« PreviousContinue »
informed that many large navigable rivers discharge their waters into it, far above it, and that there are many numerous nations settled on them.
The Sioux, or Mandowessies, who frequent the country between the north bank of the Missouri and Mississippi, are a great impediment to trade and navigation. They endeavour to prevent all communication with the nations dwelling high up the Missouri, to deprive them of ammunition and arms, and thus keep them subservient to themselves. In the winter they are chiefly on the banks of the Missouri, and massacre all who fall into their hands.
There are a number of nations at a distance from the banks of the Missouri, to the north and south, concerning whom but little information has been received. Returning to the Mississippi, and ascending it from the Missouri, about 75 leagues above the mouth of the latter, the river Moingona, or Riviere de Moine, enters the Mississippi on the west side; and on it are situated the Ayoas, a nation originally from the Missouri, speaking the language of the Otachatas. It consisted of 200 warriors before the small-pox lately raged among them.
The Saes and Renards dwell on the Mississippi, about 300 leagues above St. Louis, and frequently trade with it. They live together, and consisted of 500 warriors: their chief trade is with Michilimakinac, and they have always been peaceable and friendly.
The other nations on the Mississippi higher up, are but little known to us. The nations of the Missouri, though cruel, treacherous, and insolent, may doubtless be kept in order by the United States if proper regulations are adopted with respect to them.
It is said that no treaties have been entered into by Spain with the Indian nations westward of the Mississippi, and that its treaties with the Creeks, Choctaws, &c., are in effect superceded by our treaty with that power of the 27th October, 1795.
Of Lands and Titles.- The lands are held in some instances by grants from the crown, but mostly from the colonial government. Perhaps not one-quarter part of the lands granted in Louisiana are held by complete titles; and of the remainder a considerable part depends upon a written permission of a commandant. Not a small proportion is held by occupancy with a single verbal permission of the officer last mentioned.
practice has always been countenanced by the Spanish government, in order that poor men, when they found themselves a little at ease, might, at their own conveniencey, apply for and obtain complete titles. In the mean time such imperfect rights were suffered by the government to descend by inheritance, and even to be transferred by private contract. When requisite, they have been seized by judicial authority, and sold for the payment of debts.
Until within a few years the governor of Upper Louisiana was authorized to make surveys of any extent. In the exercise of this discretionary power, some abuses were committed; a few small monopolies were created. About three years ago he was restricted in this branch of his duty, since which he has been only authorised to make surveys to emigrants in the following manner: two hundred acres for each man and wife, fifty acres for each child, and twenty acres for each slave. Hence the quantity of land allowed to settlers depended on the number in each family; and for this quantity of land they paid no more than the expense of survey. These surveys were necessary to entitle the settlers to grants; and the governor, and after him the intendant at New-Orleans, was alone authorised to execute grants on the receipt of the surveys from the settlers. The administration of the landoffice is at present under the care of the intendant of the province.
There are no feudal rights nor noblesse.
It is impossible to ascertain the quantity of lands granted, without calling on the claimants to exhibit their titles. The registry being incomplete, and the maps made by the different surveyors-general having been burnt in the fires of NewOrleans of 1788 and 1794, no estimate has been obtained.
All the lands on both sides of the Mississippi from the distance of sixteen leagues below New-Orleans to Baton-Rouge are granted to the depth of forty acres, or near half a league, which is the usual depth of all grants. Some have double and triple grants, that is to say, they have twice or thrice forty acres in depth; and others have grants extending from the Mississippi to the sea or the lakes behind them. In other parts of the country the people, being generally settled on the banks of creeks or rivers, have a front of from six to forty acres, and the grant almost invariably expresses a depth of forty acres. All the lands ungranted in the island of New
Orleans or on the opposite bank of the Mississippi are sunken, inundated, and at present unfit for cultivation, but may, in part, be reclaimed at a future day by efforts of the rich and enterprising.
Cultivation of Sugar.— The sugar-cane may be cultivated between the river Iberville and the city, on both sides of the river, and as far back as the swamps. Below the city, however, the lands decline so rapidly that beyond fifteen miles the soil is not well adapted to it. Above the Iberville the cane would be affected by the cold, and its produce would therefore be uncertain. Within these limits the best planters admit that one-quarter of the cultivated lands of any considerable plantation may be planted in cane, one-quarter left in pasture, and the remaining half employed for provisions, &c., and a reserve for a change of crops. One Parisian arpent of one hundred and eighty feet square may be expected to produce, on an average, twelve hundred weight of sugar and fifty gallons of
From the above data, admitting that both sides of the river are planted for ninety miles in extent and about three-fourths of a mile in depth, it will result that the annual product may amount in round numbers to twenty-five thousand hogsheads of sugar, with twelve thousand puncheons of rum. Enterprising young planters say that one-third or even one-half of the arable land might be planted in cane. It may also be remarked that a regular supply of provisions from above at a moderate price would enable the planter to give his attention to a greater body of land cultivated with cane. The whole of these lands, as may be supposed, are granted; but in the Atacapas country there is undoubtedly a portion, parallel to the seacoast, fit for the culture of the sugar-cane. There vacant lands are to be found, but the proportion is at present unknown.
