Act of Transfer to East Florida: July 10, 1821

Act of Transfer to East Florida: July 10, 1821

Charles Tingley


Act of Transfer to East Florida: July 10, 1821 4

The above illustration is a painting by James Calvert Smith, created in the 1940s, and in the collection of the National Park Service, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.


In the place of St. Augustine, and on the tenth day of July eighteen hundred & twenty-one, Don Jose Coppinger, Coronel of the National Armies, and Commissioner, appointed by his Excellency the Captain General of the Island of Cuba to make a formal delivery of this Said Place & Province of East Florida, to the Government of the United States of America, by virtue of the Treaty of Cession concluded at Washington on the Twenty Second of February, Eighteen hundred and Nineteen, & the Royal Schedule of delivery of the Twenty fourth of October of the last year, annexed to the Documents mentioned in the Certificate that form a heading to these Instruments in testimony thereof, And the Adjutant General of the Southern Division of the said States, Colonel Don Robert Butler, duly authorized by the afore-said Government to receive the same, We having had several conferences in order to carry into effect our respective Commissions, as will appear by our official Communications, and having received by the latter, the Documents, Inventories and Plans, appertaining to the Property and Sovereignty of the Spanish Nation, held in this Province, and in its adjacent Island depending thereon, With the Sites, Public Squares, Vacant lands, Public Edifices, Fortifications and other Works not being private property, and the Same having been preceded by the arrangements and formalities that, for the greater solemnity of this Important act they have Judged proper, there has been verified at four o’clock of the Evening of this day, the complete and personal delivery of the Fortifications and all else of this aforesaid Province, to the Commissioner, Officers and troops of the United States, and in Consequence thereof having embarked for the Havana the Military and Civil Officers and Spanish Troops in the American transports provided for this purpose, the Spanish Authorities having at this moment ceased the exercise of their functions, and those appointed by the American Government having began theirs – Duly noting, that we have transmitted to our Governments the Doubts occurring Whether the Artillery ought to be Comprehended in the Fortifications: and if the Public Archives relating to private Property ought to remain, and be delivered to the American Government by Virtue of the Cession; and that there remains in the Fortifications until the aforesaid resolution is made the Artillery, Munitions and implements, Specified in a particular Inventory; awaiting on these points and the others appearing in question in our Correspondence, the Superior decision of our respective Governments and Which is to have Whatever may be the result the most religious compliance at any time that it may arrive, and in Which the possession that at present appears given Shall not Serve as an obstacle – In testimony of Which and that this may at all times Serve as an expressive and formal receipt in this act, We the Subscribing Commissioners, sign four Instruments of this same tenor in the English and Spanish Languages at the above mentioned place, and said day month and year

Robert Butler 

Jose Coppinger

In faith whereof I certify that the preceding act was executed in the presence of the illustrious City Council, and various private persons assembled, and also of various military and naval officers of the United States of America.    St. Augustine, 10th July, 1821,

                                                                        Juan de Entralgo

               Notary of the Government and Secretary of the Cabildo.[1]

On July 10th 2021, St. Augustine & St. Johns County will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the acquisition of the Spanish province of East Florida by the United States of America. While the Adams-Onís Treaty which made this possible had been signed on February 22, 1819, it took a long time for the transfer to be made on the ground. In St. Augustine there were last minute discussions in late June and early July 1821 as to which cannons would be taken by the Spanish and which would stay in Florida. Additionally, there were negotiations about who would pay for the food on the ships used to transport the troops, government officials, and civilians to Havana, Cuba. The transfer of the province of West Florida did not occur until July 17, 1821.

Col. Robert Butler, the United States Commissioner delegated by Andrew Jackson, the Military Governor of East & West Florida, agreed on the following procedures for the exchange of sovereignty with Jose Coppinger, the Spanish Governor of East Florida.

The Spanish troops (excepting the detachment left in the fort) to embark on Monday, the 9th instant, ready to cross the bar on the following day.

      There will be a salute fired by the fort on Tuesday morning, on hoisting the Spanish flag. During the disembarkment of the American troops, the flag of the United States will be hoisted along with the Spanish flag, when the fort will again fire a salute. The American officer who delivers the flag to remain in the fort until its delivery. When the American troops are formed near the fort, the Spanish flag will be withdrawn under a salute; the guards will then be relieved, and the troops of Spain will march out, and, on passing the former, they will mutually salute, when the American troops will be marched into and occupy the fortress.[2]

The above illustration is a painting by James Calvert Smith, created in the 1940s, and in the collection of the National Park Service, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

For more complete data on the Adams-Onís Treaty, this is the link to the U. S. Department of State.

Act of Transfer to East Florida: July 10, 1821 5

Flag of the United States of America, ca.1821

Act of Transfer to East Florida: July 10, 1821 6

Flag of the Spanish Empire, ca. 1821








[1] Carter, Clarence Edwin. The Territorial Papers of the United States, Vol. XXII. Washington, D.C.: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1956. 111-112. (spellings have been modernized)

[2] Arana, Luis Rafael. “The Transfer of East Florida.” El Escribano, 1999. 127-132.