Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: Report on Public Lands, 8 November 1791

Report on Public Lands

The Secretary of State, to whom was referred by the President of the United States, the resolution of Congress requesting the President “to cause an estimate to be laid before Congress at their next session, of the quantity and situation of the lands not claimed by the Indians, nor granted to, nor claimed by, any citizens of the United States within the territory ceded to the United States by the state of North Carolina, and within the territory of the United States north west of the river Ohio,” makes thereon the following


Theº territory ceded by the State of North Carolina to the United States, by deed bearing date the 25th. day of February 1790, is bounded as follows, to wit: Beginning in the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina, that is to say, in the parallel of Latitude 36½ degrees north from the Equator, on the extreme height of the stone mountain, where the said boundary or parallel intersects it, and running thence along the said extreme height to the place where Wataugo river breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the yellow mountain, where Bright’s road crosses the same; thence along the ridge of the said mountain between the waters of Doe river and the waters of Rock creek, to the place where the road crosses the Iron mountain; from thence along the extreme height of said mountain to where Nolichuckey river runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald mountain; thence along the extreme height of the said mountain to the painted rock on French Broad river; thence along the highest ridge of the said mountain to the place where it is called the Great Iron or Smoaky mountain; thence along the extreme height of the said mountain to the place where it is called Unaka mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said mountain to the southern boundary of the said State of North Carolina, that is to say, to the parallel of Latitude 35 degrees north from the Equator; thence westwardly along the said boundary or parallel to the middle of the river Missisippi; thence up the middle of the said river to where it is intersected by the first mentioned parallel of 36½ degrees; thence along the said parallel to the Beginning: which tract of country is a degree and a half of Latitude from North to South, and about 360 miles in general, from East to West, as nearly as maybe estimated from such maps as exist of that country.

Theº Indians having claims within the said tract of country, are, the Cherokees and Chickasaws, whose boundaries are settled by the treaties of Hopewell, concluded with the Cherokees on the 28th. day of November 1785, and with the Chickasaws, on the 10th. day of January 1786, and by the treaty of Holston concluded with the Cherokees, July 2d. 1791. These treaties acknowledge to the said Indians all the lands westward and southward of the following lines, to wit: Beginning in the boundary between South and North Carolina where the South Carolina Indian boundary strikes the same; thence North to a point from which a line is to be extended to the river Clinch, that shall pass the Holston at the ridge which divides the waters running into Little river from those running into the Tannissee; thence up the river Clinch to Campbell’s line, and along the same to the top of the Cumberland mountain; thence in a direct course towards the Cumberland river, where the Kentucky road crosses it, as far as the Virginia line, or parallel aforesaid of 36½ degrees; thence Westwardly or Eastwardly, as the case shall be, along the said line or parallel, to the point thereof, which is due North East from another point to be taken on the dividing ridge of Cumberland and Duck rivers 40 miles from Nashville; thence Southwest to the point last mentioned on the said dividing ridge, and along the said dividing ridge northwestwardly to where it is intersected by the said Virginia line, or parallel of 36½ degrees. So that there remained to the United States the right of pre-emption of the lands westward and southward of the said lines, and the absolute right to those northward thereof, that is to say; to one parcel to the Eastward, somewhat triangular, comprehending the counties of Sullivan and Washington, and parts of those of Greene and Hawkins, running about 150 miles from East to West on the Virginia boundary as its base, and between 80 and 90 miles from north to South, where broadest1 and containing, as may be conjectured, without pretending to accuracy, between seven and eight thousand2 square miles, or about five millions of acres: and to one other parcel to the Westward, somewhat triangular also, comprehending parts of the counties of Sumner, Davidson, and Tannissee, the base whereof extends about 150 miles also from East to West on the same Virginia line, and its height from North to South about 55 miles,3 and so may comprehend about four thousand square miles, or upwards of two and a half millions of Acres of land.4

Withinº these triangles, however, are the following claims of citizens reserved by the deed of cession, and consequently forming exception to the rights of the United States.

i. Appropriations by the State of North Carolina for their Continental and State Officers and Soldiers.

ii. Grants, and titles to grants vested in Individuals by the laws of the State.

iii. Entries made5 in Armstrong’s office, under an Act of that State of 1783, for the redemption of specie and other Certificates.

