same rules with respect to the election of their officers, musters, returns, courts martial and fines, as have been prescribed for other companies of militia, and shall attend properly equipped at such regimental or battalion muster, as the colonel commandant may from time to time direct.
Section 36. And be it further ordained, That every cavalry man shall be equipped with a suitable horse, saddle and bridle, sword, pistols and holsters, cap, boots and spurs, and such uniform as the several companies may establish; and it shall be the duty of each captain to have his company divided by lot or otherwise, into four divisions, as nearly equal as may be, one of which divisions shall be in readiness for actual service at any time when called.
Section 37. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the brigade inspector with the major of cavalry, immediately after receiving their commissions, to call a muster of each troop of horse now p76 formed within this jurisdiction, and receive the same, enrolling as cavalry all the men that may appear as volunteers for that purpose of the said troops, equipped in the manner herein before specified, forming them into such companies as may be found most convenient and agreeable to the said volunteers; and instructing them to elect and make returns of officers to be commissioned in the same manner as other militia officers.
Section 38. And be it further ordained, That all the militia of this jurisdiction, not enrolled in any company of cavalry, shall be armed and equipped, each commissioned officer with a sword, and each non-commissioned officer and private with a good rifle, shot pouch and powder horn, and twenty-four rounds of powder and ball, or a good musket, bayonet and cartridge box, and twenty-four rounds of powder and ball. Every person who shall furnish himself with arms as aforesaid shall forever retain the same, free and exempted from all execution for debt, taxes, fines or any other demand whatever; and those who may not be able to furnish themselves with arms as aforesaid, shall be furnished with the same from the publick arsenal, in such manner as shall be hereafter provided.
Section 39. And be it further ordained, That the governor shall have power whenever he may be of opinion that the publick safety requires it, to call out all or any part of the militia, for the defence of the country, or to enforce obedience to the laws, and when in actual service they shall be governed by the same rules and articles of war, and shall receive the same pay and rations as the regular troops in his majesty's service. Provided, That no militia man shall be subject on any account to suffer corporal punishment, without the sentence of a court martial.
Section 40. And be it further ordained, That one fourth of all the militia of this jurisdiction being warned by their officers for that purpose, shall from and after the organization of each company, hold themselves in readiness for actual service at a moment's warning, at all times, for the space of ninety days, after which another similar portion being warned in like manner, shall do the same duty, and the first shall not be called on again until all the men of each company shall have served in rotation the same length of time, unless there should be occasion for a greater number, or the whole be called into actual service; and any person legally called on to perform a tour of duty, and who shall fail to appear in his place, either in person or by an able bodied substitute, not liable to the then existing call, shall be fined by a court martial, in a sum equal to double the hire of a substitute; which court martial shall be ordered by the commanding officer, immediately after the rendezvous.
Section 41. And be it further ordained, That if any man hired as a substitute be called on to take his own place, whilst in service, the man who hired him shall take his place, but the hire shall be refunded; and any man who shall be excused from service at a particular time on account of sickness, or any other lawful reason, shall nevertheless be liable to be called at any time, until his proportion of service be performed.
Section 42. And be it further ordained, that the brigade inspector shall be allowed five dollars per day, for each day he may be employed in the change of the duties of his office, or for every •twenty miles which he may travel while employed in performing the same, according to the rules prescribed by this ordinance; and his accounts certified by the colonel commandant, shall be paid from the publick treasury, such certified account being a sufficient warrant to the treasurer for the payment of the same.
Section 43. And be it further ordained, That the militia of this jurisdiction being destined exclusively for the defence and the safety of the country, no part thereof shall on any account whatever, be ordered on any service or compelled to go beyond the limits of this jurisdiction.
Section 44. And be it further ordained, That the free men of colour may be organized into one or more companies and officered as the p77 commander in chief may direct, and they shall be subject to be called into actual service, or employed in any way within this jurisdiction, at such times and under such regulations as the commander in chief or colonel commandant may think expedient and necessary for the public safety.
For the better Administration of Justice.
Section 1. And be it further ordained, That for the better administration of Justice, there shall be one superior tribunal within this jurisdiction, of which the governor when present shall be the presiding judge, and three judges appointed by the convention, viz.: One for the district of Baton Rouge, one for the district of New Feliciana, and one for the district of St. Helena and St. Ferdinand, shall be associate judges thereof; and the said court shall have full powers to decide finally on all criminal prosecutions for capital, and other offences not within the jurisdiction of any inferior tribunal, and also to decide finally on all appeals in civil cases.
Section 2. And be it further ordained, That the said tribunal shall be styled the superior court of the jurisdiction of Baton Rouge, in West-Florida, and shall hold the sessions in every year at the town of Baton Rouge, commencing on the second Mondays in March, July and November, and continuing in session by adjournments from day to day, Sundays excepted, until all the business before them be finished, attending first to all criminal prosecutions, and afterwards to all appeals in civil cases.
