James Monroe

Special Message

April 05, 1822

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

I communicate herewith to the House a report from the Secretary of War, containing the information requested by their resolution of the 5th ultimo.

It may be proper further to add that the secretaries of both the Territories have occasionally required and received the aid of the military force of the United States stationed within them, respectively, to carry into effect the acts of their authority.

The government of East and West Florida was under the Spanish dominion almost exclusively military. The governors of both were military officers and united in their persons the chief authority, both civil and military.

The principle upon which the act of Congress of the last session providing for the temporary government of the newly ceded Provinces was carried into execution has been communicated to Congress in my message at the opening of the session. It was to leave the authorities of the country as they were found existing at the time of the cession, to be exercised until the meeting of Congress, when it was known that the introduction of a system more congenial to our own institutions would be one of the earliest and most important subjects of their deliberations. From this, among other obvious considerations, military officers were appointed to take possession of both Provinces. But as the military command of General Jackson was to cease on the 1st of June, General Gaines, the officer next in command, then here, who was first designated to take possession of East Florida, received from me a verbal direction to give such effect to any requisition from the governor for military aid to enforce his authority as the circumstances might require. It was not foreseen that the command in both the Provinces would before further legislation by Congress on that subject devolve upon the secretaries of the Territories, but had it been foreseen the same direction would have been given as applicable to them.

No authority has been given to either of the secretaries to issue commands to that portion of the Army which is in Florida, and whenever the aid of the military has been required by them it has been by written requisitions to the officers commanding the troops, who have yielded compliance thereto doubtless under the directions received from General Gaines as understood by him to be authorized.

Shortly before the meeting of Congress a letter was received at the War Department from Colonel Brooke, the officer commanding at Pensacola, requesting instructions how far he was to consider these requisitions as authoritative, but the assurance that a new organization of the government was immediately to be authorized by Congress was a motive for superseding any specific decision upon the inquiry.


James Monroe, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/208257

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives