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To George Washington from William Alexander, 15 March 1796

From William Alexander

Carlisle [Pa.] March 15th 1796


I find Congress have it in Contemplation to open a land office, for the Sale of the public lands North West of the river ohio, and that a Surveyor General or superintendant will be appointed.1

I take the liberty to offer myself for that office and should you think me worthy of it, I shall endeavour to do the duty faithfully.

I was by warrant under the hand and seal of Mr Hutchins late Geographer to the United States, appointed surveyor of the lower district set apart for satisfying the Military Bounties but as that district is receded to the Indians by General Wayn⟨e’s⟩ Treaty, that appointment will of Course Cease.2 And altho, I have been at Considerable Expence and spent some time in attempting to Execute the Warrants then in my hands, yet it is more than probable I shall not receive any recompence. I have take⟨n⟩ much pains in registering the Military Warrants put into my hands since my first appointment, Which have been upwards of Two thousand, and which the owners are now withdrawing in order (as I suppose) to have registered agreeably to the present Bill before the house—As to my knowledge of the duties of that office, I shall when necessary procure ample Testimony, and if responsibility be required for the faithful performance of the Trust I shall procure to any amount.

I know it is scarely possible for you to remember personally all your officers. I could procure many reccomendations from the first officers particularly of the line (Pennsylvania) in wh. I Served in the different Grades of Lieutenant, Captain, Briga⟨de⟩ Inspector and last a Major—But am desirous to give as little Trouble as may be, for this reason I have only mentioned my Intention of this application to two Gentlemen Colonel Hamilton and Governor Lee. If you should take the Trouble to Enquire at any other Gentleman, Governor St Claire and General Wayne I have the Honour of being known to both but as I have already perhaps consumed too much of your Time I shall therefore add, but that I am with the most perfect respect and Esteem Sir your most Obedient Humble servant—

Wm Alexander

ALS, DLC:GW. At the bottom of this letter an asterisk is followed by the names “Coll Blaine & Coll Francis Johnston”; however, no corresponding asterisk appears elsewhere in the letter.

William Alexander (c.1747–1813) served during the Revolutionary War as an officer in the 6th, 7th, and 3d Pennsylvania Regiments, and he served during the Whiskey Insurrection expedition as lieutenant colonel commanding the Carlisle militia. In 1785 the surveyor general of Pennsylvania appointed Alexander as a deputy surveyor for the donation lands west of the Allegheny River promised to Pennsylvania troops.

1For the progress of the bill to open a land office in the Northwest Territory, see Thomas Johnson to GW, 3 Jan., n.1. The first section of the resulting act, approved on 18 May, created the office of surveyor general for the territory (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 464–69).

2“An Ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of Lands in the Western Territory,” 20 May 1785, provided that a surveyor from each state should be appointed to serve under Thomas Hutchins, the geographer of the United States, to survey western lands ceded by the states (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 28:375–81). Article IV of the August 1795 Treaty of Greenville relinquished, with a few exceptions, U.S. claims to the “Indian lands northward of the river Ohio, eastward of the Mississippi, westward and southward of the Great Lakes and the waters uniting them” not ceded by the Indians in Article III (Kappler, Indian Treaties, description begins Charles J. Kappler, ed. Indian Affairs. Laws and Treaties. 5 vols. Washington, D.C., 1903–41. description ends 2:41–42).

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