Thomas Jefferson photo

Special Message

January 15, 1808

To the Senate of the United States:

The posts of Detroit and Mackinac having been originally intended by the Governments which established and held them as mere depots for commerce with the Indians, very small cessions of land around them were obtained or asked from the native proprietors, and these posts depended for protection on the strength of their garrisons. The principles of our Government leading us to the employment of such moderate garrisons in time of peace as may merely take care of the post, and to a reliance on the neighboring militia for its support in the first moments of war, I have thought it would be important to obtain from the Indians such a cession in the neighborhood of these posts as might maintain a militia proportioned to this object; and I have particularly contemplated, with this view, the acquisition of the eastern moiety of the peninsula between lakes Michigan and Huron, comprehending the waters of the latter and of Detroit River, so soon as it could be effected with the perfect good will of the natives. Governor Hull was therefore appointed a commissioner to treat with them on this subject, but was instructed to confine his propositions for the present to so much of the tract before described as lay south of Saguina Bay and round to the Connecticut Reserve, so as to consolidate the new with the present settled country. The result has been an acquisition of so much only of what would have been acceptable as extends from the neighborhood of Saguina Bay to the Miami of the Lakes, with a prospect of soon obtaining a breadth of 2 miles for a communication from the Miami to the Connecticut Reserve. The treaty for this purpose entered into with the Ottoways, Chippeways, Wyandots, and Pottawattamies at Detroit on the 17th of November last is now transmitted to the Senate, and I ask their advice and consent as to its ratification.

I communicate herewith such papers as bear any material relation to the subject.


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

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives