James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 12 December 1805 (Abstract)

From Albert Gallatin, 12 December 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Albert Gallatin. 12 December 1805, treasury Department. “I have the honor to enclose an extract of a letter from James Brown Esqr. the Agent of the United States at New Orleans in relation to Land Claims.1 As the Intendant and other Spanish Officers may, in consequence of the late orders, be expected to leave the Territory in a very short time, permit me to suggest the propriety of giving to Govr. Claiborne positive instructions, at all events, to obtain possession of the title papers and other documents which of right pertain to Louisiana.”2

RC and enclosure (DLC: Gallatin Papers). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Gallatin; docketed by Wagner, with his note: “Land titles in the possession of the Spanish Surveyor General.” For enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosure (2 pp.) is an extract from James Brown to Gallatin, 30 Oct. 1805 (printed in Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:517–18), stating that he and land register John W. Gurley had hired Ferdinand Ibañez to make abstracts of the grants for land in the districts of Louisiana and western Orleans at a price of a third of a dollar each up to a total of one thousand dollars. When Ibañez applied to Spanish surveyor general Charles Laveau Trudeau for the papers, Trudeau told him that intendant Juan Ventura Morales had ordered Trudeau to be ready “to depart for Pensacola, and to carry with him all the Surveys, Grants, Concessions and other papers which were in his possession relative to lands in the ceded Country.” Trudeau added that many title papers were still held by the marqués de Casa Calvo’s secretary, Andrés López Armesto, who was on a hunting trip with Casa Calvo. Brown said he had immediately passed this information to Claiborne.

2On 14 Dec. 1805 JM wrote Claiborne: “You will have been apprized of the intention of the Spanish Officers to withdraw from New Orleans the Land Archives of the late Province of Louisiana, and in particular the surveys, grants, concessions and other papers in the possession of the late Surveyor General. Many of the title pape⟨rs⟩; of the people of that Country are stated to remain [in] the hands of Don André, the late Secy. of the Govt. and are probably intended to be disposed of in like manner. The President therefore directs in order that the 2d. Art: of the Treaty of cession may not longer remain unfulfilled, that you take all legal & proper measures for gaining possession of these ‘archives, papers & documents, relative to the domain & Sovereignty of Louisiana’—but he expects from you, that they will in no event be permitted to be carried out of the Territory” (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 15; 1 p.). For more details on the history of Spanish land grant records in Louisiana, see Edward F. Hass, “Odyssey of a Manuscript Collection: records of the Surveyor General of Antebellum Louisiana,” Louisiana History 27 [1986]: 5–26.

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