Theº claims covered by the first reservation are, 1st. The bounties in land given by the said State of North Carolina to their continental line, in addition to those given by Congress: These6 were to be located within a district bounded northwardly by the Virginia line, and southwardly by a line parallel thereto, and fifty five miles distant: Westwardly, by the Tannissee, and eastwardly by the meridian of the intersection of the Virginia line and Cumberland river. Grants have accordingly issued for 1,239,498 Acres, and warrants for the further quantity of 1,549,726 Acres, making together 2,789,224 Acres.7 It is to be noted, that the Southwestern and Southeastern Angles of this district, constituting, perhaps, a fourth or a fifth of the whole, are south of the lines established by the treaties of Hopewell and Holston, and, consequently in a country wherein the Indian title is acknowledged and guaranteed by the United States. No information is received of the exact proportion of the locations made within these angles.8

2nd. Bounties in Land to Evans’s battalion raised for State purposes: these were to be taken West of the Cumberland mountain. The locations are not yet made.9

Theº second reservation covers the following claims. 1st. Lands for the Surveyor General’s fees for laying out the military bounties, to be located in the military district. The grants already issued on this Account, amount to 30,203 Acres.10

2nd.º Grants11 to Isaac Shelby, Anthony Bledsoe, and Absalom Tatum, commissioners for laying out the military bounties; and to guards, chain carriers, markers, and hunters, who attended them, already issued to the amount of 65,932 Acres, located in the Military district.12

3d.º Entries in Washington county,13 amounting to 746,362½ Acres, for 214,549¾ of which grants have already issued. Of the remaining 531,812¾ Acres, a considerable proportion were declared void by the laws of the State,14 and were particularly excluded from the cover of the reservation in the deed of cession by this clause in it, to wit: “Provided that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend to the making good any entry or entries, or any grant or grants heretofore declared void by any Act or Acts of the General Assembly of this State.” Still15 it is to be considered, that many of these persons have settled and improved the lands, are willing, as is said, to comply with such conditions as shall be required of other purchasers, form a strong barrier on the new frontier acquired by the treaty of Holston, and are, therefore, Objects meriting the consideration of the Legislature.

4th.º Entries in Sullivan county, amounting to 240,624 Acres, for 173,332 Acres of which grants have already issued. Of the remaining entries, many are certified void; and others understood to be lapsed, or otherwise voidable, under the laws of the State.16

5th.º Certain Pre-emption rights granted to the first settlers of Davidson county17 on Cumberland river, amounting to 309,760 Acres.

6th.º A grant of 200,000 Acres to Richard Henderson and others on Powel’s and Clinch’s rivers, extending up Powel’s river in a breadth of not less than four miles, and down Clinch’s from their junction in a breadth not less than twelve miles. A great part of this is within the Indian territory.

Among the grants of the State, now under recapitulation, as forming exceptions out of the absolute rights of the United States are not to be reckoned here twoº grants of 2000 Acres each to Alexander Martin, and David Wilson, adjacent to the lands allotted to the officers and soldiers; nor a grant of 25,000 Acres on General Greene. Duck river to the late Major General Greene; because they are wholly within the Indian territory, as acknowleged by the treaties of Hopewell and Holston.

Theº extent of the third reservation, in favor of entries made in Armstrong’s office, is not yet entirely known, nor can be ‘till the 20th. of December 1792, the last day given for perfecting them. The sum of certificates, however, which had been paid for these warrants into the Treasury of the State, before the 20th. day of May 1790, reaches in all probability, near to their whole amount. This was £373,649.6.5. Currency of that State, and at the price of ten pounds the hundred Acres, established by law, shews that Warrants had issued for 3,736,493 Acres. For 1,762,660 of these grants have passed, which appear to have been located partly in the counties of Greene and Hawkins, and partly in the country from thence to the Missisippi, as divided into Eastern, middle, and Western districts. Almost the whole of these locations are within the Indian territory. Besides the Warrants paid for as before mentioned, it is known that there are some others outstanding, and not paid for; but perhaps, these need not be taken into account, as payment of them has been disputed on the ground that the lands, being within the Indian territory, cannot now be delivered to the holders of the Warrants.18

On a review of all the reservations, after making such conjectural allowance as our information authorizes, for the proportion of them which may be within the Indian boundaries, it appears probable, that they19 cover all the ceded lands susceptible of culture, and cleared of the Indian title, that is to say; all the habitable parts of the two triangles beforementioned, excepting only the lands south of French Broad and Big Pidgeon rivers. These were part of the tract appropriated by the laws of the State to the use of the Indians, whose title being purchased at the late treaty of Holston, they are now free to be disposed of by the United States, and are probably, the only lands open to their disposal within this South Western territory, which can excite the attention of purchasers. They are supposed to amount to about 300,000 Acres, and we are told that three hundred families have already set down upon them without right or license.

