Freedom for One, Citizenship for the Other, Two Signatures 235 years apart


Spanish Military Leader and Louisiana Governor, Bernardo de Galvez. Source: dated: 13 Dec 2014.

The end of a long journey to receiving U.S. Citizenship for Bernardo de Galvez has finally happened with President Barack Obama’s signature on December 16, 2014. Many thanks to all who have supported this effort over the years.

Finally, our beloved and nearly forgotten Louisiana Spanish Colonial Governor General Bernardo de Galvez, an American Revolutionary War Patriot and now U.S. Citizen, joins the ranks of only seven others. Theses honored citizens, deemed of exceptional merit, have been declared an honorary citizen of the United States either by an Act of Congress or by a proclamation issued by the President of the United States.

As a native of New Orleans, Louisiana currently living in Atlanta, Georgia, I have a very interesting connection to this historical figure, General Bernardo de Galvez, and it too culminated with a signature.

Agnes Manumission Document, Dec 16, 1779

Manumission (freedom papers) document for Agnes signed by Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana,  December 16, 1779.


On Dec 16, 1779 (235 years ago this month), Bernardo de Galvez, the then Governor of Spanish Colonial Louisiana, signed the manumission papers which granted freedom to my enslaved 4th generation great-grandmother, Agnes.

Through further research, I also discovered Agnes’ French consort, whom I later determined to be my 4th great generation-grandfather named Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla, served in the New Orleans Militia, 3rd company Artillery under the Command of General Galvez. These two discoveries, finding Agnes and discovering my ancestral connection to the American Revolution, have also connected my ancestry to both Spanish Louisiana and American history in a most interesting way.

Below, view the segment on the PBS program, History Detectives, titled the Galvez Papers, which helped bring my ancestors’ story to a national audience.  

 “The Galvez Papers” will play after PBS promo.

In addition to discovering and documenting my ancestral lineage to Agnes and Mathieu Devaux, in 2010, I was induction into the National Society Sons of the American Revolution because of my ancestral connection to a Louisiana Patriot of the American Revolution – Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla. Oh yes, by the way, I GOT PROOF! too.

Here is another major project which helped bring National attention and further focus on Bernardo de Galvez’s contribution during the American Revolution.



Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret. Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution.

It is my hope that other descendants of those men who served with Galvez take time to appreciate, document, and remember their ancestor’s contribution to the United States.

I stand today, as a living memorial of a rich legacy left to me by one of my Louisiana Colonial ancestors. I hope  you are inspired by each of these actions taken.

Read more about Homer Plessy Presidential Medal of Freedom Award petition.

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