Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Campbell, 25 February 1792

From David Campbell

Territory of the United States
South of the River Ohio Feby. 25th. 1792.


A question has arose, where the Ordinance for the Government of this Territory and the Laws of North Carolina, which by the Cession Act, are in force here, are contradictory, which is to take place.

I have sent you inclosed my observations on that matter. You will greatly oblige me, if you will let me know by the Bearer whether you consider my opinion well founded. If not state to me your own, which will lay me under obligations.

You will not consider this application as an intrusion, as the object of it is public utility. I have the honor to be with the purest Sentiments of Esteem & Regard your obt. Servt.,

David Campbell

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 25 Mch. 1792 and so recorded in SJL; enclosure: Campbell’s charge to the grand jury; in a different hand; undated.

Under the terms of North Carolina’s Act of Cession of 22 Dec. 1789, the laws of that state were to remain in force in the ceded territory “until the same shall be repealed, or otherwise altered” by the legislative authority of the territory (Carter, Terr. Papers description begins The Territorial Papers of the United States, ed. Clarence E. Carter, Washington, 1934-62, 26 vols. description ends , iv, 7). The question concerned the power of the territorial governor to make subordinate civil appointments, an issue Judge Campbell addressed in his enclosed charge to the territorial grand jury. Campbell argued that the congressional ordinance creating the Southwest Territory substantially abrogated those provisions of the North Carolina Constitution of 1776 that vested all subordinate appointment power with the state general assembly (same, p. 122–8).

The bearer: David Allison, holder of numerous minor posts in Washington County, North Carolina, removed to Nashville in 1790 and two years later became Governor William Blount’s personal agent in Philadelphia (same, p. 110n). See TJ to Campbell, 27 Mch. 1792.

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