Drysdale | John

Florida Land Claims – United States v. Arredondo

Handwritten Letter



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Letter from Judge John Drysdale of St. Augustine, Florida in 1832, after the United States vs. Arredondo confirmed his ownership of 3,131 acres of land in Florida. In this letter, he requests that attorney George S. Brown of St. Mary’s, Georgia, sell his land immediatly to the flood of settlers heading south from New York, “for anything over One Dollar per acre.”

Large folio, blue cloth folder, title on label affixed to front cover. Full piece measures 11.5″ x 17″. Letter encased in archival sleeve. Previously folded, letter is two pages, with two archival repairs along the top fold. Dated June 27th, 1832, with postal stamp from the following day. Addressed to George S. Borwn, Esq of St. Mary’s Georgia, with stamp and rate on cover. John Drysdale (1783-1845) served as Mayor of St. Augustine, Florida, from 1827-1830. He was an attorney by trade, also serving as an Alderman in 1823 and County Judge of St. Johns County. A unique piece of early Florida land speculation.

In the case of United States v. Arredondo, decided in 1832, the United States Supreme Court addressed a land grant dispute stemming from the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, whereby Spain ceded Florida to the United States. The Arredondo case involved a claim by the Arredondo family, who sought confirmation of a Spanish land grant awarded before the territory’s transfer to the U.S. The grant covered over 1.5 million acres in what is now Alachua County, Florida. The Court’s decision, penned by Justice Joseph Story, upheld the validity of the Arredondo grant under the terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty, which recognized land grants made by Spain before the cession. This landmark case established significant legal precedent in U.S. property law, particularly regarding the recognition and confirmation of land titles and grants in territories acquired by the United States, setting a framework for the treatment of former Spanish land grants within American jurisprudence.

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Location Published

St. Augustine


Handwritten Letter


Handwritten Letter

Date Published





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Drysdale | John

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John Drysdale