Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Wood, 28 November 1799

To James Wood

Monticello Nov. 28. 99.


Three Chickasaw Indians have called on me, without any guide with them, any interpreter, or any document authorising their entrance or passage through the state except a pass from an officer at Staunton. had the County Lieutenant or any other field officer of militia been within reach I should have applied to them to take charge of them & have them conducted to Richmond, from whence I understand they mean to proceed to Philadelphia. but no such officer happens to be in this part of the county. in this situation I am obliged to take on myself to engage a careful person the bearer John Haden1 to go with them to Richmond, to take care of them, & procure subsistence for them on the road, and have ventured to give it to him as my opinion that your Excellency will have him paid for his trouble & repay the necessary expences of their journey2 while under his care, which commences here. the irregularity of their entrance being already committed, and they being actually here, I know no other way of disposing of them for their own safety & the public peace, but that which I adopt, & I hope these circumstances will plead my excuse for intermedling in a case totally foreign to me, of which however it would not be easy to make them sensible. I furnish him sixteen dollars towards necessaries for them on the road. I have the honour to be with due respect Your Excellency’s most obedt. & most humble servt

Th: Jefferson

RC (PHi); addressed: “His Excellency The Governor of Virginia. by mr Haden with 3. Chickasaw Indians”; endorsed: “Mr Jefferson relative to Indians,” with added note, “Dead.”

The officer at staunton seems likely to have been Alexander Gibson, to whom John Pendleton addressed a communication about the Chickasaws and who replied to the acting governor from “Camp near Staunton” when two of the travelers arrived there on their return journey (see note to preceding document). A Virginian named Alexander Gibson was a captain in the U.S. Army, 1792–1800 (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer and others, eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers …Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond, Richmond, 1875–93, 11 vols. description ends , 9:63; Heitman, Dictionary description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army …, Washington, D.C., 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 1:453).

Sixteen dollars: according to his financial memoranda TJ gave Haden $15.75. On 21 Dec. he recorded the receipt of $16.00 “from the Governor,” who by that time was James Monroe. Wilson Cary Nicholas brought the money from Richmond (MB, description begins James A. Bear, Jr., and Lucia C. Stanton, eds., Jefferson’s Memorandum Books: Accounts, with Legal Records and Miscellany, 1767–1826, Princeton, 1997, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series description ends 2:1009, 1011). A letter from Wood to TJ, dated 4 Dec. and received on the 7th, is recorded in SJL but has not been found.

1Preceding four words interlined.

2Remainder of sentence interlined.

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