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    Thomas Jefferson: The President Writes to Georgia Governor John Milledge Regarding the Removal of the Cherokees from Georgia as a Consequence of the Louisiana Purchase. 1 page, 4to, Washington, Nov. 22, (18)03, entirely in Jefferson's hand. To John Milledge, Governor of Georgia. A spectacular letter directly mentioning the Louisiana Purchase and what it meant directly relating to the removal of Native Americans from Georgia lands:

    "Dear Sir,
    Altho I am late in answering your favor of Aug. 5, yet it was not unattended to; and has, in execution, had its effect. While we were negotiating with the Creeks for the extension of your Ockmulgee boundary, we thought it unadvisable to press any other topic, which would be disagreeable to them. As soon as the unfavorable turn which that negotiation took was known, I desired the Secretary at War to take the proper measures for effecting the subject of your letter of Aug. 5. The Cherokees have at length ceded to us the road from Knoxville to the Savanna, under some cautions & restrictions which it is believed they will soon retire from in practice. We have now to press on the Creeks a direct road from this place to New Orleans, passing always below the mountains. It will probably brush the Currakee [Cherokee?] mountain, pass through Hickabatchee [Lake Hicpochee; SE Glades Co., South Central Florida: connected by canal with Calossahatchee River on West and Lake Okeechobee on East; now a link in the Cross-Florida Waterway] & Fort Stoddard. We hope to bring New Orleans to within 1000 miles of this place, and that the post will pass it in 10 days. The acquisition of Louisiana will it is hoped put in our power the means of inducing all the Indians on this side to transplant themselves to the other side the Missisipi, before many years get about. I thank you for the seeds & stones you have been so kind as to send me. I hope Congress will rise early enough to let me pass the month of March at home to superintend the planting them and some other things which may be growing & preparing enjoyment for me there when I retire from hence. Be so good as to present my respectful compliments to Mrs. Milledge, & to accept yourself my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem and consideration.
    Th: Jefferson
    Govr. Milledge"

    Milledge had been an early supporter of the Revolution in Georgia. He was one of the party led by Joseph Habersham, who on June 17, 1775, entered the dwelling of the governor, Sir James Wright, and took him prisoner, making this the first bold Revolutionary act in the Colony. He became governor of Georgia in 1802. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, Milledge and the legislature agreed to cede large tracts of state land, mostly in the western parts, to the U.S. Government with the proviso that all the Native Americans would be removed from the state. The Creeks and Cherokees fought this up to the Supreme Court who ruled they were not really citizens and could not challenge the decree! By a special act of the legislature, the town of Milledgeville was named in his honor.

    This highly significant letter demonstrates that a key element of Jefferson's plan for the Louisiana Purchase, ratified by Congress barely a month before this letter was written, was the establishment of a road linking New Orleans with Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. This bold step would open a large area for settlement while also encouraging a new avenue of trade, other than by sea, with the well-established city of New Orleans.

    However, Jefferson's plans for this region found one roadblock: large populations of Creek and Cherokee Indians who controlled substantial block of land. This letter signals early steps to deal with the Native American population, and most significantly declares Jefferson's vision that "all the Indians on this side (would) transplant to the other side of the Mississippi...." In July 1803, prior to completion of the Purchase, Jefferson had also written to General Horatio Gates expressing this hope, and on August 9th he wrote to John Dickson that after the Purchase it would be possible "to exchange some of the territory there unoccupied by Indians (west of the Mississippi) for land held by the Indians on this side...."

    The plan set in motion by Jefferson would culminate three decades later in the infamous "Trail of Tears," in which Cherokee were forced to give up their remaining lands and move en masse to rugged territory in Oklahoma.

    This seminal 8" x 10" Jefferson letter is in very good condition, with light soiling along right edge and minor roughness along the edge as shown. Pleasing overall condition for display. Housed in an elegant custom slipcase.


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    13th Saturday
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