Focus on Treaties for Native American Heritage Month
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Treaty of Payne's Landing

Signed on May 9, 1832, by James Gadsden for the United States and by 15 Seminole chiefs, the Treaty of Payne's Landing (1832) arranged for the cession of Seminole lands in Florida and for their removal to Creek lands west of the Mississippi.

Florida settlers had long complained about "Indian depredations" committed by the Seminole, and Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi plantation owners protested that runaway slaves found refuge among these Florida Natives. Border disputes between Americans and the Seminole had exploded into full-scale war in 1818, when forces led by Andrew Jackson invaded Florida to punish Seminole and capture African Americans who lived among them.

In 1823, after Spain transferred control of Florida to the United States, the Seminole signed a treaty with the United States, the Moultrie Creek Treaty (1823), that ceded the bulk of the Florida peninsula to U.S. control. Discord between the Seminole and Americans continued, however, as the Seminole found living difficult on their reduced acreage. Fulfilling his charge under the new Indian Removal Act (1830), Col. James Gadsden negotiated the Treaty of Payne's Landing, a removal treaty, with the Seminole at Payne's Landing in northeastern Florida on May 9, 1832. This treaty stipulated that removal was conditioned on the Seminole agreeing to settle in the western territory that the War Department had chosen for them. Under duress, the seven Seminole who journeyed west to inspect their new land signed a new removal treaty with American agents there at Fort Gibson on March 28, 1833. The treaty declared that the Seminole agreed with the location of their new lands, accepted political unification with the Creek, and assented to immediate emigration. Upon their return to Florida, the Seminole agents renounced the Fort Gibson treaty as coerced, and the Seminole refused to abide by the stipulations of either treaty.

Meanwhile, a Seminole band that lived along the Apalachicola River signed a separate removal treaty with Gadsden in October 1832, and they migrated to Texas in 1834. The confusion over which Seminole had authority to accept removal for other Seminole created an impasse that resulted in a bitter, drawn-out war between the Seminole and the United States that began in 1835 and was often referred to as the Second Seminole War. That war did not end until 1842, when all but a fragment of the Seminole had been killed or forcibly removed; it cost the United States $30 million to $40 million and 1,500 dead soldiers. Pockets of Seminole and their African American brethren remained in Florida, however, and their descendants are still there.

Dewi I. Ball

Further Reading
Remini, Robert V. The Legacy of Andrew Jackson: Essays on Democracy, Indian Removal and Slavery. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990; Satz, Ronald N. American Indian Policy in the Jacksonian Era. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002; Wallace, Anthony F. C. The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.

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