George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Jefferson, 10 November 1791

From Thomas Jefferson

Philadelphia, 10 Nov. 1791. After examining the enclosed papers relating to the land purchase of John Cleves Symmes on the Great Miami River, he thinks it proper to lay them before Congress, to demonstrate not only the foundation of Symmes’s larger claim but also the “expediency of providing some speedy and regular mode of deciding this and other questions of a like nature which might arise hereafter, and obstruct for a considerable time the proceedings relative to the public lands.”1

ALS (letterpress copy), DLC: Thomas Jefferson Papers; LB, RG 59, Domestic Letters.

For background to this letter, see GW to Alexander Hamilton, 2 October.

1On 9 Nov. Tobias Lear transmitted to Jefferson the enclosed papers, “A letter from the Secretary of the Treasury, inclosing a letter of the 8th of August from Govr St Clair to him, with sundry papers which accompanied it. The whole relating to the subject of the settlements which have been made under purchases from Judge Symmes,” with GW’s wishes that the secretary of state take them into consideration and report “if there should appear anything in them which is necessary to be communicated to Congress, or to be acted upon by the President” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). Jefferson mentioned the Symmes Purchase in the report on federal lands in the western territories that he made to GW on 8 Nov. (see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 10 Nov., n.1; “Report on Public Lands,” Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 22:274–88). GW presented the enclosures to Congress on 11 November.

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