James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Andrew Ellicott, [4 February] 1790

From Andrew Ellicott

[4 February 1790]

Latitude *Longitude, from the
Meridian of Philadelphia
°  ′  ″  °  ′  ″ 
Fort Erie 48.. 53.. 17 N 3.. 39.. 40 W
Fort Niagara 43.. 15 N 3.. 47 W
Falls of Niagara 43..  4.. 25 N 3.. 49.. 30 W
West end of Lake Ontario 43.. 18.. 52 N 4.. 31 W1

RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers); Tr (DLC [in Series 6, Notes on Exports and Navigation]). JM copied the RC and passed it along to Jefferson, who docketed it “Latitudes.” At the head of the Tr, JM wrote: “Copy of a paper communicated by Andrew Ellicot, New York, Feby. 4. 1790.”

1Ellicott made these measurements while carrying out a commission from the U.S. government to survey the western boundary of New York. On 15 Jan. 1790 he reported to President Washington that “the Geography of the Country about the Lakes [is] very erroneous.… A corrected Chart of the west end of Lake Ontario, The Strait of Niagara, and part of Lake Erie comprehending the whole British settlement of Nassau shall be handed to your Excellency as soon as I come to New York” (Mathews, Andrew Ellicott, pp. 70–72).

2JM added the following note to the RC, which he also incorporated in the Tr: “—The magnetic variation was 1°.5′ W. at W. end of Lake Ontario in Novr. 1789 and 34 Miles & 94 perches East, and 11 miles & 140 perches S. of W end of Lake Ontario it was 0°.36′ W. and at Fort Erie it was 0°.0′.0″.” At the foot of the RC, JM wrote: “N. York—Recd. from Mr. Ellicot Feby. 4. 1790. / J. M. Jr.”

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* Note These Longitudes though sufficiently correct for common Geographical purposes, will nevertheless be rendered more accurate, when the Meridional Tangent to the west end of Lake Ontario, is carried on to the north boundary of Pennsylvania.2

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