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William C. C. Claiborne to Thomas Jefferson, 30 January 1811

From William C. C. Claiborne

New-Orleans Jany 30h 1811.

Dear Sir,

I have the honor to enclose you a Copy of a Communication, I made on yesterday to the Territorial Legislature;—The Batture has not been introduced; But that shall be made the Subject of a Special message.—

General Hampton left this a few days since for Baton Rouge;— It is reported that on his Journey, he purchased the greater part of Mr D. Clarks landed property, and that the Consideration money is three hundred thousand Dollars.—Mr Clark, it is believed, designs to leave the Territory, and I pray Heaven, he may be followed by some “other Choice Spirits.”—

The Spaniards at the date of the last Accounts were making every preparation for the defence of Mobile.—

I am Dr Sir, With great respect Your faithful friend

William C. C. Claiborne

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Mr Thos Jefferson Monticello”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Mar. 1811 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Claiborne’s annual message to the Orleans territorial legislature, New Orleans, 29 Jan. 1811, stating that he has been chief magistrate of the territory west of the Perdido River since the United States took possession under authority of President James Madison’s 27 Oct. 1810 proclamation; that subsequent ordinances have created Feliciana County, subdivided it into several parishes, and commissioned civil officers; that the legislature should seat representatives from the new county and establish an additional circuit court there with appellate jurisdiction over parish courts; that the late insurrection in the German Coast region was speedily quelled, albeit with significant property loss and the “untimely death of two highly esteemed Citizens”; that the legislature should consider remuneration for said property loss and guard against future insurrections by devising better controls over slave importation; that militia laws should be strengthened so as to “Prescribe the time for Regimental, Batallion and Company Musters, and direct the latter to be more frequent than heretofore,” increase fines for nonattendance so much that even wealthy citizens would not willingly incur them, improve methods of collecting fines, and increase the powers of officers through fines, imprisonments, and narrowly circumscribing exemptions from militia duties; that he is amenable to calls by “respectable Citizens” for a third bank in New Orleans, as long as the territory retains a portion of the stock and nominates a certain number of its directors; that bankruptcy laws are desirable but should be tightened to discourage fraud; that the legislature should consider dedicating part of a treasury surplus to education by establishing four academies; and that the United States may soon admit Orleans to statehood, which would “place beyond the reach of change our political destinies, and attach forever the Territory of Orleans, in its present extent to the American Union” (printed in Claiborne, Letter Books description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816, 1917, repr. 1972, 6 vols. description ends , 5:121–6).

A ciphered letter written late in July 1806 to James Wilkinson and attributed by him to Aaron Burr described Burr’s friends and followers as a “host” of choice spirits. The phrase became widely associated with Burr when the letter was introduced as a key piece of evidence at his treason trial in 1807 (Mary-Jo Kline and others, eds., Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr [1983], 2:986).

Index Entries

  • Baton Rouge, W. Fla. search
  • Burr, Aaron (1756–1836); treason trial of search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; and annual message to legislature search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; letters from search
  • Claiborne, William Charles Coles; on W. Fla. search
  • Clark, Daniel (of Louisiana); W. C. C. Claiborne on search
  • Hampton, Wade; mentioned search
  • Madison, James; and W. Fla. search
  • Mobile, W. Fla. (later Ala.); defended by Spain search
  • New Orleans; and nearby slave insurrection search
  • New Orleans; banks in search
  • Orleans Territory; and statehood search
  • Orleans Territory; legislature of search
  • Orleans Territory; slave insurrection in search
  • Perdido River search
  • slaves; German Coast insurrection search
  • Spain; and W. Fla. search
  • Wilkinson, James; and A. Burr trial search