20 March 1806
The only questions in the S. Louis petition which may require consideration are 1st. whether we shall admit concessions subsequent to the treaty of San Idelphonso & prior to our own with France—2dly. whether, in cases of incipient titles on imperfect concessions (granted by local commandants but not confirmed by the Intendant) to which no condition of settlement was attached, we will refuse a grant of confirmation. But before we venture on new principles, will it not be better to wait till, by the Commissrs. report we know the quantity of land claimed under each species of incomplete titles? The names of most of the signers are suspicious as they belong to the class of large grantees or claimants under the Spanish Government.
Enclosed you will also find a letter from the Commissioners & a long French memoir from New Madrid which I have not yet read; but the Commissrs. state the principal grievance to be the distance of that post from St. Louis. The question recurs as at Opelousas. Is it best to ask Congress for new districts, or for a law which will make the Commissrs. go from settlemt. to settlt.?
I feel anxious for a determination in the case of that board of Commissrs.; the letter from Carr, & the Atty. General’s opinion which were transmitted to you have not yet been returned, nor any opinion communicated.
I also enclose a private letter from Lucas.
With respectful attachment Your obedt. Sert.
I forgot to say that the petition from S. Louis should be handed to Congress; but is it very proper that the President should be made the medium of such applications, and ought they not be presented by a member?
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.