thomas jefferson, War of 1812

Thomas Jefferson sums up the War of 1812

The following post is by Denise R. Larson, the author of the 2016 edition of History for Genealogists. If you were a reader of the original 2009 edition, you will enjoy the new time lines concerning life on the homefront during America’s 20th-century wars; and fashion and leisure in America from its beginnings through the middle of the 20th century. The fashion and leisure chapter discusses things like the invention of the jigsaw puzzle, publication of Good Housekeeping magazine, and the modeling of the first bikini.

Following, Ms. Larson brings her expert eyes to discussing Thomas Jefferson’s views on the War of 1812:

Though no longer president of the United States, his term having ended in 1809, Thomas Jefferson took an avid interest in the welfare of his country, especially during the War of 1812, which he had unsuccessfully attempted to prevent by the economically disastrous Embargo Act of 1807.

In a letter to William H. Crawford, begun at Monticello February 11, 1815, and transcribed in “The Thomas Jefferson Papers” by the Library of Congress (, Jefferson wrote: the “6,000 citizens she (Britain) took from us by impressment have already cost her ten thousand guineas a man…. She might certainly find cheaper means of manning her fleet.”

About the progress of the war: “The first year of our warfare by land was disastrous.… But the second was generally successful, and the third entirely so, both by sea and land.”

After Jefferson heard about the signing of the treaty: “P.S. February 26th. I am glad of it, although no provision being made against the impressment of our seamen, it is in fact but an armistice, to be terminated by the first act of impressment committed on an American citizen.”

The taking of American seamen off ships has been downplayed by historians because it ended with the British victory in the Napoleonic wars and was called an excuse for war as used by expansionists, but Jefferson took it seriously. He saw it as a lack of respect and not to be tolerated if the United States was to take its place among the acknowledged nations of the world.

The settling of the northeast boundaries between British North America and the United States was still a touchy one. Jefferson wrote: “What nonsense for the manakin [possibly meant mannequin] Prince Regent to talk of their conquest of the country east of the Penobscot River! There, as in the revolutionary war, their conquests were never more than of the spot on which their army stood, never extended beyond the range of their cannon shot. If England is now wise or just enough to settle peaceably the question of impressment, the late treaty may become one of peace, and of long peace.”

And so it came to be. England no longer absconded with American seamen on the high seas, and the United States and Great Britain, as well as British North America, which later was officially known as Canada, became great allies in a long peace that has lasted to this day.

Image credit: Thomas Jefferson, via The Library of Congress.

Bernardo Galvez, chronology of Spanish troops in the revolutionary war

Chronology of Spanish troops in the Revolutionary War

Leroy Martinez’ new book, From Across the Spanish Empire: Spanish Soldiers Who Helped Win the American Revolutionary War, 1776-1783, provides the first comprehensive list of Spanish soldiers who served in North America during the U.S. War for Independence.  Separate chapters list those who served in Arizona, California, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. In most cases Mr. Martinez identifies each soldier by name, military unit, rank and date, and the source, as well as sometimes by age, place of origin in Europe, theater served in, and other factors. Mr. Martinez  extracted his lists of servicemen from original sources found in the Archives of Spanish Naval Museum in Madrid, the U.S. Library of Congress, and in state archives in Texas, Arizona, and California. In all the author sheds light upon 7,500 Spanish combatants who served in North America during the American Revolution, any one of whom could qualify a descendant for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution or related lineage organizations.

Besides the rosters comprising the heart of his work, the Martinez has included a number of illustrations of military uniforms, original documents, and other artifacts from the era – including the records of his own ancestors. In addition, the book contains a very useful chronology of events involving Spanish forces during the Revolution, which could trigger clues for researchers possessing Hispanic ancestors.

