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and I ask their advice and consent as to its ratification. I communicate
at the same time such papers as bear any material relation to the
subject, together with a map on which is sketched the northern limit of
the cession, rather to give a general idea than with any pretension to
exactness, which our present knowledge of the country would not warrant.

TH. JEFFERSON.



JANUARY 20, 1808.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

Some days previous to your resolutions of the 13th instant a court of
inquiry had been instituted at the request of General Wilkinson, charged
to make the inquiry into his conduct which the first resolution desires,
and had commenced their proceedings. To the judge-advocate of that court
the papers and information on that subject transmitted to me by the
House of Representatives have been delivered, to be used according to
the rules and powers of that court.

The request of a communication of any information which may have been
received at any time since the establishment of the present Government
touching combinations with foreign agents for dismembering the Union
or the corrupt receipt of money by any officer of the United States
from the agents of foreign governments can be complied with but in a
partial degree.

It is well understood that in the first or second year of the Presidency
of General Washington information was given to him relating to
certain combinations with the agents of a foreign government for the
dismemberment of the Union, which combinations had taken place before
the establishment of the present Federal Government. This information,
however, is believed never to have been deposited in any public office,
or left in that of the President's secretary, these having been duly
examined, but to have been considered as personally confidential, and
therefore retained among his private papers. A communication from the
governor of Virginia to President Washington is found in the office
of the President's secretary, which, although not strictly within the
terms of the request of the House of Representatives, is communicated,
inasmuch as it may throw some light on the subjects of the
correspondence of that time between certain foreign agents and citizens
of the United States.

In the first or second year of the Administration of President Adams
Andrew Ellicott, then employed in designating, in conjunction with the
Spanish authorities, the boundaries between the territories of the
United States and Spain, under the treaty with that nation, communicated
to the Executive of the United States papers and information respecting
the subjects of the present inquiry, which were deposited in the
Office of State. Copies of these are now transmitted to the House of
Representatives, except of a single letter and a reference from the
said Andrew Ellicott, which, being expressly desired to be kept secret,
is therefore not communicated, but its contents can be obtained from
himself in a more legal form, and directions have been given to summon
him to appear as a witness before the court of inquiry.

A paper on "The Commerce of Louisiana," bearing date the 18th of
April, 1798, is found in the Office of State, supposed to have been
communicated by Mr. Daniel Clark, of New Orleans, then a subject of
Spain, and now of the House of Representatives of the United States,
stating certain commercial transactions of General Wilkinson in New
Orleans. An extract from this is now communicated, because it contains
facts which may have some bearing on the questions relating to him.

The destruction of the War Office by fire in the close of 1800 involved
all information it contained at that date.

The papers already described therefore constitute the whole of the
information on the subjects deposited in the public offices during the
preceding Administrations, as far as has yet been found; but it can
not be affirmed that there may be no other, because, the papers of the
office being filed for the most part alphabetically, unless aided by the
suggestion of any particular name which may have given such information,
nothing short of a careful examination of the papers in the offices
generally could authorize such an affirmation.

About a twelvemonth after I came to the administration of the Government
Mr. Clark gave some verbal information to myself, as well as to the
Secretary of State, relating to the same combinations for the
dismemberment of the Union. He was listened to freely, and he then
delivered the letter of Governor Gayoso, addressed to himself, of which
a copy is now communicated. After his return to New Orleans he forwarded
to the Secretary of State other papers, with a request that after
perusal they should be burnt. This, however, was not done, and he was so
informed by the Secretary of State, and that they would be held subject
to his orders. These papers have not yet been found in the office.
A letter, therefore, has been addressed to the former chief clerk, who
may perhaps give information respecting them. As far as our memories
enable us to say, they related only to the combinations before spoken
of, and not at all to the corrupt receipt of money by any officer of
the United States; consequently they respected what was considered as
a dead matter, known to the preceding Administrations, and offering
nothing new to call for investigations, which those nearest the dates
of the transactions had not thought proper to institute.

In the course of the communications made to me on the subject of the
conspiracy of Aaron Burr I sometimes received letters, some of them
anonymous, some under names true or false, expressing suspicions and
insinuations against General Wilkinson; but one only of them, and that
anonymous, specified any particular fact, and that fact was one of those
which had been already communicated to a former Administration.

