Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 5 December 1801

From Henry Dearborn

War Department 5th. December, 1801.


I take the liberty of suggesting, for your consideration, the propriety of proposing to Congress that provision be made for designating the boundary line between the United States, and the adjacent British possessions, in such manner as may prevent any disputes in future, from the out-let of Lake Ontario to Lake Superior, if not further. There are many valuable islands in the lakes and rivers, some of which are already inhabited, which are claimed on each side: it is to be presumed that the sooner the line is ascertained, the more easily all disputes will be settled.

From Mr. Tracy’s report, and from information obtained from other sources, it appears that many disputes now exist, respecting titles to lands, at and about Detroit; as well between the United States and individuals, as between many of the Citizens, and also, between Citizens of the United States and subjects of Great Britain. Will it not be necessary for Congress to authorise the appointment of some board or tribunal for hearing and deciding these disputes?

May it not also be proper to remind Congress of the necessity of taking some measures for enabling this department to complete the issues of Land-warrants to the Officers and Soldiers of the late Army, or their Representatives, which has been prevented by the loss of papers, by fire, in autumn last?

All which is respectfully submitted.

H. Dearborn

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Dearborn; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 7 Dec. and so recorded in SJL with notation “British boundary. Military lands”; also endorsed by TJ: “line with British possessions. lands for souldiers.” FC (Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSP); in a clerk’s hand. Tr (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in Meriwether Lewis’s hand, one word interlined by TJ to correct a copying error by Lewis; omits third and fourth paragraphs; endorsed by a clerk. Tr (DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in Lewis’s hand; omits third and fourth paragraphs; endorsed by a clerk. Trs enclosed in TJ to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 2 Feb. 1802.

Mr. Tracy’s Report: in 1800, Uriah Tracy received an appointment to examine army posts and the government’s Indian trading stores in the Northwest Territory, on the Mississippi River, and on the frontiers of Tennessee and Georgia. Tracy fulfilled part of the mandate, inspecting the posts at Pittsburgh, Presque Isle, Niagara, Detroit, and Michilimackinac from June to November 1800 (Alexandria Times; and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, 6 May 1802).

For the fire in the War Department offices in November 1800, see Vol. 32:435–6n.

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