James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Stanley Griswold, 21 February 1807

Michigan Territory, Detroit, 21st. February 1807.


In the ordinance of Congress of the 13th. July 1787, ⟨is⟩ the following passage describing the duties of the territorial Secretary:

"It shall be his duty to keep and preserve the acts and

laws passed by the legislature, and the public records

of the District, and the proceedings of the Governor in

his executive department."

U. S. laws, vol. 2, page 560.

Agreeably to the first and the last members of this passage, I have kept and preserved the acts and laws passed by the ⟨le⟩gislature, and the proceedings of the Governor in his ⟨ex⟩ecutive department; but have nothing in my ⟨ke⟩eping other than these, or any thing which might be ⟨i⟩ntended by the middle clause, viz. "the public records of ⟨th⟩e District." If Deeds of land, Wills &c. be intended, ⟨I⟩ have to inform, that this legislature have appointed other depositories for these. If the Journals of the ⟨le⟩gislature be embraced in any of the above clauses, I ⟨be⟩g to be empowered by you to call for them. In ⟨sh⟩ort, if the course which has been pursued should in your ⟨j⟩udgment fall short of the full and exact intent of the ⟨p⟩assage above quoted from the Ordinance, I shall expect ⟨y⟩our instructions.

While writing, I will just say, it is reported ⟨he⟩re, that our legislature have adopted the late patriotic Law of Ohio respecting conspirators against the public ⟨s⟩afety, tho’ with a modification, it is said, of the ⟨a⟩mount of bail to be required. It is further added, that they ordered their Clerk immediately to make out ⟨a⟩nd transmit a Copy to Government, probably to your ⟨o⟩ffice. I have to inform you, that no such Law ⟨h⟩as been deposited in my office, nor any information ⟨tr⟩anspired from the board to me that such a law exists: ⟨I⟩ have not seen the original, nor examined, or compared, or certified, or seen any Copy. If it exist, it is yet a secret law, nor am I able to give any information of its provisions (as adopted) to the numerous applicants who are in the habit of repairing to my office for knowledge of the territorial laws. The motion at the legisla⟨tive⟩ Board for their Clerk to transmit a copy to governmen⟨t,⟩ I am told, came from Judge Woodward. I hope this gentleman does not intend (before he has the sanc⟨tion⟩ of Congress) to reduce to practice the idea he utter⟨ed⟩ publicly in open board last fall, that the office of territorial Secretary ought to be abolished as an un⟨n⟩ecessary appendage to this government, and an use⟨less⟩ expence to the public.

It gives me pain, Sir, to inform of these thing⟨s;⟩ but I conceive that I should be wanting in duty, no⟨t⟩ to do it. Nor can I refrain from assuring you, tha⟨t⟩ the people of this Territory are much discouraged, an⟨d⟩ that some of its most valuable citizens, true frien⟨ds⟩ of the American government and Union, are resolv⟨ed⟩ to leave it, for which they are now making preparat⟨ions,⟩ and they openly and unreservedly avow the cause ⟨of⟩ doing so. I have the honor to be, with great respec⟨t,⟩ Sir, Your most obedient, and very humble Servant,

Stanley Griswold

P. S. I was lately informed by Doctor Mitc⟨hill⟩ of the U. S. Senate, that a committee was appointed ⟨to⟩ enquire into the causes of failure in the regular returns from the territorial Secretaries, and tha⟨t⟩ I was said to be in arrears. I immediately forw⟨arded⟩ to his care an affidavit of my own, together w⟨ith⟩ the certificates of the Postmasters here, which I hope have been received.

S. G.

DNA: RG 59—Territorial Papers—TP, Michigan.

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