Theº territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio, is bounded on the south by that river, on the East by Pennsylvania; on the north and West by the lines which divide the United States from the dominions of Great Britain and Spain.

Theº part of this territory occupied by Indians, is north and West of the following lines established with the Wiandots, Delawares, Chippawas and Ottawas, by the treaty of Fort McIntosh, and, with the Shawanese, by that of the Great Miami, to wit: Beginning at the mouth of the Cayahoga, and running up the river to the Portage between that and the Tuscaroras branch of the Muskingum; then down the said branch to the forks at the crossing place above Fort Lawrence; then Westwardly towards the portage of the Big Miami, to the main branch of that river; then down the Miami to the fork of that river next below the old fort which was taken by the French in 1752; thence due West to the river de la Panse, and down that river to the Wabash. So far the lines are precisely defined, and the whole country Southward of these lines, and eastward of the Wabash, cleared of the claims of those Indians, as it is also of those of the Poutiwatimas and Sacs, by the treaty of Muskingum. How far on the other side of the Wabash, the Southern boundary of the Indians has been defined, we know not. It is only understood, in general, that their title to the lower country between that river and the Illinois, has been formerly extinguished by the French, while in their possession. As to that country then, and what lies still beyond the Illinois, it would seem expedient that nothing be done, ‘till a fair ascertainment of boundary can take place, by mutual consent between us and the Indians interested.

The country within the Wabash, the Indian line before described, the Pennsylvania line, and the Ohio, contains, on a loose estimate, about 55,000 square miles, or 35 millions of Acres.

Duringº the British government, great numbers of persons had formed themselves into companies, under different names, such as the Ohio, the Wabache, the Illinois, the Missisippi, or Vandalia companies, and had covered, with their applications, a great part of this territory.20 Some of them had obtained orders on certain conditions, which having never been fulfilled, their titles were never completed by grants. Others were only in a state of negociation, when the British authority was discontinued. Some of these claims, being already under a special reference, by order of Congress,21 and all of them probably falling under the operation of the same principles, they will not be noticed in the present report.

Theº Claims of citizens to be here stated, will be Ist. Those reserved by the States in their deeds of cession.

iind. Those which have arisen under the government of the United States themselves.

Underº the first head presents itself the tract of country from the completion of the 41st. degree to 42°.2’ of North Latitude, and extending from the Pennsylvania line before mentioned 120 miles westward, not mentioned in the deed of Connecticut,22 while all the country westward thereof was mentioned to be ceded. About two and a half millions of Acres of this, may perhaps, be without the Indian lines beforementioned.

2nd.º A reservation in the deed of Virginia of the possessions and titles of the French and Canadian Inhabitants, and other settlers of the Kaskaskias, St. Vincents, and the neighbouring Villages, who had professed themselves citizens of Virginia; which rights have been settled by an Act of the last session of Congress, intituled “An Act for granting lands to the Inhabitants and settlers at Vincennes and the Illinois country in the territory North-West of the Ohio, and for confirming them in their possessions.” These lands are in the neighbourhood of the several villages.

3.º A reservation in the same deed of a quantity, not exceeding 150,000 Acres of land, for General George Rogers Clarke, and the officers and soldiers of his regiment, who were at the reduction of Kaskaskias, and St. Vincents: to be laid off, in such place on the North-West side of the Ohio, as a majority of the officers should choose. They chose they should be laid off on the river adjacent to the rapids, which, accordingly, has been done.

4. A reservation in the same deed, of lands between the Scioto and Little Miami, to make up to the Virginia troops, º on continental establishment, the quantity which the good lands in their Southern allotment, might fall short of the23 bounties24 given them by the laws of that State. By a statement of the 16th. of September, 1788, it appears that 724,045⅔ Acres had been surveyed for them on the South-eastern side of the Ohio; that 1,395,385½ Acres had been surveyed on the northwestern side; that Warrants for 649,649 Acres more, to be laid off on the same side of the river, were in the hands of the surveyor, and it was supposed there might still be some few warrants not yet presented: so that this reservation may be stated at 2,045,034½ Acres, or perhaps, some small matter more.25

ii. The claims of individual citizens, derived from the United States themselves, are the following.

