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Amelia Island,

An island at the mouth of the St. Mary River, near the boundary between Georgia and Florida. In the summer of 1817 Gregor McGregor, styling himself “Brigadier-general of the armies of New Granada and Venezuela, and general-in-chief employed to liberate the provinces of both the Floridas.” commissioned by the supreme councils of Mexico and South America, took possession of this island. His followers were a band of adventurers which he had collected in Charleston and Savannah; and when he took possession he proclaimed a blockade of St. Augustine. In the hands of these desperadoes the island was soon converted into a resort of buccaneering privateers under the Spanish-American flag, and a depot for smuggling slaves into the United States. Another similar establishment had been set up on Galveston Island, off the coast of Texas, under a leader named Aury. This establishment was more important than that on Amelia Island, as well on account of numbers as for the greater facilities afforded for smuggling. It was a second Barataria, and to it some of the old privateers and smugglers of Lafitte's band of Baratarians resorted. Under a secret act, passed in 1811, and first made public in 1817, the President took the responsibility of suppressing both these establishments. Aury had joined McGregor with the Galveston desperadoes, and their force was formidable. The President sent Captain Henly, in the ship John Adams, with smaller vessels, and a battalion of Charleston artillery under Major Bankhead, to take possession of Amelia Island. McGregor was then at sea, leaving Aury in command of the island. He was summoned to evacuate it; and on Dec. 23 the naval and military commanders, with their forces, entered the place and took quiet possession. Aury left it in February, and so both nests of pirates and smugglers were broken up. At the same time there was much sympathy felt in the United States for the revolted Spanish-American colonies, and, in spite of the neutrality laws, a number of cruisers were fitted out in American ports under their flags.

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