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tions, as a writer, may be balanced by the utility of the work.
In my researches connected with the natural and political history of the Provinces and their inhabitants, I have adopted many interesting facts of other writers. Bartram, Romans, and Pursh, have been of great service to me; yet if their publications were not almost obsolete, and their subject less analogous to the present times, my labours might have been dispensed with.
The following description of the tract of land called "Forbes' Purchase," of which a Map is presented to our readers, is from a source entitled to the fullest credit, and is added in consequence of the emigration which is daily taking place.
"That tract of land known by the name of Forbes' Purchase, contains about twelve hundred thousand acres, and was purchased many years since by John Forbes & Co. from the Aborigines, with the approbation of the Spanish government, permission having been first obtained from the government to treat for the same; and every step toward the accomplishment and ratification of the treaty, was taken in the presence of a regularly appointed Spanish agent, as well as an interpreter in the pay of the government.
This purchase is on record in the proper office of Florida, as well as in that of the surveyor general, Don Victor Pintado; and that no doubt of, or objection to, its title should ever be made, should the land at any time be ceded either to the American or British government, several sales of small tracts were early made and recorded in the proper public offices.
"This tract is said to possess much good land; and those who had occasion to examine it, when it was surveyed, report it as a body of land much superior to any thing south of New-York, situated so near the sea board.
In a tract embracing upwards of a million of acres, there must necessarily be a good deal of pine barren; but it is thought that no tract in the southern states, of equal extent, can be found possessing so many advantages in point of soil, water, and situation. It contains the richest cane bottoms, and upland cane hammocks, within fifteen miles of the sea, proper for the cultivation of sugar, the greatest profusion of oak timber of every description, and saw-mill seats, surrounded with forests that have never been touched. Streams of pure water run through the tract in every direction. It contains, also, beds of lime stone, and abundance of game; and upon the coast may be procured the greatest abundance of oysters, and fish of every kind.
"Sugar can be produced here of the very best quality; and little doubt is entertained, that coffee can also be raised in large quantities. On the coast are some of the finest sea islands for the cultivation of cotton.
"The Apalachicola river, which is the western boundary of this tract, is navigable for sloops of considerable burthen to its junction with Flint River, a distance of about 200 miles, and for boats of considerable size for 450 miles from its mouth; thus supplying any settlements which may be made upon it, with a rich and valuable back country to an immense extent.
"Should a communication hereafter be made by a canal between St. Johns River and Apalachie Bay, which
is thought very practicable; this country must be vastly important, and the dangerous navigation round Florida Cape not only be avoided, but the country bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, be reduced to a comparatively trifling distance from the northern states.
"The proprietors of this tract are sparing no pains nor expense to bring it into a proper state for the residence and accommodation of settlers; and a regular surveyor is constantly employed in surveying the lands and preparing them for sale.
"Sales to a considerable extent have been made, and many families have already gone, and many more are preparing to go there from the southern states.
"'The scite of the town of Colinton, is at Prospect Bluff, on the Apalachicola, and embraces Fort Gadsden. Letters from a respectable source, dated in February, 1821, say, 'We were there last summer for seven weeks, and were delighted with the soil, climate, and situation, and intend to take up our residence there.' At this place will reside, also, an agent, perhaps one of the proprietors, for the purpose of disposing of the property to settlers, and to give such information as may be required."
THE first difficulty that presents itself, in the early stage of these Sketches, is to fix upon a proper period at which to commence the history of these provinces. I shall, therefore, carry this Narrative as far back as 1492, the year in which the new world was discovered by the enterprising Columbus. This event occurred on Easter day, whence the country was called Pasqua Florida.
The landing of Columbus on the American continent may be clearly traced, on his third voyage, to Florida, as may also that of his speedy successor, Americus Vespucius, in 1497 and 1498. To these adventurers must be added Sebastian Cabot, the son of Giovanni Gabota, or John Cabot, a native of Venice, who was commissioned by Henry the Seventh of England, one year previous to the discovery by Columbus, though he did not sail till some time after. There is considerable difference of opinion respecting the date when John Cabot, or his son Sebastian, performed the voyage; although it is confidently stated that Sebastian sailed from Bristol in
May, 1498, with an object similar to that of Columbus, the discovery of a north-west passage to the East Indies; but it
appears that none of them did more than make a landing of observation on the coast.
After having proceeded as far north as the river Santa Martheo, since called St. Johns, Cabot returned to England, for want of provisions.
The first land discovered in these seas was by Columbus, in 1492, when he made St. Salvador, or Cat Island, one of the Bahamas. Of this circumstance these islanders are not a little proud; they have, accordingly, retained the name given to it by Columbus, as the place of his salvation, after a long voyage. From this place his people, on his return from Europe, ventured with him to Florida, being impressed, as were the aborigines of the island, with a belief, that the continent possessed waters calculated to invigorate youth, and to prolong old age. Policy required that this idea should be inculcated; for the sterility of the Bahamas was naturally calculated to dampen enterprise; and something was necessary to incite to farther explorements.
Peter Martyr, highly distinguished for his commentaries on the Bible, and other writings, was a cotemporary of Cabot's, but not more successful.
Ponce de Leon, a Spanish officer, inspired with similar notions, went from St. Domingo, in April, 1512, to Florida, and, like his predecessors, discovered the error into which his infatuation had led him. He took possession of it in the name of the king of Spain.
The flattering reports of these European travellers excited