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Special Message

January 30, 1808

To the House of Representatives 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 the lakes Michigan, Huron, and Erie, extending it to the Connecticut Reserve so soon as it could be effected with the perfect good will of the natives.

By a treaty concluded at Detroit on the 17th of November last with the Ottoways, Chippeways, Wyandots, and Pattawatimas so much of this country has been obtained as extends from about Saguina Bay southwardly to the Miami of the Lakes, supposed to contain upward of 5,000,000 acres, with a prospect of obtaining for the present a breadth of 2 miles for a communication from the Miami to the Connecticut Reserve.

The Senate having advised and consented to the ratification of this treaty, I now lay it before both Houses of Congress for the exercise of their constitutional powers as to the means of fulfilling it.


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

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