1.º Those of the Continental army, founded on the resolutions of Congress, of September 16th. 1776, August 12th. and September 30th. 1780, and fixed by the Ordinance of May 20th. 1785; the resolution of October 22d. 1787, and the supplementary Ordinance of July 9th. 1788, in the seven ranges of townships; Beginning at a point on the Ohio, due north from the Western termination of a line then lately run as the Southern boundary of Pennsylvania: or, in a second tract of a million of Acres, bounded East by the seventh range of the said townships; south, by the lands of Cutler and Sargent; North, by an extension of the northern boundary of the said townships, and going towards the West so far as to include the above quantity: or lastly, in a third tract of country, Beginning at the mouth of the Ohio, and running up the Missisippi, to the river au Vause; thence up the same ‘till it meets a West line from the mouth of the little Wabash; thence along that line to the Great Wabash; thence down the same, and the Ohio to the Beginning. The sum total of the said military claims is 1,851,800 Acres.26

2.º Those of the Individuals who made purchases of land at New York, within the said seven ranges of townships, according to the Resolutions of Congress of April 21st. 1787, and the supplementary ordinance of July 9th. 1788, which claims amount to 150,896 Acres.

3. The purchase of one million and a half Acres of land by Cutler and Sargent, on behalf of certain individuals, º associated under the name of the Ohio company. This begins where the Ohio is intersected by the Western boundary of the seventh range of townships, and runs due North on that boundary 1306 chains and 25 links; thence due West to the Western boundary of the seventeenth range of townships; thence due South to the Ohio, and up that river to the Beginning; the whole area containing 1,781,760 Acres of land, whereof 281,760 Acres, consisting of various lots and townships, are reserved to the United States.

4: The purchase by the same Cutler and Sargent on behalf also of themselves and others. This begins at the º North-eastern angle of the tract of their purchase before described, and runs due north to the northern boundary of the tenth township from the Ohio; thence due West to the Scioto; thence down the same, and up the Ohio to the south-western angle of the said purchase before described, and along the Western and Northern boundaries thereof to the Beginning; the whole area containing 4,901,480 Acres of land; out of which, however, five lots, to wit: Nos: 8. 11. 16. 26. and 29. of every township, of six miles square, are retained by the United States, and out of the whole are retained the three townships of Gnadenhutten, Schoenbrun, and Salem, and certain lands around them, as will be hereafter mentioned.

5.º The purchase of John Cleves Symmes, bounded on the West by the Great Miami; on the South by the Ohio; on the East by a line, which is to begin on the bank of the Ohio, twenty miles from the mouth of the Great Miami, as measured along the several courses of the Ohio, and to run parallel with the general course of the said Great Miami: and on the North27 by an East and West line, so run as to include a million of acres in the whole area, whereof five lots, numbered as beforementioned, are reserved out of every township by the United States.

It is suggested that this purchaser, under colour of a first and larger proposition to the Board of Treasury which was never closed (but pending that proposition) sold sundry parcels of land, between his eastern boundary beforementioned, and the little Miami, and that the purchasers have settled thereon. If these suggestions prove true, the settlers will, perhaps, be thought to merit the favor of the Legislature, as purchasers for valuable consideration, and without notice of the defect of title.28

The contracts for lands, which were at one time under º consideration with Messieurs Flint and Parker, and Morgan. with Colonel Morgan, were never so far prosecuted as to bring either party under any obligation. All proceedings thereon were discontinued at a very early stage, and it is supposed that no further views exist with any party. These, therefore, are not to be enumerated among existing claims.

6. Three townships were reserved by the Ordinance of May 20th. 1785, adjacent to Lake Erie, for refugees from º Canada and Nova Scotia, and for other purposes, according to resolutions of Congress made, or to be made on that subject. These would of course contain 69,120 Acres.

7. The same Ordinance of May. 20th. 1785, appropriated the three towns of Gnadenhutten, Schoenbrun, and Salem on the Muskingum, for the Christian º Indians formerly settled there, or the remains of that society, with the grounds round about them, and the quantity of the said circumjacent grounds, for each of the said towns was determined by the resolution of Congress of September 3d. 1788, to be so much as, with the plat of it’s respective town, should make up 4,000 Acres; so that the three towns and their circumjacent lands were to amount to twelve thousand Acres. This reservation was accordingly made out of the larger purchase of Cutler and Sargent, which comprehended them. The Indians, however, for whom the reservation was made, have chosen to emigrate beyond the limits of the United States, so that the lands reserved for them still remain to the United States.29

on table the whole it appears that the United States may rightfully dispose of all the lands between the Wabash, the Ohio, Pennsylvania,30 the forty first parallel of Latitude,31 and the Indian lines described in the treaties of the great Miami and Fort McIntosh, with exceptions only of the32 rights saved by the deed of cession of Virginia, and of all rights legally derived from the Government of the United States, and supposing the parts south of the Indian lines to contain as before conjectured, about thirty five millions of Acres, and that the claims of citizens, before enumerated, may amount to between thirteen and fourteen millions,33 there remain at the disposal of the United States, upwards of twenty one millions34 of Acres in this Northwestern quarter.

