Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Daniel Clark, 18 August 1803

From Daniel Clark

New Orleans 18 August 1803


I had the Honor of receiving this day your Letter of the 17th. July, to which I shall pay the strictest attention, and without waiting till the whole List of Queries proposed can be answered, shall by each successive Post forward such information as it is possible to procure, in obtaining which I rely greatly on the friendly dispositions of the Officers of the Spanish Government. I have by this Post forwarded to the Secretary of State as exact a Manuscript map as could be procured of this Country, on which the different Posts or Settlements are delineated and numbered, and hope to have a more perfect one compleated in time to be of Service. I have joined to it some Memorandums respecting the Country hastily put together long before the news of the Cession reached us, and am happy to have so far anticipated your Wishes in this particular. As I feel myself honored by your application to me I request you will be pleased to accept the assurance that I shall make every possible endeavor to shew myself worthy of your Confidence, and that if I do not succeed in acquitting myself to your Satisfaction it will not proceed from a want of inclination or exertion. Permit me to offer my sincere congratulations on an Event which must forever insure the safety & prosperity of America.

I have the Honor to remain with Sentiments of the greatest Respect Sir Your most obedient & most humble Servt.

Daniel Clark

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received 26 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

In September, Clark sent his answers to most of TJ’s queries about Louisiana to the secretary of state (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934-75, 28 vols. description ends , 9:28-47; Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:389-90).

The manuscript map that Clark sent to Madison has not been found. It was by Barthélemy Lafon, a French-born surveyor and architect in New Orleans. Clark characterized the map as “the most exact ever made of the Western part of this Country.” The memorandums included figures from a 1785 census of Louisiana, a census “of the districts or Posts of Louisiana & West Florida,” an 1803 census of New Orleans, and demographic data and other information from 1799 for Upper Louisiana. Clark also sent a statement of amounts of customs duties received at New Orleans in 1802. In a letter to Madison, Clark observed that the figures indicated a decline in the number of slaves in Louisiana since 1785, despite importations of slaves through 1792. The decrease, Clark noted, “must be principally attributed to the ravages of the small Pox and a want of a proportionate number of females to keep up the Stock” (same, 317-18). On this or another occasion, TJ acquired an undated set of notes by Clark on what the Spanish called the interior provinces of New Spain. Clark listed the provinces and the population of each as: New Leon (Nuevo León), 26,000; New Santander (Nuevo Santander), 38,000; New Biscay (Nueva Viscaya), 157,970; Sonora, 120,080; Coahuila, 40,000; Texas, 21,000, with Clark’s notation “(doubtful)”; and New Mexico, 39,797. The first two provinces in the list were “under the immediate orders of the ViceRoy of Mexico,” and the other provinces were part of a captaincy general of the interior provinces administered from Chihuahua, which according to Clark’s information was located 260 leagues north-northwest of Mexico City. Clark noted the location, extent, and capital of each of the provinces (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 236:42268; entirely in Clark’s hand; endorsed by TJ: “Mexico. Interior provinces. population by D. Clark”).

shew myself worthy of your confidence: although he was responding to a letter from TJ, Clark was unsure “whether there is or not any impropriety in replying directly to our first Magistrate.” He sent the letter printed above unsealed to the secretary of state and asked Madison to pass it along to TJ if appropriate (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 5:322-3).

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