Section 3. And be it further ordained, That any two or more of the said judges shall form a court, and in the absence of the governor the senior judge, who may be present at the time and place of holding any session of the court, shall preside therein, and any one of the said judges shall have the power to adjourn the court from day to day for five judicial days, at which time if there be not a number present sufficient to form a court the session shall be closed and the court adjourned until the next session in course.
Section 4. And be it further ordained, That the said court, at their first election, which shall commence on the second Monday of November of this present year, shall appoint one clerk, whose duty it shall be to make and keep in his office a fair and accurate record of all proceedings of the said superior court, to enter in a register kept for that purpose, all petitions of appellants from the inferior tribunals of this jurisdiction, in the order of time as they shall be presented at his office, and to issue all process of the court according to the forms prescribed by law or by this ordinance. He shall also file in his office all documents produced to him relative to any matter of controversy or criminal prosecution pending in said court, and produce the same to the court at the time when such cause or prosecution shall be heard and determined.
Section 5. And be it further ordained, That one sheriff shall be appointed by this convention and commissioned by the governor, who shall keep his office at the town of Baton Rouge; and previous to his entering upon the duties thereof, he shall execute and deposit in the office of the clerk of the superior court aforesaid a bond, with four sufficient securities in the sum of ten thousand dollars, conditioned upon the faithful performance of all the duties of his office; the form of which bond shall be prescribed by all the judges of the said superior court at their first session, and they also shall be the judges of the sufficiency of the securities proposed to be given by the sheriff as aforesaid.
Section 6. And be it further ordained, That the said sheriff shall appoint one or more deputies in each district, who shall be recommended each by the court of the district for which he shall be appointed, and it shall be the duty of the sheriff in person, or his deputies, for whose good conduct in all things appertaining to his office, he shall be responsible, to execute all process both of the superior and interior courts p78 established by this ordinance, to take charge of all persons imprisoned by virtue of any civil or criminal process, and them safely keep as the court may direct until discharged by due course of law, and in general to execute all orders relative to the administration of justice issued by proper authority; for which purpose he shall have the same powers, and enjoy the same privileges and emoluments, as have usually been allowed to similar officers under this government.
Section 7. And be it further ordained, That one counsellor learned in the laws of Castile and the Indies, shall be appointed by this convention and commissioned by the governor, whose duty it shall be to attend the several sessions of the said superior court, and give his opinion in writing, when required, by the court on questions or points of law which may be involved in the discussion of the causes submitted to their decision. The said counsellor shall reside within this jurisdiction, and shall give his opinion in like manner, to any of the inferior tribunals thereof when required, but shall not be permitted to act as counsellor or attorney for either party in any suit at law instituted or pending in any tribunal within this jurisdiction. He shall receive an annual salary of fifteen hundred dollars for his services aforesaid, from the public treasury, and no other compensation thereof under any pretext whatever.
Section 8. And be it further ordained, That said counsellor before entering upon the duties of his office, shall take and subscribe the following oath in presence of the superior tribunal aforesaid, or of the presiding judge thereof: "I, A. B., do solemnly swear faithfully to discharge the duties of counsellor for the tribunals of justice within the jurisdiction of Baton Rouge, according to the best of my judgment, and that I will not in any case or under any pretext whatever, receive any compensation therefor, other than that which may be allowed by law, and paid from the publick treasury of this justice. So help me God."
Section 9. And be it further ordained, That all actions of appeal brought before this tribunal, shall commence by petition, addressed to the court, and presented to the clerk, who shall file the same in his office, and shall deliver to the sheriff a copy thereof, with an order annexed, to the other party in the suit to answer the same within twenty days thereafter; the said order shall bear test in the name of the presiding judge of the court, and be signed by the clerk; all other process of the court shall be issued in the same form, and all other proceeding conducted as heretofore, except that all judgments shall be pronounced and signed by the presiding judge according to the opinion of a majority of the members present, and except such other changes as may be hereinafter ordained.
Section 10. And be it further ordained, That three civil commandants shall be nominated by this convention and commissioned by the governor, viz.: One for the district of Baton Rouge; one for the district of New Feliciana; and one for the districts of St. Helena and St. Ferdinand, who shall reside each within the district for which he shall have been appointed, and in all civil cases shall have and exercise the powers and perform the duties heretofore assigned to a commandant of a district within his jurisdiction, together with those of a notary publick for the said district, except in the cases hereinafter mentioned and provided.