and ‘though the want of actual surveys of some parts, and of a general delineation of the whole on paper, so as to exhibit to the eye the locations, forms, and relative positions of the rights before described, may prevent our forming a well defined idea of them at this distance, yet, on the spot, these difficulties exist but in a small degree; the individuals there employed in the details of buying, selling, and locating, possess local informations of the parts which concern them, so as to be able to keep clear of each others rights: or if, in some instances, a conflict of claims should arise from any Want of certainty in their definition, a local judge will doubtless be provided to decide them without delay, at least provisionally. Time, instead of clearing up these incertainties, will cloud them the more, by the death or removal of Witnesses, the disappearance of lines and marks, change of parties, and other casualties.

Th: Jefferson
Secretary of state Nov. 8. 1791.

MS (DNA: RG 59, MLR); in a clerk’s hand, except signature and date. PrC (DLC); on verso in clerk’s hand: “Recorded and examined,” signed by TJ. Dft (DLC); endorsed on verso: “Western lands.” Tr (DNA: RG 59, SDR).

This report must be viewed within the context of the reconsideration of the land policies of the Confederation Congress that took place at both the executive and the legislative levels of the federal government during Washington’s administrations. Congressman Thomas Scott of Pennsylvania first brought this issue to public attention in a speech delivered to the House of Representatives in 1789. Noting that federal land sales in the public domain had ceased upon the dissolution of the Board of Treasury, the agency in charge of selling public land under the Confederation, Scott pointed out that many of the tracts sold under the Confederation had still not been surveyed because of the recent death of Thomas Hutchins, the geographer of the United States, and warned that western settlers would fall under the influence of Spain unless the federal government took steps to provide them with proper titles to their lands. In order to promote the settlement of the public domain and at the same time raise revenue for the payment of the national debt, Scott recommended the creation of a Land Office in the Northwest Territory, but his proposal failed to win House approval.

The House reconsidered this issue in January of the following year, at which time it requested Alexander Hamilton to prepare a comprehensive report on the disposition of the public domain. Hamilton completed his report in July 1790, and five months later the House turned its attention to his suggestions for encouraging the sale and settlement of western lands. After much debate over such thorny issues as the terms of purchase, the preferred pattern of settlement, the extinction of Indian land titles, and the competing interests of settlers and speculators, the House approved a Land Office Bill in February 1791 that was heavily influenced by Hamilton’s report. But the Senate postponed consideration of the bill until the next session of Congress and instead passed a resolution on 1 Mch. 1791, in which the House subsequently concurred, asking the President to provide Congress with a report on land claims in the Northwest and Southwest Territories—a task Washington promptly assigned to TJ (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials by Joseph Gales, Senior, Washington, Gales & Seaton, 1834–1856, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The edition cited here has this caption on both recto and verso pages: “History of Congress.” Another printing, with the same titlepage, has “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. Those using the latter printing will need to employ the date or, where it is lacking, to add approximately 52 to the page numbers of Annals as cited in this volume. description ends , i, 629–31, 665–6, ii, 1876–84; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , i, 42, 48, 64–5, 69, 142–3, 148, 347–9, 354, 374–5, 377, 379–81, 400, 403; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , i, 270–3, 277, 289, 294–5, 306; Report on Public Lands, 20 July 1790, Syrett, Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and others, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, New York, 1961–1979, 26 vols. description ends , vi, 502–6).

TJ welcomed the opportunity to prepare this report for diplomatic as well as ideological reasons. He was convinced that the westward flow of American settlement would eventually resolve the boundary dispute in the southwest between Spain and the United States in favor of the latter, and he also believed that westward expansion would guarantee the predominance for generations to come of the agrarian social order upon which his hopes for the future of republicanism in the United States so greatly rested (TJ to Washington, 2 Apr. 1791; Drew R. McCoy, The Elusive Republic: Political Economy in Jeffersonian America [Chapel Hill, N.C., 1980], p. 13–6). Inspired by these convictions, TJ prepared this report with his usual care and efficiency. He solicited information about southwestern land claims from William Blount, the governor of the Southwest Territory, and Alexander Martin, the governor of North Carolina, whose state’s land cession of 1790 had brought the territory into being. For information about northwestern claims he turned to Arthur St. Clair, the governor of the Northwest Territory, Tench Coxe, the indefatigable assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and John Harvie, the head of the Virginia Land Office. In addition, he personally examined relevant records in the archives of the Continental Congress and the Department of State.

