Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate, 27 December 1802

To the Senate

Gentlemen of the Senate

I lay before you a treaty which has been concluded between the state of New York and the Oneida Indians, for the purchase of lands within that state:

One other between the same state and the Seneca Indians, for the purchase of other lands, within the same state:

One other between certain individuals, stiled the Holland company with the Senecas for the exchange of certain lands in the same state:

And one other between Oliver Phelps a citizen of the US. and the Senecas, for the exchange of lands in the same state: with sundry explanatory papers; all of them conducted under the superintendance of a commissioner on the part of the US. who reports that they have been adjusted with the fair and free consent & understanding of the parties. it is therefore submitted to your determination whether you will advise & consent to their respective ratifications.

Th: Jefferson

RC (DNA: RG 46, EPIR, 7th Cong., 2d sess.); endorsed by clerks; notations by a clerk alongside each of the first two paragraphs indicate that those treaties were received by the Senate “in Committee of the Whole.” PrC (DLC). Enclosures: (1) Treaty between the state of New York and the Oneida nation, held at the Oneidas’ town, 4 June; John Tayler attending as commissioner of the United States and Ezra L’Hommedieu and Simeon De Witt as agents of New York; completing a provisional agreement for the cession of two tracts of land by the Oneidas and payment by New York of $600 in addition to $300 already advanced, and an annuity of $300 (printed copy in DNA: RG 46, EPIR). (2) Treaty between the state of New York and the Seneca nation, 20 Aug., described as Enclosure No. 5, Dearborn to TJ, 3 Sep. (3) Indenture between the Senecas and the Holland Land Company, 30 June, described as Enclosure No. 7, same. (4) Treaty between the Seneca nation and Oliver Phelps, Isaac Bronson, and Horatio Jones, held at Buffalo Creek, 30 June, with Tayler present as commissioner of the U.S.; the Senecas conveying a two-square-mile tract known as Little Beard’s Reservation to Phelps, Bronson, and Jones for the sum of $1,200 (printed copy in DNA: RG 46, EPIR). (5) Tayler to Dearborn, Albany, 19 July, conveying the treaty between the Oneidas and the state of New York and the treaties of the Senecas with the Holland Land Company and Oliver Phelps; Tayler noting that he would not have considered himself authorized to attend Phelps’s negotiations with the Senecas had Phelps not assured him that Phelps and Dearborn had corresponded on the matter and it was considered to be within Tayler’s commission; noting also the failure of Governor George Clinton’s agents to effect an agreement with the Senecas for the sale of the tract on the Niagara River (RC in same). (6) Clinton to Dearborn, Albany, 21 Aug.; described as Enclosure No. 2, Dearborn to TJ, 3 Sep. (7) Act of the legislature of New York, 19 Mch. 1802, described as Enclosure No. 3, same. (8) Tayler to Dearborn, 23 Aug.; described as Enclosure No. 4, same. (9) Paul Busti to Dearborn, 9 Aug.; described as Enclosure No. 6, same. (10) Phelps to Dearborn, Albany, 24 July, explaining that the small Seneca reservation known as Little Beard’s lay in the center of a tract owned by Phelps, and the Senecas desired to exchange it for land adjoining one of their other reservations; Phelps understood from George Clinton that the U.S. commissioner would be empowered to oversee this transaction, but he discovered that Tayler’s commission contained “nothing explicit on the Subject”; Tayler, however, was present as Phelps and the Senecas reached an agreement, and Phelps hopes that the transaction will be approved (RC in DNA: RG 46, EPIR; endorsed by Dearborn: “refer to Judge Taylors report”). Message and enclosures 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 , Indian Affairs, 1:663–8.

For the sale of land by the oneida indians, see Vol. 37:9.

For the negotiation between the seneca nation and the state of New York for the strip of land along the Niagara River—a transaction that Red Jacket sought and Handsome Lake opposed—see Vol. 36:633, 634n; Vol. 37:9, 30; Dearborn to TJ, 3 Sep.; TJ to Dearborn, 6 Sep.; and TJ to Handsome Lake, 3 Nov.

The holland Land Company had purchased rights to large tracts of land that Robert Morris acquired from the Senecas in 1797 (Vol. 36:342n; Vol. 37:37).

The Senate in March 1802 had confirmed TJ’s nomination of John Tayler as the U.S. commissioner for the negotiations with the Oneidas and the Senecas (Vol. 37:23–4).

respective ratifications: Meriwether Lewis delivered the message and documents on 28 Dec. On the 31st, the Senate unanimously approved the treaty between the Oneidas and the state of New York and the one between the Senecas and the state. The other two treaties required longer consideration as other matters intervened to take up the Senate’s time. The Senate approved the one between the Senecas and the Holland Land Company on 10 Jan. 1803 in a split vote, with Robert Wright of Maryland casting a lone negative against 21 ayes. On 7 Jan., the Senate referred the agreement between Phelps and the Senecas to a committee consisting of De Witt Clinton, Wright, and Gouverneur Morris. On 17 Jan., the Senate removed the injunction of secrecy, which was usual with regard to pending ratifications, from that treaty. On 4 Feb., the committee recommended approval and the Senate unanimously ratified the treaty (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States…to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:427–31, 437, 442).

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