In 1829, George J. F. Clarke of St. Augustine called on the St. Johns County tax assessor to make a return (itemization) of his taxable properties and those of each of his five adult sons. Clarke was one of the city's leading men, born in St. Augustine to Scottish parents during Florida's British period. Clarke's sons, born once Florida had returned to Spanish rule, were his children by his mistress, Flora Leslie, a slave he had purchased in 1793 and emancipated in I 797. In November 1828, the Legislative Council for the Florida Territory had enacted a revenue law that taxed not only property but contained a levy on free men ofcolor as well. For each of his sons, Clarke made a property return, then "returned him as a free man of color, + entered a protest against the constitutionality of the act of the Council and admonished the assessor not to proceed under it." Some weeks later, when the tax collector, FrancisJ. Avice, demanded payment, Clarke paid each son's property tax "but declined to pay the personal tax." Avice "refused to receive the one without the other." Clarke then "paid the whole," warning Avice not to remit the money to the state treasurer "as he would be sued for it."

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