TJ completed the draft of the report by the early part of October 1791 and then revised it after receiving “a large book” from Secretary of State James Glasgow of North Carolina recording all of that state’s land claims in the Southwest Territory (Tobias Lear to Washington, 14 Oct. 1791, DLC: Washington Papers. Glasgow’s letter of 3 Sep. 1791, recorded in SJL as received 3 Oct. 1791, has not been found). The resultant report, which contained the most comprehensive account to date of the state of the public domain, was submitted to Congress on 10 Nov. 1791. Despite TJ’s labors, however, Congress took no action on his report. The arrival one month later of news of St. Clair’s shattering defeat apparently convinced a majority of that body that subduing the western tribes would have to take precedence over formulating a new policy respecting the sale of public lands. It was not until 1796—after Anthony Wayne’s victory over the western tribes at Fallen Timbers in 1794 and the conclusion of the Treaty of Grenville with them in 1795—that Congress passed a Land Office Act which led to the resumption of the sale of federal land in the public domain. This act reflected TJ’s influence only insofar as it was confined to the Northwest Territory, TJ’s report having made clear that very little unclaimed land remained in the Southwest Territory (Arthur St. Clair’s Report to TJ, 10 Feb. 1791, Carter, Terr. Papers, ii, 323–37; St. Clair to TJ, 19 Mch. 1791; Alexander Martin to TJ, 10 May TJ to Alexander Martin, 2 July 1791; William Blount to TJ, 17, 27 July 1791; Tench Coxe to TJ, 6 Aug. 1791; TJ to John Harvie, 14 Aug. 1791; TJ to William Blount, 17 Aug. 1791; John Harvie to TJ, 20 Sep. 1791; Payson J. Treat, The National Land System 1785–1820 [New York, 1910], p. 66–79; Malcom J. Rohrbaugh, The Land Office Business: The Settlement and Administration of American Public Lands, 1789–1837 [New York, 1968], p. 3–26).

TJ’s report had a more immediate impact on foreign affairs, for it was instrumental in persuading the British government to abandon its efforts to create a neutral Indian barrier state between the United States and Canada. After being instructed to pursue this goal by his superiors in the spring of 1792, George Hammond quickly ascertained that TJ, Hamilton, and Henry Knox were all opposed to the projected barrier state because it would weaken American control over the western Indians, undermine the “right and jurisdiction” the federal government assumed over lands occupied by the Indians, and require the cession of territory claimed by the United States. TJ’s report on public lands forcibly impressed the second and third objections on Hammond—and through him eventually on the British government as well—as he indicated in a report to the British foreign minister: “With respect to the second point—In my last conference with Mr. Jefferson, I took the liberty of adverting to his report, ‘on the quantity and situation of the lands not claimed by the Indians, nor granted to, nor claimed by, any citizens within the territory of the United States’ (a copy of which I had the honor of enclosing in my dispatch No. 5 of last year) and requested him to inform me of the claims, which the United States asserted over the soil and internal regulation of the Indians occupying lands within the American territory. Mr. Jefferson replied that the nature of the sovereignty of the United States was not yet precisely defined, but that in regard to the soil they claimed the right of pre-emption, by which the Indians were understood to be precluded from disposing of any part of their land except with the consent of the United States—that in respect to the internal regulation of the Indians the United States have not hitherto exercised any other jurisdiction over them than that of prohibiting them from allowing any person to inhabit their country, who were not provided with licenses from the government of the United States. On the validity or justice of these arguments it is unnecessary for me to make any comment, but your Lordship will perceive from them that as this government asserts this sort of paramount sovereignty over the soil actually occupied by the Indians, it would naturally regard any grant of that soil in perpetuity not only as a dereliction of right, but also as a sacrifice of a part of its territory” (Hammond to Grenville, 8 June 1792, PRO: FO 4/15, f. 288–92; see also Bemis, Jay’s Treaty description begins Samuel Flagg Bemis, Jay’s Treaty: A Study in Commerce and Diplomacy, rev. edn., New Haven, 1962 description ends , p. 109–33).

1Preceding two words substituted in Dft for “to a point in the mountains dividing the South Western territory from the state of North Carolina,” deleted.

2TJ first wrote in Dft “about 6000,” but altered it to read as above.

3In Dft TJ first wrote: “may be between 40 and 50 miles,” and then altered it to read as above.

