When the Second Seminole War erupted across Florida’s Panhandle, attacks on solitary travelers and isolated plantations caused people to congregate in the few towns that existed. Ft. Heileman, established on the banks of Black Creek in 1836 as a military depot, attracted thousands of refugees.
The presence of over a thousand civilians created a huge logistical problem for the leaders at the fort. The problems are similar to those faced by FEMA when a hurricane threatens landfall. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of people have to be housed, fed, and adequate restrooms provided.
Read the quotations from the Primary Sources below to answer the questions which follow.
Document One: Some affluent local residents shared what provisions they had, but large scale help was needed. A group of citizens in St. Augustine requested that Congress provide. . .
“immediate relief of the poor families . . whose dwellings, provisions, and means of subsistence have been burnt, destroyed, or abandoned, and who have fled for refuge. . .[and] who depended for their daily bread, upon the labor of their fathers, husbands, and sons, who have been taken from them for the general defense. . . .”
Question One: What were the two general causes of the suffering of the residents?
Question Two: What phrases in the Preamble to the Constitution (below) authorizes the government to provide the relief the citizens are requesting?
Document Two: Congress, sympathetic to the “suffering inhabitants,” passed a resolution requesting. . .
“That the president of the United States be authorized to be delivered from the public stores to the unfortunate sufferers who are unable to provide for themselves, and who have been driven from their homes by Indian depredations in Florida, until they can be re-established in their possessions, or so long as the president may consider it necessary.”
Question Three: What phrase in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution (below) explains why Congress requested that the President actually carry out the directive to help?
“Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states. . . .”