Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Albert Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, 14 July 1810

From Albert Gallatin

Washington 14th July 1810

Dear Sir

On my return from an excursion to my farm on the Monongahela, I found your letter of 30th May, applying for such papers relative to the Batture as might be in the office. It appears on enquiry & search that there were none, some printed documents excepted, which during my absence had been given to Mr Graham, to be transmitted to you with other papers from the department of State, through which & the Attorney General all the communications passed which related to that subject. As I had however particularly attended to it, both when the removal took place & during the discussions of last winter, I have prepared and now enclose a sketch of the case, in which I have stated the provisions of the law which authorised the President to act & tried to arrange under distinct heads all the arguments which have been urged or have occurred to my mind respecting the merits of the case. Some of these are doubtless more plausible than substantial; but my object was to omit nothing and to facilitate, by a short digest, the references to the voluminous publications on the subject, the selection of the points which it will be proper to make, and that of the evidence necessary to support them. Governor Claiborne, with whom I have conversed, will be in a few days at Monticello; and in reading over with him my sketch, you may note the parol or written evidence which it is necessary to obtain: & which he will immediately take measures to obtain at New Orleans.

I also enclose three pamphlets which you perhaps have not received with the others, Thierri’s translation with the authenticated plans thereto annexed; Livingston’s publication (containing Derbigny’s & Duponceau’s opinions together with those of the four other Philada lawyers which will show the probable grounds he means to take, & several documents vizt the order of sale in 1763, the decree in his favour &a) and one of Poydrass’s speeches which pages 14 & 15, contains the appraisement made in 1797 of B. Gravier’s estate to John Gravier his heir. The whole you will find is valued at 2570 dollars & necessarily excludes the batture.

I have forgotten in my sketch to state two points, vizt 1. that you had taken the opinion of the attorney general—2d that you are not obliged to prove that E. Livingston had taken possession subsequent to 3d March 1807, because the order to the Marshal does not name Livingston & directs him only to drive away those who had thus taken possession after sd 3d March 1807.

I presume the object of Livingston to be to obtain at all events a sideway decision in favor of his title à la mode Marshal; but he will, I think,1 try to rest his title & indeed to have the whole question decided on the ground of the decision by the Court of Orleans, as both rendering the President’s interference illegal, & sufficiently proving his title. If practicable & not interfering with the ground which will be selected by yourself & your lawyers, it would be desirable to compel him to prove his title (otherwise than by the Orleans’ Court decree) ab ovo down to himself. I am sure that he cannot do it either as to a clear title to the whole land having descended from the crown to Gravier, or as to any description of boundaries along the river. Exclusively of what I have stated on that point, it may I think be proven that in 1788 when the suburb was laid out there was no batture along the lower part of it; and I believe that no title whatever can be produced for the upper part. See for this last point Derbigny in the enclosed pamphlet, pages VIII & IX. Govr Claiborne will satisfy you as to the first.

I do not believe that I have forgotten any thing; but as you may see that the subject is familiar to me, command me at any time if there is any point on which any explanation may be wanted.

With never ceasing attachment & respect Your’s truly

Albert Gallatin

Is it necessary to prove that E. Livingston’s claim was not filed with the Land Commissrs till after 1 Jany 1808, & after the time limited for that purpose had expired? I think not: but if wanted, it may easily be procured.