4TJ revised these figures and manner of expressing them several times in Dft before settling on the above text.

5At this point in Dft TJ wrote and then deleted: “in lieu of double locations <of> for specie or other certificates.”

6At this point in Dft TJ first wrote and then deleted: “amounted to acres.” Next to this in the margin in Dft TJ first wrote and then deleted: “Govr Martin to send statement.”

7Preceding sentence interlined in Dft. At this point TJ noted in the margin of Dft: “see Glasgow’s return.”

8In the margin at this point TJ first wrote and then deleted: “perhaps Govr. Martin may distinguish them.”

9Next to this paragraph in Dft TJ wrote: “Govr. Martin to furnish statemt.”

10In margin of Dft next to this paragraph TJ first wrote and then deleted: “[see Blount’s Ire.; how to estimate amount, when the military locations shall be known].” At end of paragraph he wrote in margin: “Glasgow’s return.”

11At this point in Dft TJ first wrote and then deleted: “of 500 acres each.”

12At this point TJ first wrote and then deleted in the margin of Dft: “Govr Blount to send statemt.” Below this he then wrote: “Glasgow’s return.”

13At this point in MS and PrC of Tr, the clerk wrote, “and partly in the Counties of Greene and Hawkins,” but it was then deleted. In Dft, TJ first wrote and then deleted at this point: “an authentic list whereof amounting in the whole to 746,362½ acres has been furnished to the Secretary of State,” and noting in margin: “Glasgow’s return. The grants in Washington amount to 214,549¾.”

14In Dft, TJ first wrote “but it is said a considerable proportion of these were without legal right,” but then altered it to read as above, noting in margin: “informn. by Majr. Mountflorence & also Govr. Blount.”

15Remainder of paragraph added in Dft, partly in margin.

16In margin of Dft, TJ wrote “Glasgow’s return. The grants in Sullivan amount to 173,332 acres,” and revised his Dft from “Entries in Sullivan county; an authentic list whereof, amounting in the whole to 240,624 acres, has been also furnished to the Secretary of state” to read as above.

17In Dft TJ first wrote remainder of paragraph as follows: “[supposed to be about 500 rights of 640 acres each, and consequently amounting to about 320,000 acres.]” He noted in margin “Govr. Blount to send list,” but deleted that and substituted “Mr. Hawkins.” He finally noted in margin: “Glasgow’s return.”

18This paragraph reads as follows in Dft: “The claims under the third reservation amount to 1,762,660¼ acres, and have been located in the counties of Greene and Hawkins, and in the country from thence to the Missisipi as divided into an Eastern, Middle and Western district by the laws of the state. Almost the whole of these are within the Indian territory.”

A second variant, which is on a detached sheet in DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10146, reads as follows: “The extent of the iiid reservn in favor of entries made in Armstrong’s office is not yet entirely known. <*373,649.6.5. in certificates @ *10. the hundred acres having been pd. into their treasury before the 20th. day of May 1790>. The best indication of their amount which has been yet obtained is the sum of certificates pd into the treasury of the state for these warrts. which on the 20th day of May 1790 amounted to 373,649–6–5. and at the price £10 the hundred acres establd by law gives 3,736,493 acres for 1,762,660 of this grant have been already issued, which appears to have been located partly in the counties of Greene and Hawkins and partly in the country from thence to the Missisipi as divided into Eastern, middle, and Western districts. Almost the whole are within the Indian territory. Besides the warrts. pd for acres before mentd. it is known that there are others outstanding which have not yet been pd for. But it is also doubted whether these need be taken into the acct. as payment of them has been refused on the ground that the lands being within the Indn. territory cannot now be delivered to the <claimants> holders.”

19This sentence in TJ’s Dft reads as follows to this point: “Upon the whole the reservations probably.” In the second variant (DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10146), TJ wrote: “On a review of all the reservns., making such conjecturable allowance as our information authorizes, it appears probable that they cover all.”

TJ added the following table of figures in the margin of Dft next to these paragraphs:

“214,549 ¾ in Washington
 172,332 in Sullivan
 1,762,660 ½ in Greene, Hawkins and the 3 district
 2,150,542. Glasgow’s returns according to the explanation of Mr Hawkins
Military 2,789,224 
Evans—about 150,000 
Surveyor-Genl 30,203 
Commissioners 65,932 
Washington 746,362 
Sullivan 240,624 
Preemptions 309,760 
Henderson 200,000 
Armstrong 3,736,493
Martin and Wilson 4,000 
Genl Greene 25,000”

The following table appears on the second variant text in DLC: TJ Papers, 59: 10146.

