Total, $27,875.83! What better investment for a great-grandchild than to get the Indians to burn a corn-field for him sixty or seventy years before his birth, and plausibly lay it on lunatic United States troops?

4. Strange as it may seem, the Fishers let Congress alone for five years--or, what is perhaps more likely, failed to make themselves heard by Congress for that length of time. But at last, in 1854, they got a hearing. They persuaded Congress to pass an act requiring the Auditor to re-examine their case. But this time they stumbled upon the misfortune of an honest Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. James Guthrie), and he spoiled everything. He said in very plain language that the Fishers were not only not entitled to another cent, but that those children of many sorrows and acquainted with grief had been paid too much already.

5. Therefore another interval of rest and silent ensued-an interval which lasted four years--viz till 1858. The "right man in the right place" was then Secretary of War--John B. Floyd, of peculiar renown! Here was a master intellect; here was the very man to succor the suffering heirs of dead and forgotten Fisher. They came up from Florida with a rush--a great tidal wave of Fishers freighted with the same old musty documents about the same in immortal corn-fields of their ancestor. They straight-way got an act passed transferring the Fisher matter from the dull Auditor to the ingenious Floyd. What did Floyd do? He said, "IT WAS PROVED that the Indians destroyed everything they could before the troops entered in pursuit." He considered, therefore, that what they destroyed must have consisted of "the houses with all their contents, and the liquor" (the most trifling part of the destruction, and set down at only $3,200 all told), and that the government troops then drove them off and calmly proceeded to destroy--

Two hundred and twenty acres of corn in the field, thirty-five acres of wheat, and nine hundred and eighty-six head of live stock! [What a singularly intelligent army we had in those days, according to Mr. Floyd --though not according to the Congress of 1832.]

So Mr. Floyd decided that the Government was not responsible for that $3,200 worth of rubbish which the Indians destroyed, but was responsible for the property destroyed by the troops--which property consisted of (I quote from the printed United States Senate document):

Dollars Corn at Bassett's Creek, ............... 3,000 Cattle, ................................ 5,000 Stock hogs, ............................ 1,050 Drove hogs, ............................ 1,204 Wheat, ................................. 350 Hides, ................................. 4,000 Corn on the Alabama River, ............. 3,500

Total, .............18,104

That sum, in his report, Mr. Floyd calls the "full value of the property destroyed by the troops."

He allows that sum to the starving Fishers, TOGETHER WITH INTEREST FROM 1813. From this new sum total the amounts already paid to the Fishers were deducted, and then the cheerful remainder (a fraction under forty thousand dollars) was handed to then and again they retired to Florida in a condition of temporary tranquillity. Their ancestor's farm had now yielded them altogether nearly sixty-seven thousand dollars in cash.

6. Does the reader suppose that that was the end of it? Does he suppose those diffident Fishers we: satisfied? Let the evidence show. The Fishers were quiet just two years. Then they came swarming up out of the fertile swamps of Florida with their same old documents, and besieged Congress once more. Congress capitulated on the 1st of June, 1860, and instructed Mr. Floyd to overhaul those papers again, and pay that bill. A Treasury clerk was ordered to go through those papers and report to Mr. Floyd what amount was still due the emaciated Fishers. This clerk (I can produce him whenever he is wanted) discovered what was apparently a glaring and recent forgery in the paper; whereby a witness's testimony as to the price of corn in Florida in 1813 was made to name double the amount which that witness had originally specified as the price! The clerk not only called his superior's attention to this thing, but in making up his brief of the case called particular attention to it in writing.

Mark Twain
Classic Literature Library

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