James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Lyman, 25 January 1803

From Thomas Lyman

Washington, Jany. 25th. 1803.

To the Commissioners of the United States, appointed in pursuance of the acts of Congress relative to the government of the Missisippi Territory.

The present representation is submitted, as explanatory of the general statement already presented by the undersigned Agent for the Company of Military Adventurers and their Associates.1 This is done, from respect to an opinion, expressed on the part of the Commissioners, that the people who went upon the lands in question, and those who were driven off, might justly claim, although the Company as such could not support a legal claim, and that any explanations relative to this subject should be made in writing for the consideration of the Commissioners.

The Company, for whose benefit the claim is exhibited, consists of individuals, or the representatives of individuals, who went upon the lands in question as settlers. In the year 1796, they agreed to take measures for obtaining a confirmation of the lands to them, and for this purpose enrolled their names. Under this enrolment, they retained the former name of the Company, and are distinguished by the denomination of the New Roll. They agreed mutually to defray the expence of pursuing their claim as a common concern, and to share equally in whatever might be obtained for them. All the settlers, and representatives of settlers, who went upon the lands under the original company, are entitled, to their respective shares in the premises, as members of the Company in its present state.

Thomas Lyman Agent.

RC (DNA: RG 233, Petitions and Memorials, 8A-F5.4). In a clerk’s hand, signed and dated by Lyman. The addressees are JM, Albert Gallatin, and Levi Lincoln, commissioners for Georgia land claims.

1Filed with the RC is Lyman’s 17 Jan. 1803 “statement of the claim of the company of Military Adventurers … respectfully submitted by the … Agent” (14 pp.), which gives the history of the claim of the company, founded in 1763 by veterans of the Seven Years’ War, to nineteen townships totaling some 437,000 acres of land at the junction of the Yazoo and Mississippi rivers, records their dealings with the governor and council of British Florida in 1773, and explains that the American Revolution and the Yazoo controversy had delayed the pursuit of the claim. Also filed with the RC is a deposition by Thaddeus Lyman, dated 25 Dec. 1802 at New York (3 pp.; with a one-page certification by notary John Keese), giving the history of the settlement and development of the lands in question between 1774 and 1781, when the settlers were driven off by the Spanish. The claim of the company as a whole was rejected by the House on the grounds that JM, Gallatin, and Lincoln in their report had stated that it had “no foundation” and that those members of the group who had actually settled in British Florida had other means of redress available to them (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1832–61). description ends , Public Lands [1832 ed.], 1:132–58, 189, 257).

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