Section 11. And be it further ordained, That there shall be one district court in and for each of the said districts, those of St. Helena and Tanchipaho including the settlements of Chefuncte, Bogcheto and Pearl River, being considered as one district, of which court the commandant when present shall be the presiding judge, and the alcaldes shall be associate judges thereof, each for the district in which he resides. Any three or more of the said judges shall form a court, and in case of the absence of the commandant from whatever cause at the time of holding any session of the court, the senior alcalde present shall act as presiding judge thereof.
Section 12. And be it further ordained, That each of the said district courts shall hold four sessions in every year, at some convenient place p79 within the district for which it shall have been established, viz.: For the district of Baton Rouge at the town of Baton Rouge, to commence on the third Mondays of January, April, July and October. For the district of New Feliciana at the town of St. Francisville, to commence on the first Mondays of February, May, August and November. And for the districts of St. Helena and St. Ferdinand, at the habitation of William Spiller, to commence on the first Mondays of January, April, July and October of each year; and each session of the said district courts shall be continued by adjournments from day to day, Sundays excepted, until all the business before them be finished.
Section 13. And be it further ordained, That the said district courts shall have original jurisdiction in all cases, civil and criminal, within the districts respectively, for which they shall have been established, not within the jurisdiction of any single alcalde; but in all trials of criminal cases they shall order six free-holders of the vicinity to come and hear the testimony in open court, and to declare upon oath their conviction as to the guilt or innocence of the party accused, who shall be immediately discharged if the said declaration be "not guilty." If the accused be found guilty by the free-holders aforesaid and the court be of the opinion that the offence is of such a nature as to merit capital punishment, or confinement to hard labor for a longer term than six months, or a fine exceeding five thousand dollars, they shall order the prisoner to be conveyed to the fort at Baton Rouge, to abide the judgment of the superior court, giving notice thereof to the governor, and shall transmit all the documents relative to his case, or certified copies thereof to the clerk of the said superior court. In all other cases they shall pronounce such sentence authorized by law as the nature of each offence may seem to deserve, and cause it to be executed by the proper officer.
Section 14. And be it further ordained, That each of the civil commandants aforesaid, shall keep in his office a register, in which he shall enter all civil actions instituted for any amount, which may not come within the jurisdiction of any single alcalde, in order of time as they shall be brought; and at each session of the said district courts, it shall be the duty of each commandant to exhibit to the court in which he may preside the register so made by him as aforesaid, with all the documents relative to the causes or actions instituted at his office and not determined or withdrawn, when each of the said courts shall proceed to hear and decide all the causes aforesaid in the same order as they shall be found on the register of the commandant. Provided always, that any cause or action for reasons approved by the court, may be continued from one session to another, until a reasonable time shall have been allowed to the parties to procure all testimony which may be necessary to obtain a fair and impartial decision thereof.
Section 15. And be it further ordained, That in all civil actions the judgments of the said district courts shall be final for all sums not exceeding five hundred dollars; but in all cases in which the judgment given by the district court, shall be for a sum exceeding that amount, an appeal shall be allowed at the request of either party, to the superior court, the appellant paying the costs which shall have accrued thereon, and given sufficient security in the office of the commandant, within fifteen days after such judgment shall have been given, to prosecute the appeal without delay, and abide the decision of the superior tribunal aforesaid.
Section 16. And be it further ordained, That the said district courts shall have been established; and also for making and keeping in repair everything necessary and conducive to the publick welfare and convenience respecting the government of slaves, and the management of live stock of every description in the several districts respectively, for which they shall have been established; and also for making and keeping in repair public roads and bridges, causing public roads to be opened and bridges to be erected where necessary, either through publick or private property, and to establish reasonable tolls where they may think proper, to defray p80 the expense of making and keeping the same in repair. Provided always, That where it may be found necessary for the public convenience to open a public road or erect a bridge in any situation which may occasion injury to an individual inhabitant, it shall be the duty of the court to cause the damages occasioned thereby to be estimated by six free-holders of the vicinity and paid by the inhabitants of the district. The said district courts shall also have power to give such orders as they may think proper for the erection of publick buildings in their respective districts, and for defraying the expenses there by the inhabitants within the same.
Section 17. And be it further ordained, That each district court shall appoint one person who shall be sworn to regulate and stamp weights and measures, and establish his fees for the same, to be paid by the owners of such weights and measures as he may examine and seal; and it shall be unlawful for any person to sell any kind of produce or merchandise thereafter by weights or measures inferior to those duly regulated and sealed, under penalty of being fined by the court of the district not exceeding twenty dollars for the first offence and at the discretion of the court for other offences.
