Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. Bounds of a Proposed Northwest Colony, 1 September 1783–1 March 1784

I. Bounds of a Proposed Northwest Colony

Bounded by a line of Longitude running from the most Southernly point of Lake Michigan to the Ouabache, then down the middle of the Ouabache to where it crosses a line of Latitude 40 degrees from the equator, thence along the said Line of Latitude to within five degrees of Longitude of the river Delaware, thence along a line five degrees of Longitude in every point of it from the said river Delaware, till it strikes Lake Erie, thence along the southern shore of Lake Erie to it’s most Western point,1 thence along a strait line2 drawn to the nearest part of the river St. Joseph, thence down the said river to Lake Michigan, thence along the Southern shore of Lake Michigan to the beginning; (provided that if in the dispute between Virginia and Pennsylva. the western boundary of Pennsylva. should be settled3 to be a line of Longitude, then the4 same line of Longitude shall be the Eastern boundary of the New col[ony.]

This will be about 2° degrees of Latitude and 6. or 7. degrees of Longitude.

[on verso:]

  • [……]’s map professed to be a copy from D’An[vil]le
  • places the Southermost shore of Lake Erie 42° 30’
  • D’Anville’s small map makes it 42° 50’
  • A map publishd by Jefferys makes it 41°. 40’
  • *A late map, published since the peace by Bowles makes it 41°. 35’
  • The Northern boundary of Virga. is the end of 41° Lat.
  • Evans’s last map makes S. shore of Lake Erie 41°.
  • *Mitchell’s last map 41° 30’
  • Massachusets Western claim is to 42°. 2’ North Latitude.
  • Connecticut comes from that to 41° complete, i.e. to the beginning of the 42° degree.
  • Virginia then goes to 41°. complete and is coterminous with Connecticut.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 234: 41928); entirely in the hand of TJ; contains a number of deletions and interlineations, some of which are noted below; the lines on verso concerning boundaries may or may not have reference to the proposed “colony” and may be related only to TJ’s investigations of the Virginia claim or to his drafting of the Virginia Deed of Cession; these lines are written at right angles to those on recto. MS is mutilated slightly, thus causing parts of two words to be lost. The date of this fragment is discussed in editorial note above, though it may be noted here that the text on verso is roughly placed at late 1783 or early 1784 by its reference to “A late map, published since the peace by Bowles”; this was presumably Carington Bowles’ New Map of North America (London, 1783; Phillipps, 863). The editors are indebted to Dr. St. George L. Sioussat for examining the texts of Documents I and II in the present group and for bringing to bear upon them his extensive knowledge of the affairs of land companies, of cessions by the states, and of policies of Congress respecting the national domain. In a carefully prepared memorandum submitted to the editors on 1 Mch. 1949, Dr. Sioussat arrived at the conclusion that both of these documents “are recordings of ideas which were passing through Mr. Jefferson’s mind in the uncertain period after his return to Congress in 1783, when the financial need of Congress, the demands of the Army, and the cessions of western lands were pressing problems.” Mrs. Constance Thurlow, Mr. William Gaines, and Mr. Francis L. Berkeley, Jr. of the staff of the University of Virginia Library also concluded that the fragment represented by Document I was probably drawn up early in 1784 (Francis L. Berkeley, Jr. to the editors, 21 Jan. 1949).

1Preceding four words interlined in substitution for “fort Detroit,” deleted.

2The following deleted at this point: “due West till it strikes the river St lo.”

3This word interlined in substitution for “determined,” deleted.

4The following deleted at this point: “the Eastern boundary of the said colony of—shall be.”

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