Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 5 March 1802

From Henry Dearborn

War Department
5h March 1802.


Governor Clinton by his letter of the 20th. ultimo, requests that a Commissioner on the part of the United States might be appointed to attend a Treaty with the Oneida Indians for the purchase of about ten thousand acres of land, which that Nation is desireous of selling, and which has heretofore been leased out to white people.

The six Nations have also expressed a wish to dispose of a narrow strip of land, which they consider as useless to them, bordering on Niagara river, and a small tract near the former Cayuga settlement.

Accept, Sir, the assurances of my high respect and consideration.

H. Dearborn

RC (DNA: RG 46, EPEN, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Dearborn; addressed to “The President of the United States” from the War Department; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Mch.; endorsed by a Senate clerk as received 10 Mch. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSP). Enclosed in TJ to the Senate, 9 Mch. (see 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, 1:663).

According to the War Department’s register of correspondence, the LETTER that George Clinton wrote at Albany on 20 Feb. pertained “to the appointment of Commissioners to treat with the Oneida & St. Regis Indians” (DNA: RG 107, RLRMS).

The New York legislature passed resolutions in February to advance the transaction with the ONEIDA INDIANS, and in March the state and the tribe made a “provisional agreement” sealed by a payment of $300 from the state to the Oneidas. On 4 June 1802, John Tayler represented the United States when agents for New York State confirmed the sale with a treaty whereby the Oneidas ceded title to four pieces of land. The state agreed to give the tribe, in addition to the payment made in March, $600 plus a $300 annuity. This was one of a long series of treaties, beginning in the 1780s, by which New York acquired land from the Oneidas, much of it from a tract of 300,000 acres adjacent to Oneida Lake that had been reserved to the tribe in 1788 (Treaty Made with the Oneida Nation, At their Village, on the 4th of June, 1802, by the Commissioners of the State of New-York, Under the Authority of the United States [Washington, D.C., 1802], Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 3448; Sturtevant, Handbook description begins William C. Sturtevant, gen. ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Washington, D.C., 1978–, 14 vols. description ends , 15:450, 483–4).

For the NARROW STRIP OF LAND on the NIAGARA RIVER, see Vol. 36:633, 634n.

FORMER CAYUGA SETTLEMENT: after the American Revolution, many members of the Cayuga tribe moved to Canada. Some of those who remained in New York lived with other tribes. By a treaty of 1789, the Cayugas retained a 100-square-mile tract at Cayuga Lake, but in 1795 the state of New York purchased all but three square miles of that reservation. The Oneida and Cayuga tribes were members of the Six Nations confederacy (Sturtevant, Handbook description begins William C. Sturtevant, gen. ed., Handbook of North American Indians, Washington, D.C., 1978–, 14 vols. description ends , 15:435, 444, 450, 502).

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