Section 18. And be it further ordained, That the said district courts shall at their discretion grant licenses to merchants, tavern-keepers, pedlars, and keepers of ferries, and billiard tables and establish the rates and general regulations to be observed by all persons obtaining such licenses. Provided always, That the applicant for any license as aforesaid, shall pay to the commandant, or presiding judge of the court, for the benefit of the publick treasury, the tax established by this ordinance on the license for which he applies; and any person who shall be convicted of retailing merchandise or spirituous liquors, or keeping a tavern, a ferry, or a billiard table, and of receiving any emoluments therefor without such license, shall forfeit and pay for the first offence twenty dollars, and for every after offence such fine as the court may sue for the same, one-half of all such fines to be paid to the person who may sue for the same, and the other half to the public treasury of the district.
Section 19. And be it further ordained, That either of the said district courts upon information given them of any person or persons keeping a disorderly house or establishing any institution for the purpose of gambling under whatever name or pretext, within their jurisdiction, shall cause to be arrested such person, or persons, and on conviction of any crime as aforesaid, shall punish all such offenders by fine and imprisonment at their discretion, not exceeding the general powers granted to the district courts in criminal cases.
Section 20. And be it further ordained, That twenty-four alcaldes shall be elected by the people of this jurisdiction, and commissioned by the governor, viz.: Eight for the district of Baton Rouge, eight for the district of New Feliciana, and eight for the districts of St. Helena and St. Ferdinand, who shall have final jurisdiction in civil cases in which the amount of the matter in dispute does not exceed fifty dollars, and who shall have in all other respects the same powers and emoluments, and perform the same duties as have heretofore been assigned to similar officers under this government.
Section 21. And be it further ordained, That the election for the alcaldes aforesaid shall be held in each district on Thursday the 20th day of September next, at such place or places within the same, and according to such regulations as the representation of each district in this convention may determine; and that a return be made within five days thereafter, by the persons appointed to conduct the said elections, of the names of the persons elected to the office of the commander of the district for which they shall have been elected respectively, placing on one roll all the names of the persons elected in one district; and it shall be the duty of each commandant to preserve and file the said roll in his office, and to make a return of the names of the persons elected in the same order, within fifteen days after the receipt thereof to the office of the government at Baton Rouge.
p81 Section 22. And be it further ordained, That the commissions shall be issued by the governor in the usual form to each of the alcaldes so elected, within ten days after the return of their names so made as aforesaid to the office of the government, and the seniority of the said alcaldes shall be regulated according to which their names shall be found on the returns made to the commandants of the district as aforesaid.
Section 23. And be it further ordained, That the powers of the present commandants of districts and of the alcaldes and syndics now in office within this jurisdiction, shall cease and determine so soon as the commandants and alcaldes appointed agreeable to the provisions of this ordinance, shall have been duly commissioned; and all civil magistrates appointed under this ordinance, shall continue in office at least one year from the time of their appointment unless sooner removed from office, and until removed by this convention.
Section 24. And be it further ordained, That the forms of procedure in all the tribunals of justice within this jurisdiction, not otherwise prescribed by this ordinance, shall be conformable, in all cases, as near as may be, to those heretofore established and practised, except only such changes as may have been rendered necessary by the changes herein ordained, which alteration in the forms of procedure the said tribunals are authorized to make in such manner as to them may appear most convenient to facilitate the distribution of justice.
Section 25. And be it further ordained, That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the privilege of a speedy and public trial, in which he shall be confronted with and allowed to examine all the witnesses against him, and to produce testimony in his defence. He shall also have compulsory process to procure the attendance of witnesses if required, and shall in no case be compelled to give testimony against himself.
Section 26. And be it further ordained, That all trials in civil as well as criminal cases shall be public, and all judgments pronounced and signed in open court, by the presiding judge thereof, according to the opinion of the majority of the judges present; that all process shall be conducted and all records made either in the Spanish or English language, as may best suit the convenience of the parties concerned, and that all witnesses may be examined by both parties on all points relative to the matter in controversy.
Section 27. And be it further ordained, That each of the courts established by this ordinance shall have the power to appoint one interpreter, who shall be sworn to perform his duties faithfully, and shall receive such compensation therefor, as the court for which he may be appointed shall determine from the publick treasury when employed in the publick service, and from individuals when employed by them in the exercise of his functions.
Section 28. And be it further ordained, That the president of any of the courts established by this ordinance, shall have the power to call a session of the court in which he presides, at any time when he may think it expedient, giving three days' notice thereof to every associate judge of such court, by a circular letter addressed to each, in which shall be specified the occasion for which the said session may be called. Provided always, that no other business be entered upon at any session so called than that specified in the circular letter of the presiding judge aforesaid.
