Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 18 January 1803

To the Senate and the House of Representatives

Gentlemen of the Senate and
of the House of Representatives

I inclose a report of the Secretary at War, stating the Trading-houses established in the Indian territories, the progress which has been made in the course of the last year, in settling and marking boundaries with the different tribes, the purchases of lands recently made from them, and the prospect of further progress in marking boundaries, and in new extinguishments of title in the year to come; for which some appropriations of money will be wanting.

To this I have to add that when the Indians ceded to us the salt-springs on the Wabash, they expressed a hope that we would so employ them as to enable them to procure there the necessary supplies of salt. indeed it would be the most proper and acceptable form in which the annuity could be paid which we propose to give them for the cession. these springs might at the same time be rendered eminently serviceable to our Western inhabitants, by using them as the means of counteracting the monopolies of the supplies of salt, and of reducing the price in that country to a just level. for these purposes a small appropriation would be necessary to meet the first expences, after which they should support themselves & repay those advances. these springs are said to possess the advantage of being accompanied with a bed of coal.

Th: Jefferson
Jan. 18. 1803.

RC (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 2d sess.); endorsed by a clerk. PrC (DLC). RC (DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 2d sess.); endorsed by a clerk. Recorded in SJL with notation “Indian affairs. public.”

Following an assertion by Black Hoof, in February 1802, that the Shawnees had rights to the salt springs near the mouth of the Wabash River, Dearborn had asked William Henry Harrison to lease the springs for the Indians’ benefit. Harrison, however, dismissed the Shawnees’ claim to the spot and obtained title to the springs for the United States (Vol. 36:517, 524, 525n; Vol. 38:140, 250–2, 572–3).

to meet the first expences: an act of Congress of 3 Mch. appropriated $3,000 for the establishment of a salt works at the springs. The law authorized the president to have the works operated at the expense of the United States or to lease out the facility for up to three years “on such conditions as will insure the working the same most extensively, and to the most advantage to the United States” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:235).

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