Birth – He was born in 1797 in Virginia.
Moved to the Florida territory in 1826 and became an attorney in St. Augustine. He served in the Territorial Legislature
and as the Register of Florida’s federal Land Office. He fought in the Seminole War in 1836 as a Colonel in the militia.
He was elected as a Whig as Florida Territory’s non-voting Delegate to the U. S. House of Representatives following
Joseph Smith. He served two terms from 1837 to 1841. In his re-election campaign he received a 800 majority over
Delegate Downing did not chose to press for statehood. He wanted to split Florida into East Florida and West Florida.
He presented the St. Augustine memorial for division to Congress and in 1839 presented a petition of 10 Florida council
members requesting the division of Florida.
“RESOLUTIONS AND MEMORIAL TO CONGRESS BY INHABITANTS OF EAST FLORIDA.
Division of the Territory, or East Florida a District Territorial Government.
At a fall meeting of the Inhabitants of the City of St. Augustine, East Florida, held pursuant to public notice, at the Court
House, on Thursday the 29th day of August, 1839, General Joseph M Hernandez was appointed President, and Major J.
John Beard, Jr. and S. Hill Williams, Secretaries of the meeting.
The object of the meeting was explained, and the meeting addressed by Major Putnam, and several gentlemen. On
motion it was Resolved That the following gentlemen, viz: Gabriel W. Perpall, Esq., Gen Peter Sken Smith, Col. John M.
Hanson, Bernardo Segui, Esq., and Col Gad Humphreys, be a Committee to draft Resolutions, expressive of the sense
of the meeting.
The Committee having retired, reported the following resolutions, which were adopted by acclamation, and without a
Resolved; that as Floridians as American citizens- we are gratified at the presence at this time, of the same Men and
the same Spirit that were present in the meeting of the fifth day of February, 1838, to protest against the calling a
Convention to form a State Constitution- and against the imposition of State Taxes- and to organize in favor of "Division".
Resolved, That we have not, at any time, yielded our preferences, or compromised our principles - we are- as we were,
in that first meeting- one and all for separating The East, from the Middle and West, making the Suwannee the dividing
Resolved, That we have organized for Division and nothing but Division, and for the purpose of cooperating with our
fellow Citizens of The East, for the Division of This Vast Territory- comprising as it does, The Country and The
Capabilities sufficient for Two States; the West being nearly equal in size to Massachusetts and Maryland combined;
and nearly as large as South Carolina;- and the Territory lying East of the Suwannee possessing an area approaching
in extent Pennsylvania or New York, and equal in extent to Tennessee or Michigan.
Resolved, that a glance at our Geographical position, shows that the natural outlet of the Middle and West is to the
Gulf of Mexico- while The East has its natural outlet to the Atlantic coast-thus, from the beginning, nature designed The
Separation- That subsequently, the conflicting and diversified interests of The Floridas demanded and obtained- and in
seeking Division, we only seek to establish The Right of Separation that had its foundation in the Justice and Policy of
the Spanish and English Governments, under which, The Floridas were formed into Two separate Provinces, each
having its own Governor; and they were so ceded by Spain to the United States.
Resolved, That the Constitution and Laws of the United States having established the Federal Ratio of State
Representation at Fourty-Seven Thousand Seven Hundred and as in the Census that preceded the Late Territorial
Convention, the aggregate population of the Floridas fell Ten Thousand short of the Federal number, we consider a
Constitution, emanating from the representatives of a minority a Dead Letter- whether approved or rejected by the
Territory at large.
Resolved, That adhering to the principle of Division we do maintain the birth right of the East to a separate and
Independent Territory East of the Suwannee; while with mingled feelings of kindness and respect we would say to the
Middle and West: is not the whole land before us:. Let there be no strife between us, for we be brethren.
Resolved, That again as before, we enter our public and solemn Protest against the premature, impracticable and
ruinous scheme of precipitation the whole of this great Territory into a single State: -when the people of The East have ,
with such commendable unanimity, rejected both the State and The Constitution at the ballot Box.
Resolved, That the inabililty, as also the indisposition of the East, to participate in the mere pageant of A State
Government, upheld by Direct Taxes, is apparent to all- and we should be still more reluctant to exchange our Territorial
Independence for State honors, purchased by the degrading and humiliating condition, that in the Middle and West pay
the Taxes of the East.
Resolved that we shall support, for office, men who are opposed to forming the Floridas into a single State, and
opposed to the system of Taxes, inseparable to the adoption of a State Government-and who are the uncompromising
advocates of Division.
