Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to William Blount, 17 August 1791

To William Blount

Philadelphia Aug. 17. 1791.


I wrote you on the 12th. inst. to acknolege the reciept of your favor of July 17. addressed to me and of the reference to me of the one of the same date addressed to Genl. Knox and asking leave of absence for a time therein mentioned, and to inform you the President assented to such absence. I observed at the same time the necessity there would be to promulgate immediately such parts at least1 of the treaty lately made with the Cherokees, as are interesting to our citizens.

I have now the honour to acknolege the reciept of your favor of July 27. by Mr. Macflorence and to return you my thanks for the papers accompanying it. On conversing with this gentleman, I find he cannot inform me whereabouts the S. Carolina Indian boundary, will strike the Southern boundary of N. Carolina, from which point you know the North line of your treaty is to set out and meet the line which crosses Holston. I will therefore still ask your information of this point.

I am in hopes we shall recieve your census in time to lay it before Congress at their meeting.—I have the honour to be with great respect & esteem Sir Your most obedt & most humble servt,

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC). FC (DNA: RG 360, DL).

Macflorence: James Cole Mountflorence, who asserted in a memoir that he had been sent to Philadelphia after TJ had asked Blount “to send him a person, possessed of the most extensive local, legal, and political knowledge of the country, from whom he might derive the necessary information for the elements of his report” (James C. Mountflorence, “A Short Sketch of the Public Life of Major J. C. Mountflorence,” p. 6, enclosed in Mountflorence to James Monroe, 8 July 1817, DNA: RG 59, MLR). Blount’s favor of July 27 might support Mountflorence’s statement that he served TJ upon request, but TJ’s failure to obtain from him needed information about the southern boundary belies the young man’s assessment of his abilities. In recalling his early public career, Mountflorence described the cession of Tennessee as being tied closely to North Carolina’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Having served as a delegate from Davidson County, he gave this account of the ratifying convention: “All the delegates from the district of Tennessee were instructed by their constituents to procure, at the same time, a cession of their country to Congress: the Blounts had vast possessions in that district, and therefore felt an equal interest with us in carrying that point in the assembly of the State. The Legislature and the Convention met, in the same month, at Fayetteville: I laboured strenuously, in cooperation with the Blount-interest and with others, to accomplish the wish of my constituents; our joint efforts were crowned with success, the cession was voted, and I had the honor of being one of those to whom the formation of the Bill, which passed the House to that effect, was intrusted” (same, p. 5).

Since TJ’s letter arrived in the Southwest Territory while Governor Blount was away on leave, acting Governor Daniel Smith replied to TJ’s query about the eastern boundary of the Cherokee lands as defined by the Treaty of Holston (Smith to TJ, 4 Oct. 1791).

It may have been around this time that TJ made an abstract of article 4 of the Treaty of Holston defining the boundary between the Cherokees and the United States (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 69:11900; endorsed by TJ: “Indians Cherokees. boundary by treaty of Holston”).

1These two words interlined.

Index Entries