Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012
Feb. 22, 1819, U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish counterpart Don Luis de Onis sign the Adams-Onís Treaty, in which Spain agrees to cede the territory of Florida to the United States. In exchange for Florida, Washington agrees to assume the $5 million worth of claims by American citizens against Spain and the United States cedes its claims to Texas west of the Sabine River, California, and New Mexico. At the time, the Spanish colonies in America are weakening and susceptible to Native American raids and territorial claims by the United States. Faced with the prospect of losing Florida without compensation, Spain enters negotiations with Adams. The United States ratifies the treaty in 1821 and officially begins occupation of the territory. In 1845, Florida is admitted to the Union as a slave state.
Earlier this week, Spain announced that it will be sending military planes to Florida in order to retrieve what may be the largest shipwreck treasure in history. Recently, a U.S. federal court ruled that the $504 million in coins discovered in 2007 off the coast of Portugal by Odyssey Marine Exploration—a Tampa, Fla.-based undersea exploration company—is the legal property of Spain. Monday, the Spanish Culture Ministry indicated that the coins will be classified national heritage items and ruled out the idea of selling them to pay off some of Spain’s national debt burden. The Nuestra Senora de las Mercedes, the ship that carried the treasure, was sunk in 1511 by British warships in the Atlantic while returning from South America.