H. M Brackenridge










Introduction by Ernest F. Dibble






Before Andrew Jackson came to Pensacola to take over Florida for the United States in 1821, he sent Henry Marie Brackenridge ahead to set the stage for the transfer of control from Spain. Brackenridge (1786-1871), a Pennsylvanian, had recently returned from a government mission in South America. Because of his frontier experiences, his legal training, and his intimate knowledge of the Spanish lan­guage, he provided an intellectual talent that Jackson badly needed. The new Governor of the Floridas immediately rec­ognized this ability when the two met aboard ship in April. Brackenridge had been on his way to seek his fortune in New Orleans, but Jackson persuaded him to seek it in Pensacola instead.

By the time the hero of the Battle of New Orleans accepted the Floridas from Spain, July 17, 1821, he had already relied on Brackenridge's speech writing and trans­lating services. Jackson appointed him the first American Alcalde in West Florida, a position of power second .only to the Governor himself. Still later, Brackenridge was re­warded by his nomination as Judge of the Territorial Dis-



trict of West Florida, a position in which he served for ten years. Thus, Brackenridge became one of the preeminent men of Pensacola during Florida's first crucial decade. His most conspicuous service, however, and one which received national attention in his day if completely forgot­ten in ours, was his study of the growth and preservation of live oak for naval purposes.

One large vessel, it was estimated, required 2,000 live oak trees -' 'the only kind of timber fit for ships of war." The Navy, the Congress, and successive presi­dential administrations all had expressed, since 1799, great interest in the conservation of these timber resources ~. Still, little was done before Brackenridge's conservation efforts in West Florida.

Henry M. Brackenridge acquired land on what is now known as the "Live Oak Reservation" the year after III settled in Pensacola. Gradually his tract was improved, buildings were constructed, and lemon, peach, orange and oak trees were planted. His "plantation" did not prosper well enough to impress his bride, Caroline, who came to Pensacola the year of their marriage in 1827 She remained only a short while before returning permanently to Philadelphia. With some reluctance, therefore Brackenridge decided to sell the land to the Navy.

His decision to dispose of the tract was based on several unhappy circumstances apart from the departure of hisI wife. The yellow fever epidemic of 1827 convinced him  that Pensacola was "ruined" and that he "should quit this



country forever." Furthermore, Richard Keith Call, his former law partner, had failed to pay his share of the cost of the Santa Rosa plantation they were to have pur­chased together. Brackenridge contemplated, but ulti­mately rejected, a lawsuit. Instead, his friend, Congres­sional Delegate Joseph M. White, arranged with the Secretary of the Navy, Samuel L. Southard, to buy the 400 arpents of land, with improvements, for $2,000 ­-- a reasonable offer indeed.

Brackenridge almost changed his mind about selling when the plantation showed extraordinary promise in the Spring of 1828. He wanted especially to keep his orangery, and he calculated that "fifty bearing orange trees would suffice for my support, without the horror of slavery or the necessity of looking to my profession." But his ehange of heart came too late. By March 31, 1828, the sale had had been completed.

Secretary Southard was also convinced that the Santa Rosa reservation had the best stand of live oak on the Gulf Coast and he invited Brackenridge's views on how to operate the plantation. Brackenridge responded with his “Letters  on the Culture of Live Oak," June 1, 1828, herein reprinted. This is the earliest full report extant on Gulf ( 'n I I for 'Slry, and it also contains a vision of a conser-

vation project which could serve as a model for others throughout the United States. Little wonder the letter impressed both Southard and President John Quincy Adams. And in our day it has been called by William F. Keller,



Brackenridge's biographer, a "pioneering piece in Amer­ican forestry. ' ,

Brackenridge thought well enough of his letter to include it in an anthology of his writings entitled Speeches on the Jew Bill, in the House of Delegates of Maryland (Phila­delphia: 1829), from which the present text is taken. The report was widely reprinted and excerpted throughout the following decade.

Fortunately, Brackenridge himself volunteered to super­intend the new Naval Live Oak Plantation, and his offer was readily accepted. Thus, for several years, the judge was able to implement many of the proposals contained in his own earlier recommendations.

Herein lies the uniqueness and the significance of Brack­enridge as a frontier conservationist. In the rush to exploit the vast resources of the continent, habitual waste became the hallmark of the American frontiersman. The millions of acres of virgin forest seemed inexhaustible. Few 19th century politicians thought conservation necessary or desir­able. But Brackenridge feared the consequences of this land hunger. He shared his conviction with his wit'·, Caroline: "A new country soon becomes an old one, and the advantages which a new country presents are soon over.”

