Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 6 April 1784

To George Washington

Annapolis Apr. 6. 1784.

Dear Sir

I am obliged to you for your query as to the distance from New York to Cayahoga, as it has occasioned my reexamination of that matter and detection of an error of 150 miles. The distances from New York to Niagara I collect from information as follows.

from N. York to Albany 164. miles.
Oneida 165.
Oswego 171.
Niagara 180 
from Niagara to Cayahoga 140  this last distance I collect

by measuring on Hutchins’s map and reducing that proportionably by the known distance from Niagara to Detroit which is 250. miles.

The public papers confirm the resignation of Mr. Pitt and his friends. A ship arrived here, and some others in Philadelphia have brought us a riddle without a key. They received their bounties and drawbacks on clearing out from London as they used to do while we were colonies without any public act authorising it being visible. The custom house officers tendered them, and they were not so rude as to refuse them. The prohibitory proclamation they say is eluded and connived at by government. We have 11. states in Congress and hope by the middle of May to adjourn to November. If any thing prevents this it will be the representation of 8. states of the 11. by 2 members each, who frequently dividing retard business extremely. The inclosed letter was put into my hands with a request to forward it to you. This will be delivered you by Monsr. de Hogendorff, a relation of Mr. Van Berckel’s. A very particular acquaintance with him here has led me to consider him as the best informed man of his age I have ever seen. Nature and application seem equally to have concurred in fitting him for important business. He returns to Holland, his native country, in the summer, and cannot deny himself the satisfaction of paying his tribute of respect to you. I have the honor to be with great esteem & attachment Dr. Sir Your most obedt. & most humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

P.S. The Minister of France arrived here to-day. I beleive he is on a tour through Virginia. But I have not yet learned when he sets out.

Since writing this I learn that the Minister has declined his tour through Virginia, but thinks to go as far as your house: perhaps within a fortnight.

RC (DLC: Washington Papers); endorsed. Entry in SJL reads: “Genl. Wash. Cayahoga to N.Y. 820 miles—bounties and drawbacks in England—state of Congr.—rise middle May—Hogendorf—a letter—Fr. minister.” Enclosure not identified.

In MHi in a vellum-bound volume incorrectly labelled “Law Treaties” (see Vol. 2: 504) there is a loose memorandum bearing various computations of distances, without date, that TJ employed in writing the present letter; since these computations arrived at the same result as that given in the letter, they are not reprinted here. In the same place, there is another loose page containing the following calculation of distances:

“From Georgetown
  to Harper’s ferry
  Fort Cumberland
  Turkey foot 40
  Fort Pitt 60
  Beaver creek 28
  Head navigation of […] 55
  Head navigation of
  Mouth of Cayahoga 30 123
  Niagara 140
  Oswego 180 320
  Oneida 171
  Albany 165
  New York 164 500

The way of performing this tour is to hire two hands, who ask about 8. dollars a month each. Indians, if to be had, are better and cheaper. You buy a canoe which costs about 8. dollars. They march about 25. miles a day. Subsistence is about 3/ a man pr. day, including liquor.” From the last comment and from the known fact that TJ about this time was considering the matter of becoming one of the commissioners for extending the Virginia-Pennsylvania boundary, it is almost certain that he was contemplating a western tour.

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