George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Winthrop Sargent, 6 July 1792

From Winthrop Sargent

Cincinnati County of Hamilton and Territory of the
United States North west of the River Ohio.
July the 6th 1792.


I do myself the honour to transmit by Major Vigo, a copy from the public records of the Territory of the United States, north west of the river Ohio, to the 30th of June inclusive.

The long absence of two of the judges from the Government, has prevented the adoption of laws for more than the six months last past, which is considered and lamented as a very great misfortune to the territory.1

Since closing my official communications sir, Major Vigo has presented to me the enclosed petition from the people of Vincennes which I beg leave to lay before Congress.2

Observing that the petitioners are generally in very indigent circumstances—much attached to the United States, and that the whole expense of resurveying their ancient possessions, will, by an estimate of the surveyor, amount to about one thousand dollars.

With every sentiment of the highest respect, I have the honour to be Sir, Your most obedient, and most devoted servant,

Winthrop Sargent

LB, DNA: RG 59, Territorial Papers, Northwest, 1787–1801.

On 27 Oct., GW received this letter and its enclosures, which included copies of the letters Sargent wrote as secretary of the Northwest Territory during the first half of 1792 (see Tobias Lear to Thomas Jefferson, 28 Oct. 1792, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

1Sargent is referring to the extended absence of judges George Turner and John Cleves Symmes from the Northwest Territory. It was not until the fall of 1792 that Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote on behalf of the president to Turner and to Gov. Arthur St. Clair “to bring this circumstance to your notice, not doubting but that the public exigencies of your Office will overweigh in your mind any personal inconveniencies, which might attend your repairing to that Country” (Jefferson to Turner, 9 Nov., to St. Clair, 10 Nov. 1792, 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 24:604–5).

2On 27 Nov. 1792 the House of Representatives read a copy of this letter and a “petition of a number of inhabitants of St. Vincennes, on the Wabash, praying that the resurvey of their lands, directed by a late law, may be made at the public expense,” both of which it referred to a committee composed of Samuel Livermore, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, and George Leonard. On 31 Dec. the House considered the committee’s report, resolved that the resurvey “be made at the expense of the United States,” and asked that a bill “be brought in, pursuant to the said resolution.” The bill, which was presented to the House of Representatives on 7 Jan. 1793, passed in the House on 6 Feb. and in the Senate on 13 February. GW signed “An Act to repeal part of a Resolution of Congress of the twenty-ninth of August, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, respecting the inhabitants of Post Saint Vincents” on 21 Feb. 1793 (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 2d Cong., 1st sess., 728–29, 2d sess., 768–69, 801, 863, 1431; Journal of the Senate description begins The Journal of the Senate including The Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends , 5:55).

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