Section 29. And be it further ordained, That when judgment shall be given for debt by any alcalde or court of justice within this jurisdiction, all the legal costs which may have accrued to the plaintiff in prosecuting his suit for the same, shall be taxed by the said officer or court, and the judgment shall be given for the debt and costs so taxed, and after such judgment obtained for any sum now due and payable within this jurisdiction, there shall be a stay of execution allowed to the party who may demand the same for the term of ninety days, when such sum may not exceed one hundred dollars; for the term of one hundred p82 and twenty days, when the sum may be over one hundred dollars and not exceeding three hundred dollars; for the term of six months when the sum may be over three hundred dollars and not exceeding five hundred dollars; and for the term of twelve months when the sum may exceed five hundred dollars; sufficient security being given for the payment of the debt and costs at the expiration of the time for which the execution may have been stayed in each case as aforesaid.
Section 30. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the superior court of this jurisdiction at their first stated session after the establishment of this ordinance to make a fair and accurate table exhibiting all fees to which every civil officer of this government is entitled by law for his services, in all things relating to his office, and where any civil officer may be required by this ordinance to perform services for which no compensation may be allowed by law or by this ordinance, the said court shall allow such compensation therefor, as to them may appear reasonable and proper, specifying the same in the table aforesaid. And it shall be the duty of the clerk of the said superior court, to furnish to each civil commandant within this jurisdiction, a certified copy of the said table of fees, within ten days after the adjournment of the said first session of the superior court, to be affixed in his office for the inspection of all persons concerned.
Section 31. And be it further ordained, That all the civil officers of this jurisdiction who receive compensation for their services other than a fixed salary from the public treasury, shall make fair tables of all the fees to which they are entitled by law for their services; and each officer shall cause to be affixed in some conspicuous place in his office, within one month after the adjournment of the first session of the superior court aforesaid, for the inspection of all persons who have business in such office, on pain of forfeiting for each day the same shall be missing through such officer's neglect, the sum of twenty dollars, which shall be paid one-half to any person who shall sue for the same, and the other half to the public treasury.
Section 32. And whereas, difficulties may arise in the ascertaining the amount of the perquisites appertaining to the office of the governor of this jurisdiction;
Be it therefore ordained, That from and after the establishment of this ordinance a nett salary of three thousand dollars per annum be allowed to the governor of this jurisdiction, and paid from the publick treasury thereof, as a full compensation for all his services while exercising the said office.
Section 33. And be it further ordained, That each of the associate judges of the superior court of the jurisdiction of Baton Rouge shall be allowed an annual salary of six hundred dollars for his services, while exercising the said office, to be paid from the publick treasury of the jurisdiction aforesaid.
Section 34. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the commandant of each district, accompanied by two or more of the alcaldes, as soon as they shall have been commissioned, agreeable to the provisions of this ordinance, to receive all the public archives within the district in which he may reside, with a proper inventory of the same, and that the commandant of the district of Baton Rouge shall receive and keep the archives of this jurisdiction until they be otherwise disposed of by the superior court.
Section 35. And be it further ordained, That all suits now pending before any tribunal within this jurisdiction may either be withdrawn by those who have instituted the same, or transferred to any alcalde or district court, having competent jurisdiction according to the provisions of this ordinance; and to those against whom judgment may have been rendered for debt, and not yet satisfied, the same indulgence shall be given as has been provided and allowed by the 29th section of this article, in cases of judgments hereafter to be given; the time of the stay of execution to be computed from the first session of the district court of the district in which such judgment may have been given. And p83 all persons against whom any criminal prosecution may have been instituted, shall be brought to trial at the first sessions of the respective district courts.
And, whereas, the irregularities and abuses which have been practiced by some of the officers entrusted with the distribution of lands, and establishing the boundaries thereof, within this jurisdiction, for some years past, may give rise to much litigation, and injustice to the publick, as well as to individuals, if suffered to continue. And, whereas, it is the duty of those who exercise the powers of litigation for the publick welfare to prevent as far as possible the evils which might originate from this source, both to the public and the individual inhabitants of the country.
Section 1. Be it therefore ordained by the authority aforesaid, That a register of land claims shall be appointed by this convention, and commissioned by the governor, who shall, before entering upon the duties of his office, execute and deposit in the office of the clerk of the superior court of this jurisdiction, a bond with two sufficient securities, approved by the judges of said court, in the sum of ten thousand dollars, conditioned for the faithful performance of all the duties of his office, as prescribed by this ordinance.
Section 2. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the said register of land claims to make and keep in his office at the town of Baton Rouge, a fair and accurate register of all grants or sales of lands made by any officer or tribunal duly authorized to grant, or in any way sell or alienate, the lands of the royal domain within this jurisdiction, and all other documents which may be produced to him by any person or persons, as evidence of any claim or claims for lands in the said jurisdiction, of what nature soever, which they may consider to be vested in them or in any other person, whether residing within this jurisdiction or elsewhere.
