Thomas Jefferson Papers

Hugh Nelson to Thomas Jefferson, 4 March 1820

From Hugh Nelson

Washington March 4th 1820


Presuming that you feel a deep Interest in the decission of the question which of late so much1 agitated the Country, I doubt not2 a brief statement of its Issue will be agreable—on Friday last, the 2d Int it was finally settled between the two Houses. The Restriction on Missouri as a state was rejected and also in the Country South of 36.° 30′ N.3 which lies west of Arkansaw—but on the Country west of the State of Missouri and north of this line of latitude, which is altogether [u]nsettled and over which the Indian Title still exists, as you know, they persevred in asserting that this restriction shoud be imposed. In the House Rep. the majority was in favour of the entire restriction over the state as well as the unsettled Territory—In the Senate the majority was against restricting the State, but had no doubt of the right of restricting the Territory—The result has been the exemption of Missouri & of Arkansa and all the Territory South of the Line of Latitude mentioned—Thus has ended this momentous question, which seemed to threaten most seriously the existence of the Union and the continuance of the Peace of the Country—With a day’s rest I trust we shall regain our good humour and proceed to transact the business of the Country, which for seven weeks past has been almost out of View—

Accept the tender of my respects and allow me to subscribe my self yr obedt hbl st

Hugh Nelson

The Bill for admission of Missouri is still with the President unsigned—The Maine Bill was signed on Friday

RC (MHi); edge chipped; endorsed by TJ as received 10 Mar. 1820 and so recorded in SJL.

On the preceding Thursday (not friday), the 2d int, after a conference between the United States House of Representatives and the Senate, both chambers agreed to admit Missouri as a slave state on the terms described above (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 13:274–9). President James Monroe signed the bill for admission of Missouri on 6 Mar. 1820, having already assented to the bill admitting Maine to statehood three days earlier (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 13:287; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, 1845–67, 8 vols. description ends , 3:544, 545–8).

1Word interlined in place of “deeply.”

2Preceding two words interlined in place of “presume.”

3Abbreviation interlined.

Index Entries

  • House of Representatives, U.S.; and Missouri question search
  • Indians, American; and Missouri question search
  • Missouri question; congressional consideration of search
  • Monroe, James; and Missouri question search
  • Nelson, Hugh; and Missouri question search
  • Nelson, Hugh; as U.S. representative from Va. search
  • Nelson, Hugh; letters from search
  • Senate, U.S.; and Missouri question search