The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999

Fighting for Texas: Filibuster James Long, the
Adams-Onis Treaty, and the Monroe
Administration
ED BRADLEY*
PERHAPS THE MOST LASTING FOREIGN POLICY ACHIEVEMENT OF THE
Monroe administration was the Transcontinental or Adams-Onis
Treaty, signed initially on Washington's birthday in 1819. The main arti-
cles of the agreement ceded the province of Florida and Spain's claims
to any territory in the northwest to the United States in return for
American assumption of claims U.S. citizens had filed against the
Spanish government. Considered by many to be the highlight of John
Quincy Adams' political career, some contemporaries nevertheless
viewed the treaty as flawed for its surrender of American title to the
region of Texas under the third article. James Long, one of those disap-
pointed by this surrender, was inspired in the summer of 1819 to lead a
filibustering expedition into Texas. Long's actions, and Spanish suspi-
cion of the U.S. government's complicity in them, would have interest-
ing implications regarding the ratification of the treaty. Specifically,
Spain used its suspicion of the Monroe administration's involvement in
the Long venture as partial justification for delaying ratification of the
agreement, a factor that previous historians of the treaty and Monroe's
administration have not properly acknowledged.' Further study reveals
such suspicion to be for the most part unjustified, despite the fact that
* Ed Bradley, a 1991 graduate of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, recently received
his doctorate in American history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is
currently an adjunct professor at the College of New Jersey. He would like to thank Professor
Robert W Johannsen and the members of the "Little Giants" study group at the University of
Illinois for their critiques of this article.
' Neither Samuel Flagg Bemis nor George Dangerfield mention Long in their discussions on
the Adams-Onis treaty. Long also does not appear in Harry Ammon's extensive biography of
Monroe. Long is only mentioned once in the most complete study of the Adams-Onfs treaty, and
even then nothing is said about the resulting correspondence between U.S. and Spanish officials
concerning the expedition. Samuel Flagg Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the Foundatons of

VOL. CII, No. 3 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY

JANUARY, 1999

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 102, July 1998 - April, 1999. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101219/. Accessed November 25, 2014.