James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Arthur Breese, 11 April 1794

From Arthur Breese

Whitestown Ap. 11th. 94.


Your letter of the 22d. Ultimo. I Recd. a few days since. I live on the Sadaqueda Patent, three Miles from Lot No. 2.1 and am perfectly well acquainted with its general, situation, quality &ca. It is situated on the Mohawk river, near the confluence of two large Creeks, The Oriskany, & The Nine Mile Creeks—at the Distance of Nine Miles from Fort Stanwix, at which place a Canal, will be cut, so that the waters of Wood Creek, & the Mohawk, can communicate.2 There will then be an uninterupted Navigation for small Boats, to the Lake Ontario, excepting a trifling obstruction at the Falls of Oswego. The Country in every direction from the Lot is rapidly settling—the quality of the soil is unexceptionable. The rear as good as the Front. Prices of Land in its Neighborhood, in an unimproved State, is four Dollars Per acre—and the average worth of your Lot, is at least, that. Since I have been here, land has rose, Fifty Per Cent. which is nearly two years. And you may reasonably calculate a proportionable rise, for several years to come, Provided we are not engaged in a war, with some of the Belligerent Powers; such an event would check the settlement of this Country, and of course the price of Land must fall. People in this Place are generally Poor, few that would be able to advance you the Money, for the whole of the Lot, ’tho they might for part. So that you must calculate upon selling on a short credit. Town Lots in this Village are selling for £50. the acre, few can be obtained for that.

Your Lot being principally feasible Land, I suggest the Propriety of laying it out in 100. acre Lots, & selling it to Settlers at five Dollars an acre, upon a short credit, with Interest.

If I can contribute to’ads the consummation of your wishes—it shall be with Much Chearfulness. I have the Honor to be Sir, with Much Respect Yr. Most Obet. Humbe. Servt.

Arthur Breese3

RC (DLC). Addressed by Breese to JM at Philadelphia and franked. Docketed by JM.

1JM and Monroe had purchased a 900—acre Mohawk Valley tract, Lot 2 of the Sedachqueda Patent, as a speculation in 1786. JM took over Monroe’s interest in 1792 and finally sold the land in 1796 (Brant, Madison, 2:339–42).

2In 1792 the New York legislature passed an act incorporating the Western Inland Lock Navigation Company, which planned improvements on the Mohawk River. The company’s early efforts, directed by Philip Schuyler, were unsuccessful (Nathan Miller, “Private Enterprise in Inland Navigation: The Mohawk Route prior to the Erie Canal,” N.Y. History, 31 [1950]: 398–99).

3Arthur Breese moved in 1793 to Whitestown (now Whitesboro), New York, near the headwaters of the Mohawk River. He later became clerk of the Supreme Court of Western New York.

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