Chronology of events involving Spanish forces during the Revolutionary War

Reprinted from From Across the Spanish Empirewe hope the following chronology from Chapter II Events from 1565-1784 is helpful to our readers. It includes foundational events, as well as a timeline of activities related to Spanish soldiers involvement in the Revolutionary War:

1565 St. Augustine, Florida settled by Pedro Menendez de Aviles followed by earlier explorations.

1598 Onate Expedition to settle New Mexico Province followed by earlier explorations. This included Texas, Southern Colorado, Southwest Kansas, Oklahoma panhandle, part of Utah, and part of Arizona.

1610 New Mexico capital moved to Santa Fe from the San Juan Pueblo area. 1762 Spain enters war with Britain and is allied with France in Seven Years’ War. 1762, August 23 Havana, British capture Cuba from Spain.

1763, February Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years’ War in America : Spain loses Florida as part of the treaty, but the King of France cedes Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain to compensate Spain for its loss of Florida.

1769, July-August Spain takes formal possession of Louisiana with regiments from Havana, detachments of Aragon and Guadalajara, America New Spain dragoons, and Havana militia.

1775, November 29 Continental Congress establishes a committee to seek foreign aid mostly from France and Spain.

1776, May 1 Spain and France secretly agreed to send money and future aid to the Continental Army.

1776, May American George Gibson and William Linn sent to Spanish New Orleans for arms and supplies.

1776, August General Charles Henry Lee, second in command, sent Capt. George Gibson and 16 colonists from Fort Pitt to Spanish New Orleans for additional aid.

1776, September Spain sent 9000 pounds of gunpowder up the Mississippi River to Fort Pitt, and 1000 pounds of gunpowder by ship to Philadelphia. This plan was intended before July 4, 1776.

1776, November 25 King Carlos III orders Gov. Bernardo Galvez to secretly provide intelligence about the British.

1776, November 26 Spanish Governor Bernardo Galvez received orders to send gunpowder to the colonist via the Mississippi River. The gunpowder total cost was about $70,000. Secret commissioners were sent to English colonies as spies.

1776, December 24 Spanish royal order to aid American colonists in secret because both France and Spain wanted to remain neutral for the time being.

1777, Spain sent 2000 barrels of gunpowder, lead, and clothing up to the Mississippi River to the colonists. Also, Spain sent 1 million “Livres” and additional provisions for reaching Fort Pitt (Pennsylvania) .

1777 Secret Committee Chairman Benjamin Franklin requested and was granted 215 cannons, 4000 tents, gunpowder, 13,000 grenades, 30,000 muskets, bayonets, uniforms, 50,000 balls, and gunpowder.

1777 October Patrick Henry wrote two letters to Galvez thanking Spain for its help and requesting more aid. He suggested that the Floridas should be returned to Spain after the war.

1778-1779 George Rogers Clark obtained supplies from Galvez in New Orleans. These supplies were used in attacking the British at Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes.

1778, January Patrick Henry wrote another letter to Bernardo Galvez requesting more supplies.

1778, February The treaty of alliance between France and the United States obligated Spain to assist France against the English. Galvez began to recruit an army and militia in Louisiana.

1778, March James Willing left Fort Pitt with 30 men to New Orleans and received more supplies for the war. They were welcomed by Galvez in New Orleans, and Willing left to return to Fort Pitt. James Willing was protected from the British by Galvez in New Orleans.

1779, May 8 Spain formally declares war against the British and becomes allies with all of the British enemies e.g. France and the Continental Army.

1779 Spain seizes Baton Rouge and Natchez from the British. Soldiers included detachments from regiments Louisiana, Louisiana militia (men 18- 60 years), and the New Orleans Carabineers.

1779-1782 Spanish ranchers in Texas area provided up to 15,000 cattle to support Galvez’ soldiers, along with several hundred horses, mules, bulls. Some of these cattle were sent to the Continental troops at Valley Forge.

1779 Males over 18, including Indians, in New Spain were required to become members of the militia in Louisiana in the Southwest.