Section 3. And be it further ordained, That any person claiming lands within the said jurisdiction by virtue of any grant or sale made by any officer or tribunal authorized as aforesaid, and every person claiming lands within the said jurisdiction by any incomplete title of what nature soever, shall before the first day of September of the year one thousand eight hundred and eleven, deliver to the said register of land claims a notice in writing, stating the nature and extent of his claim or claims, together with platt of the said tract or tracts of land so claimed if they have been surveyed by any officer commissioned for that purpose, and shall, on or before the said first day of September of the year aforesaid, deliver to the said register for the purpose of being recorded, every grant, order of survey, deed, conveyance, or other written evidence of his claim: And it shall be the duty of the said register to record the same in books to be kept by him for that purpose within six months after the receipt thereof, each claimant paying to him at the rate of twelve and one-half cents for each hundred words contained in such written evidence of his claim as aforesaid; and the said register shall return to each claimant his original papers deposited at his office as aforesaid, at any time when called for, after same has been recorded.
Section 4. And be it further ordained, That any claimant as aforesaid who shall neglect or refuse to deliver such notice in writing of his claim together with a platt, if any there be, or cause to be recorded such written evidence of his claim as aforesaid, all his right, in case his title be incomplete, shall become void, and forever thereafter be barred, nor shall any incomplete grant, warrant, or order of jury, deed of conveyance, or other written evidence which shall not have been recorded as above directed, ever after be considered or admitted as evidence in any tribunal within this jurisdiction.
Section 5. And be it further ordained, That no grant or sale of lands p84 appertaining to the royal domain, within this jurisdiction, which may be made after this date, without the knowledge and approbation of some tribunal established with full powers for that purpose within this jurisdiction, shall be valid, and no such grant or sale shall be received as evidence of title in any tribunal within this jurisdiction, or be admitted to be recorded in the office of the register of land claims established by this ordinance.
Section 6. And be it further ordained, That every actual settler who now inhabits and cultivates a tract of land within this jurisdiction, for which he had obtained no complete title, and which has not been legally granted to any other person, shall be entitled to such quantity including his improvements, as has usually been granted to settlers, according to the laws, usages and customs of the Spanish government: And no actual settler as aforesaid shall be deprived of a tract so inhabited and cultivated by him, in consequence of any claim hereafter brought by any person, of which the said inhabitant, has not now or heretofore been notified.
Section 7. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of every actual settler as aforesaid to deliver to the register of land claims before the first of September, one thousand eight hundred and eleven, aforesaid, a declaration subscribed and sworn by himself, in presence of some alcalde or civil magistrate of this jurisdiction, stating how long he may have inhabited and cultivated the said tract of land, with the number both of free persons and slaves appertaining to his family, which said declaration shall also be accompanied with the certificate of two or more disinterested persons also sworn, testifying to the truth of the facts stated therein.
Section 8. And be it further ordained, That the said settler at the time of making the declaration aforesaid, together with the persons subscribing the said certificates, shall also declare upon oath every claim of any other person, if any there be, for the said tract, of which they or either of them may have been notified before this date.
Section 9. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the register of land claims aforesaid, to record all declarations and certificates made in form as aforesaid, and deliver to him in due time as evidence of the claims of the persons making such declarations, for the tracts by them so inhabited and cultivated as aforesaid; and all such settlers who may refuse or neglect to deliver such evidence of their respective claims to the register on or before the said first day of September, 1811, shall forfeit their said claims, and shall not thereafter be allowed to produce any evidence of the same facts in any tribunal within this jurisdiction for the purpose of establishing their said claims.
Section 10. And be it further ordained, That from and after the first day of January, one thousand eight hundred and eleven, the surveyor-general of this province shall reside and keep his office at the town of Baton-Rouge.
Whereas, the publick safety requires that provision be made as soon as possible for defraying the expenses of this department of the government, from such resources as may be found within the country, and that some uniform mode of taxation be established for that purpose.
Section 1. And be it therefore ordained by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be the duty of the alcaldes of the several districts of this jurisdiction to make every year, in the month of December, an accurate census of all the inhabitants each for the division in which he may reside, stating therein distinctly every free white person by name, with the number of slaves, and also the number of arpents of land claimed by each within this jurisdiction, causing every person to declare to him upon oath, the whole amount of property claimed by him as aforesaid.
Section 2. And be it further ordained, That each of the said alcaldes p85 shall make and return to the commandant of the district in which he resides, a fair transcript of the census so made by him on or before the first day of January in every year, and it shall be the duty of the commandants to make from the returns of the alcaldes a complete census of all the inhabitants and their property as aforesaid, each for the district in which he may reside, and to return the same to the office of the clerk of the superior court for the jurisdiction of Baton-Rouge, on or before the first day of February in every year.