No other information within the purview of the request of the House is
known to have been received by any department of the Government from the
establishment of the present Federal Government. That which has been
recently communicated to the House of Representatives, and by them
to me, is the first direct testimony ever made known to me charging
General Wilkinson with the corrupt receipt of money, and the House of
Representatives may be assured that the duties which this information
devolves on me shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality. Should any
want of power in the court to compel the rendering of testimony obstruct
that full and impartial inquiry which alone can establish guilt or
innocence and satisfy justice, the legislative authority only will be
competent to the remedy.

TH. JEFFERSON.



JANUARY 30, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

The Choctaws, being indebted to their merchants beyond what could be
discharged by the ordinary proceeds of their buntings, and pressed for
payment, proposed to the United States to cede lands to the amount of
their debts, and designated them in two different portions of their
country. These designations, not at all suiting us, were declined. Still
urged by their creditors, as well as by their own desire to be liberated
from debt, they at length proposed to make a cession which should be to
our convenience. By a treaty signed at Pooshapuckanuck on the 16th of
November, 1805, they accordingly ceded all their lands south of a line
to be run from their and our boundary at the Omochita eastwardly to
their boundary with the Creeks, on the ridge between the Tombigbee and
Alabama, as is more particularly described in the treaty, containing
about 5,000,000 acres, as is supposed, and uniting our possessions there
from Adams to Washington County.

The location contemplated in the instructions to the commissioners was
on the Mississippi. That in the treaty being entirely different, I was
at that time disinclined to its ratification, and I have suffered it to
lie unacted on. But progressive difficulties in our foreign relations
have brought into view considerations other than those which then
prevailed. It is now, perhaps, as interesting to obtain footing for a
strong settlement of militia along our southern frontier eastward of the
Mississippi as on the west of that river, and more so than higher up the
river itself. The consolidation of the Mississippi Territory and the
establishment of a barrier of separation between the Indians and our
Southern neighbors are also important objects; and the Choctaws and
their creditors being still anxious that the sale should be made, I
submitted the treaty to the Senate, who have advised and consented to
its ratification. I therefore now lay it before both Houses of Congress
for the exercise of their constitutional powers as to the means of
fulfilling it.

TH. JEFFERSON.



JANUARY 30, 1808.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

The posts of Detroit and Mackinac having been originally intended by the
Governments which established and held them as mere depots for commerce
with the Indians, very small cessions of land around them were obtained
or asked from the native proprietors, and these posts depended for
protection on the strength of their garrisons. The principles of our
Government leading us to the employment of such moderate garrisons in
time of peace as may merely take care of the post, and to a reliance on
the neighboring militia for its support in the first moments of war,
I have thought it would be important to obtain from the Indians such a
cession in the neighborhood of these posts as might maintain a militia
proportioned to this object; and I have particularly contemplated,
with this view, the acquisition of the eastern moiety of the peninsula
between the lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie, extending it to the
Connecticut Reserve so soon as it could be effected with the perfect
good will of the natives.

By a treaty concluded at Detroit on the 17th of November last with the
Ottoways, Chippeways, Wyandots, and Pattawatimas so much of this country
has been obtained as extends from about Saguina Bay southwardly to the
Miami of the Lakes, supposed to contain upward of 5,000,000 acres, with
a prospect of obtaining for the present a breadth of 2 miles for a
communication from the Miami to the Connecticut Reserve.

The Senate having advised and consented to the ratification of this
treaty, I now lay it before both Houses of Congress for the exercise
of their constitutional powers as to the means of fulfilling it.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 2, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

Having received an official communication of certain orders of the
British Government against the maritime rights of neutrals, bearing date
the 11th of November, 1807, I transmit them to Congress, as a further
proof of the increasing dangers to our navigation and commerce, which
led to the provident measure of the act of the present session laying an
embargo on our own vessels,

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 4, 1808.

_To the House of Representatives of the United States_:

In my message of January 20 I stated that some papers forwarded by Mr.
Daniel Clark, of New Orleans, to the Secretary of State in 1803 had not
then been found in the Office of State, and that a letter had been
addressed to the former chief clerk, in the hope that he might advise
where they should be sought for. By indications received from him they
are now found. Among them are two letters from the Baron de Carondelet
to an officer serving under him at a separate post, in which his views
of a dismemberment of our Union are expressed. Extracts of so much of
these letters as are within the scope of the resolution of the House are
now communicated. With these were found the letters written by Mr. Clark
to the Secretary of State in 1803. A part of one only of these relates
to this subject, and is extracted and inclosed for the information of
the House. In no part of the papers communicated by Mr. Clark, which are
voluminous and in different languages, nor in his letters, have we found
any intimation of the corrupt receipt of money by any officer of the
United States from any foreign agent. As to the combinations with
foreign agents for dismembering the Union, these papers and letters
offer nothing which was not probably known to my predecessors, or which
could call anew for inquiries, which they had not thought necessary to
institute, when the facts were recent and could be better proved. They
probably believed it best to let pass into oblivion transactions which,
however culpable, had commenced before this Government existed, and had
been finally extinguished by the treaty of 1795.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 9, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate to Congress, for their information, a letter from the
person acting in the absence of our consul at Naples, giving reason
to believe, on the affidavit of a Captain Sheffield, of the American
schooner _Mary Ann_, that the Dey of Algiers has commenced war
against the United States. For this no just cause has been given on
our part within my knowledge. We may daily expect more authentic and
particular information on the subject from Mr. Lear, who was residing
as our consul at Algiers.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 15, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I communicate for the information of Congress a letter from the consul
of the United States at Malaga to the Secretary of State, covering one
from Mr. Lear, our consul at Algiers, which gives information that the
rupture threatened on the part of the Dey of Algiers has been amicably
settled, and the vessels seized by him are liberated.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 19, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

The States of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia having by their
several acts consented that the road from Cumberland to the State of
Ohio, authorized by the act of Congress of the 29th of March, 1806,
should pass through those States, and the report of the commissioners,
communicated to Congress with my message of the 31st January, 1807,
having been duly considered, I have approved of the route therein
proposed for the said road as far as Brownsville, with a single
deviation, since located, which carries it through Uniontown.

From thence the course to the Ohio and the point within the legal limits
at which it shall strike that river is still to be decided. In forming
this decision I shall pay material regard to the interests and wishes of
the populous parts of the State of Ohio and to a future and convenient
connection with the road which is to lead from the Indian boundary near
Cincinnati by Vincennes to the Mississippi at St. Louis, under authority
of the act of the 21st April, 1806. In this way we may accomplish a
continued and advantageous line of communication from the seat of the
General Government to St. Louis, passing through several very
interesting points of the Western country.

I have thought it advisable also to secure from obliteration the trace
of the road so far as it has been approved, which has been executed at
such considerable expense, by opening one-half of its breadth through
its whole length.

The report of the commissioners, herewith transmitted, will give
particular information of their proceedings under the act of the 29th
March, 1806, since the date of my message of the 31st January, 1807, and
will enable Congress to adopt such further measures relative thereto as
they may deem proper under existing circumstances.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 25, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

The dangers to our country arising from the contests of other nations
and the urgency of making preparation for whatever events might affect
our relations with them have been intimated in preceding messages to
Congress. To secure ourselves by due precautions an augmentation of our
military force, as well regular as of volunteer militia, seems to be
expedient. The precise extent of that augmentation can not as yet be
satisfactorily suggested, but that no time may be lost, and especially
at a season deemed favorable to the object, I submit to the wisdom of
the Legislature whether they will authorize a commencement of this
precautionary work by a present provision for raising and organizing
some additional force, reserving to themselves to decide its ultimate
extent on such views of our situation as I may be enabled to present
at a future day of the session.

If an increase of force be now approved, I submit to their consideration
the outlines of a plan proposed in the inclosed letter from the
Secretary of War.

I recommend also to the attention of Congress the term at which the act
of April 18, 1806, concerning the militia, will expire, and the effect
of that expiration.

TH. JEFFERSON.



FEBRUARY 26, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I inclose, for the information of Congress, letters recently received
from our ministers at Paris and London, communicating their
representations against the late decrees and orders of France and Great
Britain, heretofore transmitted to Congress. These documents will
contribute to the information of Congress as to the dispositions of
those powers and the probable course of their proceedings toward
neutrals, and will doubtless have their due influence in adopting
the measures of the Legislature to the actual crisis.

Although nothing forbids the general matter of these letters from being
spoken of without reserve, yet as the publication of papers of this
description would restrain injuriously the freedom of our foreign
correspondence, they are communicated so far confidentially and with
a request that after being read to the satisfaction of both Houses
they may be returned.

TH. JEFFERSON.



MARCH 1, 1808.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of February 26, I
now lay before them such memorials and petitions for the district of
Detroit, and such other information as is in my possession, in relation
to the conduct of William Hull, governor of the Territory of Michigan,
and Stanley Griswold, esq., while acting as secretary of that Territory.

TH. JEFFERSON.



MARCH 2, 1808.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

In compliance with the resolution of the Senate of November 30, 1807,
I now transmit a report of the Secretary of State on the subject of
impressments, as requested in that resolution. The great volume of the
documents and the time necessary for the investigation will explain to
the Senate the causes of the delay which has intervened.