Henry M. Brackenridge, the singular frontier champion for conservation, gained a modest distinction for his .

experiments. But, all the while, political forces were at work which terminated his attempts to preserve this portion of the nation's forestry resources. Jackson ultimately turned



against Brackenridge and did not rename him to the bench. And an attack on the live oak experiment was led by the same R. K. Call, partisan Jacksonian, who earlier had re­fused to pay his part of the purchase for the Santa Rosa property.

In 1832, Brackenridge left Pensacola forever, leaving his Live Oak Plantation in the hands of the Commandant of the Navy Yard. The military, which had demanded the preservation of the trees, did not use the resources after all. Steel soon became more vital than wood. Thus, the plantation returned to nature for over a century until, during the New Deal years, it was employed as a Civilian Conservation Corps facility. Pensacola's historic experi­ment in forest conservation ended in the 1830's when farsighted Henry M. Brackenridge left West Florida. All that remains of his pioneering effort is this essay on "the culture of the Live Oak. "



                                                                Ernest F. Dibble







St. Rosa, 1st June, 1828


Sir: In compliance with your request, I now commu­nicate some of my ideas on the subject of the culture of the live oak, and the mode of employing, to the best advan­tage, the public land to be reserved at this place.

The live oak (quercus virens) is one of the most valuable timber trees our country produces, and is unequalled for the frames of vessels. There is no wood superior, if there be any equal to it, in strength, buoyancy and durability. It is found principally south of latitude 34°, along our Atlantic coast, but its favourite region is the southern part of the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and of Florida, and in the latter only it is now found in sufficient quantities to be worth the attention of the government. Michaud, the botanist, is of the opinion, that, in the course of fifty or sixty years, this valuable timber tree will entirely disappear, on account of the greatness of the demand for it, and the limited quantity to be found.

The live oak tree at a distance, has the appearance of a large apple, or pear tree; its spreading and picturesque



top, and delicate olive-shaped leaves, of a deep shining green, render it extremely beautiful. It is one of the most magnificent and delightful shade trees in the world, but it is not found in continuous forests of any extent, like other species of the oak.

It loves solitary and detached situations; it requires a free circulation of air, and must have ample space to extend its prodigious horizontal branches. One of these branches which I measured some years ago, I found seventy-five feet in length, and the extremity was so low, that I could reach it from the ground. From this peculiar habit, it rarely attains its full size any where except on the margins of rivers, on the shores of the bays and sounds, and on the edges of the open ponds, seldom extending any distance back, which I consider entirely owing to the being crowded by other trees, and consequently to the want of proper space; for there are instances of beautiful groves of twenty or thirty acres, on the coast of Georgia, where they have been nursed with care, and allowed sufficient room to spread.

Twenty or thirty trees to an acre are as many as ought to be allowed to remain, in order to come to full perfection, although they might be permitted to grow closer together, for some purposes; but in order to form those curious and valuable crooks, so much esteemed for knees or fettocks, and other timbers of vessels, it is necessary that they should be permitted to expand as much as possible. For beams, stems, stem posts, transoms, top timber, and bow timber, it will be an advantage to grow somewhat closer


in order to form longer and larger bodies. But a vessel would require three or four hundred of the smaller pieces, and of the others but a limited number; for each ship but one stem and stem post is required, although these are generally in two pieces.

The live oak is naturally inclined to spread, as is in fact the case with most trees growing in a deep, loose, sandy soil; while in a rich and firm loam, they shoot up into tall and vigorous stems with short lateral branches. It is on account of its requiring so much space, that in the natural forests, these trees are rarely met with in groves of more than fifty or a hundred trees, and that usually on some narrow point of land, with an open space, or water, on each side.

When the live oak is cut down, it is not necessarily destroyed; that is, the stump does not rot or die; and even where the roots are dug up (and I am told they are the most valuable part of the tree) like the chestnut or locust, the roots that remain in the ground, or the stump of the tree, send up vigorous shoots of such rapid growth as to form large trees in a third of the time which was required by t~e parent stem. Under favourable circumstances, fifty or sixty years from the acorn, I should think sufficient for live oak to attain its growth.

