James Madison Papers

To James Madison from the Ohio Delegation in Congress, 25 June 1809

From the Ohio Delegation in Congress

Washington June 25 1809


Various Considerations have induced the Legislature of the State of Ohio, at its last session to pass a Resolution,1 of which the enclosed is a Copy, which we have recently received, and now transmit for your Consideration.

The necessity of established & known boundary Lines existing between independent-territorial Jurisdictions, and the Consequences resulting from the want of such establish’d and known Lines, are obvious, and the Difficulties incident to such Want, will continue to increase, as the Territories of Indiana-Michigan, and the State of Ohio shall increase in an approximating Population.

We are aware Sir that before these boundary Lines can be run, provision must be made by Law for that purpose, but judging that it would be necessary to obtain the Assent of those Indian Tribes over whose Lands the Lines must pass, we take the Liberty of suggesting whether it would not be expedient, to cause arrangements to be made with those Tribes, for their Assent, previous to the next meeting of Congress.2

If it should be deemed expedient to extinguish the indian Title to all the Lands lying within the boundaries of the State of Ohio, a variety of Objects might be embraced in a Treaty, agreeable to that State, & beneficial to the United States.

We respectfully submit the above Observations—and are with high Consideration your Obt. Servts.

R J Meigs Jr.3

Stanley Griswold

Jeremiah Morrow

RC (DNA: RG 107, Letters Received, Unregistered Series). Docketed by a clerk, with a précis of the contents. Enclosure not found, but see n. 1.

1On 17 Feb. the Ohio General Assembly passed a joint resolution instructing the senators and requesting the representative from that state in Congress “to use their best endeavors to have a commissioner appointed on the part of the United States, to act jointly with such commissioner as may be appointed on the part of this state, to ascertain, run and mark the western and northern boundaries thereof” (Acts Passed at the First Session of the Seventh General Assembly of the State of Ohio [Chillicothe, 1809], p. 225).

2Secretary Eustis instructed William Henry Harrison on 15 July to negotiate the necessary treaties at “the most favorable moment” with the Indian tribes to clear the way for further surveys and settlement of lands in western Ohio. Treaties were signed in the fall and sent to the Senate on 22 Dec. (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Indian Affairs, 1:760–62). The problem outlived JM’s administration, however, for the final extinguishment of Indian claims in Ohio was delayed until 1818 (Kappler, Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties, 2:162–63; The American Heritage Pictorial Atlas of United States History [New York, 1966], p. 148).

3Meigs, son of Indian commissioner Return J. Meigs, Sr., was a senator from Ohio. He later became governor of Ohio and served as JM’s postmaster general, 1814–17.

Index Entries