Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Abraham Baldwin, 20 April 1788

From Abraham Baldwin

New York 20th April 1788


Your favour of the 7th of Feby., with the enclosure from Mr. Fanning, was duly received.

In the letter to Mr. Fanning, which I do myself the honour to enclose, I have given him all the information he will need for the security of his surveys. It must undoubtedly have occurred to you, Sir, that the present unexplained state of our southern and western boundary must have rendered it improper for the state of Georgia to do any thing respecting the private right of soil to the lands on the Missisippi. Many applications have been made, but the general assembly has never done any thing, but what appear[ed] necessary to prevent the present settlers in that country, from becoming our enemies from the apprehension that we might deprive them of their possessions.

My expectation is that the state of Georgia will soon1 make a cession of their western territory to congress. They have long only waited an issue of our present great national question, whither they might expect protection in return.

It did not appear necessary to state either of these reasons to Mr. Fanning, as the measures to be pursued by him, for securing his ancient surveys of land in that territory, will probably be much the same, whether his titles are to be obtained from the state of Georgia or from the united States. With the greatest respect and esteem I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servt.,

Abr Baldwin

RC (DLC); endorsed. The enclosed letter to Fanning (missing) was forwarded by TJ in his to Fanning, 29 July 1788.

The favour here acknowledged was TJ’s to the Georgia delegates in Congress, 7 Feb. 1788.

1At this point TJ inserted an asterisk and wrote at the bottom of the page: “They have done this. See New York journal. Mar. 17.” It is surprising that Baldwin should not have known of the Georgia cession at this date. Writing from New York on 16 Apr. 1788, Rufus King said: “Georgia has ceded upwards of Thirty Millions of acres of land lying between the 31st and 33d degrees of lat. and between the Apalachicola and the Mississippi to the United States, on condition that nine or more states ratify the new constitution”; the news of Georgia’s conditional cession was certainly known in Congress at the time Baldwin wrote (C. R. King, Life of Rufus King, i, 326; Burnett, Letters of Members description begins Edmund C. Burnett, ed., Letters of Members of the Continental Congress, 8 vols. description ends , viii, No. 830, note 3; No. 831). The New-York Journal, and Daily Patriotic Register for 17 Mch. 1788 carried the following notice: “Augusta, Feb. 19. Extract from the Proceedings of the present House of Assembly … February 8. Yesterday the honorable general assembly of this state adjourned‥‥ During their session they passed the following laws: … An Act to empower the delegates of this state in Congress assembled to sign, seal, and deliver, a deed of cession to the United States of certain western territory belonging to this state.”

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