Some of the finest trees I have seen, are found on th ruins of the old forts and villages in the Tallahassee country, frequently growing out of masses of bricks; and as those settlements were destroyed in 1706, we may fix with cer-



tainty the longest period which it required for them to attain their present enormous magnitude. These have evidently\ been in a state of decay for half a century, owing to the close forests of other trees which have grown up around and overtopped them. They at first, no doubt, occupied open spaces, and to all appearance, must have attained there present size in fifty or sixty years.

The live oak being an evergreen, does not, like others, show its age by the concentric circles, for it grows in winter as well as in summer. I should think, that a tree of Ii f I years old from the acorn, ought to be fit for most uses ill ship building - although after it attains a certain size, in a shorter period, its progress is more slow, if deprived of the necessary space and air.

I have examined a tree, growing in a yard near Pensacola, the trunk of which is now at least two feet in diameter; and which the owner told me was so small twenty years ago, that he bent the two principal limbs with his hands, and fixed them with stakes, so as to give them a particular inclination. In the neighborhood of Charleston I have seen noble trees, which I was told had been planted since the revolutionary war. A number of young live oaks, which I found growing around the spot where I built my house, have increased at least one-third in size within six years, from being carefully pruned and freed from the encroach­ment of other trees. I can therefore speak with confidence derived from experience, on the advantage of nursing those which we find already set by the hand of nature, for they often have the advantage of a root a hundred or perhaps live five hundred years old.

In the neighborhood of a live oak: grove there are always thickets of young plants which have sprung from the acorn, or from the roots of trees cut down, or gone to decay ­-- those thickets are so close as to form impervious hedges, and it is to such places I should look for plants to set out elsewhere, or to thin out and cultivate those already growing. The only use in planting acorns is to form nurseries, and here are natural nurseries of millions of young trees, from five to fifteen years old.

I am acquainted with no forest tree that improves more rapidly by attention and care than the live oak:; and those which have been nursed for shade are universally found more valuable than those which grow spontaneously, particularly as to the soundness of the timber, owing princi­pally to their roots being kept clear from bark or litter, which have a tendency to cause rotten places at the foot of the tree, or to afford material for the fires, which occasionally pass through the woods. The pruning the lower limbs, also, when they have a tendency to decay, must contribute much to preserve the trunk sound, and in the young ones this operation is indispensable where it is desir­able that the trunk shall not be low~ the live oak being naturally inclined to form very short trunks, in length not more than six or eight feet, before it is lost in large branches. In fact, by proper pruning, the tree would be made to assume almost any shape, and crooks, and smaller pieces might



frequently be lopped- off without any material injury to it.

An old Spanish ship-carpenter, who had not been at this spot for ten or fifteen years, expressed his astonishment to me the other day, at the appearance of the large live oaks here, which, he told me, within his recollection had almost been stripped naked of limbs for crooks, but they had since formed others of such a size as scarcely to show where they had been cut. The dead trunk of a live oak, will stand half a century without decay; and the place where a limb has been cut off, will look perfectly sound for years ­in fact, the wood appears almost incorruptible. In situations not favourable to the growth of the tree, it will no doubt remain a long time without making much progress; moist situations, in general, suit it best - some of the finest I have seen, grew on the edge of ponds, where their roots must have been continually in water; and even where they grow on high situations, I have found, in digging wells, that their roots had penetrated some twenty or thirty feet in pursuit of moisture.

Having given this brief sketch of the natural history of the live oak, I shall proceed to the subject to which you have been pleased to call my attention.

This point, or tongue of land, is certainly the most advantageous that could possibly be selected, for the pur­pose of making a fair experiment of the cultivation or preservation of the live oak. The weight of the wood is so great, that it will not bear land transportation, but for very short distances; the plantation ought, therefore, to be near



the coast, and being in the immediate vicinity of the navy yard, the value and adaptation of almost every tree, can be known; on this narrow peninsula, the land transportation need not exceed three-quarters of a mile.

At present, live oak has to be culled and collected from a variety of places, at a multiplied cost, whereas, by having a large plantation, every kind of timber might be met with in a small space; and this spot, being so completely de­tached and without inhabitants, will be readily placed under the complete control of the government. For at least fifteen miles, to Williams's creek, it is, in spots of several hundred acres, already thickly set with young live oak, as well as occasional groves of fine trees; and there are many tracts of five hundred or a thousand acres of low, open, and moist pine woods, and savannas, where the experiment of plant­ing may be made at small expense; for they will neither require enclosing, nor clearing. This point, also, abounds with a very valuable yellow pine, remarkable for the fine­ness of its grain, and freedom from sap, and which would he valuable for beams and other purposes in ship building.

