THE ADAMS-ONIS TREATY
by Archie P. McDonald, PhD
We have regarded the Sabine
River as the boundary between Louisiana and Texas, at least most of it, all our
lives, but this was not so until 1819.
Texans know they are home when they arrive west of the Adams-Onis Treaty line.
That would be the Sabine River to others.|
We have regarded the
Sabine River as the boundary between Louisiana and Texas,
at least most of it, all our lives, but this was not so until 1819. Earlier, Spain
had claimed all the land eastward to the Mississippi River and France all the
land west of it that was drained by that river. That constitutes a considerable
overlap and justified a good deal of competition between the nations.
French Governor Cadillac sent the trader St. Denis westward in 1714, his purpose
was to advance French claims thitherward. When the Spanish established six new
missions in East Texas located at
present-day Robline, Louisiana, their purpose was to establish a signpost to other
Frenchmen that they were trespassing.
France was temporarily removed
from the dispute in 1763 by the Peace of Paris, which ended what we Americans
call the French and Indian War. By terms of that treaty, England and Spain divided
French territory at the Mississippi River.
That eliminated the French
for about thirty years until Napoleon Bonaparte forced Spain to return their part
of the old French territory. Napoleon dreamed of restoring his country's empire,
but troubles at home led him to transfer the territory in 1803 in the Louisiana
of these real estate transactions included a definitive western border. This led
to a Neutral Ground Agreement in 1806 between Spanish General Simon Herrera and
American General James Wilkinson, which created a buffer between them into which
neither would send troops. Unfortunately, that created a haven for lawless men.
The solution came from negotiations between Secretary of State John Quincy
Adams and Spanish Minister Luis de Onis, and it also cleared up another boundary
dispute when the Spanish ceded Florida to the US for $7 million.
Then, it was agreed
that the border between Spanish Texas and the US (and ultimately between the states
of Texas and Louisiana), would be "the Sabine River from the Gulf of Mexico to
the 32nd Parallel, North Latitude, then due north to the Red River and along it
westward to the 100th Parallel, north again to the Arkansas River, and along it
to its source, then 'north or south' to the 42nd Parallel, and west on that line
to the Pacific Ocean."
So that is how you tell Texas from
Arkansas. That, and on the west side "red" beans are likely to be pinto and east
of it kidney beans. Rice is optional.
© Archie P. McDonald |
April 4-10, 2004
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association.
Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books