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President Jackson Signed Oath of Loyalty to Spain

May 25, 1995

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Newly found documents show that Andrew Jackson, the fiery military man who chased the Spaniards from Florida and became the seventh U.S. president, once swore allegiance to the king of Spain, a historian says.

Like many other Americans at the time _ 1789 _ Jackson had to sign such an oath in order to do business in what was then Spanish territory, said Robert V. Remini, a professor emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago and an authority on Jackson.

Remini said Jackson ``probably paid no attention″ to the pledge. But the professor savored the irony.

``Here is this superman, this John Wayne figure, who later says he hates the dons and who invaded Florida, making himself a vassal to the king of Spain,″ Remini said Thursday.

Remini said the document was discovered last year in Seville, Spain, in the archives of Spain’s New World territories, by Douglas Inglis, a doctoral candidate at Texas Christian University.

Remini, who has written a three-volume biography on Jackson, said his research showed Jackson signed the oath at age 22 after moving to Nashville, Tenn., and serving as a district attorney.

Jackson received no salary, so he went into business and practiced law. His trading business expanded into Natchez, a Spanish community on the Mississippi River.

At the time, Remini said, the Spanish were growing wary of Americans in the Spanish territories of Louisiana and Florida and made them swear on a Bible that they would be subjects of the Spanish crown.

``In that oath, you have to promise to fight for the province and if there is a conspiracy against Spain, you had to reveal it and provide them with the names of the conspirators,″ Remini said.

``Jackson’s signature is in English but in the document Jackson’s name is spelled phonetically in Spanish,″ the professor said. ``That means that anybody who would have seen the document would not recognize the name unless they turned to the last page of the document and there it is _ with all the curlicues so typical of his signature. There’s no doubt about the signature.″

In 1818, Jackson, acting without authorization, captured Pensacola, Fla., from the Spanish; Spain ultimately withdrew and sold the Florida territory to the United States. Jackson was president from 1829 to 1837.

Kenneth T. Jackson, chairman of the history department at Columbia University in New York, said he would not be surprised if Jackson had taken such an oath.

``You have to consider his age, his time and the kind of frontier circumstances involved,″ the professor said. ``I wouldn’t think he probably spent a lot of time thinking about it.″

Kenneth Jackson said that Jackson was going into an area controlled by another government, and ``of course, he would have played by their rules.″

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