Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Miller, 30 December 1802

From James Miller

December. 30. 1802

Deear Sir

This Day I was in the Commissioners office where I saw the land Jobbers imposeing on the poore labouring people Charging them from ¼ to too Dollars per achree for their preemtions for which they never paid one Cent and now I find they are about to petetion for one year longer for to Speculate and for the Reserve Sections because they know that numbers of them are first Rate and will Sell high if it Could bee or would bee Convenient for the honoured Congress to Order it so as to Sell thease lands in Small quantitees they would find the benefit boath to them selves and the people Deear Sir if the land Jobers Do send their petetion I hope your honour will be kind anuf to Delay it Untill you have the voice of the people at large as I Do Expect their will be a petition Forwarded Relaiting their Situation and Expressing their wishes Deear Sir I am your most obedient and humble Servent

James Miller

RC (ViW: Tucker-Coleman Collection); addressed: “To the honoured president of the United States Thomis Jefferson Washenton City Collumbia”; franked; postmarked 4 Jan. 1803; endorsed by TJ as received 1 Feb. 1803 and so recorded in SJL.

On 3 Feb. 1803, the House of Representatives received a petition from James Miller and others, “inhabitants and settlers on Mad river, in the State of Ohio,” requesting the right to purchase “small portions” of public land in Ohio “on such terms and conditions as may be deemed reasonable and proper.” Miller was apparently among those who had settled on the Miami Purchase lands claimed and sold by John Cleves Symmes, but which were later found to lay beyond the authorized boundary of his purchase. In 1801, Congress granted persons residing on these lands a right of preemption to purchase them from the United States at a fixed price of $2 per acre. The act also authorized the president to appoint two commissioners, who, in conjunction with the receiver of public monies at Cincinnati, would ascertain the rights of those claiming preemptions. Claims were to be made by 1 Jan. 1802, but Congress later extended the deadline to 1 Mch. 1803. Additional letters from Miller to TJ dated 28 Oct. and 6 Dec. 1804, and an undated letter received 8 Feb. 1805, are recorded in SJL, but have not been found (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:320; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:112–14, 179–80; Vol. 31:8n; Vol. 35:392n; Miller to TJ, 1 Feb. 1803).

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