Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 18 February 1802

To the Senate and the House of Representatives

Gentlemen of the Senate and
of the House of Representatives

In a message of the 2d. instant, I inclosed a letter from the Secretary at War on the subject of certain lands in the neighborhood of our military posts, on which it might be expedient for the legislature to make some provisions. a letter recently recieved from the Governor of Indiana presents some further views of the extent to which such provision may be needed. I therefore now transmit it for the information of Congress.

Th: Jefferson

Feb. 18. 1802.

RC (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by a clerk. PrC (DLC). RC (DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by a clerk. Enclosure: William Henry Harrison to James Madison, Vincennes, 19 Jan. 1802, wishing the president to be informed that in a “ridiculous transaction,” which has only recently come to Harrison’s attention, a court established at Vincennes under authority of the state of Virginia in 1780 granted to its own members a large tract of land extending 24 leagues along the Wabash River, 40 leagues west of the river and 30 leagues east, except for 20,000 or 30,000 acres surrounding Vincennes; that “some of those speculators who infest our country” purchased part of the claim, and through them “many ignorant persons have been induced to part with their little all to obtain this ideal property”; that Harrison expects hundreds of families to come to the territory in the spring to attempt to settle on the tract, and he has prohibited the county’s recorder of deeds and prothonotary from recording or authenticating any deeds there, “being determined that the official seals of the Territory shall not be prostituted to a purpose so base as that of assisting an infamous fraud” (Tr in DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.; in Meriwether Lewis’s hand; endorsed by a House clerk). Message and enclosure printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Public Lands, 1:111–12.

Meriwether Lewis delivered this communication to the Senate on 19 Feb. The Senate referred it to a committee consisting of Uriah Tracy, Stephen R. Bradley, and John Brown that had been formed on 15 Feb. to deal with that portion of TJ’s message of 2 Feb. pertaining to the subject matter of Henry Dearborn’s letter to TJ of 5 Dec. 1801. The House of Representatives received the above message from Lewis on 18 Feb. and ordered it to lie on the table (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:181–2, 183; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:103–4).

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