In the above remarks the lands at Terre aux Boeuf, on the Fourche, Bayou St. Jean, and other inlets of the Mississippi, south of the latitude supposed to divide those which are fit from those which are unfit for the cultivation of the cane, have been entirely kept out of view. Including these and taking onethird instead of one-fourth of the lands fit for sugar, the produce of the whole would be fifty thousand instead of twentyfive thousand hogsheads of sugar.
The following quantities of sugar, brown, clayed, and refined,
have been imported into the United States from Louisiana and the Floridas, viz. :
773,542 lb. 1,560,865 967,619 1,576,933
Of the Laws. When the country was first ceded to Spain, she preserved many of the French regulations, but by almost imperceptible degrees they have disappeared, and at present the province is governed entirely by the laws of Spain, and the ordinances formed expressly for the colony. Various ordinances promulgated by General O'Reilly, its first governor under Spain, as well as some other laws, are translated, and annexed in the appendix, No. 1.
Courts of Justice. The governor's court has a civil and military jurisdiction throughout the province. That of the lieutenant governor has the same extent in civil cases only.
There are two alcades, whose jurisdiction, civil and criminal, extends through the city of New-Orleans and 5 leagues around it, where the parties have no fuero militar, or military privilege those who have can transfer their causes to the gov
The tribunal of the Intendant has cognizance of admiralty and fiscal causes, and such suits as are brought for the recovery of money in the king's name or against him.
The tribunal of the Alcade Provincial has cognizance of criminal causes, where offences are committed in the country, or when the criminal takes refuge there, and in other specified
The ecclesiastical tribunal has jurisdiction in all matters respecting the church.
The governor, lieutenant governor, Alcades, Intendant, Provincial Alcade, and the Provisor in ecclesiastical causes are respectively sole judges. All sentences affecting the life of the culprit, except those of the Alcade Provincial, must be ratified by the superior tribunal, or captain-general, according to the nature of the cause, before they are carried into execution. The governor has not the power of pardoning criminals. An auditor and an assessor, who are doctors of law, are appointed to give counsel to those judges; but for some time past there has been no assessor. If the judges do not consult
those officers or do not follow their opinions, they make themselves responsible for their decisions.
The commandants of districts have also a species of judicial power. They hear and determine all pecuniary causes not exceeding the value of one hundred dollars. When the suit is for a larger sum, they commence the process, collect the proofs, and remit the whole to the governor, to be decided by the proper tribunal. They can inflict no corporal punishment except upon slaves; but they have the power of arresting and imprisoning when they think it necessary, advice of which and their reasons must be transmitted to the governor.
Small suits are determined in a summary way by hearing both parties viva voce; but in suits of greater magnitude the proceedings are carried on by petition and reply, replication and rejoinder, reiterated until the auditor thinks they have nothing new to say. Then all the proofs either party chooses to adduce are taken before the keeper of the records of the court, who is always a notary public.
The parties have now an opportunity of making their remarks upon the evidence by way of petition, and of bringing forward opposing proofs. When the auditor considers the cause as mature, he issues his decree, which receives its binding force from the governor's signature, where the cause depends upon him.
There is an appeal to Havanna, if applied for within five days after the date of the decree, in causes above a certain value. An ulterior appeal lies to the Audience which formerly sat at St. Domingo, but which is now removed to some part of Cuba, and from thence to the council of the Indies in Spain.
Suits are of various durations. In pecuniary matters the laws encourage summary proceedings. An execution may be had on a bond in four days and in the same space on a note of hand after the party acknowledges it, or after his signature is proved. Moveable property is sold after giving nine days' warning, provided it be three times publicly cried in that interval. Landed property must be likewise cried three times, with an interval of nine days between each; and it may then be sold. All property taken in execution must be appraised and sold for at least half of the appraisement. In pecuniary matters the governors decide verbally without appeal, when the sum does not exceed one hundred dollars. The Alcades have the same privilege when the amount is not above twenty dollars.