Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Thomas T. Davis, 5 October 1803

From Thomas T. Davis

Kaskaskie. Indiana Territory
October 5th 1803.

Dr Sir

Since the Date of my Letter to you at Saint Vincennes I have been employed in visiting the Spanish settlements on the other side the Mississippi. The People are wealthy & the Land rich. most of them are averse to the Cession of Louisiana to the U.S. but I think by a little attention & moderation they may be easily won over. They are affraid of the Liberation of their Slaves (of which they have great numbers). I advised them to petition Congress on the subject they have done so. Tomorrow I set out for Saint Louis: to see a French man named Shoto who it is said has Just returned from Santofee & Reports that he has found a Salt Rock of immense size on the Dividing Ridge that seperates the Head Waters of the Arkinsaw River from the head waters of the Missouri Shoto & his party have brought some Considerable quantity. I shall be at great pains to ascertain this fact. Those who live on the River Arkinsaw affirm that when that River is high the water is salt.

In the upper Louisiana there is about ten thousand Souls. The americans are setling fast on the Spanish side. It will be most agreeable to the people on the Spanish side to form a seperate Territory. But if that side is added to Indiana Territory an increase of Judges must be necessary.

I am respectfully your Obt Sevt.

Tho. T Davis

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 10 Nov. and so recorded in SJL.

my letter to you: Davis to TJ, 26 Sep. 1803, recorded in SJL as received 18 Oct. from Vincennes, but not found.

shoto: either Auguste Chouteau or his half-brother Pierre Chouteau, who were partners and dominant players in the western fur and Indian trades. Auguste conducted most of his business from St. Louis, while Pierre had resided for many years among the Osage Indians in western Missouri. In early 1804, TJ received a number of mineral samples from the Chouteaus, including salt from “the great Saline of the Osage Nation” located on a southern branch of the Arkansas River about 600 miles from St. Louis (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999, 24 vols. description ends , s.v. “Chouteau, René Auguste” and “Chouteau, Jean Pierre”; Davis to TJ, 28 Jan. 1804; Meriwether Lewis to TJ, 18 May 1804).

salt rock of immense size: see John Bradford to TJ, 29 Nov. 1803.

If upper louisiana was formed into a separate territory, Davis hoped to be named its governor. Writing to James Madison on 18 Oct. 1803, Davis asked to have his wish made known to the president, adding that “My standing in the Estimation of the people in the Western Country will render such an Appointment very popular” (RC in DNA: RG 59, LAR; endorsed by TJ: “Davis Thos. T. to be a Governr. Louisa. lre to mr Madison”).

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