1779, June 21 Spain declared war on England .. Spani’s King Carlos III ordered all Spanish subjects around the world to fight the English wherever they could be found.

1779, August 27-September 7 Galvez Spanish Army in New Orleans travels 90 miles up the Mississippi River to attack Fort Bute, in Manchac, Louisiana.

1779, August 29 King Carlos III proclaimed that the Spanish troops in America was to drive the British out of the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River.

1779, September 20 Galvez’ Army captures the British Baton Rouge and Fort Natchez. 1779, November 8 Jefferson wrote to Galvez thanking him for Spain’s assistance.

1779, November Fort Omoa, Honduras, is recaptured by Spain against the British. Combattants include the Guatemala Dragoons and militias. Spain originally crossed over land to reach the Pacific Ocean.

1780 Carlos III issued a royal order requesting a one-time voluntary donation in New Spain, called “Donativo,” amounting to two Pesos per Spaniard and one peso per Native American throughout Spain’s New World Empire. Almost I million pesos was received in New Spain and half that amount was later forwarded to the Continental Army for aid in the American Revolution .

1780, January 28 – March 14 Galvez led the attack on the British Fort at Mobile, today’s Alabama.

1780, May 26 Spanish military at Fort San Carlos, St. Louis, aided Clark in the conquest of the territories northwest of the Ohio River, and against the British Indian attack on St. Louis in 1780.

1780, May Spanish Fort in Upper Louisiana, (today St. Louis, Missouri), repulses the British and Indian attack from losing the Mississippi River location. Spanish soldiers were the regiments of Louisiana and the St. Louis militia.

1780, October 16 Galvez led the Spanish fleet of 15 warships and 59 transport ships from Havana to attack Pensacola.

1780, November 22 Fort Carlos Spanish Commander Balthazar de Villiers went across the Mississippi River with a detachment of Spanish soldiers to capture the English Fort Concordia.

1781, January 2 Spanish soldiers travel up the Mississippi River to British Fort St. Joseph, Illinois, to capture the fort and destroy the British stockade.

1781, January The British failed in attacking Las Adeas Fort, near Mobile. Spanish defenderss were regiments from Havana, Principe, Espana, Navarro, and Louisiana militia.

1781, March 9 Spanish siege of Pensacola, West Florida. Soldiers were regiments of Soria, Corona, Aragon, Rey, Guadalajara , Hibernia, Flandes, Napoles, 2″d Catalonian Volunteers, Espania, Navarra, Zamora, Extremadura, Leon, and Principe. Detachments were from Toledo, Mallorca, Louisiana, and Havana: Louisiana dragoons, America dragoons, detachment of Louisiana militia, Havana Grenadiers of Mulatto and Moreno militia .

1781, June 28 Natchez recaptured from the British, after it was taken in May 1781. Soldiers were from the detachments of Regiment Louisiana and Louisiana militia.

1781, August Washington and others drank a toast thanking the Spanish King and French King at the home of Robert Morris, Philadelphia.

1781, October 19 General Charles Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. Funds to pay the French soldiers and money came from private citizens of Cuba.

1782, May 8 Bernardo Galvez’ army, aided by American Navy Commander Alexander Gillon of the South Carolina frigate, captured Nassau, Bahamas. Soldiers were from Guadalajara, Espana, the New Spain’s Corona regiment, Havana Pardo and Moreno regiments.

1783, April 18 British retake Nassau, Bahamas, the British naval fleet location used during the American Revolution against the colonists and Spain.

1783, April Spanish capture the Arkansas post. Spanish soldiers and militia defeated the British.

1783, September 3the signing of the Treaty of Paris 1783 ended the war between England, the United States, Spain, and France. Ratifications were not finished until 1784.

