Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart, 15 March 1819

To Archibald Stuart

Monticello Mar. 15. 19.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 9th was delivered by mr Cosby. you will have seen, by the advertisement I took the liberty of inclosing you, the ground on which these applications are placed. his success will depend on the terms he offers; and so far as character may decide in competitions otherwise equal, his cannot be on more favorable foundation than that of your recommendation and Chancellor Brown’s.

With respect to the land titles which are the subject of mr Kinney’s letter I have no paper, but some recollections. the land North of the Carolina line in the bend of Tenissee, Ohio & Missisipi, were always deemed the property of the Chickasaws, altho’ the Cherokees set up some vague claims in that quarter. it has been a principle with the Chickasaws never to part with a foot of land. mr Henry I think tried all the influence of his personal1 friendship with Piamingo, but could not2 prevail. I succeeded him in the government and used my best efforts to obtain those lands, but in vain. we recieved information in 1779. from our ministers in Europe that a peace was likely to be hastily patched up on the principle of uti possidetis. I immediately engaged Dr Walker & Daniel Smith to go and ascertain the latitude of 36°–30′ on the bank of Missisipi, and directed Genl Clarke to erect a fort on the first bluff above it, assuring the Chickasaws that it was done for temporary purposes but should be sacredly restored to them. they were excessively disturbed at it, but valuing themselves on uninterrupted fidelity to the whites, they did not oppose force. on the contrary the fort, after being beleaguered for 6. months by either the Cherokees or Choctaws, was relieved by the Chickasaws. while Secretary of state, in Genl Washington’s time, I used again great efforts to obtain these lands for the Virginia claimants, but in vain: and I believe you may rest assured that there never was a treaty of cession of a foot of land with the Chickasaws either by the state or general government, until this late one; into which I suspect they have been overawed by the terrors of what the Creeks have suffered. in the mean time I think a purchase was made of the vague3 claim of the Cherokees as preparatory to it’s consolidation with the unquestionable right of the Chickasaws whenever that might be obtained; and further this deponent saith not, except that he salutes you with constant and affectionate friendship & respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); on a reused address cover from Joel Yancey to TJ; at foot of first page: “Judge Stuart”; endorsed by TJ.

A missing letter from TJ to Stuart of 11 Mar. 1819, not found but recorded in SJL, probably covered a copy of Nelson Barksdale’s and TJ’s advertisement for Workmen for the University of Virginia, [by 3 Mar. 1819]. uti possidetis is the “doctrine that old administrative boundaries will become international boundaries when a political subdivision achieves independence” (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ).

For TJ’s instructions as governor of Virginia to George Rogers Clark (genl clarke) and to Thomas Walker and Daniel Smith, both of 29 Jan. 1780, see PTJ description begins Julian P. Boyd, Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, James P. McClure, and others, eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 1950– , 42 vols. description ends , 3:273–9. Clark constructed an army post that year in present-day Kentucky near the mouth of the Ohio River. It was named Fort Jefferson in TJ’s honor.

By the treaty of cession of 19 Oct. 1818, the Chickasaw Indians sold the United States all their lands “lying north of the south boundary of the State of Tennessee.” The United States Senate ratified the agreement on 6 Jan. 1819 (ASP, Indian Affairs, 2:164–5; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States description ends , 3:166).

1Word added in margin.

2Word interlined.

3TJ here canceled “title.”

Index Entries

  • Barksdale, Nelson; Advertisement for Workmen for the University of Virginia search
  • Brown, John (1762–1826); recommends D. Cosby search
  • Cherokee Indians; and siege of Fort Jefferson search
  • Cherokee Indians; lands of search
  • Chickasaw Indians; lands of search
  • Choctaw Indians search
  • Clark (Clarke), George Rogers; and Fort Jefferson search
  • Cosby, Dabney; as brick-mason for University of Virginia search
  • Cosby, Dabney; recommendations of search
  • Creek Indians; and War of1812 search
  • Fort Jefferson (Ky.) search
  • Henry, Patrick (1736–99); governor of Va. search
  • Indians, American; Cherokee search
  • Indians, American; Chickasaw search
  • Indians, American; Choctaw search
  • Indians, American; Creek search
  • Indians, American; treaties with search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as governor of Va. search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Public Service; as secretary of state search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Advertisement for Workmen for the University of Virginia search
  • Kinney, Mr.; and titles to western lands search
  • Piomingo (Chickasaw chief) search
  • Smith, Daniel; surveyor search
  • Stuart, Archibald; and brick-masons for University of Virginia search
  • Stuart, Archibald; letters to search
  • Stuart, Archibald; recommends D. Cosby search
  • Virginia, University of; Construction and Grounds; brickmakers and brick-masons for search
  • Walker, Thomas (1715–94); as surveyor search
  • War of1812; and Indians search
  • Washington, George; as president search