JACKSON, Andrew )1767-1845). Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Jackson"), to Col. George Gibson, Hermitage, 10 January 1820. 1½ pages, folio.
THE FIGHT FOR FLORIDA AND A PERSONAL VENDETTA: "I INFORMED MR CALHOUN & MR MONROE, THAT WM. H. CRAWFORD IS A BASE MAN..."
A fine Jackson letter at the height of the U. S. diplomatic crisis with Spain over Florida, as Old Hickory vents his rage against a hated enemy, Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford, and makes plans to return to combat in Florida. "...The moment I saw Mr Forsyth's correspondence at Madrid, and the report of the Sec. of the Treasury [Crawford], I thought I saw, a meditated blow, at the President & Sec. of War. There appears in the two things, a systematic understanding, & combination. I do know, and so I informed Mr Calhoun & Mr Monroe, that Wm. H. Crawford is a base man, they too well know him. But he finds he is gone & he wishes to tumble them with him. I trust his shaft will fall harmless at their feet." Forsyth was the American ambassador to Madrid, when Monroe and his Cabinet contemplated their response to Spain's failure to ratify the Adams-Onís Treaty. Crawford recommended the recall of Forsyth--which Jackson saw as a ploy to sabotage and embarrass the administration. Such a weak response to Spain's recalcitrance would certainly outrage public opinion--and enhance Crawford's prospects as Monroe's replacement. But Monroe decided upon an ultimatum to Spain: unless they ratified the Treaty, American troops would occupy Florida.
Jackson then takes up the military preparations for this maneuver: "...I have to answer a communication from the Sec. of War recd. yesterday on the plan of the contemplated campaign against Florida, to forward by tomorrow's mail.... if I recollect the mouth of the Grand Lagoon affords sufficient dept of water to admit transports. If so our heavy ordinance &c &c can be landed there & a few teams of oxen & horses will take them to position. For information on this head I have referred the Sec. of War to you. Please present me respectfully to him & Mr Monroe, to Capt. Easter & Brunough & should a campaign be ordered I shall expect you with me..."
"When Andrew Jackson hated," writes biographer Robert Remini, "he could hate with a Biblical fury and would resort to petty and vindictive acts to nurture his hatred and keep it bright and strong and ferocious. He needed revenge. He always struck back" (Remini, Andrew Jackson,, 1:378) Jackson's hatred for Crawford went back to the controversy over Jackson's conduct in the Seminole War when Crawford sided with those in the Cabinet eager to censure Jackson. Old Hickory got his revenge by seeing Crawford in his grave at the end of the 1824 presidential campaign. And Jackson was quite right about Monroe's distrust of Crawford. The President and his Treasury secretary very nearly came to blows one day during an argument over patronage, when Crawford raised his cane and called Monroe a scoundrel, prompting Monroe to grab the tongs in the fireplace. Fortunately both men cooled their fury before clashing. So too did Spain and America in this instance. Further bloodshed was averted by the replacement of the Spanish monarchy by a republican government that quickly ratified the Adams-On<->s Treaty.