Warrts grants
“Washington   746,362 ½   214,549 ¾
Sullivan   240,624   173,332
Armstrong { Greene }
Eastern 3,736,493 1,762,660

20At this point in Dft TJ noted in the margin: “might it not be well to shew this paragraph to E. R. [Edmund Randolph] who has probably accurate knowledge of the no. and nature of these L[ands] and the several paragraphs relating to Indian boundaries to Genl Knox?”

21At this point in Dft TJ noted in the margin: “to the Secretary of the Treasury who has consulted the Atty Genl. thereon.”

22At this point in Dft TJ noted in the margin: “Is this reservation a claim of Citizens—or only made for the State?

23In Dft, TJ first wrote “legal bounties,” but altered it to read as above.

24At this point in Dft TJ originally wrote: “given to the Virginia troops on Continental establishment. The act of Congress of Aug. 10 1790 for enabling the sd officers and soldiers to obtain titles has directed the mode of ascertaining the quantity and location of these lands. Tho no regular return has been made of the proceedings herein, as directed by that law, yet we are able to say that acres in the Southern allotment having been located in part of their bounties, they will be entitled under this reservation only to acres on the North West side of the Ohio, as the whole amount of that bounty was 181,450 acres.”

25At this point in Dft TJ noted in the margin: “possible that land in the [Southern] allotment not located [was] adjudged good.”

26In Dft, TJ first wrote: “is 1,670,350 acres, deduction made of 184,650 acres the proportion of the Virga line,” and then altered it to read as above.

27In Dft, TJ first wrote and then revised: “Northern boundary.”

28At this point in Dft TJ noted in the margin: “ought not the purchase money to be paid to the U.S. by the Settlers when from them—and by Symms recd by him”

29In Dft, TJ first wrote then marked for deletion the following paragraph at this point: “On the whole the U.S. have a right to dispose of in the Southwestern territory ‘all the lands Southward of the Southern boundary of Virginia, and Northward of the Indian lines described in the treaties concluded with the Cherokees and Chickasaws at Hopewell and Holston, with an exception of all rights saved by the deed of cession of N. Carolina.’ Supposing the part North of the Indian lines to contain about seven and a half millions of acres as before conjectured, and the several claims of citizens before enumeratd. on both sides the Indian lines to amount to acres, yet till it be known what proportion of these lies on each side those lines, it can only be said that the U.S. have more than acres to be disposed of on this quarter at present.”

In the margin of Dft TJ entered the following table of figures next to this deleted paragraph:

“Military bounties 2,789,224 
 Evans’s battalion 150,000 
 Surveyor genl 30,203 
 Shelby and others } 65,932 
 Guards &c
 Washington entries 746,362¼
 Sullivan do 240,624 
 Preemption rights 309,760 
 Henderson 200,000 
 Armstrong’s office 1,163,554 
 Genl. Greene 25,000 
 Martin and Wilson 4,000 

See also note 19 above.

30In Dft, TJ first wrote “the Western boundary of Pennsylva.,” then altered it to read as above.

31In Dft, TJ first wrote this phrase: “the Eastern boundary of the lands mentioned to be ceded in the deed of Connecticut.”

32Preceding three words substituted in Dft for “of all,” deleted.

33In Dft TJ first wrote: “sixteen and seventeen millions of acres,” and then altered it to read as above.

34In Dft, TJ first wrote “about eighteen or nineteen” but altered it to read as above.

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

º South-Western Territory.

º Indian Claims.

º Claims of Citizens.

º Military Bounties.

º Entries and Grants.

º Commissioners.

º Washington County.

º Sullivan County.

º Pre-emptions.

º Henderson.

º Martin & Wilson.

General Greene. General Greene.

º  Armstrong’s office.

º  North Western territory.

º Claims of Indians.

º Antient Companies.

º Claims of Citizens.

º Connecticut.

º French at Kaskaskias &c.

º Clarke’s Regiment.

º Virginia Line.

º Continental Army.

º Purchasers at New-York.

º Ohio Company.

º Scioto Company.

º Symmes.

º Flint & Parker.

Morgan. Morgan.

º Canadian Refugees.

º Christian Indians.


Connecticut about 2,500,000
Kaskaskians &c. abt. 100,000
Clarke’s Regiment 150,000
Virginia Line 2,045,034
Continental Army 1,851,300
Purchasers at N. York 150,896
Ohio Company 1,500,000
Scioto Coy.31/36 of
4,901,480 …12,000
} 4,208,720
Symmes 1,000,000

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