James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Samuel W. Dana, 19 January 1805

To Samuel W. Dana

Department of State, January 19, 1805.


I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 15th. instant, with the petition of Ann B. West.1 By the act of Congress of the 13th. of May 1800,2 provision was made for paten[t]ing lands upon warrants issued to the Virginia line on continental establishment, in virtue of resolutions of the Legislature of that state, provided that the whole quantity of land for which patents should issue, should not exceed Sixty thousand acres, and that the surveys for the same should be completed, and deposited in the office of the Secretary of War on or before the first day of Decr. 1803. It is however stated at that office that the quantity of 60,000 acres, limited as above, was absorbed by survey’s deposited therein several months before the other limitation was expired. As therefore the two surveys which accompany the petition appear to have been completed within a reasonable time after the passing of the act of limitation; as it is moreover stated by the petition that application was made at the War Office to deposit the surveys some months before the expiration of the limitation as to time (tho’ this was after the limitation as to quantity excluded them) and especially as it is suggested on the part of the claimant that he was a minor whilst the act of limitation was operating upon the claim, the Committee may perhaps view this case as a peculiar one entitled to special relief. The general considerations above contained, and the additional fact that many surveys are stated by the War office to be excluded, which were exhibited there before the first of Decr. 1803, may in like manner assist them in judging how far the provision to be made, ought to reach any other cases. I am &c.

James Madison.

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14).

1In his 15 Jan. 1805 letter to JM, Dana wrote: “By desire of the Committee of Claims, I now lay before you the petition of Ann B. West; with a request to be favored with such information respecting this particular case as you can conveniently communicate, and any observations which you may think proper in relation to a provision for cases of this nature” (1 p.; DNA: RG 59, ML). West, the “legal representative of Charles West, deceased,” requested a patent for lands due Charles West for services as a major during the American Revolution. The petition was denied (Journal of the U.S. House of Representatives, 8th Cong., 2d sess., 207; ibid., 9th Cong., 2d sess., 646).

2For the 13 May 1800 “Act to authorize the issuing certain Patents,” which dealt with the Virginia military district lands in Ohio, see U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:80.

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