Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 20 March 1803

To Albert Gallatin

Monticello Mar. 20. 1803.

Dear Sir

Your’s of the 14th. is recieved and I have written to mr Madison to issue a commission to Edward Turner of Kentuckey to be Register of the land office at Natchez. a commission has issued to Trist vice Carmichael. Thompson and Watson may await my return. I now inclose the power for transferring the 2500. D. to the disposal of the Secretary at war.

I do not find in my library any thing which can throw light on the geography of the Rio Norte. I do not believe that in modern times any thing has been added to the information given as to that river in early times. of this information Mitchell had the benefit. his map was made under public patronage & with all the information that could procure him. that it was made with great care we know from what is laid down of those Western parts with which we have lately become acquainted. certainly we find his map much nearer the truth than could have been expected considering when it was made. hence I conclude that his delineation of the Rio Norte is more to be credited than any other, not excepting Danville & Delisle. Accept my best affections.

Th: Jefferson

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers); addressed: “Albert Gallatin Secretary of the Treasury Washington”; franked; postmarked Charlottesville, 21 Mch.; endorsed. PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “Register Natchez. Missouri.” Enclosure not found.

The 1755 map by John mitchell provided detailed information of the British colonies on the Atlantic coast and of the Ohio River settlements and drainage. His map, however, did not extend to the Pacific Ocean or include new information on lands west of the Mississippi River. public patronage: Mitchell’s draft map, completed in 1750 after he had emigrated from Virginia and settled in London, came to the attention of members of the Board of Trade and Plantations, who oversaw the American colonies. Impressed with his cartographic work, the board gave Mitchell access to all of their records so that he could make a more complete map. The board asked colonial governors and others to send new surveys to London. They asked the Hudson’s Bay Company, for example, to send “as exact an Account as you can of the Limits and Boundaries of the Territory granted” to them “together with a Chart or Map thereof, and all the best Accounts and Vouchers you can obtain.” The historical and geographical report from Virginia, compiled by Joshua Fry, included a map drawn by him with the assistance of Peter Jefferson, TJ’s father. Between 1750 and 1755, the board spent £104 on maps and charts for Mitchell’s use (Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, Dr. John Mitchell: The Man Who Made the Map of North America [Chapel Hill, 1974], 85–7, 175–81, 194–7, 204 [illus.], 213; John Logan Allen, Passage through the Garden: Lewis and Clark and the Image of the American Northwest [Urbana, Ill., 1975], 118–19; John Mitchell, A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America, with the Roads, Distances, Limits, and Extent of the Settlements [London, 1755]). Robert King used the map by Guillaume de L’Isle (delisle) as his source for the Rio Norte (Gary E. Moulton, ed., Atlas of the Lewis & Clark Expedition [Lincoln, Neb., 1983], plate 2).

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