The first consideration, and that which should precede 'very other, is the expenditure, in the proposed undertaking, and the advantage, either immediately or remotely, to be derived from that expenditure; for although it be a national object, to have in store the best materials for the construction of our ships of war, yet that object, important as it is, may be attained at too great an expenditure of the public money. In this situation, I think, however, it will be found



not to exceed that which would be fully justified, even con­sidering it only as an experiment, but an experiment worthy of an enlightened nation, in a matter of the highest im­portance, and that consistently with the strictest attention to economy.

Great Britain, a century ago, began to find serious dif­ficulty in procuring a sufficient supply of the navy oak, (a kind, I am informed, resembling our post oak,) when those plantations were suggested, and effected, by a private gentleman, (Evelyn,) consisting of many millions of trees, which at this day, form an ample, and permanent, supply of a very valuable timber. But the navy oak is admitted to be greatly inferior to our live oak; a plant, which seems no where else to be found, excepting on our coast; as if to indicate the element on which our countrymen are des­tined to surpass every other people in enterprise and skill.

The practice of forming private plantations, was at that period generally introduced, and at this day constitutes one of the most important items, in estimating the value of landed estate in England. In that country, where the value of every thing is reduced to exact calculation, a person can obtain the present value of his plantation of oaks, formed upon an estimate of their value, some twenty-five or thirty years hence.

The investment of capital for the purpose of accumu­lation merely, is but little known in this country; and in England, it was not much before the reign of queen Ann, that it was well understood. The idea that the capital thus



employed remained dead and unavailable, was the reason why people did not choose to invest their money in this way; but since it can be transferred from hand to hand, like other stock, the objection is in a great measure removed. The comparative estimate of the accumulation of money, and that from plantations, may be seen from the following arithmetical criteria:

$ 2 at simple interest of 6 per cent. would yield

             at the expiration of twenty-five years,                      $ 3 00

Funded  in 6 per cent. stock at par,
incorporating the half yearly dividends for the same term

     Of twenty-five years, would yield,                                   6.76%

     This is merely the progressive compound in-

     terest every six months.

Invested in plantations so as to produce at the

expiration of twenty-five years, an aggre­gate

of twenty-five dollars, would be in the following ratio:

Equal to compound interest every six months

for twenty-five years, at 17 per cent.

Equal to 6 per cent. bought at par, in a ratio

of accumulation of interest every six

months, for seventy years.

Equal to one hundred and ninety-one years

eight months, of simple interest, at 6 per cent.


Investment, ut supra,                                                                    $ 25.00

By the operation of funding

    every six months,                                                                    $ 6 76 3/4

Nucleus, or original stock                                                                2.00       

                                                                                                    $ 8.76 3/4   


Leaving a result in favour of such

invest­ment of                                                                  $16.76 ¾


Or nearly 200 per cent. more than by funding, which could only be practicable on a scale, when the half yearly dividends would be of a sufficient amount to reinvest, and supposing the stock not to be susceptible of change. Such a state of things, is, however, altogether unknown to what is technically called the monied interest, and is merely stated as a pro-forma hypothesis. Very different is the reality; all stocks are liable to continual fluctuation, and each reinvestment would require the intervention of a broker, or agent, whose commissions would absorb a considerable share of the re-duplication of interest. Of late years, pecuni­ary capital, from its comparative great abundance, compe­tition in the monied market, and numerous other concurring causes, has been less and less productive. The United States 6 per cent. are now at 102%. From these data, it will readily be conceded that such an investment would




exceed the closest operation of funding in a ratio of 225 pr. ct. at the minimum. Upon the system of what are called annuities in fee simple, such an investment would be equivalent to150 years purchase.

This calculation is made on the principle of annuities, and without going into details, I will assume it as proved, that a tree which will be worth twenty dollars, at the distance of twenty-five years from this day, ought not to be

worth more, at present, than two dollars; that sum then would be the highest price that could be obtained for a plantation already established, and in a flourishing condition. Although considered as a national object, a different estimate might be made, from that which would govern individual transactions, where the interest of money would I II r he ruling consideration, yet there ought to be some

standard by which to estimate the expense, so that the live oak however important and necessary, should not be obtained at a price greatly exceeding its value. In addition to present cost, an annual allowance should be made, until the tree becomes fit for use, but in the whole, to keep within its value at that period.

