Arthur St. Clair to John Francis Hamtramck
[Fort Steuben, 23 Jan. 1790]
“It is with great pain that I have heard of the scarcity of Corn which reigns in the settlements about the Post. I hope it has been exaggerated, but it is represented to me that unless a supply of that article can be sent forward, the people must actually starve.—Corn can be had here in any quantity, but can the people pay for it? I entreat [you] to enquire into that matter, and if you find that they cannot do without it, write to the Contractor’s agent here to whom I will give orders to send forward such quantity as you may find to be absolutely necessary. They must pay for what they can of it, but they must not be suffered to perish, and though I have no direct authority from the Government for this purpose, I must take it upon myself.”
Tr. (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 1st. Cong., 3rd sess.); in hand of clerk; at head of text: “Extract of a Letter to Major Hamtramck at Post St. Vincennes, dated from Fort Steuben the 23d. January 1790.” PrC from another of the three copies sent to the President by TJ on 17 Feb. 1791 (DLC). Tr (DNA: RG 59, Record of Reports of Thomas Jefferson, p. 281–2). The full text of St. Clair’s letter is printed in St. Clair Papers, ed. Smith, ii, 130–2.
In his reply to the above, Hamtramck wrote St. Clair on 19 Mch. 1791: “I have this day sent a boat to the Falls for 800 bushels of corn, which I shall deliver to the people of the village, who are in a starving condition; so much so that on the 16th instant a woman, a boy about thirteen, and a girl of about seven years were driven to the woods by hunger, and poisoned themselves by eating some wild roots, and have died of it” (same, ii, 132).