RC (DLC); below postscript: “Mr Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 July 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Jean Baptiste Simon Thierry, Examination of the Claim of the United States, and of the pretensions of Edward Livingston, Esq. to the Batture in Front of the Suburb St. Mary (New Orleans, 1807; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3478; trans. of French ed., Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3477). (2) “Plan de l’habitacion de Dn Bertran Gravier. Reducido del Plan del dia primero de avril de mil Seciente ochenta y ocho. Para disposicion de la Villa” (“Map of the habitation of Bertrand Gravier. Reduced from the Map of 1 Apr. 1788. By order of the City”) (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 195:34660, certified 28 Oct. 1808 by New Orleans surveyor Jacques Tanesse; MS in same, 195:34664, certified 6 Nov. 1808 by Tanesse; MS bound with TJ’s copy of enclosure no. 1, DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections, certified 6 Nov. 1808 by Tanesse). (3) “Plano de la Ciudad de Nueva Orléans y de las habitationes Imediatas formado en Virtud del decreto del M. Cabo y Cedula Real 24 Diciembre 1798” (“Map of the City of New Orleans and of the Nearby habitations formed by Virtue of the decree of M. Cabo and Royal Warrant, 24 Dec. 1798”) (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 195:34661, certified 26 Oct. 1808 by Tanesse; MS in same, 195:34663, certified 30 Oct. 1808 by Tanesse; MS bound with TJ’s copy of enclosure no. 1, DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections, certified 22 Oct. 1808 by Tanesse). (4) Tanesse, “Nivellement Général de la Bature en face du fauxbourg Ste Marie, à L’allignement des Rues Gravier, Poidras, Girod, Julie, et St Joseph” (“General Level of the Batture in front of the Faubourg Sainte Marie, from the alignment of the Rues Gravier, Poidras, Girod, Julie, and Saint Joseph,” 4 Oct. 1808 (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 195:34662; MS in same, 195:34666; MS bound with TJ’s copy of enclosure no. 1, DLC: Rare Book and Special Collections). (5) Edward Livingston, Address to the People of the United States, on the measures pursued by the Executive with respect to the Batture at New-Orleans: to which are annexed, a Full Report of the cause tried in the Superior Court of the Terri[to]ry of Orleans: the Memoire of Mr. Derbigny: an Examination of the Title of the United States: the Opinion of Counsel thereon: and a number of other Documents necessary to a full understanding of this interesting case (New Orleans, 1808; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3484). (6) Julien Lalande Poydras, Speech of Julien Poydras, Esq. the Delegate from the Territory of Orleans, in support of the right of the public to the Batture in front of the Suburb St. Mary. Friday, February 2, 1810 (Washington, 1810; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends no. 3488). Other enclosure printed below.

parol: oral, unwritten (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ). à la mode marshal: in the manner of Chief Justice John Marshall.

1Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Address to the People of the United States, on the measures pursued by the Executive with respect to the Batture at New-Orleans (Livingston) search
  • An Act to prevent settlements being made on lands ceded to the United States until authorized by law (1807); and batture controversy search
  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; A. Gallatin on search
  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; TJ receives documents search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; procures batture documents for TJ search
  • Derbigny, Pierre (Peter) Augustin Bourguignon; and batture controversy search
  • Du Ponceau, Peter Stephen; and batture controversy search
  • D’orgenoy, Francis Joseph Le Breton; and batture controversy search
  • Examen des Droits des Etats-Unis et des pretensions de Mr. Edouard Livingston sur la Batture en Face du Faubourg Ste. Marie (Thierry) search
  • Gallatin, Albert; and batture controversy search
  • Gallatin, Albert; letters from search
  • Graham, John; and batture controversy search
  • Gravier, Bertrand; and batture controversy search
  • Gravier, Jean (John); and batture controversy search
  • Livingston, Edward; Address to the People of the United States, on the measures pursued by the Executive with respect to the Batture at New-Orleans search
  • maps; of New Orleans search
  • Marshall, John; and batture controversy search
  • New Orleans; maps of search
  • Orleans Territory; land commissioners in search
  • Poydras, Julien Lalande; and batture controversy search
  • Poydras, Julien Lalande; Speech of Julien Poydras, Esq. the Delegate of the Territory of Orleans, in support of the right of the public to the Batture search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; and batture controversy search
  • Speech of Julien Poydras, Esq. the Delegate of the Territory of Orleans, in support of the right of the public to the Batture (Poydras) search
  • State Department, U.S.; and batture controversy search
  • Tanesse, Jacques; and batture controversy search
  • Thierry, Jean Baptiste Simon; Examen des Droits des Etats-Unis et des pretensions de Mr. Edouard Livingston sur la Batture en Face du Faubourg Ste. Marie search
  • Treasury Department, U.S.; and batture controversy search