Resolved, That we respectfully solicit the inhabitants of the Towns and Counties of the East to hold similar meetings-
and we most respectfully ask, for these proceedings, the attention of the Hon. Charles Downing; our delegate in
Congress, with the assurance of our undiminished confidence in this ability and faithfulness to effect The Division, so
ardently desired by his constituents in the East, and Vitally important to the welfare of the East.
Resolved, That in petitioning for the Division of the Floridas, we appeal with confidence to the wisdom, justice, and
patriotism of the distinguished Statesmen who represent Our Common Country, In the Councils of the Nation, at
Washington. They can appreciate the importance of the Two States of Florida to the southern portion of the
confederacy, and to the Union.
Resolved, That these proceedings be signed by the President and Secretaries, and published in the papers of this
City; the Tallahassee Star, the paper at Jacksonville; the Charleston and Savannah papers; the Globe and the National
Joseph M. Hernandez, President
J. John Beard Jr., Secretary
S. Hill Williams, Secretary”
Signers from St. Augustine included: Endorsed Memorial from Citizens of St. Augustine Division of Territory
Section 5 Subscribers to Memorial
Tho Douglas, Martin Canovas, Joseph M Hernandez, Henry Thomas, J. M Hanson, Jose A Liambias, John J Hedrick,
Roque Leonardy, Elias Wallen, Joseph Manusey, Andrew Anderson, Jacob L Bayler, S. Hill Williams, Emanuel Manusey,
John Rodman, Dionicio Solana, Jn Drysdale, Matias Leonardy, John Beard Jr., Celestino Leonardy, Alfred P Livingston,
Juan Leonardy, B. A. Putnam, Mauricio Sanchez, Ch Byrne, Henry Groves, W H Simmons, Thomas T Russell, J. G.
Landon, Jose F. Sanchez, Jno E. Peck, Antonio Borsas, K. B. Gibbs, A J Noda, Philip D Solana, Joseph Noda,
Christobal Bravo, Ramon Saulkey, Antonio Canovas, Faustina Triky, Antonio E Canovas, Thomas Andreu, Donato
Bravo, Leander Parker, Raphael Canovas, M H Tucker, Bernardo Segui, Lawrence Capella, Ora Howard, Lawrence
Andreu, F. T. Avice, Matias Capella, G E Wallace, Darius Allen, Donato Andreu, Whipple Allen, Esteban Arnau, Wm
Kemp, James Houston, Henry Roberts, Thos Bellows, Saml Northrop, Francis Whitaker, Jn H Dobs, James Weighman,
Wm Tho Perpall, Frederick Weedon, Hezekiah Pinkham, Mitchel Huffington, James Doyl, John O Riley, J Gayner,
Lewis C Drake, Wm G Davis, J Houston, J B Rutherford, Philip Eastman, Urial Lane, John Simpson, Geo W Wilson,
Emanuel Hernandez, Francis Hernandez, Joseph Canovas, James Hurlbert, P T Murphy, David Connor, Michael Clarke,
O Fogartey, Joseph Lopes, George Wilkerson
Legislative Council and Delegate Downing
The Legislative Council (what would become the Florida Legislature) over the years sent Delegate Downing resolutions
on issues such as supporting the Alabama, Florida and Georgia Railroad company by getting Federal land donated.
The council also requested Robert Myers be appointed lieutenant in any company of Dragoons and establishing a mail
route from Monticello through Madison county, Hamilton, and Gadsden Spring. Activity of the Legislative Council for
Washington, D. C. was directed to Delegate Downing
On May 21, 1838, Florida territorial delegate Charles Downing requested a lighthouse be built on Cape Canaveral. It
would be the first lighthouse built on that cape.
He died November 24, 1841 and was buried in the Huguenot Cemetery in St. Augustine. His estate was executed with
this notice in the St. Augustine News: “Notice All persons indebted to the Estate of Charles Downing, Esq. late of St.
Augustine, deceased, are hereby requested to make immediate payment; and notice is hereby given to all creditors and
Legatees, and persons entitled to distribution of the said Estate, that their claims and demands will be barred, at the
expiration of two years from the date hereof, unless exhibited within that period, to Rebecca Downing Executrix St.
Augustine, Nov 13, 1841.” (Sic – note the date.)
Huguenot Cemetery – St. Augustine
Charles Downing, who depart'd this life Nov. 24, 1841, in the 45th year of his age. A native of Virginia, he removed to
Florida and early became identified with the prosperity of the Territory. He frequently served in the Territorial Legislature
and was twice elected to the Congress of the United States. Ardent, bold, and generous to a fault, he was beloved in life
and died universally regretted.
His son Charles W. Downing would later become Florida Secretary of State. His wife was Rebecca Downing
(1797 - November 21, 1841)
Florida Delegate to Congress