1784 U.S. Congress formally cited Galvez and Spain for their aid.

1784 Congressional records indicated that a portrait of Galvez be placed in the Congressional assembly room.

2014 Congress votes to admit Bernardo Galvez as a Citizen of the United States.

2014 Efforts have been addressed to replace the portrait of Galvez and have it placed back in the halls of Congress.

Image credit: The Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez, via Wikimedia Commons



jamestown, early virginia immigrants, virginia company

Unprecedented Biographical Dictionary of Early Virginia Immigrants

Martha McCartney uses recent historical scholarship as she sets the stage in her remarkable book, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary. We’re focusing on this unprecedented trove of information, formatted as an easy to use biographical dictionary of early Virginia immigrants, and sharing an excerpt from the book. 

Soon after the fateful landing of 1607, thousands of immigrants flocked to Jamestown and surrounding areas on both sides of the James and York rivers, where they struggled to maintain a foothold. This book, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary, brings together a remarkable variety of primary sources concerning every significant detail known about colony’s earliest European inhabitants. Moreover, maps provided here identify the sites at which Virginia’s earliest plantations were located and enable genealogists and students of colonial history to link most of the more than 5,500 people included in this volume to the cultural landscape.

From the earliest records relating to Virginia, we learn the basics about many of these original colonists: their origins, the names of the ships they sailed on, the names of the “hundreds” and “plantations” they inhabited, the names of their spouses and children, their occupations and their position in the colony, their relationships with fellow colonists and Indian neighbors, their living conditions as far as can be ascertained from documentary sources, their ownership of land, the dates and circumstances of their death, and a host of  fascinating details about their personal lives – all gathered together in the handy format of a biographical dictionary. In all, Ms. McCartney’s biographical dictionary provides annotated sketches of more than 5,500 persons linking the majority of them to a specific locality (a “hundred” or plantation) and a precise timeframe between 1607 and 1635. Continue reading…

A collection of Public Domain images of the Five Civilized Tribes

Federal Records of the Five Civilized Tribes

The following excerpt is from the book, Tracing Ancestors Among the Five Civilized Tribes, by Rachal Mills Lennon. This body of work has been the best-selling guide to a very difficult area of research for over a decade.

Ms. Lennon, M.A., CG, specializes in resolving difficult Southern research problems and reconstructing obscure lives, especially those of Native American, African American, and yeoman white families.

A Board-certified genealogist since 1985, Lennon holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Alabama in architectural history, historic preservation and history, with emphasis on the Southern frontier. She is the author, editor, and compiler of six books, as well as award-winning problem-solving essays and case studies published in national-level peer-reviewed journals.

Federal Records of the Five Civilized Tribes

Historical Background

The history and culture of the American South are unique, owing chiefly to the intermingling of the races and the diverse ethnic backgrounds of countless families. Modern Southerners proudly boast traditions–real or not–of Native American ancestry. Odds are, these traditions lead directly back to the so-called Five Civilized Tribes. The Chickasaw, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians dominated a broad swath of territory from North Carolina to Mississippi before their forced removal westward. Long hailed for their adaptability to “white” ways (hence the designation “civilized”), these nations have gained near honorific status among Southeastern genealogists.

Continue reading…


DeKalb County, Alabama Grantor and Grantee Deed Indices

Dekalb County, Alabama, in the northeastern part of that state, was established in 1836 from the Cherokee Cession of the preceding year. For a number of years, Dorothy Smith Duff has been systematically transcribing or indexing the earliest records of DeKalb County. Her previous efforts have resulted in an index to marriages and collections of probate and will and estate records. These new works at hand index DeKalb County, Alabama, deed records for the period 1835-1895.  Both of these volumes refer to about 15,000 deed transactions. The Grantee Deed Index lists the names of the grantee in alphabetical order, the name of the corresponding grantor, and the volume and page number (on the microfilm) where the transaction was recorded. The Grantor Deed Index is arranged alphabetically by grantor and gives the name of the corresponding grantee followed by the citations. Both new books are essential in any collection of DeKalb County source records.

Image credit: DeKalb County Courthouse, via Wikimedia Commons.