Section 3. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the clerk of the said superior court, to make every year, an accurate table containing the names of all the free inhabitants of this jurisdiction subject to taxation, with the amount of the tax to be paid by each, placed opposite his name, estimating the same from the returns made by the commandants of the districts in the following manner, viz. :
For every hundred arpents of land claimed by a resident within this jurisdiction, not exceeding one thousand arpents, four rials; for every hundred arpents claimed by one inhabitant over and above one thousand arpents, one dollar; and for every slave, four rials.
Section 4. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the said clerk of the said superior court, to keep in his office the said table, and to make and deliver to the sheriff of this jurisdiction, a certified copy thereof, on or before the first day of March in every year.
Section 5. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the sheriff immediately on the receipt thereof, to give notice to the inhabitants by advertisements in the most publick places in each district, mentioning the places and times at which they may attend and pay the said tax to the proper officer; appointing the places not less than three in each district, as convenient as may be for the inhabitants, and the times not more distant than thirty days from the time at which the return of the amount of taxes shall have been made to him by the clerk of the superior court as aforesaid.
Section 6. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the sheriff in person, or by his deputies, to attend at each of the places and times so appointed by him as aforesaid, to receive the said tax, and give receipts for the same, and he shall furnish to every individual inhabitant requesting the same, a fair account of the amount of the tax which he is required to pay, with a receipt of such sum as shall be paid by each, in discharge thereof.
Section 7. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the sheriff in person, or by his deputies within fifteen days after the time appointed for the last meeting aforesaid, to give notice in writing to every inhabitant personally or by leaving the same at the usual place of residence of each inhabitant who shall not have attended at any of the times and places aforesaid, or paid the amount of tax due, stating in such notice the amount due by each; and if the same be not paid within thirty days thereafter, it shall be the duty of the sheriff to seize and sell such goods and chattels of such inhabitants as may be necessary to satisfy and pay the tax aforesaid, with the cost of collecting the same; the proceedings respecting the seizure and sale, being the same in all respects as are directed in cases of debts for the same amount.
Section 8. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the register of the land office for this jurisdiction to make every year an accurate statement of the number of arpents claimed by each and every person not residing within the jurisdiction, and to form a table exhibiting the name of each non-resident as aforesaid, with the number of arpents claimed, and the sum payable by each opposite thereto, estimating the said sum at one dollar, for every hundred arpents claimed by the non-resident.
Section 9. And be it further ordained, That the said register shall deposit the table so made in his office, and shall furnish an attested copy thereof to the sheriff at the time in every year in which it is ordained p86 that the return of the amount of taxes due by residents shall be made by the clerk of the superior court.
Section 10. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the sheriff to cause to be published within twenty days thereafter, the names of such non-residents, with the number of arpents claimed by each, and the amount of the taxes due thereon, in such manner as may appear most effectual, to extend the same to the places where such claimants or their agents may reside, with a notice that if the tax be not paid within six months thereafter, the said lands shall be sold, or such part thereof as may be necessary to pay the tax and costs accrued there.
Section 11. And be it further ordained, That if the said tax be not paid within the said term of six months thereafter, it shall be the duty of the sheriff to seize and sell such part of the lands belonging to each non-resident as may be sufficient to pay the amount of taxes due thereon, together with all legal costs which may have accrued; the proceedings being the same as are prescribed for the seizure and sale of lands for debt of the same amount.
Section 12. And be it further ordained, That until a treasurer be appointed for this jurisdiction, the sheriff shall act as treasurer thereof and shall pay of the publick monies in his possession from time to time all accounts which may be due and payable from the public treasury, and take discharges for the same. Provided always, That the said accounts be certified to be truly and justly due, by the superior court, or one of the district courts of this jurisdiction.
Section 13. And be it further ordained, That the sheriff shall be allowed for collecting the taxes aforesaid, four per cent on the amount so collected, and for his services as treasurer, one per cent on all sums paid by him in discharge of public debts.
Section 14. And be it further ordained, That the civil commandant of each district within this jurisdiction, shall pay every three months into the hands of the sheriff, it being the duty of the sheriff to call upon them for that purpose, all sums received by them for the publick treasury of the jurisdiction, arising from the tax on licenses granted by the district courts, and from the tax on slaves imported into this jurisdiction.
Section 15. And be it further ordained, That the said taxes be established as follows, that is to say, for every slave imported after this date, above the age of ten years, ten dollars; for every slave imported as aforesaid, under the age of ten years, five dollars.
For a license to retail merchandise at any one specified place within this jurisdiction, ten dollars; for a license to keep a tavern, twenty dollars; for a license to keep a permanent ferry over the Mississippi river, twenty dollars; for a license to keep a ferry over any other river or stream, ten dollars.
For a license to retail merchandise, travelling from place to place, five dollars; and ten dollars for every cart, horse and mule employed in conveying such merchandise.
For a license to keep a billiard table, fifty dollars. Provided always, That the said license be issued for one year, and to have full force and virtue for that space of time and no longer.
