Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Rogers Clark, 3 January 1778

To George Rogers Clark

Williamsburg Janry. 3d. 1778.


As some Indian Tribes, to the westward of the Missisippi have lately, without any provocation, massacred many of the Inhabitants upon the Frontiers of this Commonwealth, in the most cruel and barbarous Manner, and it is intended to revenge the Injury and punish the Aggressors by carrying the War into their own Country.

We congratulate You upon your Appointment to conduct so important an Enterprize in which We most heartily wish You Success; and we have no Doubt but some further Reward in Lands, in that Country, will be given to the Volunteers who shall engage in this Service, in addition to the usual Pay: if they are so fortunate to succeed, We think it just and reasonable that each Volunteer entering as a common [soldier] in this Expedition, shou’d be allowed three hundred Acres of Land, and the Officers in the usual Proportion, out of the Lands which may be conquered in the Country now in the Possession of the said Indians; so as not to interfere with the Claims of any friendly Indians, or of any People willing to become Subjects of this Commonwealth; and for this we think You may safely confide in the Justice and Generosity of the Virginia Assembly.

We are Sir Yr. most Hble Servts.,

G: Wythe

G. Mason

Th: Jefferson

RC (ICU); in the hand of George Mason; signed by Wythe, Mason, and TJ. Addressed: “To George Rogers Clarke Esqr.” Endorsed by Clark: “Mssrs. Withe Mason Jefferson 3 Jany 1778”; in another hand: “abt. Expedition.”

For a full treatment of the origin of the Kaskaskia expedition and the connection of TJ, Mason, and Wythe with it, see J. A. James, Life of George Rogers Clark, Chicago, 1929, p. 109–15; see also A. Marc Lewis, “Jefferson and Virginia’s Pioneers, 1774–1781,” Miss. Valley Hist. Rev., xxxiv (1948), 571. In May 1779 the General Assembly enacted the following: “Every soldier who enlisted into the corps of volunteers commanded by Colonel George Rogers Clarke, and continued therein till the taking of the several posts in the Illinois country, shall at the end of the war, be entitled to a grant of two hundred acres of any unappropriated lands within this commonwealth” (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 26). The same Act granted bounties of 100 acres to all other Virginia volunteers who had enlisted or reenlisted to serve for the duration of the war.

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