Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Timothy Pickering

To Timothy Pickering

[on or before 13 Jan. 1804]

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Pickering and returns him Hutchins’s book with thanks for the use of it. that on Louisiana he had never before seen or heard of, and it has furnished him the first particular information of the line agreed on by the Commrs. under the treaty of Utrecht, he has ever been able to obtain. he had, the last summer, while among his books at Monticello, prepared a Memoir tracing the rightful lines of Louisiana, on authentic documents, so far as Spain was concerned. the present information has enabled him to make the addition as to Gr. Britain which is now inclosed for mr Pickering’s perusal, as he thinks it will place in a true light what ought to be done with the Vth. article of the British convention. mr Pickering will observe that if the alteration proposed is made, and the ratifications exchanged here the ensuing winter the running of the North Eastern boundary will not be at all delayed, as no course which can be taken could effect that demarcation till the Summer of 1785.

RC (MHi: Pickering Papers); undated; endorsed by Pickering as received 13 Jan. Not recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Thomas Hutchins, An Historical Narrative and Topographical Description of Louisiana, and West-Florida (Philadelphia, 1784). For other enclosure, see below.

never before seen: it is uncertain if TJ had ever examined portions of the pamphlet by Thomas Hutchins that he requested from Pickering, but he was familiar with it. In 1792, he requested copies for William Short and William Carmichael and a third copy for his own use, a request that does not appear to have been fulfilled. The Editors in Vol. 17:123n erred in claiming that TJ corresponded with Hutchins about the pamphlet in 1784, as opposed to a different publication by Hutchins (Vol. 24:285-6; Vol. 27:737).

Under the terms of the treaty of utrecht, France restored to Great Britain territory that had been controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Although the treaty provided for commissioners who were to determine an exact boundary, French and British claims in Canada remained under dispute until the resolution of the Seven Years War. Hutchins, however, defined the boundary precisely by an “imaginary line” running from a point on the sea at 58 degrees 30 minutes latitude southwest to Lake Mistasim, or Mistassini, and “from thence farther South-west directly to the latitude of 49 degrees,” this division forming “the true limits of Louisiana and Canada” (Hutchins, Historical Narrative and Topographical Description of Louisiana, 7; Parry, Consolidated Treaty Series description begins Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., 1969-81, 231 vols. description ends , 27:484-7; Frances Gardiner Davenport, ed., European Treaties bearing on the History of the United States and its Dependencies, 4 vols. [Washington, D.C., 1917-37], 3:193-206; W. J. Eccles, France in America, rev. ed. [Markham, Ont., 1990], 112-15, 122).

TJ may have enclosed the addendum to the draft version of his memoir on the boundaries of Louisiana (see Vol. 41:322), a press copy of the draft addendum, or a different version that has not been found. Although Pickering returned the document on 16 Jan., TJ dated his draft version at 15 Jan.

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