Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 14 March 1803

From Albert Gallatin

Washington 14th March 1803

Dear Sir

You will receive herewith an official representation dated the 5th instt., submitting the propriety of removing the collectors of Brunswick Georgia, Plymouth Mass., & Fort Adams, Mississ.; The Commissions for their three successors Turner of Georgia, Henry Warren & Mr Trist have already been received from the Secretary of State & transmitted to them. I had understood that a commission of register for the land office at Natchez was also to be made out in the name of the other Turner of the Mississippi territory; but upon application to the departt. of State, it was found that his name had not been transmitted by you; and being myself ignorant of his christian name, it was necessarily delayed. The sooner you can transmit his name, the better it will be, as, independent of other reasons, I think it eligible that the news of his appointment should, together with that of Cato West, be received in the Territory as early as that of Mr Triest.

I have issued a Warrant for the 2,500 dollars appropriated for the extension of the external commerce of the United States in favor of T. Tucker as Treasurer of the Military department, which will, of course, place the whole sum subject to the drafts of Gen. Dearborn as Secy. of War; but it is necessary that I should have for that purpose your authorization: a form is herein enclosed. Capn. Lewis leaves this place to morrow morning. I have requested Mr King to project a blank map to extend from 88 to 126° West longitude from Greenwich & from 30° to 55° north latitude; which will give us the whole course of the Mississipi and the whole coast of the Pacific ocean within the same latitudes together with a sufficient space to the North to include all the head waters of the Port Nelson River. In this I intend to insert the course of the Mississipi as high up as the Ohio from Ellicot’s, the coast of the Pacific from Cook & Vancouver, the north bend of the Missouri & such other of its waters as are there delineated from the three maps of Arrowsmith & from that of Mackenzie, and the Rio Norte and other parts of the Missoury from Danville & Delisle. The most difficult point to ascertain is the latitude of the sources of the Rio Norte; and it is important, in order to know whether there would be any danger in following a more southerly branch of the Missouri than that delineated in Mackenzie’s & in the manuscript transcribed from Mr Thornton’s map by Cap. Lewis. I mention this because you may perhaps have some book at Monticello, which might throw some light on that subject or at least on the latitude & longitude of Santa Fe.

I do not perceive that there will be any thing of importance to be done in this department till your return—

With respect & attachment Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 18 Mch. and “Thompson, Watson, Carmichael, Turner, map” and so recorded in SJL with notation “Capt. Lewis.” Enclosures not found.

Joseph turner replaced Claud Thomson as collector at Brunswick, Georgia. For the search for Thomson’s successor, see Vol. 38:241, 243n, 259, 446, 447n, 462, 464. For the appointment of henry warren in place of William Watson at Plymouth, see Warren’s letter to TJ of 10 Nov. 1802. In his list of appointments, TJ interlined the entries for all three of the new collectors at 3 Mch. (see Vol. 39: Appendix I).

register for the land office: Edward Turner, a lawyer, who had joined his brother Henry, a merchant at Natchez, in January 1802. He was recommended for the office by Thomas Marston Green and John Breckinridge. By September 1803, he had received his temporary commission and instructions from Gallatin, dated 27 July. Recently married to Cato West’s daughter, Turner feared local Federalists and others would try to prevent his confirmation by the Senate (Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 5:264–71; Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:572–6; 47:889).

The Senate confirmed the appointment of cato west as secretary of Mississippi Territory on 3 Mch., and the State Department issued his permanent commission on that date (commission in Lb in DNA: RG 59, MPTPC; Matthew Clay to TJ, 28 Feb.; TJ to the Senate, 1 Mch. 1803).

external commerce: the term used to ensure confidentiality when Congress appropriated $2,500 for the expedition to explore beyond the Mississippi River (see note to TJ to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 18 Jan., first message, and TJ to James Monroe, 25 Feb. 1803).

The map that Nicholas king prepared at Gallatin’s request covered an area from Lake Michigan on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west, and from the junction of the Ohio River with the Mississippi on the south to beyond Lake Winnipeg on the north. Alexander Mackenzie’s recently published Voyages from Montreal indicated that rivers such as the Saskatchewan, feeding into Lake Winnipeg and the nelson River, formed a route between the western mountains and Hudson Bay. Other sources of geographical information that Gallatin expected to use for the map included Andrew Ellicott’s chart of the Mississippi River completed in 1801, the explorations of James Cook and George Vancouver along the Pacific Coast, and maps of North America by the British cartographer Aaron Arrowsmith. Older French maps, such as those by Jean d’Anville and Guillaume de L’Isle, placed the sources of the Rio Grande—the Rio del norte—in the northern Great Plains, which would put the course of that river to the west of some tributaries of the Missouri. If that proved to be true, the headwaters of those branches of the Missouri would not be near the sources of any rivers running to the Pacific. The map that King produced from the information collected by Gallatin, in a large area marked “Conjectural,” does show the upper part of the Rio del Norte to the west of the lower branches of the Missouri. The map posits, however, a main branch of the Missouri that has its headwaters near the mountains and loops around the head of the Rio del Norte. One segment of that hypothetical course of the Missouri River appears in detail, marking locations where the Pawnee and Mandan Indians lived. That information came from a map copied by Meriwether Lewis, apparently from one in Edward thornton’s possession. It charted a portion of the river with coordinates of latitude and longitude from data collected by the North West Company (Gary E. Moulton, ed., Atlas of the Lewis & Clark Expedition [Lincoln, Neb., 1983], 5, plate 2; John Logan Allen, Passage through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest [Urbana, Ill., 1975], 74–90; King’s map of western North America, in Geography and Map Division, DLC; map of bend of the Missouri River in Lewis’s hand, same; W. Kaye Lamb, ed., The Journals and Letters of Sir Alexander Mackenzie [Cambridge, 1970], 110–16; Vol. 35:423; Vol. 37:565–6n).

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