Thus, ten thousand trees, at the average value of twenty dollars, (which I do not think out of the way, as the wood I,' worth a dollar a cubic foot at the navy yard,) fifty years h 'lice, when fit for use, would be worth two hundred thousand dollars, and the present cost ought not to exceed one dollar each, or ten thousand dollars - but this is supposing the longest time, before they would be fit for use, and it is


supposing that the price of all kinds of timber, and this especially, will not be greatly enhanced by the alterations in our country, as well as from a greater scarcity.

Here then is the maximum of present expenditure, and if that expense exceeds a dollar a tree, on the estimate of fifty years, or two dollars, supposing them fit for use in twenty-five, which would amount to twenty dollars­ unless it be on a small scale for mere experiment, I would not advise the government to undertake it. But, on the plan which I suggest, it will be seen, that the expense falls far below that amount.

I would endeavor, in the first place, to combine, as far as practicable, immediate advantage with future benefit; present and certain benefit, with matter of experiment, however promising. The first thing, therefore, would be to take care of the trees already planted by the hand of na­ture, and, by proper pains and attention, accelerate and improve their growth. In the next place, to plant trees of the largest size, that will bear transplanting, in situations the most favourable, and where their culture will be attended with the least expense.

This point, where I reside, may contain about four thou­sand acres, and until we reach the open, grassy woods of long-leafed pine, the whole, or nearly the whole, is already thickly set with live oaks of every size, and will require no planting; but they are intermixed with short-leafed, or old field pine, with a variety of shrubs, and water-oaks, render­ing the whole an impassable jungle. Within this tract,


(to which I would recommend that the first operations should be in a great measure confined,) there may be found about four hundred full grown trees, fit for any purposes of ship building, and about four thousand thrifty young trees, from four to twelve inches in diameter, which, with proper care, may be fit for use in ten or fifteen years, The attention and expense bestowed upon these, cannot be considered as ex­periment - the benefit would be certain, But the principal operation, and which would not be as certain as the last, although much more so than planting, would be to clear liut a given number, say ten thousand young trees, having Ihe advantage of old roots, of two inches and upwards in diameter.

I think the clearing away a few yards round each tree, would suffice to give room and air, and in addition, the opening wide avenues for the latter purpose would be advisable; this opinion is derived from observing the effect 01 the military road, where the young live oaks on each oak, have doubled the growth of those some distance off. 'The full grown trees would acquire some little attention also; I would cut away all the pines, water-oaks and hickories around them, which would produce a large quantity of firewood, that might be cut up afterwards for the supply of the navy yard.  I think I would even recommend Ilt~' cutting down some of those trees which have attained such a size as not to promise much increase; the timber being cut to mould, and transported to the navy yard, might be preserved in sheds for a hundred years, without any other



inconvenience than that of becoming so hard as to break the tools of workmen.

I would recommend this plan generally for all the live oak on the sound, the Choctawhatchy Bay, and other places convenient to the yard - but this might be done at any time, and is only suggested for this reason, that if the natural stems were cut away, the young sprouts might be nursed into fine trees in a shorter time than by any other mode; at least, the accumulation of bark and trash about their roots ought to be cleared away. There are some truly noble live oaks on this point, which are well deserving of some attention.

As to the plantations, I would be content the first year with setting out a few thousand trees in the open savannas, immediately above the tract of which I have been speaking, and if they will readily take root, these plantations would have many advantages; there would be less trouble in keep­ing down other growth, there being nothing but grass and scattering pines, and the pine once cut down never sprouts. These first plantations I would at first regard as entirely experimental, and to be made with much care. The proper season and the best mode of transplanting evergreens is not well known; by planting at different times and in dif­ferent ways they would soon be ascertained. It will be en­tirely unnecessary to grub or clear the ground, or enclose it, as was done in the small experiment at the navy yard. The wild grass should be cut away a few yards around the plant: the grass is easily killed, and its destruction in the immediate




vicinity of the tree, will be a great defence from the fires, the only thing to be much dreaded.

I have watched with a good deal of interest the planta­tions of live oak on the public square in Pensacola - but three of the trees have taken root, but these are growing handsomely. I found on inquiry, that the corporation had given a dollar a piece for handsome young trees, ten or twelve feet high, but they were taken up with very little root, planted too deep in the ground, and were never watered. Those planted at the Cantonment have all taken root, and are flourishing, while those at the navy yard have shared the fate of those at Pensacola.

