Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Arthur St. Clair, [19 May 1790]

To Arthur St. Clair1

[New York, May 19, 1790]

Dear Sir

This will be delivered to you by Mr. De Barth2—who is at the head of a French Colony going to make a settlement on the Scioto, within the limits of Cutler’s and Serjeants purchase.3 There is another colony under Mr. De Boullogne,4 who have the same destination. The particulars of their situation and the circumstances which distinguish them will I presume be detailed to you from some other quarter. I write this letter at the request of the parties merely to manifest to them a friendly disposition. I am sure it cannot add to that which you will feel of your own accord towards them. The truth is, humanity and policy both demand our best efforts to countenance and protect them. There is a Western Country. It will be settled. It is in every view best that it should be in great measure settled from abroad rather than at the entire expence of the Atlantic population. And it is certainly wise by kind treatment to lay hold of the affections of the settlers and attach them from the beginning to the Government of the Nation.

If these emigrants render a favourable account of their situation to the country from which they come, there is no saying in what numbers they may be followed.

Among other views, I take of this subject, I think it not amiss that various dispositions should actuate those who people the Western Territory; which will be a consequence of emigrations from other countries.

The leaders of these emigrants and their associates are persons of considerable consequence who on that account are intitled to regard and from their misfortunes to tenderness.

Some troops for their protection will be indispensable. I know not what you can do in this respect, but I am sure you will do all you can. General Knox5 also writes you; and sees the matter in the same light with myself. The President has been for some time too ill to be talked to; but I have no doubt of his good will to the emigrants.

They are anxious for tranquillity and of course for government. Mr. De Barth is desirous of being a justice of the peace. The other Chiefs will wish to be Militia officers. A Majority would be very pleasing to Mr. De Boullogne.

You will be ready I am sure in every thing that is proper to content them.

I remain Dr Sir   Yr. Affect & Obed ser

A Hamilton

James Livingston6 wishes to be continued in some Indian appointment. He is really a man of merit.

Governor Sinclair

ALS, Columbia University Libraries.

1St. Clair was governor of the Northwest Territory.

The Frenchmen mentioned by H in this letter had arrived in the United States as a result of the machinations of American land speculators. In 1787 the Ohio Company purchased one million and a half acres in the Ohio country from the United States. This was part of a joint purchase, for at the same time the Scioto Company obtained almost five million acres in the same region. The Scioto Company then sent the poet Joel Barlow to France, and he induced some Frenchmen to purchase land in what became the Gallipolis settlement.

2John Joseph de Barth, one of the French settlers on the Scioto lands.

3Manasseh Cutler and Winthrop Sargent were two of the organizers of the Ohio Company. Cutler was a clergyman, lawyer, physician, and scientist from Ipswich, Massachusetts. As lobbyist in the Continental Congress, he played a major role in negotiating the purchase from the government. Sargent, a surveyor, became secretary of the Ohio Company. In 1787 he was appointed secretary of the Northwest Territory.

4Charles F. Boulogne was the agent selected by Joel Barlow to accompany the first group of French migrants from France to the United States.

5Henry Knox.

6Presumably this is James Livingston of Montgomery County, New York, who was deputy superintendent of Indian affairs for the Northern Department in 1789, and a member of the New York State Assembly from 1789 to 1791.

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