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Special Message

April 08, 1802

Gentlemen of the Senate:

In order to satisfy as far as it is in my power the desire expressed in your resolution of the 6th instant, I now transmit you a letter from John Read, agent for the United States before the board of commissioners under the sixth article of the treaty with Great Britain, to the Attorney-General, bearing date the 25th of April, 1801, in which he gives a summary view of the proceedings of those commissioners and of the principles established or insisted on by a majority of them.

Supposing it might be practicable for us to settle by negotiation with Great Britain the principles which ought to govern the decisions under the treaty, I caused instructions to be given to Mr. Read to analyze the claims before the board of commissioners, to class them under the principles on which they respectively depended, and to state the sum depending on each principle or the amount of each description of debt. The object of this was that we might know what principles were most important for us to contend for and what others might be conceded without much injury. He performed this duty, and gave in such a statement during the last summer, but the chief clerk of the Secretary of State's office being absent on account of sickness, and the only person acquainted with the arrangement of the papers of the office, this particular document can not at this time be found. Having, however, been myself in possession of it a few days after its receipt, I then transcribed from it for my own use the recapitulation of the amount of each description of debt. A copy of this transcript I shall subjoin hereto, with assurances that it is substantially correct, and with the hope that it will give a view of the subject sufficiently precise to fulfill the wishes of the Senate. To save them the delay of waiting till a copy of the agent's letter could be made, I send the original, with the request that it may be returned at the convenience of the Senate.


Thomas Jefferson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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