Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 16 September 1803

From Albert Gallatin

New York 16th Septer. 1803

Dear Sir

I have not heard from you for a long while, not since I returned the letters of our Ministers at Paris & forwarded the copy of Mr Marbois’s letter & some letters from Simons. I trust that this is not owing to want of health, but feel somewhat uneasy, as I have not even received any indirect account of you. I had waited for your opinion of the proper answer to Mr Marbois, but have in the meanwhile sketched a very general answer which I enclose for your consideration. Finding difficulties in copper engraving which might have created delay, I have concluded to have all the certificates merely printed at Washington, and have directed the Register to take all the necessary measures to have the whole printed within ten days after notice given to the printers; so that the moment Mr Baring arrives and the form of the certificates shall have been agreed on, the whole may be executed at once. You may, therefore, rely that the whole will be ready for delivery the day that a law shall have been passed to carry the convention into effect.

I enclose a letter from John Pintard who resided some time at New Orleans, on the subject of Louisiana. He is certainly mistaken as to the population of the province, but some of his hints may be of service.

Being disappointed in horses, having lost one on the road, & the fever here & in Philada. having deranged the usual travelling resources, I do not think that I will be able to leave this before the 22d inst., or arrive in the city before the 30th. So far as relates to my own office, this short delay will not be attended with any inconvenience, as I have received here & am arranging the documents necessary for Congress.

With sincere respect & attachment Your obdt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 25 Sep. and “Marbois answ. new stock. Pintard” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: John Pintard to Albert Gallatin, New Rochelle, New York, 14 Sep. 1803, enclosing observations on New Orleans recollected from his visit there in 1801; he notes that revenues under the Spanish administration included a six percent duty on imports, an unknown duty on exports, and an internal tax of $.50 per barrel of flour that was used principally for lighting the streets of New Orleans; the other revenues were used primarily to support the civil and military departments, the estimated costs being $900,000 in times of peace and $1,500,000 in periods of war; Spain covered the costs of the Louisiana colony with proceeds from mines in Mexico; the salaries of civil officers were moderate, the governor’s salary not exceeding $5,000, but all government officers “were open to bribery & corruption & to peculation”; using “the Bishops returns of marriageable females, within his diocese,” Pintard estimates the population of the province, including Mobile and Pensacola, at 156,000, excluding “Blacks,” and, according to 1801 census returns, New Orleans had a population of 12,000; Pintard notes that the choice of governor will be very important in establishing the new government; he should speak French and must be provided with an adequate salary, because “the reciprocation of hospitalities, in a very hospitable country, will be expensive”; a house and steward must be provided at government expense; the secretary should also be bilingual; noting that the colony was accustomed to a military regimen, Pintard recommends that the choice of a commanding officer be given as much consideration as that of governor, for he must be firm and decisive “to support, in case of necessity, the civil arm”; Pintard recommends introducing some of the respected city officials from the 12-member town council of New Orleans into the new American system of jurisprudence to give it credibility and energy to contend with “riots of untractable sailors, drunken Indians, and Kentuckey boatmen, more vicious & savage then either”; the practice of having the military, “which guards the city by night,” support the police ought to be continued; Pintard notes that the Spanish government maintains the clergy and a bishopric at New Orleans and recommends that if the U.S. “Government could devise some expedient to continue the existing salaries, during the lives of the present incumbents, it would attach the priests to the new order of things, and their influence would be serviceable,” the expense being not more than $3,000 per year; as to the custom house and collection of revenues, Pintard recommends an “entire new set of officers, from the Collector to the Inspector” because “None of the present race can be trusted—they are all hacknied in the practices of bribery & cheating the revenue,” and he contemplates the establishment of a custom house at the English Turn, about 18 miles below New Orleans (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 , 8:678-9; 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 , 9:49-54; Jedidiah Morse, The American Gazetteer, 2d ed. [Charlestown, Mass., 1804]). Other enclosure not found.

For the correspondence returned and forwarded, see Gallatin’s letter to the president of 5 Sep.

Gallatin met with New York City merchant john pintard on 13 Sep. and evidently discussed the Queries on Louisiana, printed at 9 July (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 , 9:49; Vol. 17:352-3n; enclosure described above). For other estimates on the population of the province and New Orleans, see 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 , Miscellaneous, 1:348, 381-4; Daniel Clark to TJ, 18 Aug.; and William C. C. Claiborne to TJ, 24 Aug.

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