Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 6 January 1806

6 January 1806

Those papers which relate principally to the appointmt. of Surveyor General in Louisiana and contain the reasons which induced Gen. Wilkinson to make the appointmt. were sent by the Secy. of State to me. As the difficulty arose from an omission & apparent inconsistency in the acts of Congress, a bill has been introduced in the house for the purpose of 1. extending the powers of the Surveyr. Gen. of the U.S. over Louisiana. 2. providing for a delivery of all the papers relating to that subject by the former Spanish surveyor to the Survr. General of the U. States. 3. declaring, (in order to prevent any sanction attaching to surveys or claims, from the confirmation of Soulard by Gov. Harrison and Gen. Wilkinson) that all surveys made since Decer. 1803, shall be considered as private surveys. So far as relates to the principle of surveying, nothing more appears necessary. But I think that Gen. Wilkinson should be advised that he has nothing to do with the land business (which is entirely under the direction of the Surveyr. general & land register & commrs.) unless it be to remove intruders under the existing laws. That caution given to him might prevent some of the altercations for authority—

On the subject of the papers relative to the lead mine I believe that some decision will be necessary. Shall the people be permitted to continue digging or not? The Spanish Govt. was both despotic & lax, neither respecting individual rights, nor protecting its own. The sooner the inhabitants are taught that our principles are the reverse, the better: and whether it might not be proper to instruct Gen. Wilkinson to remove or forbid digging where no title appears but a permission, is submitted. By the act of last year, the Commissrs. are directed to make to the Secy. of the Treasy. a report on that subject to be laid before Congress. Nothing has yet been received from them, and in the mean while, the habit of occupying & wasting public property under the Govt. of the U. States, takes deeper root.


DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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