Morganza: near Canonsburgh Post Office, Wm County Pennsa. January 20th 1806
If I recollect aright it was in the Year 1770, or 71, that War was threatened between England & Spain on the Subject of Falklands Islands; then, & I believe to this Day inhabited by Wild-Fowl & Seals only. You will recollect how the Farce terminated.
On this Occasion the British Government turned their Eyes again on Cuba & on the Riches of Mexico: for the more easy Conquest whereof, they determined to seize on New Orleans, from whence to water & provision their Fleets & Armies with Ease & Certainty: To this End Lt. Genl. Gage, then Commander in Chief in british America, was directed to employ an able Enginier to reconnoitre & ascertain the then Position of the Island & its Fortifications: In Consequence thereof he appointed Lieut Thos. Hutchins an Enginier, then at Fort Chartres, on the Missisippi: & gave him certain Instructions, of which the inclosed is not a Copy but the Original in General Gages own Hand Writing & Signature. This Original Paper it has been long my Intention to transmit to you, as a public Document. Be pleased therefore to accept it as such, with Assurance of my perfect Respect.
You may recollect putting into my Hands, some 12 or 15 Years ago a very accurate Draft or Map of the Mouths of the Missippi, & of the Coasts Islands & Soundings from thence to the River Apalachicola; which Mr. Hutchins had solicited your Aid in publishing; but which the approaching revolutionary Politics in Europe deterred you from involving him in the Expence. I still have that Work by me, & consider as a Duty incumbent on me to transmit it to you, to be deposited in such of the public Offices as you shall think most proper, from whence it, or a Copy of it may issue for Publication if expedient. I am possessed of other Maps & Draughts from Actual Surveys of the Rivers emptying into the Lakes Maurepas, Pontchartrain & the Bay of Mexico, from actual Surveys, & Measurements, made, & caused to be made by Mr Hutchins, at much Expence of Time & Labour, which I think it my Duty also to transmit to you, by some future Conveyance, that they may not perish in the Hands of an Individual—These Maps Sir, are not my Property; though left by Mr Hutchins at my absolute Disposal—but they are the Property of three Natural Children, also three different Women: these Children are all married & settled more than a thousand Miles, each from the other—they never have met nor are likely to do so: Nor will One trust either of the others the Value of a six pence. But should these Maps be supposed of Value, that Value I could easily transmit to them according to the Apportionments of their Fathers Will.
It may be satisfactory to you, Sir, to be informed that I think I have among Mr Hutchins Papers, his written Report to Genl Gage on the Subject of his Mission down the Missisippi accompanied with Drafts of all the Situations necessary for an Enemy to be informed of, meditating an Attack on New Orleans, together with the best Means of Defence; but I cannot now lay my Hands on them—When I do, it will be my Duty, & give me Pleasure, to transmit them to you.
I am in Possession of an Astronomical & very Valuable Instrument, which I have lately recovered as the Property of Mr Hutchins; but I recollect that shortly before his Death he had charged me with it, as the Property of the US; received by him from the Reverend Doctor Ewing, One of his Colleagues in running the Partition Line between Pennsylvania & Maryland: This Instrument he said had been delivered by Order of Congress or perhaps of Pennsa. at their Expence, to Dr Ewing, as a necessary one for the Observations on that Occasion: Mr. Hutchins had provided himself with One at his own Expence; which Dr Ewing preferring, to the One he had, proposed a temporary Exchange—Thus am I possessed of a very valuable Instrument which does not belong to me nor do I know to whom it properly belongs.
Wishing you, Sir, every Happiness in your public & private Life I remain with every Consideration of Respect,
Your Obedient humble Servant
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.