Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from James Seagrove, 16 July 1807

Town of St: Mary’s in Georgia 16 July 1807


Agreeably to a resolution passed this day, by the Committee of Safety of this town; I am directed to forward to you, a copy of all the Resolutions they have entered into; and also to state to you, the present unprotected situation of this port & and district. The resolutions I have the honor to inclose. It now remains to state to you, our situation at this momentous crisis: which I shall do with brivity and candor; founded on my intimate knowledge of the facts.

In the first place, Sir, I have to inform, that the bar of Saint Mary’s, is fully equal to admitting Vessels drawing twenty feet water; and after they will have the same draft of water for Eighty miles up the St Mary’s river, through a country abounding with large herds of Cattle on both banks; and the land covered with the best of timber for building of Vessels. Our port is spacious, and secure from storms. The climate remarkably good. These things considered in conjunction with the near approach of the Gulph stream to our bar—our vicinity to Bermudas & the Bahama Islands these nests for Privatiers and rendezvouses for crusing vessels, might induce them to visit us, having in view different objects—such as obtaining supplies of Cattle and provisions, and of plundering both town & country—and of securing a secure harbour in our waters & probably of opening a communication by this river with their old friends and Ally’s the Creek Indians. To prevent anything of this kind taking place, I can assure you, that there is not a Fort, or battery, or a single Cannon mounted or a Carriage to mount one on—Not a pound of either powder or balls in this County belonging to the publick, and but little belonging to individuals. Our Militia consisting of near five hundred, not more then half of them properly armed. A few small guns belonging to the United States (Nine in number) 4 & 9 Pounders all Iron, lay buried in the ruins of Fort Washington on Point Peter—these are without carraiges, and considered too light for the defence of this river. One brass Six pounder belonging to the U: States in this town—sent here by Governor Milledge from Savannah—it is without a Carriage or any equipments for a field piece or amunition sutable for it: which if there was it would be found very useful, as there is a Company of Artillery now forming in this town

I beg leave to mention that the approach by water to this place is capable of being defended—There are two Sites for forts; the one on the south point of Cumberland Island at the entrance from Sea—the other at the mouth of S Mary’s river on Point Peter three miles from the first site—The river at the first place is one mile wide, at the later only half a mile. This town is distant from the Sea by course of the river only Six miles—It contains nearly One hundred houses and five hundred inhabitants; and dayly growing into importance as a commercial port. No place more favourable for shipbuilding; as having the best of timber, and good workmen of every kind necessary for that purpose as any in the U: States

These things I mention with all possible defference and respect, and as an additional motive with Government for streaching out her procting arm to our new settlement that in no very distant period may be of use to the union: but if suffered to fall into the hands of our enemy’s, might be very detrimental during a War—

It might be thought presumptious in me to mention or attempt to state what I might think would be sufficient Works, and Garrisons for the defence of St Mary’s—for which reason I decline saying a word on that head—having the most entire and unlimited confidence in the Executive of our general Government that they will afford us all the aid they conveniently & immediately can in support of our own exertions in the defence of our conmon Country—I hope you will excuse the plain unadorned statement I now lay before you: but I conceived such stile would be the most acceptable to a man worthy of presiding as the head of a nation of freemen—With sentiments of profound respect and veneration I remain

Sir Your devoted Obedt Humbe St:

Jas Seagrove Chairman

of the Committee of safety of

St Mary’s in Georgia

DNA: RG 107—LRUS—Letters Received by the Secretary of War, Unregistered Series.

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