Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Levi Lincoln, 17 April 1802

To Levi Lincoln

Washington Apr. 17. 1802.

Dear Sir

I hasten to call your attention to the resolution of the Senate of the 15th. instant now inclosed, on the subject of the lands of the US. in the state of Tennissee, at this time, because while the members of Congress are here you may be able to collect such information on the subject as to enable you to shape your course in the execution of it with more facility as well as correctness. Accept assurances of my respect & attachment.

Th: Jefferson

PrC (DLC); at foot of text: “Levi Lincoln esq. Atty Genl. of the US.” Recorded in SJL with notation “resoln of Senate on Tennissee lands.” Enclosure: see below.

On 8 Apr. the SENATE agreed to appoint a committee “to examine and report what regulations ought to be adopted” with regard to lands in Tennessee claimed by the United States. The senators from Tennessee, Joseph Anderson and William Cocke, were the only senators to vote against the motion. The committee of five included senators from Kentucky, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The committee’s report, submitted by John Brown, proposed a resolution asking the president “to give directions to the Attorney General to collect, digest, and report to Congress, at their next session, such documents and other information relative to the lands claimed by the United States within the state of Tennessee, under a deed of cession from the state of North Carolina, executed in December, 1789, as shall best serve to exhibit the extent of the claims reserved by the second condition expressed in said deed; and how far the said reservations have been satisfied: also, the situation and probable quantity of said lands which may be at the disposition of the United States, consistently with the conditions of the said deed of cession, and with existing treaties with the Indian tribes.” Anderson and Cocke failed to get the resolution limited to lands “to which the Indian claim is extinguished, and which is not covered by legal titles under the state of North Carolina.” Tennessee’s senators were again the only dissenters when the resolution passed on 15 Apr. (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:206, 210, 211, 212–13).

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