Lecture Description

In early 1818, an army of Tennessee and Kentucky volunteers, Georgia militiamen, and U.S. soldiers under the command of Andrew Jackson crossed into Spanish Florida. They fought a few skirmishes with Seminole and Creek warriors, burned several villages, and captured two British nationals. Both were executed after a makeshift court martial. This set off what one Congressman called a “Great National Question,” or rather several. Was the United States bound by the so-called “law of nations,” the forerunner to international law? Or were the American people victims of that law along with the allegedly “lawless” peoples of Florida? This lecture offers a close look at both the invasion and the debate that followed, along with some broader thoughts on early American ideas about law, natural rights, and the morality of vengeance.

CATEGORIES

Constitutional and Legal Revolutionary and Early National

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