TH. JEFFERSON.



MARCH 7, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

In the city of New Orleans and adjacent to it are sundry parcels of
ground, some of them with buildings and other improvements on them,
which it is my duty to present to the attention of the Legislature.
The title to these grounds appears to have been retained in the former
sovereigns of the Province of Louisiana as public fiduciaries and for
the purposes of the Province. Some of them were used for the residence
of the governor, for public offices, hospitals, barracks, magazines,
fortifications, levees, etc., others for the townhouse, schools,
markets, landings, and other purposes of the city of New Orleans; some
were held by religious corporations or persons, others seem to have
been reserved for future disposition. To these must be added a parcel
called the Batture, which requires more particular description. It is
understood to have been a shoal or elevation of the bottom of the river
adjacent to the bank of the suburbs of St. Mary, produced by the
successive depositions of mud during the annual inundations of the
river, and covered with water only during those inundations. At all
other seasons it has been used by the city immemorially to furnish
earth for raising their streets and courtyards, for mortar, and other
necessary purposes, and as a landing or quay for unlading firewood,
lumber, and other articles brought by water. This having been lately
claimed, by a private individual, the city opposed the claim on a
supposed legal title in itself; but it has been adjudged that the legal
title was not in the city. It is, however, alleged that that title,
originally in the former sovereigns, was never parted with by them,
but was retained in them for the uses of the city and Province, and
consequently has now passed over to the United States. Until this
question can be decided under legislative authority, measures have been
taken according to law to prevent any change in the state of things and
to keep the grounds clear of intruders. The settlement of this title,
the appropriation of the grounds and improvements formerly occupied for
provincial purposes to the same or such other objects as may be better
suited to present circumstances, the confirmation of the uses in other
parcels to such bodies, corporate or private, as may of right or on
other reasonable considerations expect them, are matters now submitted
to the determination of the legislature.

The papers and plans now transmitted will give them such information on
the subject as I possess, and being mostly originals, I must request
that they may be communicated from the one to the other House, to answer
the purposes of both.

TH. JEFFERSON.



MARCH 10, 1808.

_To the Senate of the United States_:

A purchase having lately been made from the Cherokee Indians of a
tract of land 6 miles square at the mouth of the Chickamogga, on the
Tennessee, I now lay the treaty and papers relating to it before the
Senate, with an explanation of the views which have led to it.

It was represented that there was within that tract a great abundance of
iron ore of excellent quality, with a stream and fall of water suitable
for iron works; that the Cherokees were anxious to have works
established there, in the hope of having a better supply of those
implements of household and agriculture of which they have learned the
use and necessity, but on the condition that they should be under the
authority and control of the United States.

As such an establishment would occasion a considerable and certain
demand for corn and other provisions and necessaries, it seemed
probable that it would immediately draw around it a close settlement
of the Cherokees, would encourage them to enter on a regular life of
agriculture, familiarize them with the practice and value of the arts,
attach them to property, lead them of necessity and without delay to
the establishment of laws and government, and thus make a great and
important advance toward assimilating their condition to ours. At the
same time it offers considerable accommodation to the Government by
enabling it to obtain more conveniently than it now can the necessary
supplies of cast and wrought iron for all the Indians south of the
Tennessee, and for those also to whom St. Louis is a convenient deposit,
and will benefit such of our own citizens likewise as shall be within
its reach. Under these views the purchase has been made, with the
consent and desire of the great body of the nation, although not without
some dissenting members, as must be the case will all collections of
men. But it is represented that the dissentients are few, and under
the influence of one or two interested individuals. It is by no means
proposed that these works should be conducted on account of the United
States. It is understood that there are private individuals ready
to erect them, subject to such reasonable rent as may secure a
reimbursement to the United States, and to such other conditions as
shall secure to the Indians their rights and tranquillity.

The instrument is now submitted to the Senate, with a request of their
advice and consent as to its ratification.

TH. JEFFERSON.



MARCH 17, 1808.

_To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States_:

I have heretofore communicated to Congress the decrees of the Government
of France of November 21, 1806, and of Spain of February 19, 1807, with
the orders of the British Government of January and November, 1807.

I now transmit a decree of the Emperor of France of December 17,1807,
and a similar decree of the 3d of January last by His Catholic Majesty.
Although the decree of France has not been received by official
communication, yet the different channels of promulgation through which


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Online LibraryUnknownA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 1, part 3: Thomas Jefferson → online text (page 14 of 16)