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Very Early Florida Land Grant Certificate Engraved on Vellum

Signed by John Quincy Adams as President

A remarkable early land grant of land in Tallahassee, Florida, dated 18 months after the the incorporation of Tallahassee, then capital of Florida Territory.

Certificate No. 989, issued to John Boyd of Florida, certifying that he has paid in full for lands in Tallahassee, Florida Territory, granted to him pursuant to "the Act of Congress of the 24th of April 1820 entitled 'An Act making further provision for the sale of Public Lands."

The certificate is signed by President John Quincy Adams (“J. Q. Adams”).  Engraved on vellum and completed in a clerical hand, Washington, May 15, 1827, the document is countersigned by George Graham, Commissioner of the General Land office, with an embossed paper seal.

Boyd's land grant is described as "the east half of the south west quarter of Section Twenty-Seven, in Township Two North, of range Three, West, in the District of Lands offered for Sale at Tallahassee, in the Territory of Florida, containing Seventy-nine acres, and fifty-nine hundredths of an acre."

George Graham

Besides the obvious interest for bearing the signature of President John Quincy Adams, this early Florida land grant is also interesting for having been issued and signed by George Graham (1772-1830), a notable early American official who twice served as acting U.S. Secretary of War, during the transition between the administrations of Presidents James Madison and James Monroe, as well as serving as Commissioner of the General Land Office (1823-1830) under Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. Graham is also remembered for his secret mission to Texas in the summer of 1818 when he made his way to Galveston Island to convince the Bonapartist colony of Champ d'Asile on the Trinity River to come under United States jurisdiction. At the time the United States claimed Texas on the basis of the Louisiana Purchase. Graham recommended that the U.S. occupy Texas immediately. The following year, however, the Adams-Onis Treaty settled the international boundary at the Sabine River. Graham's account of his mission stands as perhaps the first Anglo-American account of a sea voyage to Texas - the route being from Calcasieu Lake, Louisiana, to Galveston Island.

Tallahassee, Florida

In 1821, Florida was ceded by Spain to the United States. Initially, the territorial government met in the two largest cities, St. Augustine in the Northeast and Pensacola in the Southwest. However, this impractical arrangement led to a need for a compromise, where by territorial governor William Pope Duva appointed two commissioners to establish a more central meeting place.

In October 1823, John Lee Williams and Dr. William Simmons chose the location, a former Indian settlement of Tallahassee.  In March 1824, Tallahasee was formally named Florida's Territorial capital.  The city was not formally incorporated until December 1825. 

In 1827, Ralph Waldo Emerson, after a visit, called Tallahassee "A grotesque place of land speculators and desperados."  

Condition Description
Engraved document on vellum, completed in manuscript. United States General Land Office embossed paper seal intact. Two vertical fold marks. Docketed on verso as recorded on Nov. 23, 1960, Gadsden County, Florida clerk ink stamp. Adhesive residue on left margin (either from a mounting hinge or tape). Tiny pinhole-sized tear at lower edge, at fold extremity, text not affected. Generally clean and nice.
On George Graham's Texas exploits, see the Handbook of Texas.
John Quincy Adams Biography

 Sixth president of the United States, from 1825 to 1829.

George Graham Biography

George Graham, lawyer and noted early American government official who served in a variety of key posts at pivotal moments in U.S. history. Born in Dumfries, Prince William County, Virginia, he graduated from Columbia College in 1790. He represented his county in the Virginia General Assembly and commanded the Fairfax Light Horse during the War of 1812. James Monroe appointed Graham chief clerk of the War Department in 1814, and he served as acting Secretary of War from October 16, 1816, to December 9, 1817. In 1815 he was appointed a member of a commission to treat with the British regarding the settlement of the War of 1812. A multi-faceted public servant, he was known for expertise in many areas. In 1818 he was sent on a secret mission to Texas to deal with Napoleonic exiles in the Champ d'Asile on the Trinity River. After arriving at Galveston via a smuggler's boat, he took the opportunity to examine the Texas coast on the behalf of the United States and consulted with Jean Laffite.