James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Taylor, 5 December 1810

From James Taylor

Chillicothe Ohio Decr. 5th. 1810


I think it my duty to inform you that a man by the name of Benja. W. Lad1 from Virginia and Genl. Duncan McArthur2 of this state has lately made a number of entrys & surveys on lands that have been sold out by the U:States West of the line run by Ludlow from what he supposed the head branch of the Little Miami to the head of the Sciota.3 It is beleived and I have no doubt but that Ludlow struck the Sciota some distance below the head of that river. This Mr Lad has set out from this place a few days ago for Washington in order to Obtain patents for his surveys and then it is said intends Ejecting some of the people in possession under the purchases from the UStates. It is thought that there is a variation of five degrees against the Va. Military claim, that is that the line is run that much too far to the right or East. I had a conversation with Mr. Galletine when I was last in the City, on this subject and stated to him my impression, and that I had no doubt but the Goverment would suffer the Officers & Soldiers of the Va. Cont line to locate the lands above the Indian boundary line & which might be found to lay between a true line to be run from the Source of one river to the other, and the line run by Ludlow when it was extended to the Sciota. I had under taken to locate Warrants for a number of Officers & indeed had a good many of my own, and I was much pressed by a Gentleman who was concerned with me to make locations on this land but I positively refused to suffer one to be located on any land sold by the Goverment, and I gave it as my opinion that the Goverment, if it was found had sold land that ought to belong to the Officers & Soldiers of the state of Va. would do them justice, by giving them other lands of equal value else where.

I am well informed that about 32,000 Acres have lately been located by those Men covering the U:States lands. I give this information in confidence in order that the Goverment may if they wish be ready to meet the Case when the surveys are presented to Obtain patents, if this should reach you in time.

I have notifed Genl: Jas Findley of the fact and do suppose he will give Mr. Galletine information on the subject.4

You must pardon this hasty scrall as I have not time to Copy it before the Mail leaves this. I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your Obedt Servt.

James Taylor

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, T-99:5). Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 15 Dec. 1810.

1Benjamin Ladd came from Charles City County, Virginia, and in 1814 he settled in Jefferson County, Ohio, where he was involved in Quaker efforts to resettle manumitted slaves (Ohio Archæological and Historical Publications, 6 [1898]: 275–76).

2Duncan McArthur (1772–1839) was born in New York and after 1790 became a surveyor in the Scioto Valley where he rapidly acquired land. He entered state politics in 1805, rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Ohio militia, and in 1812 was colonel of one of the three regiments of state volunteers that accompanied William Hull during his Detroit campaign in the opening phase of the War of 1812. In 1813 JM appointed him a brigadier general in the Northwest Army, which force he commanded after the resignation of William Henry Harrison in 1814 (see Robert Sobel and John Reimo, eds., Biographical Dictionary of the Governors of the United States, 1789–1978 [4 vols.; Westport, Conn., 1978], 3:1198–99).

3Israel Ludlow, a New Jersey land speculator who had served both as a surveyor for the Ohio Company and as deputy surveyor general of the U.S., had been appointed register of the land office in Cincinnati in 1800. The errors noted by Taylor may have arisen from problems in earlier surveys with the adjustment of magnetic compasses and “deceptions in the courses of the Scioto River.” Surveyor General Rufus Putnam had reservations about accepting some of Ludlow’s surveys for these reasons, but he concluded that the work had otherwise been “accurately executed” and that “no real injury could accrue either to the public or to purchasers” (Carter, Territorial Papers, Northwest, 3:136–37, 215; Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:353, 354).

4JM evidently referred Taylor’s letter to Gallatin, who wrote a note on the cover: “This can be checked only in the War department, as patents for Virginia military lands issue there. But how can it be checked? It will not be perceived on the face of the surveys presented for patenting whether or not they are executed west of the line fixed by the 1st. section of the act of 23 March 1804 (Vol. 7. page 89). I see no other remedy than to suspend issuing the patents on late surveys & presumed to be in that quarter, & to instruct Colo. Anderson the Survr. General of those lands to certify on each survey, as a condition for obtaining patents, that the land is not surveyed west of the line first above mentioned, or on any land previously surveyed as land of the United States. See also 1st Section of Act of March 2. 1807 Vol. 8. page 260. 261. This is merely suggested for the consideration of the War Department. A. G.”

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