With ten labourers I would engage to clear out ten thou­sand of the youngest trees, in the manner I propose, in one year, and plant from one to three thousand, so that five hands would suffice, not only to take care of them during the succeeding years, but to make annual additions of from one thousand to five thousand. But in order to clear and prune the four hundred full grown trees, and the four thousand half grown, it would require the aid of ten additional labourers for one year. My plan of operation, it will he seen, for the first year, is entirely confined to the four or five thousand acres in this immediate vicinity, and per­haps a few miles in the open pine woods.

In the course of two or three years, after seeing the success of the present undertaking, other subordinate estab­lishments might be made between this and Williams' creek, at two or three of the principal natural groves of live oak,


where the full grown trees, the half grown and the young ones may be treated in the same way, and adjacent planta­tions formed. Two or three poor families would be glad to settle at Twitchell's, Allis', and Williams' Hammocks, where there is some land cleared, and they would be useful to keep the fires out of the woods; a very small compensa­tion would satisfy them, as they could be engaged as labourers. Persons passing and repassing in boats along the Sound, to ascend the Choctawhatchy river, after en­camping, leave their fires burning, which communicate with the grassy savannas, and every few years, in very dry weather, and when the leaves have accumulated, it penetrates into the thick woods, doing much injury. A few poor Indian families, also, have made this their hunting ground, but there would be no difficulty in keeping them away.

My estimate of the expense of the first year would be as follows:

For 20 labourers for one year, at $ 15 a  

month, 300 working days                             $ 4,000

    For rations, &c. .                                            1,000

    Cart, oxen, boat and tools                                  300

$ 5,300

Salary of Superintendent,                                       700

Overseer,                                                              500

                                                                       $ 6,500





A few hundred dollars would be required in addition, for quarters, store houses, and other temporary buildings. But I would not recommend an expenditure of more than ten thousand dollars at the outside, until the reports and opinions of persons in whom the government place full confidence shall have given satisfactory assurance of at least fair prospects of success, in the further prosecution or the experiment. If ten labourers only be allowed, it will he recollected that the expense will not be reduced in pro­portion; the saving would only be in their wages and rations; and I would recommend even continuing the ten labourers the second year, but after that, with occasional assistance, live would suffice. It would probably take several years to make a fair trial, particularly in the transplanted trees.

According to my estimate, the present value of the four hundred full grown trees, would be eight thousand dollars, and of the four thousand trees, half grown, at five dollars, twenty thousand dollars; several thousand cords of fire­wood could at the same time be obtained, with a little additional expense. Ten thousand dollars would be money safely expended for national objects like this, so far as they have a present or a certain value.

The author was authorized . . . to appoint an overseer, and employ twenty hands. This was accordingly done, and I he work commenced last February. Two quarterly returns have been made, and much greater progress has been ex­hibited than was expected; upwards of forty thousand trees have been cleared and pruned. They have been classed ac-


cording to their size n in the following manner



    Full grown trees.           Six inches and               Between 2        Two and under.             Total.

                                              over.                        and 6 inches.

                 40                    977                      15,666            5,629               22,312



This is the return of the last quarter. About six miles of avenue, or roads, to protect from fires, have been opened thirty feet wide, and about six or eight acres grubbed and enclosed for the purpose of commencing a nursery from the acorn. It is expected that about sixty thousand trees will be cleared and pruned within the course of the year. The expense will amount to about six thousand dollars, which is much below the estimate. It is hoped that this will be taken as a model for similar plantations in East Flor­ida and Georgia, whence the transportation of the timber will be more easy than from the gulf of Mexico. The gov­ernment about thirty years ago, purchased some of the islands on the coast of Georgia for the sake of the timber; there is no doubt they could be converted into valuable plantations. I shall feel proud of being instrumental in a work of such vast national importance, as that of securing a permanent supply of the only kind of timber fit for ships of war.

Some legislation might, perhaps, be necessary to declare the tract of land a reserve for this purpose, and in order to prevent depredations. This point has been a kind of com­mon, for many years, where persons came to cut wood to



sell for the use of the town, and for the navy and army. Perhaps a simple notice in the public newspapers, fore­warning all such persons, with strict instructions to the District Attorney and the Navy Agent, to prosecute all trespassers, may be found to answer every purpose. A penalty on persons setting fire to the woods would, how­ever, be very useful.

I have thus given a hasty outline of my plan, and it will afford me great satisfaction to attend to any further sug­gestions on this interesting subject.


I remain, with sentiments of respect,


Your most obedient servant,

                                                                           H. M Brackenridge





Secretary of the Navy of the United States.