Thomas Jefferson Papers

Christopher Rankin to Thomas Jefferson, 20 March 1822

From Christopher Rankin

Washington March 20. 1822


The enclosed was found by me, in a volume of State papers, formerly your property, now in the Library of Congress. The proclamations, by the Spanish government, referred to in this statement are exceedingly important, in support of the interests of many of the people I have the honor to represent in Congress, whose rights to land are jeopardised by claims derived from the British government. They cannot be found among the Records left us, by the Spanish government, at Natchez. Presuming that you might possibly, on seeing this paper, still preserve some recollection of it which might lead to a discovery of the papers I have taken the liberty of interrupting your few hours of peaceful retirement from the service of your country, by a request, that you will have the goodness to make such communication of your knowledge of these papers, as your memory, at this distant period, can furnish. The enclosed you will please also return, that I may place it, in the library of Congress.

I have the honor to be Yours very respectfully
 Christopher Rankin
Mem. of the H. of Reps Mississippi

RC (ViW: TC-JP); endorsed by TJ as received 24 Mar. 1822 and so recorded in SJL. RC (ViW: Robb-Bernard Papers); address cover only; with Dft of TJ to David Hosack, 23 Aug. 1824, on verso; addressed: “Mr Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia.”

Christopher Rankin (d. 1826), attorney and public official, was a native of Washington County, Pennsylvania, who graduated in 1809 from Jefferson College in Canonsburg (later merged into Washington and Jefferson College). He taught school the next year in Milledgeville, Georgia, then moved to Natchez, Mississippi, and practiced law. In 1813 Rankin represented Amite County in the territorial government before being appointed attorney general for the Western District of Mississippi, serving from 1814 until 1817. In the latter year he represented Adams County at Mississippi’s first constitutional convention. Rankin sat in the United States House of Representatives from 1819 until his death, chairing the Committee on Public Lands starting in 1821. He was described as “not quite thirty years of age” in 1815 and “about 40 years” old at the time of his death in Washington (Biographical and Historical Catalogue of Washington and Jefferson College [1902], 22; Milledgeville Georgia Journal, 3 Apr., 15 Aug. 1810; Terr. Papers description begins Clarence E. Carter and John Porter Bloom, eds., The Territorial Papers of the United States, 1934–75, 28 vols. description ends , 6:553–4, 559–60, 811; Dunbar Rowland, The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi, 1908 [1908], 4, 9; Natchez Mississippi State Gazette, 7 Aug. 1819; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States description ends , 15:9 [5 Dec. 1821]; Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 6 Dec. 1819, 16 Mar. 1826).

Index Entries

  • Ellicott, Andrew (1754–1820); memorandum to, from J. Girault search
  • Girault, John; memorandum of, to A. Ellicott search
  • Great Britain; and Mississippi lands search
  • Great Britain; and W. Fla. search
  • Library of Congress; TJ sells personal library to search
  • Mississippi (state); land claims in search
  • Rankin, Christopher; and land claims search
  • Rankin, Christopher; identified search
  • Rankin, Christopher; letter from search
  • Spain; and W. Fla. search
  • State Department, U.S.; and W. Fla. border search