Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 8 January 1802

From Henry Dearborn

January 8th. 1802


The concurrence of the Senate appears necessary in the appointment of John Taylor Esqr. as Commissioner in the Treaty with the St. Regis Indians.

with respectfull concideration I am Sir Your Hume Sert.

H. Dearborn

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 8 Jan. and “John Taylor of N.Y. Commr. to hold treaty between N.Y. & the St. Regis Indians” and so recorded in SJL.

See TJ’s message to the Senate of 1 Feb. for his transmittal of the appointment. John Tayler was an Albany merchant and politician (Kline, Burr description begins Mary-Jo Kline, ed., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, Princeton, 1983, 2 vols. description ends , 1:82n).

The reservation at St. Regis (Akwesasne) was on the St. Lawrence River, on the far northern edge of New York. Most of the residents of the settlement, which dated from the mid-eighteenth century, were Mohawks. On 26 Nov. 1801, Governor George Clinton of New York wrote Dearborn that the people at St. Regis were ready to cede a tract of land one mile square. The transaction prepared the way for the establishment of a ferry, the income from which was to support a school. Clinton asked that the United States appoint a commissioner to attend the negotiation at Albany (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:655; Albany Centinel, 26 Mch., 6 Apr. 1802; Bruce Elliott Johansen and Barbara Alice Mann, eds., Encyclopedia of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) [Wesport, Conn., 2000], 12–13; Sturtevant, Handbook description begins William C. Sturtevant, gen. ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Washington, 1978–, 14 vols. description ends , 15:471, 473).

At the same time TJ named Tayler as commissioner for the St. Regis meeting, he also nominated him to be the U.S. commissioner for talks between the Seneca Indians and representatives of the Holland Land Company. Those negotiations were to resolve the boundaries of reservations retained by the Senecas through the 1797 treaty of Big Tree. Paul Busti, the company’s agent, had written to Madison on this subject from Philadelphia on 27 Dec. 1801. The Senate received TJ’s message with the nominations on 2 Feb. On the 4th, Tayler’s nomination was referred to a committee consisting of Uriah Tracy, Gouverneur Morris, and Abraham Baldwin. In response to queries from that committee, Dearborn wrote Tracy on 9 Feb. to state that “the Treaties alluded to are to be holden at the expense of the parties applying for them,” and that he had “no other information respecting the wishes of the Indians” than what had already been conveyed to the Senate. On 15 Feb., after hearing a report from Tracy’s committee, the Senate confirmed Tayler’s appointment. On that day TJ signed the two commissions. The St. Regis transaction was completed by mid-March. When Dearborn sent Tayler the commission for the Seneca negotiation, he noted that “you will act in some measure in the character of an umpire between the State and the said Indians in any bargains which may be made between the parties, and you will of course pay due attention to the interest of the Indians, and see that all transactions relative to our bargains are explicit and fair.” Tayler was to be compensated for his services by the state and the Holland Land Company (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:406–7; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:655–6; Dearborn to Tracy, 9 Feb. 1802, in DNA: RG 46, EPIR; Dearborn to Tayler, 17 Mch. 1802, Lb in DNA: RG 75, LSIA; commissions, 15 Feb. 1802, in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC; Tracy to [Madison], 8 Feb. 1802, recorded in DNA: RG 107, RLRMS; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 2:343; Albany Centinel, 26 Mch. 1802; Vol. 35:695–6).

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