Section 16. And be it further ordained, That all fines and forfeitures exacted by any of the district courts or such parts thereof as revert to the publick treasury, by this ordinance, shall be paid to the commandant for the use of the district; and all fines and forfeitures imposed by the superior court, not otherwise directed to be disposed of, shall be paid to the sheriff for the benefit of the publick treasury.
Section 17. And be it further ordained, That it shall be the duty of the sheriff to exhibit to the superior court, at each of their stated sessions, a fair and accurate statement of all publick monies received and expended by him, and that the said superior court shall have power at any time to investigate his conduct relative to any or all the duties of his office, and in case of his delinquency to the prejudice of the publick, or of any individual, to give such judgment against him, and to inflict p87 such penalties authorized by the laws, as to them may seem fit and according to justice.
Done in convention at the town of Baton Rouge on the twenty-second day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ten.
In testimony whereof, we, the representatives aforesaid, have hereunto in presence of each other, subscribed our names.
John H. Johnson,
For the District of New-Feliciana.
John W. Leonard,
Benj. O. William,º
For the District of St. Helena.
For the District of Baton-Rouge.
For the District of St. Ferdinand.
Carlos Dehault Delassus, Governor.
John Rhea, President.
Resolved, That all the physicians and surgeons now residing and exercising their professions, with the permission of the government, within this jurisdiction, be formed into a Medical Society, with permission to assemble, foretold, for the purpose of debating on subjects relating to their profession, and of communicating to each other such interesting cases as may occur in practice. The said society shall hold their first meeting at St. Francisville on the first day October next; any six or more of them to form a society at the said first meeting; and they shall meet afterwards on their own adjournments. They shall have power to form such bye-laws for the government of the society as to them may seem fit and expedient, not inconsistent with any of the general laws of the country; and they shall form a bill of rates for medical and surgical services, which they shall make publick without unnecessary delay; and the same shall hereafter be recognized by the tribunals of justice within this jurisdiction, as the established rates of the country for such services.
Resolved, That the said medical society be authorized, and required, to choose annually, three or more of their members to form a committee for the purpose of examining all persons who may hereafter come within this jurisdiction with a view of exercising the profession of medicine or surgery, or any branch thereof, and of granting licenses to such as they may find sufficiently skilled in the profession which they may propose to exercise as aforesaid; who shall thereafter be members of the said medical society; and any person who shall be found exercising either of said professions within the jurisdiction after this present year, not now exercising the same with the permission of the government, nor duly licensed by the committee of the medical society aforesaid, shall forfeit and pay for each offence, a fine and less than one hundred dollars, nor more than five hundred, at the discretion of the district courts of this jurisdiction; one-half of such fine to be paid to any person who shall sue for the same, and the other half to the civil commandant of the district.
Baton-Rouge, August 22, 1810.
p88 Resolved, That this convention, with the consent of the governor, have power to borrow money on credit to the government and the revenue of the same, whenever the publick service may require.
Baton-Rouge, August 25th, 1810.
Resolved, That the inhabitants of towns and villages within this jurisdiction be authorized to form such local regulations within the same as may be conducive to their own convenience and prosperity, not contrary to the general established laws of the country.
Baton-Rouge, August 25, 1810.
|Wm. Spiller,||Philip Hicky,|
|John Mills,||Manuel Lopez,|
|Jos. Thomas,||Thos. Lilley,|
|John Morgan,||Jno. H. Johnson,|
|John W. Leonard,||Wm. Barrow,|
|Benj. O. Williams,||Edmd. Hawes.|
1 For the opportunity to inpect and reproduce the original documents written by the delegates of the Convention, I am indebted to Mrs. C. A. Levert and her daughter, Miss Genevieve Levert, descendants of Philip Hicky.
2 I am indebted to Mr. Richmond Favrot for the opportunity of reproducing the 32‑page pamphlet of the "Ordinances" adopted by the Convention delegates. It was found among the original documents in the "Favrot Collection" which were collected and handed down to descendants by Don Pedro Favrot who played a conspicuous part in the early history of Louisiana under the French and Spanish. My acknowledgements, too, to Miss Josie Cerf, of the Louisiana State Museum who called my attention to this pamphlet — possibly the only one in existence.
b It's a pity Arthur doesn't tell us the source of this quote, whether it was contemporary with the events, and whether it was originally in English, or is his translation of a Spanish source: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest firmly attested use of gringo in English only dates to 1849, and even in Spanish, apparently, it is first recorded only as late as Pando's Diccionario Castellano (1786‑1793).
c So the printed text; but the signers' names printed at the end of the additional Resolutions (q.v.) are identically arranged, but include John Morgan and Jno. H. Johnson. I suspect a transcription error on the part of Arthur: he skipped a line.
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