Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, 12 July 1803

To Henry Dearborn

July 12. 03.

Th:J. to Genl. Dearborne.

The dangers on the road to Natchez are really serious, & calling for attention. mere stationary posts, as proposed by Govr. Roan, appear to me inefficient. either a small body of cavalry, or mounted infantry, to be perpetually scouring the road and hovering about the caravans of passengers, as a marechaussée, seems worthy of consideration, as also the employing Indians in the same way, or offering rewards for apprehension & conviction of offenders.1 altho’ the running the Creek line would be a useless expence if we acquire adjacent territory, yet as that acquisition seems to be put off indefinitely, perhaps it may be our duty to have the line run.

RC (PHi: Daniel Parker Papers); endorsed by Dearborn. PrC (DLC); lacks final sentence. Recorded in SJL with notation “outrages on road to Natchez.”

dangers on the road to natchez: on 11 July, the War Department received a letter from Governor Archibald Roane of Tennessee, dated Knoxville, 9 June, regarding “a robbery committed on the 10. May last” (DNA: RG 107, RLRMS). During that month, several persons traveling the road between Nashville and Natchez were assaulted and robbed, including a United States mail carrier and a man named Alexander Wilkins. Another traveler, Reuben White, was murdered. On 18 July, Dearborn issued a proclamation, “By order of the President of the United States,” offering a reward of $400 for the apprehension of those involved in these crimes or any person committing like offenses on the road during the next year (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 107, MLS; Federal Gazette and Baltimore Daily Advertiser, 24 Sep. 1803). On the same date, he directed Thomas H. Cushing, the adjutant and inspector of the army, to station a detachment of troops on the Tennessee and Duck Rivers with orders to use every exertion “to apprehend any persons who have or shall be guilty of murdering, robbing or in any way annoying Post Riders or any other persons peacably travelling sd road” (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934-75, 28 vols. description ends , 5:224-5). Dearborn wrote Roane, also on 18 July, informing him of these actions and assuring the governor that the president “is desirous of affording every aid in his power” to render the road “as safe & convenient as circumstances will permit.” This included TJ’s desire to establish inns on parts of the road through Indian territory, which would “afford great security as well as convenience to travellers.” In the meantime, Dearborn advised those traveling the road with large sums of money to organize themselves into armed caravans, but anticipated that transporting money through the wilderness would become less frequent once New Orleans and its dependencies were in possession of the United States (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 107, MLS).

1PrC ends here.

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