Among the duties assumed by the federal government after the ratification of the constitution was the general supervision over relations with the Indians living both within and without what were generally claimed to be the national boundaries. This assumption of authority was resented by many of the frontier residents long accustomed to dealing directly with the Indians. They were convinced, rightfully or wrongfully, that all savages were to be mistrusted, that the so-called Indian lands were open to seizure and settlement by the first to arrive on the scene, and that there was nothing illegal or immoral in acquiring the Indians’ private property, presumably recently stolen from the legitimate owners. Although this attitude, a product of bitter experience, was not conducive to peace and stability along the frontier, it nevertheless governed the relations between the two races for a long period of time. Of particular annoyance to the settlers and to the large plantation owners was the ease with which valuable Negro slaves from Georgia and South Carolina escaping from their masters managed to disappear across the Oconee River into the Indian country and then often reappear in either St. Augustine or Pensacola where the Spanish authorities as like as not treated them as freed Negroes. Even if they were not allowed to roam freely, they were merely put to work on the most available public works project at no expense to the Spanish government. It was not the treatment accorded the runaways that irked the Americans so much as it was the fact that the Spanish officials blandly refused to discuss the question of rounding them up and sending them back to the United States where they rightfully belonged. No manner of argument seemed to carry any weight with the officials in either East or West Florida.
Murdoch, Richard K.
"The Return of Runaway Slaves 1790-1794,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 38:
2, Article 3.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol38/iss2/3