Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Elias Earle, 16 February 1814

To Elias Earle

Monticello Feb. 16. 14.


I have read and considered mr Holland’s letter of Mar. 28. 1812. and Genl Dearborn’s statement of Mar. 29. 12. and find them in a general correspondence with my recollection of the transactions respecting the establishment of iron works proposed to have been made by yourself on the lands of the Cherokees. I must add a qualification however as to a single fact. I retain a strong impression that this proposition was on your own motion altogether, and not on the request or account of the government: that the exploring [of]1 the country, looking out for a site for your works, and bargaining with the Indians were your own undertakings, for your own interest merely, & at your own expence; that the government thinking that, by such an establishment, the Indians would be more certainly and conveniently supplied with the utensils of iron necessary for them, willingly lent it’s aid and agency with the Indians in the bargain you were to make with them, acting herein as a mutual friend between them and you, but especially as the patron and guardian of the Indian interests: and that in all this they took no part nor interest which could make them liable as parties for the expences of exploring the country or selecting the ground: that we learned (while the treaty I think was depending before the Senate) that a strong opposition to it had arisen among the Indians, and that a desire to understand the grounds of that opposition was one of the causes of suspension before the Senate. on this subject I am persuaded there are letters and documents in the War office. I should be glad that Gl Dearborne’s recollection could be drawn particularly to this point. he had the most to do in the communications with you on the subject, remembers better, I am sure, what part the government took in it, and if on reconsideration he recollects that we did any thing which made the government liable to the expences I shall acquiesce in the fact, in confidence that he is right, & that it is my own memory which is in default. with this imperfect information be pleased to accept the assurance of my esteem and respect

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Colo Elias Earle”; endorsed by TJ. Tr (DLC: Madison Papers); entirely in TJ’s hand; at head of text: “Copy.” Enclosed in TJ to James Madison, 16 Feb. 1814.

James holland’s letter and Henry dearborn’s statement were enclosed in Earle to TJ, 28 Jan. 1814. TJ submitted Earle’s treaty to the United States senate on 10 Mar. 1808. Although a majority of the Senate initially favored ratification, further consideration of the treaty was postponed to December 1808 and never resumed (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 2:72, 78 [10, 14, 15 Mar. 1808]; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Indian Affairs, 4:752–3; William G. McLoughlin, Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic [1986], 123–6, 133–4). Secretary of War John Armstrong awarded Earle $985 later in 1814 for “damage sustained by having his waggons stopped & detained on the road in the Cherokee nation by Cherokees in 1808.” The following year the War Department renewed Earle’s authorization to negotiate with the Cherokee or Chickasaw in order to obtain land for an ironworks. The new grant stipulated, however, that “after your having obtained their consent to erect the works no claim for losses or indemnity of any sort will be allowed you by this Government” (Return J. Meigs to Armstrong, 15 Apr. 1814 [DNA: RG 75, RCIAT]; James Monroe to Earle, 3 Feb. 1815, Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 6:498–9).

1Omitted word supplied from Tr.

Index Entries

  • Armstrong, John; and E. Earle search
  • Cherokee Indians; ironworks for search
  • Chickasaw Indians; and ironworks search
  • Dearborn, Henry; Statement Regarding Elias Earle’s Ironworks search
  • Earle, Elias; and Cherokee Indians search
  • Earle, Elias; ironworks of search
  • Earle, Elias; letters to search
  • Holland, James; and E. Earle’s ironworks search
  • Indians; Cherokee search
  • Indians; Chickasaw search
  • iron; manufacture of search
  • manufacturing, household; ironworks search
  • Senate, U.S.; and Cherokee Indians search
  • War Department, U.S.; and E. Earle’s negotiations with Cherokees search