Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. Preliminary Form of Deed of Cession, [13 February 1784]

I. Preliminary Form of Deed of Cession

[13 Feb. 1784]

To all who shall see these presents we [here name the delegates] the underwritten, delegates for the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Congress of the United states of America, send greeting.

Whereas the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia at their sessions begun on the 20th. day of Octob. 1783. passed an act intituled ‘an act to authorize the delegates &c.1 in these words following to wit ‘Whereas the Congress &c. [reciting the act verbatim]2

And whereas the said General Assembly by their Resolution of June 6th. 1783. had constituted and appointed us the said A.B.C.&c.3 delegates to represent the said Commonwealth in Congress for one year from the first Monday in November then next following, which resolution remains in full force4

Now therefore know ye that we the said A.B.C.&c. by virtue of the power and authority committed to us by the act of the said General assembly of Virginia before recited, and in the name and for and on behalf of the said Commonwealth do by these presents convey, transfer, assign and make over unto the United states in Congress assembled for the benefit of the said states, Virginia inclusive, all right, title and claim as well of soil as of jurisdiction which the said Commonwealth hath to the territory or tract of country within the limits of the Virginia charter, situate, lying and being to the Northwest of the river Ohio, to and for the uses and purposes and on the conditions of the said recited act.

In testimony whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names and affixed our seals in Congress the  day of  in the year of our lord 1784. and of the independance of the United states the eighth.

Signed, sealed and
delivered in presence of5

MS (DLC: PCC, No. 30, p. 575); entirely in TJ’s hand; written on address leaf of Marbois to TJ, printed above under date of 10 Feb. 1784. Marbois’ letter bears on its face the following in Thomson’s hand: “Mr Sherman Mr Read Mr Spaight”; these are the names of the committee to which the Virginia Act and the preliminary form of conveyance were referred. Under date of 13 Feb. 1784 Thomson’s journal of committee assignments lists these same names and describes the documents referred as a “Law of Virginia empowering their delegates to convey to the US. the claim of that state to lands NW. of Ohio, agreeably to Act of Congress of Sept 1783.—and a form of Conveyance offered by delegates” (PCC: No. 186). This proves that the present form was drawn up some time before 13 Feb. Another MS (described in notes below as FC), also entirely in TJ’s hand, is in DLC: TJ Papers, 10: 1639; this text differs in some particulars from the present, but it could not have been drawn up before 1 Mch. 1784 and in all probability (see note 5) was not made until after the engrossed copy on parchment had been completed, signed, and witnessed; endorsed:
“Commonw. of } Copy Deed
Virga. to of Cession of
United States Western Territory.”

1FC has the following at this point, completing the title: “‘… convey to the United states in Congress assembled all the right of this Commonwealth to the territory North Westward of the river Ohio.’”

2FC reads: “‘… [reciting the act verbatim to the least words]—present in Congress.’” All square brackets here and elsewhere in the text are in MS and FC.

3In the three places in the text where the names of delegates occur, FC gives the full names in the first instance and initials in the others.

4TJ first wrote: “… remains unrevoked and unexpired” and then altered it to read as above.

5FC has the date-blanks filled in to read: “the 1st. day of March,” gives the sigillated initials of the four signers, and includes the names of the three witnesses. It is obvious, therefore, that this must be a true FC made by TJ after the engrossed copy on parchment had been completed.

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