Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Francis W. Gilmer, 28 February 1816

To Francis W. Gilmer

Monticello Feb. 28. 16.

Dear Sir

I am sorry it is not in my power to furnish you any documents on the subject of the Louisiana boundary. all these went with my library. soon after the acquisition of that country, I investigated it’s history & boundaries minutely, made out a Chronological series of it’s historical events, and formed a memoir establishing it’s boundaries from Perdido to the Rio Bravo. these were sent to our Commrs at Madrid who had that negotiation in hand, but copies remain in the Secy of State’s office. afterwards there was found in possession of the family of the late Govr Messier an original MS. history of the settlemt of that country from 1699. to 1723. written by Bernard de la Harpe in the form of almost a daily journal, he being on the spot. this contained much interesting matter. it proved the constant claim of France to the Bravo, and that the settlements of the Spaniards at Nacogdoches, Adaïs, Assinaÿs, Natchitoches, were corruptly contrived between M. St Denys an agent of Crozat the merchant & patentee, and a Spanish priest. Crozat’s object was commerce alone, and chiefly contraband with Mexico,1 and these were contrived as smuggling posts: and before the expiration of his patent and return of the govmt to the crown, they had become established firmly. this MS. is in the Secy of State’s office. in the Virginia Argus of about a month ago was an excellent Chronological statement, which appeared so much like an extract from mine & from La Harpe’s MS. that I almost suspected it came from some one in the Secy of State’s office. it had few omissions & no errors. you may safely trust it. Cooper will make the most of his materials; but they must be very scanty.

Your’s affectionately

Th: Jefferson

RC (ViU: TJP); at foot of text: “Francis W. Gilmer esq.” PoC (DLC); endorsed by TJ.

For the chronological series and the article from the Richmond Virginia Argus, see TJ to James Monroe, 17 Feb. 1816, and note. govr messier: Athanase de Mézières. For the ms. history by Benard de La Harpe, see TJ to Monroe, 9 Apr. 1816, and note. st denys: Louis Juchereau de Saint Denis.

1Manuscript: “Nexico.”

Index Entries

  • Cooper, Thomas; on La. boundary question search
  • Crozat, Antoine; charter of search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; and boundary of Louisiana Territory search
  • Gilmer, Francis Walker; letters to search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Chronological Series of Facts Relative to Louisiana search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Examination into the Boundaries of Louisiana search
  • Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne (B. de La Harpe) search
  • La Harpe, Benard de; Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne search
  • Louisiana (Spanish and French colony); Journal historique Concernant l’Etablissement des françois à la Louisianne (B. de la Harpe) search
  • Louisiana (Spanish and French colony); “Chronological Series of Facts relative to Louisiana” (Jefferson) search
  • Louisiana (Spanish and French colony); “Examination into the Boundaries of Louisiana” (Jefferson) search
  • Louisiana Territory; boundaries of search
  • Mézières, Athanase de; and B. de La Harpe manuscript search
  • Monroe, James; as secretary of state search
  • newspapers; RichmondVirginia Argus search
  • Pinckney, Charles; negotiates with Spain search
  • Spain; and La. search
  • St. Denis, Louis Juchereau de; and French Louisiana search
  • State Department, U.S.; and La. boundaries search
  • State Department, U.S.; “Chronological Series of Facts relative to Louisiana,” search
  • Virginia Argus (Richmond newspaper); and La. boundary dispute search